0 thoughts on “Jhegaala – Spoilers”

  1. I guess I should see how close a match it is to the ARC I read a while back first, to keep ‘huh?’ to a minimum.

  2. Hey, and I just finished it up an hour or so ago. Convenient, that.

    Wonderfully twisty and complex, and I’m pleased to have (the first part of) the story of Vlad Goes Out East.

    (Pig eatin’s! Hee.)

    I got kind of twitchy when Vlad started interrogating Dahni. I’ve grown more sensitive to that sort of thing over the last few years. In light of that, I was oddly relieved when the turnabout came around in Chapter 11.

    Another gorgeous cover. Another fun book.

  3. My reviews of Jhegaala ran last week you can see it here at the papers site Imprint or on my blog Book Reviews and More. I think it is great, in many ways it makes Vlad more human, he experiences failure on a level never experienced before and as such out appreciation for him grows. It is not my favorite but it is an excellent addition to the canon.

  4. #3 I’m sure everyone gets that you’ve written a review of the book already, since you’ve posted the links here 3 times.

  5. I was really looking forward to an angry Vlad dispensing cranial penetrating justice in cold, sharp, six-to-nine-inch increments. Sadly I found a kinder, gentler Vlad with a handicapped symbol on his cloak by the end of the book.

    The story is good though. I had my expectations shattered a bit, but it was a great piece anyway Steve. I’m looking forward to the next one already.

  6. When I wondered about the missing finger, I didn’t expect it would be as bad as that. Poor Vlad.

    I’m actually glad we didn’t get Vlad dispensing the beat downs all over the place, although angry Vlad was very believably in evidence. This was a great look at how he gets to where he is in Athyra and Issola. Kudos to Steve for writing a really convincing character arc, and for doing it all out of order. I’m with Loiosh, Vlad’s fits of anger kind of worry me. On the other hand, it kind of makes his frustration with Morrolan and Aliera’s bickering in Issola understandable.

    Hey Tucker, wasn’t flaisl from LJ?

    I really really really enjoyed it. I expected I would miss all the elfs, but I had such a good time with this story that it was OK. Also, yeah, the cover is gorgeous. Can’t wait for Iorich.

  7. Rene @ 6: There are few pleasures for a writer greater than hearing from a reader who gets exactly what he was shooting for. Thanks for the day brightener!

  8. I loved the writing style, as usual, but found it really strange to have to step back from major, universe changing events of Issola, and focus so wholly on Vlad’s development as a character.

    It does add a greater appreciation to later books in the time line.

  9. I finished last night and enjoyed it immensely. Not only did it significantly advance Vlad as a character, it answered the age old question, “Are there pigs on Dragaera?”

    I kept thinking how impressive it was that the book fit so well after Phoenix, which was one of the earlier books in the series. If you just happened across them and read them in chronological order, you’d think they were written one after the other.

  10. No no, thank you. I really enjoyed reading that. I mean, really.

    Now I’m looking forward to rereading Pheonix-Dzur in chronological rather than published order, with an eye out for any ah-has! that I might get just by knowing what I now know. Man, that’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to a few already, and those are just the ones I think I remember.

    Vlad getting tortured again just kills me, and it explains a lot about what he did and didn’t say to Kiera and even Savn, if memory serves. Not to mention going in guns blazing, as it were, when Morrolan and Aliera are captured. Like I said, I’m really looking forward to this reread.

    Sorry to keep spamming up your comments. Ben hasn’t read the book yet, so I can’t talk to him about it yet. :P

  11. Rene, re flaisl: so it was. That one just floated right past me.

    Re character development: oh gosh yes. It took me about four chapters to put my finger on why I was having problems reconciling this Vlad with what I think of as Vlad, and the reason is actually kind of embarrassing: I reread Issola and Dzur in preparation for “the next novel,” so I was looking for a Vlad of a very different point in the character arc. And once I’d adjusted what I was looking for, it made /all/ kinds of sense. Which is to say: well done.

    As for the plot: I’m not kicking myself for not realising that Dahni was in contact with the assassin. I’m kicking myself for being so wrapped up in the story (like Vlad) that I missed the beautiful tripod structure of Count-Guild-Coven. The explanation was gorgeous.

    Query/speculation: the King was old and having his own troubles eighty-three years ago when the paper mill first opened. At first glance that sounds like Brokedown Palace, but that would put Cawti at, well, eighty-three years old. Which is /possible/ given her unclear lineage, but seems unlikely. (I seem to recall reading somewhere that there may be a meeting between Vlad and Miklos at some point.)

  12. Hello, and thanks for all the books.

    The following is a complete offtopic, but i’d have to ask it at some time, and it would be offtopic anyway. I tried asking google, and people are perfectly delirious on this issue. So.

    What is “hissy-cow”, after all? That is, what is the origin and the reference of the word? As you probably remember, it makes for some nice pun in “Issola”. And it is completely botched in translation… which is not your problem, of course.

    While the word sounds clear enough to make sense in the book, an “authorized” explanation wouldn’t be amiss.

    Thanks for understanding. And i’m looking forward to Jhegaala. Although i’ll probably steal it before i get a paper copy… but that’s a different matter, i suppose.

  13. Vythe: A confusion of the phrases, “Have a hissy fit” and “have a cow,” both of which mean roughly the same thing: to over-react to the point of being unable to reason. Someone with whom a friend was arguing in some chat room accused her of having a hissy-cow. I laughed. I said, “I must use that.” I did.

  14. I liked the book but I was confused at times as I did not realize until the end of the book that Jhegaala took place before the last published book. I was really confused when Vlad refeered to Lady Teldra in the present tense and talked about having spell breaker.

    The Next question is where does Vlad go next.
    I Thought he was heading east after Issola.

  15. So you’ve got the Vlad puzzle, and then you’ve got the Steve puzzle. I keep forgetting to pay attention to the first because the second is always so much harder. Jhegaala = metamorphosis, in spades.

  16. Heh. The pig eatin’s bit amused me.

    Pace-wise, one of the slower Vlad books- along with Athyra and Orca, which makes sense to me. It’s Vlad in limbo and somewhat off his game… and as one of the more think-y books, I need more time to mull it over and have whatever reaction I’m going to have to it fully. Good, though- very definitely, and I can see why it’s Jhegaala instead of, say, Easterner or some such.

    I was also highly entertained that a certain oft-referenced never-explained Thing happened in this book, but Vlad completely failed to mention it, to the point that I’m second-guessing myself as to whether it really did happen or we’re simply meant to think it did.

    This, I think, indicates mastery of the art of obfuscation, but whether or not it is an admirable thing to be master of such an art I do not know.

  17. Matt, you can admire the time, effort, and dedication it takes to acquire the mastery, even if you disapprove of the art so mastered.

  18. The first time I picked up Talos & Dragon I experienced a moment of great frustration…the moment I realized that I was looking back on “historical Vlad” and not “what happens next.” (Yendi was to early in the series to get that feeling). The feeling, however, would go away as I was swept into each story. As I’ve read and reread the series, I’ve come to see great richness in knowing this earlier Vlad…seeing up close the events of his life that have informed the main story arc…and get to know better why he is who he is, and why I like him so much. This time, I knew well in advance that this was a look back (I’m following Steve’s writing process now)…and I was weloming the opportunity to do so…perhaps because I was really satisfied by Dzur…but also in that I really wanted to see Vlad start that growth that is so clearly in formation by Athyra. This was a wonderful story and worthy of the high Vlad standard that has been set.

    It occurs to me to mention how good of a book Dzur really was…so often we need the after conversations to “get what has happened” during the story….I’m thinking Vlad-Timmer in Orca and now Vlad-Meehayi in Jhegaala. These moments work (and I need them to put the final pieces in place), but Dzur felt so unique in its figure things out throughout, leading to the great showdown with the left hand.

