Sunday, May 8, 2011

Book Review: Tiassa

Tiassa by Steven Brust (2011)

It is difficult to write a review of Tiassa because I will not know myself exactly what I think of it until I have read it at least 3 or 4 more times. And even after those re-readings I suspect that I would find it difficult to give the book an exact grade.

So, first things first.

Did I enjoy Tiassa?

Yes indeed.

Did Tiassa live up to your expectations?

It is difficult to answer that question because I have learned to have few expectations of any of Brust's books except that the time and effort spent reading them will be worthwhile.
However I had no specific expectations as to when in Vlad Taltos life the book would be set. Nor did I have specific expectations as to which of the other characters we have previously met in the Dragaeran books we would encounter in this outing. My hope was that this book would deepen our understanding of how the Dragaeran Empire runs -- and it does so. My hope was that Brust would return to tell us more about particular characters -- and he has done that. My hope was that at the end of Tiassa I would want to immediately go back and reread all the other books in the Vladiad in the light of my new insight and understand of the Vlad's story -- and that was my second impulse after I reached the last word of the book. My first impulse was to turn back to the first page and read Tiassa again.

Is Tiassa a well-written book?

Brust shows off his technical skills as a writer in this book. This reader had already been impressed with the difference in "voice" between the Khaavren Romances, the Vladiad and Agyar. In Tiassa Brust moves from one point to another in both the life of Vlad and Khaavren and in doing so uses the right voice for the right person in the right time.

Is this a good choice for a "first Vlad" book?

To write more than this would be to spoil this book for those who have followed Vlad's saga over the years. And as much as I enjoyed this book I would not suggest it as a good "first Vlad" for someone not already familiar with the series. Brust is, as always, mercifully sparing of the infodump and therefore much of the individual reader's understanding of situations is dependent upon the having read the previously published books. In addition to problem of being "lost" without adequate backstory the reader who has never read another Vlad/Khaavren book will also miss the joy that long time readers have of trying to determine who is an unreliable narrator, who is a self-deluded narrator and who, if anyone, really understands (and could relate) what really happened.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars

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