Monday 27 November 2023

Tsalmoth - Steven Brust - Vlad Taltos Book 16

Vlad Taltos Book 16
Steven Brust
eISBN 9781466889705

Tsalmoth - Steven Brust - Vlad Taltos Book 16

Brust is one of the few authors I read in high school, who is still publishing new books, and that I eagerly anticipate each new volume. I have been reading the Vlad Taltos books by Steven Brust since they first started appearing. I started keeping track of what I read in the fall of 1995, since that time I have read or reread a book by Brust 36 times. With each new work I appreciate the series, the author and especially Vlad more. Whenever a Vlad Taltos book appears it is like a visit with an old friend. In fact Brust is one of the few authors I read 35 years ago in high school that I still read now. That speaks to his staying power as a storyteller, and the charm and wit of Vlad. I gave up on Xanth by Piers Anthony by the 6th book and Wild Cards by George R.R. Martin by the 10th book. The only series I started reading in the mid 80’s that I finished was The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison and it ended a while ago. 

This story is different than many in the series. In part Vlad is telling the story to a recorder or some sort of recording device. In doing so he occasionally breaks the fourth wall of the story to interject and interact with the events or the retelling of them. This story is set much earlier in the series. It is during the time of the courtship and wedding planning of Vlad and Cawti. Vlad has friends in high places and in different houses. But at this point he is a low level Jhereg. He runs a small area and is known to still do some wet work. This story is also different in that someone dies owning Vlad money, and he is just trying to get his money back, and as the story progresses the costs incurred along the way. The story gives him his first real insights into the Left Hand of the Jhereg the women of sorcery. It causes him some grief with his boss. And The whole think about the Verra’s tear stone and what happens with it. The necromancer plays a key role in this story, as does the sorceress of Dzur Mountain. But a lot of the story is Vlad just putting in leg work trying to get his 800 imperials coins back.  

The description of this volume is:

“First comes love. Then comes marriage…

Vlad Taltos is in love. With a former assassin who may just be better than he is at the Game. Women like this don’t come along every day and no way is he passing up a sure bet.

So a wedding is being planned. Along with a shady deal gone wrong and a dead man who owes Vlad money. Setting up the first and trying to deal with the second is bad enough. And then bigger powers decide that Vlad is the perfect patsy to shake the power structure of the kingdom.

More's the pity that his soul is sent walkabout to do it.

How might Vlad get his soul back and have any shot at a happy ending? Well, there’s the tale…”

The story begins with this prologue:

“Have you ever noticed that getting married is like trying to collect a debt from a dead guy?

If you’re gonna get married, you gotta decide which traditions to keep, and which ones to throw away, and what to do that’s got nothing to do with tradition. And you gotta work it out with someone else—you know, the one you’re marrying? That one? Well, you gotta work with that person to get something that’s okay for you both.

But if you’re living in the Dragaeran Empire, and all your traditions go back to Fenario, where your family came from a few generations ago, then you got a whole ’nother layer of stuff to get through. It’s complicated, and it’s different for everyone. Just like if some jerk dies owing you money, and you want to get it back, there are a lot of things to consider, and you might start out dealing with it one way, but then change your mind, and you’ll have to deal with different sets of customs: one being the Jhereg, that’s my House and my organization, where we have policies about loaning money and collecting it, and the other from whatever House the dead guy was in. And then there’s the Empire, which exists to make everything more complicated. And sometimes they get all tangled up together, and mixed in with other stuff that you’d think had nothing to do with any of it.

Let’s go into detail.”

Each chapters begins with a piece about wedding customs, and which Vlad and Cawti keep, change or completely ignore. But the main thrust of the book is who is going to pay back the debt. And Why is it so complicated to collect on this particular debt.

This book is a lot of action and adventure but also a lot of eating and planning. We receive some information that we were unaware of in previous volumes. There are a  number of tangents in this story and that information can lead in the next book.

It is another great read from one of my all-time favourite authors. A great novel in an incredible series! Well done Mr. Brust, well done.  
Books by Steven Brust:
Vlad Taltos Publishing Order:

Jhereg (1983)
Yendi (1984)
Teckla (1987)
Taltos (1988)
Phoenix (1990)
Athyra (1993)
Orca (1996)
Dragon (1998)
Issola (2001)
Dzur (2006)
Jhegaala (2008)
Iorich (2010)
Tiassa (2011)
Hawk (2014)
Vallista (2017)
Tsalmoth (2023)
Lyorn (2024)

Vlad Taltos: Chronological Order:
Taltos (1988)
Dragon, main chapters (1998)
Yendi (1984)
Tsalmoth (2023)
Dragon, interludes (1998)
Tiassa, section 1 (2011)
Jhereg (1983)
Teckla (1987)
Phoenix (1990)
Jhegaala (2008)
Athyra (1993)
Orca (1996)
Issola (2001)
Dzur (2006)
Tiassa, section 2 (2011)
Iorich (2010)
Tiassa, section 3 (2011)
Hawk (2014)
Vallista (2017)
Lyorn (2024)

The Khaavren Romances:
The Phoenix Guards (1991)
Five Hundred Years After (1994)
The Viscount of Adrilankha, published in three volumes:
The Paths of the Dead (2002)
The Lord of Castle Black (2003)
Sethra Lavode (2004)

Other Books:
Brokedown Palace (1986)
To Reign in Hell (1984)
The Sun, the Moon & the Stars (1987)
Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille (1990)
Agyar (1993)
My Own Kind of Freedom (2008)
Good Guys (2018)

Co Written:
The Gypsy (1992) with Megan Lindholm
Freedom & Necessity (1997) with Emma Bull

Incrementalist (with Skyler White):
The Incrementalists
The Skill of our Hands

Incrementalist Short Stories
Fireworks in the Rain - Steven Brust
Strongest Conjuration - Skyler White

Short Stories:
An Act of Contrition - Liavek (1985)
An Act of Trust - Liavek: The Players of Luck (1986)
A Dream of Passion - in the convention chapbook for Ad Astra (1986)
An Act of Mercy - Liavek: Wizard's Row (1987, with Megan Lindholm)
An Act of Love - Liavek: Spells of Binding (1988, with Gregory Frost and Megan Lindholm)
Csucskári - Excerpt from The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: First Annual Collection (1988)
A Hot Night at Cheeky's - Liavek: Festival Week (1990)
Looking Forward: Excerpt from Athyra in Amazing Stories, March (1993)
Attention Shoppers - Xanadu (1993)
Abduction from the Harem - in Timewalker Issue 14 (October 1996)
Drift - Space Opera (1996)
Valóság and Élet - in Sandman: Book of Dreams (1996)
Calling Pittsburgh - in Lord of the Fantastic: Stories in Honor of Roger Zelazny (1998)
When the Bow Breaks - The Essential Bordertown (1998)
The Man From Shemhaza - in Thieves' World: Enemies of Fortune (2004), reprinted in Year's Best Fantasy 5 (2005)
Klava with Honey - Eeriecon Convention Chapbook #4 (2005)
Chapter One - in Eeriecon Convention Chapbook #6 (2007)
The Desecrator - on (2011)
Fireworks in the Rain - on (2013)

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