A few weeks ago, I had three daunting books to finish for three different book groups: The Master and Margarita, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, and Freedom. I read them more quickly than I’d anticipated, so December’s ended up kind of a free month for me to read whatever I want. All this choice is a little daunting (one of the themes from Freedom, in fact) and I’m trying to strike a balance between edifying books like Master and Margarita, and flat-out enjoyable books like Jhereg by Steven Brust. So far, December has been a very good reading month.
Though a short book by itself, Jhereg is the first of many Vlad Taltos novels by Brust, and was one of the first books my now-husband lent to me when we started dating. Vlad is an assassin with a dragon-y familiar in a complicated world called Dragaera.
There is a similarity, if I may be permitted an excursion into tenuous metaphor, between the feel of a chilly breeze and the feel of a knife’s blade, as either is laid across the back of the neck. I can call up memories of booth, if I work at it. The chilly breeze is invariably going to be the more pleasant memory.
In this first novel, he’s hired to kill someone but keeps uncovering reasons why he can’t, or shouldn’t. The world, and the comprehensive cast of characters in it, feel fully formed, and like the author has much more control over the bazillion narrative balls he’s juggling than he has any right to. Reading this was like hanging out with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, one who I’d forgotten was so entertaining and funny. My hope is that I can re-read the Vlad novels in between longer ones and maybe even catch up, since several have come out since I last visited Dragaera. Jhereg and the two novels that follow it are collected in the omnibus The Book of Jhereg, but since I’m reading them piecemeal, I’ll post about them one by one.