    Thank you Steve for all of your books…looking forward to Iorich.

  19. Mattador @ #16…damn. I was so certain we were finally having what happened to that damn finger explained that I never noticed that an explicit mention of its going missing never happened. Wow.

    Jhegaala goes a long way to explaining the Vlad we see so very much transformed in Athyra from when we had seen him last in Phoenix…a Vlad who is more self-reliant, more cautious in many ways, but more driven in others, and infinitely more aware of the consequences his actions (and his mere presence) can have on the common folk around him.

    A tip of my hat to thee, Steve. Well played, once again.

  20. I am sitting here bleary-eyed from skipping sleep in order to finish _Jhegaala_. I am torn by two desires: first, to reread the book; and second to reread the entire series.

    It is one thing when an author reveals a fact that makes one understand a series in a different way (as was done in _Orca_) it is another when an author gives you insight into the protagonist in such as way that you need to read everything again. I don’t just want to reread the books set after _Jhegaala_ with a better understanding of how Vlad has changed — I want to read the books set before _Jhegaala_ with a new and better understanding of his character.

    Thank you/Damn you Steve. All my other work will now be set aside until I can reread the Vladiad.

  21. Margaret, I struggle with the same thing. Each time once comes out I want to reread them all. Sometimes in chronological order sometimes in published order.

  22. All: It would be an overstatement to say, “This is why I write,” but, really, getting my ego boosted like this is wonderful, and I thank you all. I need to back to work on Iorich now.

  23. 2skzb
    I must admit that this having a cow is completely off my vocabulary. That’s probably why. I should watch simpsons more often…

    As for the rest – I am still looking forward to reading Jhegaala (that’s two days already), so no comments. If i have trouble with words in it, too – i’ll probably ask questions again.

    And, by the way, the Firefly fic is great. Can we have more of that?

  24. Another excellent addition. I only have one major nit to pick (can a nit be major?); on reflection I was surprised that this small village boasted such a world-class torturer. He had hold of Vlad for–what–two or three days at least, and after all he did–burns, broken bones, mangled hand, implantation of a foreign object–Vlad is still alive? I know Vlad’s a stubborn cuss, but how did someone with that degree of skill end up in Smellytown?

    I’ve become accustomed now to Steve jumping around in Vlad’s life and giving us different pieces out of order; I admire the skill that makes each piece fit its place without being too large, too small, or just the wrong shape.

    Must now go read Athyra. Nice work, Steve!

  25. OK, that’s annoying. I have no idea what key I hit but my message just disappeared.

    I’ll try again: Mr. Brust, thank you for an interesting book. Jhegaala isn’t my favorite, but it is interesting and involving.

    I think I see a problem, however – and while it might be explained in the story I think it would require both Vlad and Loiosh to be asleep at the switch: Dahni calls Vlad Lord Taltos on page 129, rather than Lord Merss. This in an encounter that gives Vlad a crucial clue for his later reliance on Dahni, so he shouldn’t be asleep at the switch.

    Also, and this isn’t crippling, but given that Vlad didn’t want to remove his amulets and cast his spells from the inn he was staying at at the time, shouldn’t he have hesitated (or Loiosh mentioned) that he cast the darn spell that resulted in someone tagging him, at the inn he moved into?

    Sorry, but I just reread all the Vlad books (for the second time this year) in preperation for this one, so I’m looking for .. issues. (and darn it, it is still tough to keep straight, but fair warning, I’ve had practice both in the Star Trek Universe and the Stargate Universe lookng for inconsistencies, so this is just … normal.)

    Anyway, thanks again, and please keep writing – this is a great universe and fun to – watch.

  26. Re Dahni: Hee hee. You weren’t paying attention. :-) Just because Vlad doesn’t tell you he noticed, doesn’t mean he didn’t notice. He not only noticed, but that became a central plot point.

  27. Just finished reading, and… wow.

    The plot was unexpectedly somber, but beautifully executed. Thanks, Steven.

    Misc. Thoughts:
    1. I had fun imagining Zerika’s reaction…
    2. Was the word ‘Dzur’ at the bottom of pg. 22 supposed to be lowercase, or was Vlad being ironic? Amusing either way.
    3. Why must the “time to write”/”time to read” ratio be so high? Ah well, it’s worth it.

  28. I predict that in some future book, we (and Vlad) will learn that Devera’s “I’m sorry” was really an apology, and that this is really yet another part of one of the Demon Goddess’s plots…

  29. Just finished. Dug the new angle on Vlad. Was kind of shocking to see him so raw after the events of Phoenix. Nice to read other interpretations about his own metamorphosis.

    I missed my elf friends. The book had a lonely feel to it. I was uncomfortable with the tension between Loiosh and Vlad. Actually, I found the entire story disheartening. So I guess you win. ;-)

    The only thing I didn’t like about Jhegaala was the way Vlad withheld the mystery (from us and Loiosh) for most of the book, then spent several pages explaining it at the end. For whatever reason, unlike in Orca, it felt a little contrived, and the payoff wasn’t that great.

    So I found that one aspect of the story disappointing, but on the other hand I really like the Vlad insight and the description of the East. Also, I really appreciated the humor in this volume…Ellery kept rolling her eyes at me whenever I giggled while reading it.

    Looking forward to a re-read to catch transformation metaphors, etc. Also, unexpectedly looking forward to reading more pre-Issola Vlad. I freely admit that a part of me wants nothing more than to see Teldra gain more hit points, but Jhegaala has me interested in these formative travels in a way I haven’t felt since Athyra.

    Kudos and thanks, Steve.

    P.S. Why no fun About the Author this time ’round?

  30. Who needs sleep? Who needs to get any work done on a day like today?

    As usual – once I opened the package containing a new Vlad book – the rest of the day sort-of vanished, a chapter at a time.

    Thanks for another one skzb!

  31. At one point, I thought this was going to turn into a remake of Yojimbo/Fistful of Dollars, which would have been great fun, but would also have been less creative.

    Miscellaneous thoughts:

    1. I really want to see a production of “Six Parts Water”. Boraan and Lefitt rock.

    2. Among the other uses of the word “flaisl” that leapt to mind on reading the definition in the book were: a) a joke in which the punchline is a silly rhyme (such as that used by the butler in a later chapter) so named because like a prostitute’s colorful undergarments, such humor is not appropriate among polite company, and b) a military tactic used by the flatland barbarians in which a rider clings to the side of their horse (i.e., by the horse’s petticoats).

  32. Well, Steve, you’re still top of my list in the Authors One Must Read category. I really enjoyed it, and will likely read through it a couple more times to catch stuff I missed in my first read-through. (Must give it to Cat to read first, though.)

    Little Bits that Stand Out:

    – Pig eatin’s (Naturally)
    – “Dammit, Boss, I’m a Jhereg, not a bloodhound.” (I assume this was intentional, but either way, you still score points.)
    – The intros to the Parts and Chapters (when you gonna finish writing “Six Parts Water” so we can stage it? Huh?)
    – I think you nailed the essence of the jhegaala on this one. Subtle yet major changes which help to bridge what we see in Vlad from Phoenix to Athyra.
    – Loiosh and Rocza rock the whole familiar scene, and Vlad wouldn’t last a minute without ’em (which is evidenced in this book, I feel).

    I must re-read from Teckla forward, thanks to you.

    Now, get back to work on Iorich! No time off for the wicked. (You wicked, wicked man!)


