[PDF / Epub] ★ Jhereg By Steven Brust – Dailytradenews.co.uk


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10 thoughts on “Jhereg

  1. says:

    Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths I read this novel when it was initially published in the mid 80s It was a favorite of mine at the time, and I have always recalled it fondly However, after completing a re read, it has become painfully obvious that the enjoyment I received from this book must have been one of those teenage fads because it has disappeared right along with my desire to keep solving a Rubik s Cube.The tour guide in Jhereg is Vlad Taltos The world he guides us through is a standard one from 80s fantasy Here a huge Empire controls most of the world, inhabited and ruled by the Dragaerans, who are basically LoTR like elves Indeed, the few humans in this world often refer to the Dragaerans as elves, though to confuse the reader a bit the author has the Dragaerans refer to themselves as human Other than this one quirk, there is nothing to set it apart from other fantasy worlds from this period of the 80s.Vlad is one of the human minority of the Dragaeran Empire, labeled by his elvish overlords as an Easterner and born into the lowest class of society However, thanks to a social climbing father, Vlad is actually a citizen of the Empire and a noble of one of the lesser Dragaeran houses There are 17 Great Houses in Dragaeran each named after an animal of the world Of course, the house Vlad is a noble of just happens to be one huge criminal organization, which greatly resembles the modern day Mafia Our protagonist s role in this elvish mafia is as a minor crime lord, supervising certain criminal interests of the house, and as an accomplished assassin To throw in a little fantastical, the author also makes him a minor sorcerer The novel itself starts out with Brust focusing on Vlad s childhood, especially the story of how he acquires a live Jhereg egg, which later hatches out into his familiar Loiosh The golden reptile on the front cover of the paperback edition is Loiosh The two of them share a telepathic link their constant bantering being the main comedic point of the book, though it does grow tiresome after a while After this boyhood tale, Brust time warps ahead approximately seven years to the main action of the novel This fast forward effectively leapfrogging three of the subsequently books in the series, making this the fourth in chronological sequence I believe Here another mob boss hires Vlad to kill one of the Jhereg s higher ups, who has disappeared with some money that doesn t belong to him The job has to be done quickly before word of this theft can get out and make the Jhereg look weak Since Vlad is a skilled assassin, the job doesn t seem like a big deal until he discovers that his target has taken refuge in Castle Black, as a guest of Morrolan the Dragon lord Morrolan is a heavy weight Dragon with bad mojo magic Word is that this Dragon lord is such a tickler for honor that once he has taken someone into his home as a welcomed guest that they are under his protection, no matter what Plus, Vlad has a professional relationship with Morrolan a strange friendship even , which complicates everything.So now, the easy job has gotten complicated, and Vlad spends many pages planning the perfect assassination scheme Ultimately, the plan boils down to this convoluted scheme to get the target out of Morrolan s house without using magic and without actually killing him inside the actual castle It is much complicated and cumbersome than that I m just trying to make it easier to understand here Naturally, things fall apart, people have to improvise, the incident turns into a full blown political situation between the Jhereg and the Dragon houses, and then things get cleared up at the end.PROS There are several nice things about this book, which many reads will no doubt enjoy 1 It is fast paced mainly because it is very short and is written in a flowing style that keeps the pace moving, never bogging down in descriptions or tiresome wordiness 2 It is also very modern in tone The magic and other fantasy elements here are very straight forward, accepted by everyone in the story as part of every day life and never really discussed Indeed, Jhereg is so modern in tone that it can just as readily be enjoyed as a contemporary mafia story rather than a fantasy if the fantasy elements bore you, all one must do is just imagine it is all taking place in New York City as opposed to another world 3 Jhereg is a fantasy detective or mafia story during a time when Tolkien clones were all the rage So, at least in the early 80s, it was different Not so much now but still good variety I suppose 4 The interaction between the men and women of the book is very business like with a post feminism flavor No sexual discrimination here Hell, no sex here Lol Nope, no sexist remarks about females in general or anything like that everyone appears equal without any distinction between male or female CONS 1 While this book is a fantasy, it has only a thin veneer of it Sure, there is a bit of magic thrown around here or there, but if not for the strange names and sorcery, it is a contemporary story about a mafia hitman.I read somewhere I believe