  33. Aaah, now I can resist worrying about revealing too much. I, too, share the urge to re-read everything previous, slipping this into the series in chronological order.
    Some of the points that really landed for me were mostly positives with a tiny negative. In list format:

    1. Out of the way, the negative, fast: It may be due to the speed of tearing through my reading, but I felt Vlad’s reactions to Easterners were a bit less emphasized than in Phoenix. Though I did notice the moment where he had to switch from back-of-neck to throat threats with the blade due to the lack of sorcery.

    2. Positives, now, I swear. Steven, you prove once more that you deserve ‘shelf space’. A greater honor than it sounds, as I refer to my personal bookshelf, where space is an insane premium. The rest reside on the floor against the wall.

    3. The coachman. Its a shame the drunken coachman, in this case, ends up dying. After all – is it not horribly bad luck to strike or harm a coachman?

    4. The twist. Well played, sir. Well played.

    5. As others, I too had gotten used to the Vlad of Dzur and Issola. But in the light of Phoenix, well, the only miracle is that Vlad is not more maudlin. It is nice to see him with an eye for a pretty pair of ankles, however.

    6. I wonder at the time spent by Vlad in the city, recovering. It feels a touch glossed over, if only because I want to see Fenario from Vlad’s view, rather than Miklos. Greed, after all.

    7. Klava. Really, Mr Brust, have you not created a modernized recipe for klava yet? I admit, I’ve asked this question before, a few years ago. You owe it to the world. To your fans! To those who love coffee, at least host a decent recipe for it ;) Sorry, one track mind.

    8. Lastly: Thank you, for writing the stories as they come, and for there being so many that are so good. Convey thanks to Paarfi as well.


  34. Well, I could repeat all the good things people have said, but that’d be tedious. Just know I was nodding along with every one of them. I love, most of all, that poor Vlad just can’t seem to have a normal little trip to visit the kinfolk. There were some awesome lines here, both entertaining and, at times, thought-provoking (like the musing on fixing a label to someone.)

    I did wonder about the glossing over of his time in the City, because I was hoping to get a hint of something out of Brokedown Palace in it, but I’m quietly hoping we’ll get to see something of that time in a later book.

    The part that’s stuck with me most has to do with my own ego, though. As soon as I was done, I turned to my husband (who won the battle of Who Would Read It First) and grinned. “Didja see what one of the things Vlad forgot was?”

    Then we got into an argument about whether or not he really did forget he knew Morrolan had grown up thinking he was an Easterner. I had to pull Issola out and point to Vlad and Teldra’s conversation about it.

    I love the malicious discrepancies in these books. They make them that much more fun to read again and again.

  35. “Well, I could repeat all the good things people have said, but that’d be tedious.” No it wouldn’t. Really. :-)

    “Malicious discrepancies.” Hee hee. I like that.

  36. From what I understand, this book takes place before Issola Chi. So it’s not a discrepancy.

    Unless the scene you’re talking about is a piece of framework.

    I dunno, because the book isn’t here yet. Stupid overseas shipping.

    You totally need to move to Australia Steve so your books are published here first.


  37. I’m curious about something from the book. Is Pishta Vlad’s father’s given name or is it a diminutive/nickname?

  38. GWW: That’s exactly the problem. Vlad’s conversation with Teldra in /Issola/ implies that he’s unfamiliar with the fact that Morrolan believed he was an Easterner growing up.

    So how, during the events of /Jhegaala/, many years prior, is he telling the reader about something Teldra hadn’t informed him of yet?

    The only explanation I can see is that /Jhegaala/ was in fact /narrated/ from a point that is many years later, after the conversation with Teldra had happened, and Vlad was just getting a little ahead of himself.

  39. Complete book comments later….stay tuned!

    But Majikjon @39: I believe in the epilogue Vlad states something like “that was three years ago” referring to the events in Jhegaala, so he’s somewhat removed when he tells the story. I think he gives the impression that he thought-that-then on the Morrolan bit though.

  40. Billy @41:

    Well, even so, Vlad’s thinking “I thought that then”, when he’s trying to recall just exactly what he WAS thinking then, combined with the fact that memory’s like a watchacallit… There’s plenty of wiggle room for him to be mistaken.

    Of course, the alternate explanation here might be that he was simply being polite to Teldra in /Issola/ by pretending to be surprised when she told him something he already knew.

    That would be very much in keeping with the story of /Issola/, IMO.

  41. Very nice work Mr. Brust, I think you may have a career in writing ahead of you.

    A+ for the humor in this one. I love the “Six Parts Water” bits. I wish I was on Vlad’s level in picking up all the subtle little things…I kept shouting in my head, “Explain to me now why Dahni would rescue you and…”

    Two things from the book. Which houses exactly are the true aristocratic ones? (You know, in that bit where Vlad was wondering which house he would have to be in to be an art critic). He said something like, “any of the six (or five, or seven)…”
    Got a percent chance that one of the future Vlad books will be about when he organizes a play to assassinate someone?

    Lastly, is that thing that looks like a ‘B’ on the spine, over the prologue, epilogue, etc. your symbol? If so, how does it feel to have a symbol? And…if I project it into the night sky will you come to my house and drink brandy?

  42. Dennis @ 38: It’s a nickname.

    Billy Myers @ 43: “Which houses exactly are the true aristocratic ones?” Which do you think they are?

    Not sure what that symbol over the prologue is. Universal symbol for prologue? I dunno.

  43. SKZB @ 45: The symbol’s not just over the prologue! You’re dodging the question!

    True aristocratic house…let me look up an Exact definition because I don’t use the word aristocratic everyday…and on the days I do use it I’m generally referring to my Refrigerator.

    Ok, the six: Phoenix, Dragon, Lyorn, Tiassa, Dzur….Hawk (ooh if this is right they’re grouped together on the cycle).

    (or seven): Add Athyra to go with my linked-on-the-cycle theory. I thought Iorich maybe but…I’m not sure if ‘Justice and Retrobution’ vibe with the concept.

    (or five): Subtract Phoenix because there’s only Zerika.

  44. I read the book very quickly, something I do only rarely these days for books I anticipate; and that means I might possibly have missed a critical point or two, or may have misperceived some nuances….

    Anyhow, perhaps needless to say it was a very enjoyable book that answers a few promises made in other books to fill in some missing details of Vlad’s past.

    However, a couple of small points come to mind to criticize.

    1. Vlad’s reticence about being tortured.

    This is little more than a nitpick. I understand that Vlad wouldn’t naturally be very enthusiastic about going into detail about what was happening to him at the time in recounting his story, that at the time he was incoherent due to the stress, that there is a strong implication of torture when it occurs at the time (the torturer threatens him after all), that Vlad’s incoherence and general distress is made clear at the time, and then later the extent and nature of the torture is explained.

    However…. Vlad is theoretically recounting this story as it occurred in the past. Since he does after all get around to giving some details of the torture later on in the book, it seems oddly coy for him not to mention how bad it was at the point he is recounting his experience of the abduction. I read through the action event narration of the abduction and torture period without ever being quite sure that he was in fact being tortured physically.

    In this particular regard, it seems more like the delay in describing the torture is more a device of the author than a natural tendency of the narrator, and realizing that after a while pushed me a little ways from immersion in the story.

    As an aside, I wouldn’t necessarily expect a graphic account of the torture, or even a lot of details regarding the particular injuries or ill effects that Vlad has suffered, but rather at some point in the action narration of the event a more direct acknowledgement that the experience did in fact involve terribly traumatic torture.

    This is certainly not a major point, but it did come to my mind when I was reading, so to some extent it took me out of the story.

    2. Vlad’s mystery revelation pattern.

    Over a number of books, a certain familiar self-similarity becomes evident, that Vlad encounters a mysterious situation that involves intrigue, concealment, and deception, often becoming involved more or less by accident, prods at the situation without much understanding, gains a certain understanding, acts on this understanding without revealing it to the reader, and then explains the understanding later in the denouement or prior to the final action of the book.

    This is a fine pattern to use, that has produced many enjoyable books, and I enjoy being challenged along with Loiosh or Sethra or Kragar or whoever it may be to figure things out on my own, so I’m not suggesting there is anything wrong with it as such.

    But in this particular book, the repetition of the sequence felt just a bit strained to me.

    I wonder if this feeling of strain or a perception of obviousness of the pattern in this particular book might possibly also have been felt by the author, as Vlad seems to be going far out of his way not to explain anything to Loiosh who is after all trusted absolutely, and Loiosh seems to complain about it more than usual.

    Anyhow, neither of these two points is all that important in themselves, and taken together for me they hardly detracted at all from the enjoyment of the book. I bring them up only because both were just a little bit offputting to me during the reading, detracting a little from immersion.

  45. Oh, by the way, I thought the Nero Wolfe reference was pretty funny.

    More significantly, seeing as Vlad naturally wanted to take direct revenge throughout most of the book, I thought it was effective to keep him disabled during just the period he would normally be taking that direct action. Forcing him to rely on indirect means as he did was a good trick.

  46. One thing that keeps bothering me is that originally there was a distinction between the lower-cased animal and the upper-cased Dragaeran (Loiosh is a jhereg, Vlad is a Jhereg); this distinction hasn’t been kept in recent books.

    I like the detail that a Dragaeran play would last two days. It has a definite feel of a Shakespeare play if Will had been an elf.

  47. I got the book Tuesday afternoon and had it finished by Thursday morning. I really want to read it more slowly and savor it, but I couldn’t, even though I knew more or less how it was going to end.

    A couple questions. Is this where Vlad loses a finger and was all that stuff about fighting a sword without one just hogwash? And second: I have to reread the book in question where he acquired the amulet (I don’t recall what it was called, but he started out by murdering–er assassinating–the king of that island. I had the distinct impression that the amulet prevented the use of sorcery by or against him, but now it turns out it also prevents witchcraft. Was this a later invention or was it there from the start?

    At all events I enjoyed it, although the story had nothing to do with Jhagaalas. And the inserts on jhagaalas had nothing to do with the narrative.

  48. The thought that a Dragon could not make an art critic amused me (as perhaps it was meant to?) inasmuch as it was The Marquis of Pepperfield’s attempts at art criticism that led to his demise.

  49. bigmike, the Amulet is made of two stones one gold one black. One blocks witchcraft and the other sorcery. They were called phoenix stones I believe.

    Vlad use witchcraft to locate someone with Daymar’s assistance. The organization could possibly do the same if they thought to hire a witch.

  50. It also occurs to me that, although Vlad thinks he is acting with free will and with his only motivations being the search for his family and escape from his enemies, the actual results of his actions are completely consistent with him being an agent both of the empress (the plans for the paper factory) and of Verra. At least, I assume that Verra-worship was what was really meant by all the talk of summoning demons in the light-dark dichotomy, and that Verra would be happy to bring down the factions that hurt her worshippers.

  51. Hexnut, it may be that some of the key stops on Vlad’s way are laid out for him in advance, but I don’t think it’s done with such simple ends in view.

    1. I don’t think Verra could care less about what happens to random worshippers. Morrolan, yes. Random Easterner peasant, no.

    2. If Vlad is being manipulated so subtly and adroitly to serve the Empress for such a trivial end, the Empire should be in much better shape than it seems to be, as she could make all the gods dance on strings with such skills, much less the Houses….

  52. Oh, I doubt anyone is manipulating him into helping the empire design paper factories. That part is just a coincidence, I’m sure, but one that even after this has all shaken out will leave the survivors in Burz suspicious of his motives. Though I could make a case that paper factories are not such a trivial end as all that: cheap and consistent paper is an essential ingredient for the widespread distribution of print.

    As for Verra, I’d think the scale of the takeover of her followers’ lands by the new count, coven, and guild might be enough to get her to care: it’s a lot more than just one peasant. The priest does talk about leaving vengeance to her rather than Vlad taking it into his own hands, but we’ve seen in other books that she’s used those hands as her instrument. 80 years may seem like a long time to wait for her vengeance but to her that’s short. And if there’s any manipulation going on, it would make more sense of the “sorry” remark.

  53. Steve,

    Thank you. This was was not as enjoyable as most of the Vlad books, but was more satisfying. A better cut of beef, perhaps, and less seasoned therefore just to let the quality show through. God steak, either way.

    Having gone through a marriage dissolution, I know what that does to sense of self. Having not gone through a realization that I am by soul what I hate, nor coming to a realization that my career is one I might begin to reproach myself with – not to mention the whole business with getting kicked out of the Jhereg and having a Morganti blade with my name on it — well, I can only imagine what that does to a person. I guess having a familiar helps, but self destruction and morbid near nihilism are understandable.

    More than usual, events play Vlad, and there seems to be less intentional agency to the events than when Vlad is Vlad. I been there.

    In this sense, bravo on being able to capture the feeling of the days immediately after the events in Phoenix so many years later. Bravo.

    BigMike @50 and others: I recall Vlad losing his pinky while trying to parry a sword cut with his hand, explaining that this is a difficult thing to do because you have to hit the flat of the blade with your hand — and he doesn’t get it perfectly, so minus one pinky. Thought it was in Athyra, but Vlad doesn’t narrate that, so I don’t know. But remember it I do, as Yoda would have it.

    Miramon@47: A rather central element of Vlad’s identity is that he does things to people, they do not do things to him, and he can’t stand being powerless. He reacted badly the (one?) other time he was tortured, too, and we get similar details about his clever wit, not about what they do to him, especially not the small details. I see that as Vlad trying to salvage some sense of mastery over a situation in which he is as powerless and powerless can be. Having been a hostage myself, and having read a U.S. government manual on how to handle being tortured at that time, I have no doubt but that Vlad’s refusal to dwell on details is far more common than not.

    Steve — appropos the above, one of the elements I most enjoy about the Vlad books, in particular (but Cowboy Feng’s is another), is your ability to draw believable characters with little verbiage. (Varg, for example, I think, was masterfully done). For Vlad to have been able to recite in clinical detail what was done to him under torture would have violated basic elements of his character as I’ve come to understand it, so thanks for not doing so.


  54. Bought the book yesterday, finished it an hour ago, in the parking lot at my employer and made myself late for work. Take from that whatever satisfaction you will. ;-)

    I’m going to have to read the story again slower in order to really decide how I feel about it. For what it is, that being the follow-up to Phoenix/Teckla, it works. Vlad is the Vlad that I might have expected in that situation.

    Six Parts Water was interesting and frustrating at the same time. At various points I felt like I was “watching” Nick and Nora, Holmes and Watson, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (ala Stoppard). Given the transformation theme, this was probably intentional. At the same time, it was slightly frustrating trying to make sense of it (where only small sense was actually intended, I imagine) and try to relate it to the story. I think a re-read of the story will probably help establish how each scene of the play relates to the story and/or the current chapter. At least, I hope so. My frustration was that it wasn’t at all obvious and I didn’t want to take the time to figure it out!

    I’m going to echo the opinion of Miramon @ 48 – the trope of Vlad walking into the middle of something, becoming embroiled, knocked around, and then solving it while saving the solution for a denoument at the end feels a bit over-used. After awhile, I started imagining the voice of Loiosh to be the Voice of the Reader.

    Part of that frustration is that it’s a mystery story and there doesn’t appear to be any chance for an astute reader to solve the mystery. In fact, I had to ask myself why the Count did such a turn-around and protected Vlad in the end. It would have been much easier to just dispose of him; yet, Vlad counted on him be a “decent guy”, basically.