it was Ursula K Le Guin s book on writing that in order for a novel to be a fantasy she felt it should have such a fantastical feel that a reader knew this could not take place down the street Le Guin even gave an example of this, using an excerpt from a popular 80s fantasy novel She quoted an entire passage from said fantasy, changed the kings to senators, holy priests to representatives and illustrated how this fantasy work read like a story about Washington, D.C. I m going to try to do the same, but I m no Le Guin so bear with me We ate the meal in silence, enjoying each other s company, feeling no need to talk As we were finishing, Cathy said, So, you get work, while I stay home and wither away from boredom You don t look withered to me, I said, checking And I don t remember your asking me for help with that little matter last month Hmmmmph, she said I didn t need any help with that, but this looks like something big I recognized the target I hope you are getting a reasonable price for him I told her what I was getting for him She raised her eyebrows Nice Who wants him I looked around the restaurant, which was almost deserted I didn t like taking chances, but Cathy deserved an answer The whole bloody Gambino family wants him, or will if and when they find out What did he do She asked He didn t start talking, did he I shuddered No, not that, thank the Virgin Mary He ran off with nine million dollars in family operating funds I changed only 5 words in that passage Now, instead of Vlad Taltos the human assassin in an elvish empire, we have Vlad the local hitman, trying to take down a mob boss who has taken off with the family s cash And this is only one example and can basically be done throughout the whole book Naturally, some spots take than 5 words to transform the story, but you see the point.This sort of thing doesn t bother some people If that is you, so be it But if I wanted to read a novel about the mafia, I d rather do so without the strange names and sorcery thrown in Like I said however, it is a personal choice.2 Jhereg is written in first person narrative by the author Nothing wrong with that in and of itself Mark Lawrence pulled this off brilliantly in Prince of Thorns , but it does not seem to work here after a while Quickly, Vlad s constant descriptions of his actions like I had my back to the door or I approached slowly, sizing him up, reaching for my daggers even though my palms were slick with sweat began to read like a shopping list It did not sound natural, and it really limited what I actually saw in the fight scenes, making me feel disconnected with everything else that was going on Nope, instead of actually reading about Aliera doing something awesome, I have to wait for someone to describe it to Vlad Also, I felt that the first person narrative made the scene transitions awkward throughout the book and slowed down the general pacing of the story.Perhaps these complaints are merely personal preference, but as I alluded to, I ve read other books that pulled off first person narrative without making me complain Maybe it is just me, but it seems that Brust doesn t do as good of a job with it as other authors at least in this book.3 No romance of any kind I mean, even though Vlad and Cawti are married, they act like business acquaintances Sure, they talk about work or make dinner for one another, but other than that sort of friendly type of relationship, nothing is going on here Now, I know that might not bother some of you, but I mean relationships, sex, and all that sort of thing is part of normal human existence The fact that it was totally ignored for the whole mafia hitman thing really struck me as odd Yet again, maybe it s a personal preference But I thought I d mention it for those of you who like to see some romance or some hot sex, because you are not going to see either in Jhereg And before anyone mentions it, I know this was written in the 80s, but my God, Tolkien wrote smoldering, sexual tension in LoTR than Brust does here.4 Lastly, if you are one of those people that loves reading about some grand, new world and its magic or history What we now label world building Jhereg is going to disappoint you the world building is at the bare minimum Brust only includes the details necessary to remind you this is not happening in New York City and Vlad is not really a hitman, but an assassin in another world Sure, we have weapons that destroy souls and talk about ancient Dragaeran Houses or the Orb, but they are fleeting, can easily be omitted without impacting the hitman plot and leaves one intrigued, but unsatisfied, with his her knowledge about the world Vlad exists in.To sum up, Jhereg is a decent book It is entertaining and quickly read, which is why I gave it a 2 star rating When I was a teenager, I loved the book and would have rated it 3.5 or 4 stars Unfortunately, some things do not age well, and this book is one of those things in my opinion It just pales in comparison to the type of fantasy novels we have all grown accustom to these days But if you are needing to waste a couple of hours and don t want to read another detective novel, pick this one up It might make you YAWN in its simplicity, but it probably will keep you awake long enough to finish it.


  2. says:

    Ehr Mah Gerd Vlad Taltos Oh what s that Is that a badass name for a badass main character Why yes, yes it is Look at that name Look at it. It fits him perfectly Clear Concise Ominous You know your MC is a badass when he s in the middle of an internal monologue and subtly lets slip that he s been view spoiler killed and resurrected hide spoiler


  3. says:

    The recent release of Iorich sent me down the path of re reading the Taltos series While Iorich was enjoyable and engrossing, memories sent me back to the inaugural Vlad Sophisticated writing, interesting characters and one seriously convoluted plot It s interesting, because this is the fourth book in the timeline of the series and Vlad s history, but actually the first published echoes of Lucas I d recommend reading Jhereg first, as it s told in a largely linear fashion with only a few flashbacks, and as such is a decent introduction to the world s political and social structure As the series continues, Brust starts playing in interesting ways with narrative, so it helps to already have a solid grip on the basics Characters are done well, with broad brushstrokes We get some of Vlad s early years, and we are given the background on his initial connection with Loiosh His friendships with Dragons Morrolan and Aliera, and his lieutenant Krager are well established in this book, with nice repartee and camaraderie Loiosh is a smart sidekick, but not overly humanized The plot is entirely plausible within the world setting, and although Vlad s antagonist has spent decades planning his revenge, his rationale is somewhat understandable and brings a sense of sympathy even as Vlad works to save the situation.


  4. says:

    Immediate Reaction This was a blast A little fantasy noir fun for anyone who likes bad men behaving with honour Vlad Taltos is an anti hero extraordinaire, and all the minor characters and relationships he s surrounded with are equally cool Later This is only the second book I ve read by Steven Brust, and the first I ve read that he wrote alone I read his collaboration with Emma Bull, Freedom and Necessity a couple of months ago, and loved their book so much I knew I had to hunt down their other works and give them a go What Jhereg delivered was totally unexpected.F and N was a beautiful literary work that obviously suffers in its readership by being written by a pair of Sci Fi Fantasy authors And I expected of the same with Jhereg But there is little literary in the first of the Vlad Taltos books, but that doesn t make it any less readable In fact, it might actually make it much of an addiction inducing habit Jhereg is a bit like a fantasy detective story, or a fantasy noir as I called it earlier , with assassin crime boss information collector Vlad Taltos taking the role of obligatory hardbitte detective from the works of Dashiel Hammett or Mickey Spillane And it s as good as the former and better than the latter Vlad is surrounded by an original and exotic fantasy world, killer allies his pseudo cousin Aliera is a personal favourite , a smart ass familiar named Loiosh, a seamy underworld, nasty enemies including one who calls himself Demon , witchcraft and sorcery which are nothing alike , genetic engineering for the slightest touch of Sci Fi and the most mundane of domestic lives Even better, he is one of the most likable antiheroes in all of Fantasy.I understand from some of my goodreads friends that the depth of this series as it goes on, and it goes on for a long time is impressive I ve already started Yendi, so it s a good bet that I am going to experience this depth first hand Having read F and N, I believe that depth is possible Now I just need to track down War for the Oaks, so I can experience how the other half of F and N writes when out of collaboration.


  5. says:

    Satisfyingly good The kind of good that makes you anxious to get to the next book The kind of good that makes you glad there are over ten books in the series The kind of good that makes me not care about book orders Maybe it s a good thing these books are written out of order is a thing I never thought I d say But I have a good feeling about Steven Brust and I trust he ll deliver It s been awhile since high fantasy has been this good for me, and it s been even longer since I liked a POV main character in high fantasy enough to know that I ll like whatever trials and tribulations he s put through And I like Vlad Taltos Thus far, he s already shown himself to be a multifaceted character full of nuance, and I can only imagine he ll get complex with each book.Plus, there are dragons everywhere.Full review to come when I get through the series Trying to figure out the order of this series is giving me a serious case of involuntary twitching So far from what I ve gleaned on various forums and reviews, the publication order is completely different from the chronological order twitching But the order in which you read these books does not matter At all Because they were purposely written out of order bangs head on desk Why I have a thing for publication order Publication order goes like this JheregYendiTecklaTaltosPhoenixAthyraOrcaDragonIssolaDzurJhegaalaIorichTiassaHawkBut chronological order goes like this TaltosDragonYendiJheregTecklaPhoenixJhegaalaAthyraOrcaIssolaDzurIorichTiassaHawkThe only book I have is Jhereg, so I m gonna start there.Cross posted at