    Hmmm… Well, I suppose a re-read is in order to see how it feels on the second run through.

    The “drawing room reveal” at the end is, I suppose, somewhat forgivable given that the story seems to be a homage of sorts to classic detective fiction. Vlad has always been Chandler-esque anyway, so it’s not that surprising, I suppose, that a mystery would involve some subtle nods to the tropes of the genre.

    Overall, a good read. Not quite what I was expecting, but that’s a good thing in the long run. The unpredictability of the Vladiad is one of its appeals, and if I’m a bit critical of the elements listed above, its really only because they seem to be bordering on becoming predictable.

    I’ve sometimes wondered what a Vlad novel would be like if Vlad himself was off-stage the whole time, and we only ever saw the results of his actions as viewed by the various people affected by them.

  55. On other topics, I live near a town that had a Weyrhauser paper mill operating nearby. It closed down a few years ago, but when I drive through the area, I can sometimes still smell it! There’s nothing quite like the stench of a paper mill – it’s at once like and completely unlike the worst manure you’ve ever come across.

    The mill operated in an area of bog/orchards that existed between two towns. That area was literally a no-man’s land. Nobody lived there unless they had their business there and those businesses were few. Steve’s descriptions of what life in a town set next to the mill would be like are no exaggeration!

    My only question is, who was buying the paper? What made it such an economic force that it could control the entire region? It didn’t appear to be the King – the good thing Burz had going was benign neglect when it came to the royal government.

    Also, why was the Count so very cosmopolitan as to be aware of the Empress and, presumably, the Empire? It makes me wonder if that whole business of the paper recipe is a cover for the fact that the original Count of three generations back was actually one of those Easterner Sorcerors who established their own petty kingdoms based on their magical power. He managed to avoid being put down because he based his county on economic power instead of strictly supernatural power, and the local King didn’t much care about the counties anyway as long as they stayed more or less in line.

  56. I just remembered what 6 Parts Water reminds me of, albeit indirectly: the fictional “King in Yellow” play. variously referred to in several Robert Chambers stories, and then picked up on as a sort of horror meme by various other later writers.

    Now these two plays are entirely different from one another in content in almost every way, apart from the similarity of existing only as quoted fragments in a story, but even so there was something about the one that recalled the other.

    I gather that 6 Parts Water is somewhat Thin Man-like and somewhat Holmes-like in its style, meant to be amusing to its audience, and so is seemingly nothing at all like the mix of yellow period horror and nascent modern drama of The King in Yellow.

    As I recall, The King in Yellow was supposedly so transcendently awful as to cause mental disease and suicide in some readers and audience.

    But even so, some of the excerpts of 6 Parts Water dialogue seem to echo remotely, nevertheless.

    Anyhow, just for fun, I looked up the King in Yellow, the play. Here’s the most famous excerpt, which I must admit doesn’t seem very similar at all:

    Camilla: You, sir, should unmask.
    Stranger: Indeed?
    Cassilda: Indeed, it’s time. We all have laid aside disguise but you.
    Stranger: I wear no mask.
    Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) No mask? No mask!

    The quoted excerpts and related effects of reading of the King in Yellow enhance Chambers’ stories considerably, by providing a good deal of atmosphere complementary to the stories.

    6 Parts Water is warning the reader that there is a parlor mystery situation to deal with, I suppose, something which is not at all obvious for the first half of Jhegaala; but it also adds a certain flavor in and of itself. I think there is something to the way that particular spice is mixed in which is similar to the effect in Chambers’ stories.

    Another distant and really unlikely connection, noted again just for fun, is that Raymond Chandler had a short mystery story called the King in Yellow; apparently the narrator had read Chambers’ book.

  57. Slickriptide @ 57: “I’ve sometimes wondered what a Vlad novel would be like if Vlad himself was off-stage the whole time, and we only ever saw the results of his actions as viewed by the various people affected by them.” Vade retro, Satanas!

  58. Ha! I nearly think that response makes it a Cool idea! :^P

    This does remind me that there was at least one place where I read the current bit of Six Parts Water and thought “Geez, now it’s Waiting For Godot!” I wonder if we could build a game out of figuring the current “transformation” of the play?

  59. I also got a Godot feeling from some part of Six Parts Water. Also, I think from the part where one of them made a quip about giving up talking to himself because of not knowing how to talk to aristocracy, a bit of a feeling of The Importance of Being Earnest.

  60. Hexnut@62: I agree.

    Amazing how evocative those little excerpts are. An actual play could never combine gothic horror, parlor mystery, sardonic comedy, and existentialist screed, but evidently 6 Parts Water manages just fine :)

  61. I like the fact that Vlad explains that happened at the end to an idiot. Is that a jab at readers who didn’t put it together in time?

    I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

  62. Thanks, Steve, it was worth the year’s wait! I had to immediately jump over to the Dragaera wiki and insert a quick analysis of the parallels to the Jhegaala life cycle, before someone else did. And the Nero Wolfe lifecycle too, while we’re at it.

    The Part headings and descriptions of the Jhegaala’s life cycle are apparently meant as a parallel to the plot and Vlad’s own internal shifts.

    Part One: (Egg) is the stage where the mother must leave the vulnerable egg alone with a father or father-substitute. The parallel to Vlad’s inquiries about his early days with his absent mother, and clues from his own father-substitute, is obvious.

    Part Two: (Apoptera) is the stage of curious inquisition with all senses, while sight (and insight, by frequent metaphor in the book) is the last to develop. During this stage Vlad is inquisitive but ignorant, constantly assaulted by smells, and tastes, but sights are always obscured by darkness or shadow. His understanding is similarly bewildered.

    Part Three: (Steminastra) is the Jhegaala’s vulnerable yet reckless stage. The plot shows Vlad undertaking self-healing spells in a way that shows (in retrospect) “reckless disregard for the size and characteristics of his predators”.

    Part Four: (Notonide) is the Jhegaala’s fast adolescence, a period of high vulnerability, intense and rapid physical transformation, development of wings and venom glands, and yet the Jhegaala is “never so much itself as when under intense pressure”. Vlad is during this time helpless and tortured, being crippled and intensely damaged, and yet learning fast and finding the information levers and threats (the venom glands) that will allow him to be effective when he is himself again.

    Part Five: (Levidopt) is both a state of maturity and a recapitulation of the previous developments. The parallel to Vlad’s reassessment of the rest of the story in light of his new outlook is evident. An interesting side note — in this stage, Vlad spends most (all?) of his time bedridden, gathering information and manipulating events from his immobile position. It’s too bad the Levidopt stage isn’t mentioned as an immobile stage, because it would present an attractive parallel.

    (Here I added this bit which was moved elsewhere on the wiki:)

    Instead, an oblique reference to Nero Wolfe, the overweight armchair detective, is brought to our attention in case we hadn’t noticed that Loiosh is acting as Archie Goodwin to Vlad’s Nero. (P.260: “You know, Loiosh, I think I could get used to having you fly around and find out things for me while I just sit and do the thinking.” “Heh. In a year you’d weigh three hundred pounds.”)

  63. Thank you so much for this book and for all the Vlad books.
    The play within a book (whose deeper purpose, besides playing with the fact that this book is like a murder mystery I cannot yet fathom), the description of a fictional creatures metamorphis as a metaphor for our heroes journey, not just in this book, but throughout the series—and those are just the chapter headings. It all shows such care for the character, such true affection for the readers, to put that extra effort in.

    This is another one of those Vlad books that asks more questions then it answers.
    Like Vlad we now have a name for his mother, but have no hard facts about her.
    And we still aren’t sure how he lost his finger.
    But we do know why Vlad changed in some ways during his exile and why he stayed the same and others. And we learned it in a way that was both enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing.
    Thank you again.