  6. says:

    While there was nothing absolutely mind blowing about the plot or the fantasy, the one thing that really stood out in this book was the fantastic writing.It was absolutely some of the easiest reading I ve had for an obviously detailed and fleshed out world full of lots of magic, interesting races, very long lived people, and dragons It flew by so quickly and easily, I was rather surprised at how much info dump never came across as info dump I learned so much about the world, naturally, that I was giddy after the reading.Is it because I ve grown very used to the tropes involved, over so many years of enjoying fantasy Possibly But then, that s another reason I need to give this book props From the mid eighties, it still comes off as hugely superior in execution, characterization, big ideas, and joy This is SUPERIOR fantasy.I ve read my fair share of SUPERIOR fantasy, of course, but this one feels so effortless.Assassins Check Dragons Check Near immortals everywhere you look Check Tons and tons of magic Absolutely.I m pretty sure I m going to fly through all Brust s novels in no time whatsoever They re pretty damn fantastic and smart.


  7. says:

    5.0 stars The Vlad Taltos series is one thst I strongly recommend to anyone who likes good fantasy I would classify it as noir fantasy with a good sense of humor Great world building, great characters and well written, tight plots that do not drag and are never boring As good as all that is, it is the main character of Vlad Taltos assassin, witch and rogue and his jhereg familiar that make the series so special Highly recommended.


  8. says:

    This is the third in my list of books that inspired me to start writing fantasy and in many ways is the most influential The hero of the series, Vlad Taltos, is an assassin, which is, you know, not an especially nice thing to be The thing is, deep down Vlad really wants to be a nice guy He just needs to kill a few shitbags first Now it s true that the list of people Vlad needs to kill includes pretty much the entire Dragaeran Empire, but he s willing to leave a few off the list if they change their ways Oh, and Vlad s sidekick a wise talking miniature dragon who calls him Boss all the time Seriously who wouldn t want to read that Brust blends heroic fantasy with a film noir, almost Raymond Chandler esque voice In fact, Jhereg was the book that taught me you could write fantasy without having your characters talk in fake British accents and spouting thee s and thou s every sentence It s a short book by today s standards, and one that will fly by Fortunately, there s a dozen to keep you busy once you re done.


  9. says:

    Reread Feb2012, review added I originally gave this 4 stars, although I ve read it numerous times really enjoyed it I just never thought it had any redeeming features beyond sheer enjoyment Now that I ve read most of the rest of the series, I see on a re read that the craftsmanship of this story demands another star This is not the first book in the chronology of the series, but it is the first published Why should you read it first Because the author couldn t have picked a better way to introduce the reader to an entirely new world mythology The story demands our likable anti hero, Vlad Taltos, look deeply into another character His search uncovers than expected gives us an understanding of the world that we never would have had otherwise Not only is it entirely entertaining fast moving, but I had no trouble at all remembering odd names characters Each comes alive in a way that sticks in the memory, with a depth that is incredible for the terse wording Not just the main characters either, although there were most of a dozen of those alone It s truly an amazing feat.Now I REALLY want to go on to the next book, Yendi, but I have other commitments damn


  10. says:

    This was a delightful beginning to a series that I am sure to be addicted to very soon In fact, I ve already jumped into the second volume.But on this Jhereg is a first person narrative of an assassin and a particular job he undertook A huge amount of money offered showed that if something seemed too good to be true, it probably was.Mischief and mayhem ensue What I thought of as a combination of a crime caper and an epic fantasy turned out to be a quickly paced and often humorous adventure Vlad Taltos has a familiar which happens to be a jhereg, a miniature dragon like creature And, no surprise with Brust characters, Loiosh is quite the smartass Witty banter between familiar and master, along with a great cast of hirelings and allies makes this a book to keep the reader guessing, on the edge of his her seat, and occasionally laughing.The fight scenes were great, I wasn t surprised to later read that Brust took lessons in fencing, as he was able to describe the swordfights in quite a vivid manner Add a touch of The Three Musketeers to that adventure heist fantasy description.On to Vlad adventures


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