  64. Dissent @ 67: Thanks kindly. But if you think you don’t know how Vlad lost his finger, read more closely. :-)

  65. Great book, loved it. I like Vlad’s character in this earlier stage better than the Vlad in Dzur or Issola.
    Come to think of it I like the books that are coming (chronologically) after Phoenix not as much as I like the earlier books, so I was pleased to get the state of Vlad’s mind immediatly after Phoenix.
    One thing that I don’t quite get though. When Zollie tells Vlad where the Merss family lives he says “About six miles north, the little road past the walnut trees.”(p58)
    Yet when Vlad walks there the next day he walks south.
    “I stood outside the Pointy Head(…) and sent Loiosh scouting to find a road south.” (p65)

    Did Steven make a mistake here or did I miss something?

  66. I really enjoyed the book. It was not what I expected at all.

    Steve @65: Great summary. I read the book quickly and I was planning a reread to pay attention to those details more closely. Not that I won’t reread it anyway. ;)

    I did feel the book was a bit Waiting for Godot as I was waiting for an actual Jhegaala to arrive. Perhaps it is simplistic but I enjoy not only learning about the different houses but also the specific indivuduals of those houses. Telnan is one of my favorite characters as he challenged the stereotypes.

  67. Interesting book. Vlad seemed somewhat less in-control than other books, but I was amused that he managed to bring down all 3 organizations with a single sickly bed-ridden action. The power of knowledge. Nicely done.

    Question; page 180 he has a blindfold on, then on 181 he can suddenly see. Mistake or time-lag due to torture?

    I only recognized the Midsummer Night’s Dream portion of 6 Parts Water. Based on other comments on similarities to other plays, I’m wondering if this, also, follows the Metamorphosis theme of the rest of the book.

  68. Finished Jhegaala (the high-speed First Reading). Yum. Thank you, Steve, for another Vlad book.

    May I cast an additional vote for Six Parts Water?

    Slickriptide @ 57, given a certain slipperyness in time in matters to do with the gods, and the persistence of the soul, perhaps Steve has already written several books in which Vlad operates completely off-stage …

  69. First off, great to find a place to be able to discuss Steven’s work. And just looking at the comments here, it gives me great comfort that I am not alone in having gone back multiple times re-reading the various stories. What can I say, each time I read them, I seem to find new things from the stories that I don’t remember having noticed before. Or my memory is so bad I just think they are new things, hehehe.

    Getting into Jhegaala, there were multiple references in the opening chapter of Vlad still trying to deal with the break-up with Cawti, where his head is a whirlwind of emotions, ever-changing from one to another at the drop of a hat. I could easily relate as I had that same kind of experience many years ago. In other books like Issola or Orca, that whirlwind was gone.

    And Steve@65, while I had an understanding of Vlad going through the same metamorphosis as a jhegaala, I didn’t have it as thoroughly implanted in my head as you were able to describe. Thank you.

    The one thing about all of these stories, while most of them are written from Vlad’s POV, we don’t know exactly WHEN he is on his timeline when he tells us his stories. Many times before he’s referenced how he has been tortured twice in his lifetime, and never again will he allow himself to fall prey. The first one we are told of was when he was tortured by a rival Jhereg, performed by a Draegeran, and here, it’s from an Easterner. Excuse me, two Easterners, or at least two different Easterner parties having him tortured.

    This had to be difficult to write, I would imagine, trying to get Vlad to mature and learn how to become more self-sufficient than in his days in the Jhereg where he would have Kraegar or one of the other gang members go out and do his bidding. But, something very essential, to say the least. It helps explain some of Vlad’s changes in attitude in Issola and Dzur. I can very much see the similarity to the priest in Jhegaala and how he treats the followers of Vera to that of Vera herself and how she treats Vlad, which could explain his previous threats to his own goddess.

  70. I was happy to see Vlad try a beer, and a summer ale at that.

    As usual, this book was not what I was expecting. I especially enjoyed the scenes in the two inn common rooms. The torture scenes were painful to read, frightenly evocative.

    I used to make a beverage I privately referred to as “klava”. Won’t repeat the recipe here, but it did involve honey, cream and a French press.

    It just occured to me that I’ve been a fan of Vlad & co. for 25 years. Yikes.

  71. Steve:

    I went through Jheggala in two and a half hours. Knowing that it was the careful labor of months of composition and re-writing, I felt bad about that — but then, like most of your fans, I’m greedy.

    Most of the others have summed up my basic feelings about the book — like a meal at a favorite restaurant, it doesn’t have to be spectacular to be completely and utterly satisfying. Seeing Vlad among Easterners was refreshing, seeing his problems in acculteration, etc. was amusing (“Pig Eatin’s.” Heh!) and the banter with his faithful lizard companion was enjoyable as always.

    One of the joys of episodic fiction is witnessing good character development, and I’d say you’ve nailed that one. Vlad maintains his internal consistancy, and it occurs to me that a large part of his interest in the East is the result of distracting himself from his break-up with Cawti. It does make me wonder if Vlad ever found a good rebound girl in the East. Surely he must have been tempted. I’m sure that would be an interesting story . . .

    All in all, I was happy with this book and eagerly look forward to the next. Angry ass-kicking Vlad is great, and I look forward to seeing more swashbuckling adventures — but morose, moody, sarcastic Vlad can be fun, too, as you’ve shown a few times. I can’t help but want Vlad’s emotional and physical exile to come to an end, soon, though, so that he can return to Adrilhanka a wiser, more mature, and more kick-ass character.

    Oh, and I have a great klava recipe (I’m the guy that sent you that coffee, that one time), if anyone wants it. You make it like Vietnamese coffee, only on Dragera you would use a wooden brewer, not a steel one.

    Mix 4 tbs. honey with 1 oz. of cream (substitute sweetened condensed milk if you aren’t a Drageran purist) and make Vietnamese coffee into it. To do that you need the brewer, which is a little stainless steel hat you can sometimes get at Asian supermarkets. Take a medium-to-dark roast coffee (prefer a Full City Ethipoian Yergacheffe, myself, but Vietnam was colonized by the French, so they use French Roast coffee which is like eating burnt steak) grind it coursely (perc or French Press grind) and pour the desired amount of near-boiling hot water into the top. It takes a few moments, but the result is enchanting.


  72. You put them in the coffee grounds, only about 1/2 tsp. rinsed and crushed per serving. (An important step: albumen in your coffee is . . . novel.) Eggshells have calcium, which binds with some of the more bitter alkaoids in coffee. This used to be pretty standard when everyone percolated their coffee, which makes the coffee “strong” but bitter. Sailors and North Woods lumberjacks are famous for doing this.

  73. Terry @76/78

    Thanks for your klava recipe. What type of cream do you use? Below is my summary.

    _Klava Recipe by Terry Mancour_
    4 Tbsp Honey
    1 oz Cream
    Coffee grounds (med/dark roast)
    1/2 tsp Eggshells (rinsed and crushed)

    Mix honey and cream in a mug.
    Using a Vietnamese filter, add coffee grounds mixed with eggshells.
    Place filter on the mug.
    Pour in desired amount of near-boiling water through the filter.

  74. I enjoyed the book a little too quickly :( I will need to reread the series again I think. Iorich can’t come soon enough!

    I must admit, I was anxious to see what happens *after* the events of the previous book. However, I knew we’d eventually be told how Vlad lost a finger and getting that hole somewhat filled in makes the saga more complete.

    It’s funny, I know the story is about Vlad and he is a great protagonist… But my favorite character is Morrolan. I hope he’s back in Iorich =)

    Oh, and I really enjoyed the 6 Parts Water bits. I attend the Oregon Shakespeare festival every year and watch the plays. For some reason those snippets struck a chord with me and cracked me up.

    On a similar note, the dinner during Dzur was awesome. Not only did I enjoy the character Telnan but I *love* good food (and wine) so the “experience” of a fine dinner and explanation of how to enjoy it was entertaning.

  75. I use regular whipping cream, but if you aren’t that brave at heart 1/2 and 1/2 works pretty well, too. And for those effete Orca who spend to much time around the spice docks, try adding a few shards of cinnimon stick or some cardomom.

    And Steve? When is the Dinner at Valobar’s Cookbook coming out?

  76. Great book, Mr. Brust, but I’m the kind to get caught up in trivialities. I was trying to put all the “Six Parts Water” excerpts in order, and though the one from Day Two, Act IV, Scene 6 ends with “[Curtain]” there is another from Day Two, Act VI, Scene 5. Is that an error? (Sitting here in my “Songs from the Gypsy” T-Shirt being the annoying obsessive fanboy…)

  77. Finally got to read this, and I’m sure I’ll reread it before the week is out. Fun! I liked having the analytical part of my mind distracted by connecting the zoology text to the Vlad narrative while I got to sit back and enjoy the story, and Six Parts Water was great, almost as fun as the etiquette epigraphs in Issola. I also like getting to spend time with Noish-pa.

    I did wonder how Vlad knew to go south to find the Merss homestead when Zollie had told him it was north, though.

  78. Great novel, SB! But damn you for making me go back and re-read the whole series (AGAIN!)!

    (Actually, was once again a joy!)

  79. Loved it. Great birthday present from my wife it was. Like a box of chocolates I finished it in one day.

    Good to see that Devera still keeps an eye on her uncle.

    So all things been equal, when would you expect ‘itch hitting the shelves?

  80. Sorry for being a little late here, i bought Jheggala a few days after it hit the shelves and like most of us rushed through it but went back and re-read it slowly.

    Very impressive Mr. Brust, as always. Though it gave me the same “what the hell is going on?” feeling that Orca gives, I still loved it.

    Vlad, our little memory gapped narrator, either does or doesn’t know what happened to his hand, specifically. His interrogator mentions all the parts of the body that can be removed without killing him which is of course a good indication of what happened but of all the things that happen to Vlad along his journey away from the city this is the one thing that he doesn’t want to speak of, but it keeps being brought up, and with a different explanation each time. Vlad, the liar that he is finally admitted it to us, even if we had to think a little to figure it out. I guess this is just another thing, like the Ibronka’s and Tukko’s out there, that Mr. Brust hands to us and expects us to figure out on our own.

    and lastly, like everyone else, hehe – pig eatin’s

  81. Actually, stepping back a bit to look at the book just as a piece of craftsmanship, I think the torture sequence is the most skilfully written scene Mr. Brust has ever done. It’s gut-wrenchingly clear what is happening, and it’s so disturbing I had to put the book down; but the horror is gotten across entirely without gruesome detail, a crutch almost any writer would have leaned on. It strikes me as a thing that someone very confident of his powers might do just to show he could. Splendidly done.

  82. Am I the only one who noticed that Jhegaala is the first book in the series that didn’t feature a member of, or give us deep insight into the character of members of the House after which the book is named?

    What we learned of the the Jhegaala life-cycle, and how Vlad’s experience in this story paralleled it was fascinating.

    But in every one of the other books we’ve seen how the House and its members reflect the animal – I would have loved to see how this life cycle was expressed in a member of House Jhegaala.

    As I said in “Done!” thread regarding _Iorich_, maybe I’m too hidebound, but I hope there’s an Iorich in _Iorich_.

  83. I guess I’m not much of a fan, I don’t catch all the little mistakes, heh. I do enjoy the hell out of your stories though. I’ve read most of your stuff and liked it; even managed to scrape up a copy of ‘The Sun the Moon and the Stars’. Vlad is without a doubt my favorite character but I also loved ‘To Reign in Hell’ (sheer genius spin on Paradise Lost) and ‘Agyar’. Shame you killed off Agyar, he was a brilliant character and had a lot of potential… My question is *drum roll* …When is Vlad going to “find himself” and go kill the right people and take over the organization? I dunno, it just seems like his current path is a dead end, sooner or later the Jhereg are going to get him. It also seems out of character for him to run for so long. I’ve always likened him to Batman, he’s both brilliant and insanely driven. No matter the circumstances a man like that won’t run for long. Also what’s this I hear of Vlad having a Great Weapon from another post?! How the hell did I miss that? Sheesh.

    Oh and btw tyvm for all the good times I’ve had with your characters!

  84. I just finished Jhegaala and like a few other people mentioned above, had a touch of trouble reconcilling “old” Vlad of Teckla/Dragon/Jhereg with “new” Vlad of Athyra/Orca/Issola and so on, but it was all clear once the timeshift was established and in particular made it especially clear why the new Vlad cares so much about the common folk around him now. Particularly in regards to the special care he takes of Savn after Athyra and his feelings for Teldra in Issola.

    Jhegaala was a bit of a slow read, and just like I had to do with Yendi, I’ll have to re-read it and the books before and after it to spot all the more subtle changes in Vlad’s character. But it’s excellent addition to the series.

    Two questions though. The end of Jhegaala seems to imply that Vlad stayed in Fenario for several years (recovering no doubt), so Jhegaala was a recounting. So first, how long was Vlad away from the Empire before Teldra found him again?

    Second, might you be willing to share when in Vlad’s life Iorich is going to be set?

  85. Mishal @ 97: Thanks. No, he doesn’t stay in Fenario for several years; not sure where that implication comes from. Iorich is set about four years after Dzur (unless I change my mind during editing).

  86. That’s a pretty big leap forward compared to the other books isn’t it? I look forward to reading what has happened to all the players in that time (though I’m sure you’ll leave us (your loyal readers) hanging in the wind on a number of issues only to revisit them in books to come – I want them all now!…).

    Quick question to hopefully give this post a bit of merit – Did you find it difficult to write with a largish leap in the continuity? As in, did you have to write out in your notes “this is what this major character did for four years, and this is what this other major character did for four years”? Or did you take more of a “this is the story I want to write now, I’ll just fill in the history only as much as it pertains to the current book” ?


  87. Some of each. I have bits and pieces of everyone’s history in my head, and a complete willingness to make things up as I go. :-)

  88. Oh, wait, my bad, Meehayi was the one who stayed in Fenario. My apologies, somewhere in my head Fenario became the name of Easterner country and not just a city in the middle of it. “How long was Vlad outside of the Empire and in Easterner territory?” was what I meant to say.

    I bring this up, because I’ve forgotten where I read the general reference for an Easterner’s lifespan, but Vlad seems to be getting pretty well on in years by ~Dzur~ (and now, more in ~Iorich~). I’m aware that many of the books detail events that only took a few weeks to a year to happen and/or follow after each other directly. But some just pop up until earlier/or later books come up to put them in perspective. Vlad avoids mirrors and people to comment on his appearance very well, so how old is that man about now? I wonder if he’ll be able to continue taking all those beatings as well as he can by the time ~Tiassa~ and ~Vallista~ roll around.

  89. To valadamiracf @ 96.

    You missed ~Issola~, go read it, excellent Vlad and Teldra moments happened there.

  90. Decided to catch up on a the last couple of book, and suddenly wanted to drink some klava.
    so, another approach that turned out fine, vageuly inspired by the Taltos novels. (sans eggshells, with cardamom):

    Start with finely ground Turkish coffee with cardamom mixed in (I buy it from a nice Lebanese restaurant who I think seasons and grinds it themselves.)

    Make Turkish coffee. It’s best in a special pot with a wider base and narrower neck, like these:
    Start with water sweetened with honey – about 1c water and 2-3 tsp honey – bring it to a boil in the pot, take off the heat, stir in 3 tsp or so of your coffee grounds. Put back on the heat, pay attention – the it will come back to a boil quickly and you’ll need to be fast to take it back off the heat before it boils over. Repeat the not-quite-boiling over step two more times for a total of 3.

    Let sit for a minute, pour into mugs, top off with heavy cream to taste. Don’t pour the last bit in, you’ll get fewer grounds in your mug. And don’t drink the last bit, or you’ll be drinking grounds.

    (I did it this way mostly because my everyday coffee is Turkish brewed but without cardamom,
    and I though the cardamom kind in the freezer would go well with the honey.)

  91. Interesting recipe, but Vlad couldn’t stand the coffee grounds; he’d make faces and Loiosh would laugh at him.

  92. @101

    “Vlad seems to be getting pretty well on in years by ~Dzur~ (and now, more in ~Iorich~).”

    According to the timeline (link below) Vlad was born in 222 PI. The events of Dzur are given as taking place in 248 PI. That is only 26 years.


    *Apparently, I am in research mode this week.

  93. Man, this seems like a wasted effort to attempt and post seeing the most recent reply is from November of 8. Nevertheless, I can’t stress enough how much this series has inspired me. I picked up Jhereg last year, and lo and behold, I am itching for the rest of the series by page 3. Any quote on those covers is not only well deserved, but completely true. Such a creative writing style in such a creative writing genre, truly refreshed me of why I read. One thing I’ve done in my spare time which I found kind of fun was making my own Spellbreaker. I used about 5 feet of chain, because 2 and a half didn’t fit around my wrist and stay there, all in varying sizes and shapes to kind of make it feel like it’s always changing. Then, of course, I spray painted the whole thing deep gold. My next project is to make Klava, thanks to all the fine recipes here.
    So thanks, SB, for the great series and the klava.

  94. Wow a flashback thread here. Since this popped back up I thought I would post a follow up on Klava.

    – I use a single cup french press.
    – I add a heaping scoop of coffee. Adjust to your preferred strength.
    – One half of an egg shell (cleaned).
    – One quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract. Vanilla beans are expensive!
    – Some wood chips. I have been using hickory but plan to try apple next.
    – I fill it up with very hot water and let it sit for 3 -4 minutes.
    – Pour into a mug (preferably pre-warmed).
    – I add 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of cream (hvy or lt whipping cream).

    I make this about 3-4 times a week. The vanilla and the hickory really stand out and define the taste. The honey and cream mellow out the overall flavor.

    My eight year old son recently asked me to make him some klava since I was having it all the time. He gave it two thumbs up.

  95. So Jason, how exactly does one filter the eggshell and wood chips out of the cup? I’ve tried and failed twice now, since I can’t hold the flavor when I try.

  96. Now this sounds like something I could really enjoy doing every morning before school. Thanks for the pointers Jason.

  97. I have to wonder to myself now, Steve, if you’ve ever done a book signing. I’ve been all over the place trying to find copies of anything from the Vlad series, but never once have any stores mentioned that you had ever done a signing. Is that something you plan to do or have done?

  98. I’ve done many signings, when I happen to be in a town, and the bookstore gets hold of me. If you mean a book signing tour, no, so far Tor hasn’t sent me on one of those.

  99. Sounds like it’s a bit of fun when you get the right crowd. I imagine you keep pretty busy. Thanks for answering, by the way. I know a few people who’d have spit at the question, if you catch my drift.

  100. You know I have heard it said, by publishers other than Tor, that they’d love to publish something by skzb. I for one would like more of well, anything by you sir. Perhaps you should consider writing more… Maybe even make a full time career of it.

  101. Personally, I’d love to discuss ideas with somebody who inspired me to take up writing in the first place. So I’d say just finding this site was great luck. Many thanks for the years of entertainment.

    Oh, and as a side note to everybody- Jason’s klava recipe in 108 is amazing. Recently made it myself, and was very happy with the results.

  102. You signed my copy of Issola, Steven. In fact, it’s the only “book signed by author” that I have. I show it to people when I’m getting all wordy about loving Taltos and telling them why they should read.

    Also, Iorich came out today. Are we (collectively) going to talk about this, or are you not going to post anything at all? I had to drive to three different book stores and burn at least an hour to find a copy. Stupid Borders didn’t have their 15 copies yet, and Books-A-Million can suck it. This is the second most crap I’ve had to go through to get a book of yours. The most? Jhegaala, which came out while I was at Vegas. I walked two miles in Vegas July to get that book, died of heat stroke twice.

  103. I just got my copy of Iorich, too. The back of the book cracked me up, and I know I’m going to be reading all night tonight.

    If you’re ever doing a book signing in the New England area, please post it here. I’d be right there in line.

  104. Hey Steve, are you going to make a post so people can tell you how much they enjoyed reading Iorich?

    I’d just do it here, but it doesn’t seem, well, appropriate.

  105. No Spoilers. I… haven’t finished yet. Wife squashed the crap out of her knee and so the 20 hours since I got the book has been spent with someone thrusting the twins in my face saying “watch this while I complain about my knee.”


  106. Saaaay, Mr. Brust… this koovash beast you mention (“Rocza was instantly alert, like a koovash scenting a wolf”), that wouldn’t happen to come from somewhere on the franco-german border, would it? A Kuh-Vache?

  107. I was thinking of the Hungarian shepherd, the kuvasc. (Actually pronounced KOO-vawch.) That the same one you’re speaking of?

  108. Ah, a kuvasc. Er, no, I didn’t think of that, not speaking Hungarian nor knowing anything about dogs.

    Too bad, a multinational cow sounded good, too…

  109. Before *Tiassa* grabs everyone’s attention, are there any language geeks among us who’ve managed to pry a recognizable English–or, for that matter, legitimate Hungarian–equivalent out of either “Chayoor” or “Inchay” in *Jhegaala*?

    Vlad’s “Of course it is” reaction to the information that the local Guild Master’s name is Chayoor practically screams “yo, punch line here.” As does Meehayi’s total disconnect over Vlad’s “Pointy Hat” reference to Inchay’s place. But I haven’t been able to crack the hidden joke behind either one. I get the part where we’re all supposed to realize the “fool” (per *Athyra*) who’s recording these Vlad-ventures is doing his not-quite-phonetic best with the spelling of unfamiliar words. (Surprise, surprise, I even get that “eddieberry” and “koelsch” are NOT continuity errors.) And most of my Fenarian-to-Hungarian conversions went pretty smoothly, so I know I’m doing *something* right.

    Vlad’s dad’s name is Steven (Pista, variant of István) — check. Zollie’s AKA is Coachman (kocsis) — check. Before Vlad’s Mersz kin became pulpers, it seems they were tailors (Szabó, although I get a bigger chuckle out of Szóbó, or “wordy”; I also thought it was hilarious that “pulper” could alternately be spun as “writer of pulp fiction,” but I’ve been reliably informed that I was over-thinking). The toe-tapping Sheep Disease is nemi betegség.

    And Burz has been the funniest of the lot. There again, Brust does us the favor of flagging it as a joke: Vlad cracks up at the thought that “They named their town Burz,” and Noish-pa promptly chimes in with “perhaps making paper makes not such a pretty smell.” As an added nudge in later chapters, we’re twice reminded that the town got its name after the mill was built. See, a burzs is by definition awash in the burzsoázia. Bourgeoisie. Forerunners of the modern middle class, they rose to prominence on the textile-milled coattails of the Industrial Revolution. Marx hailed them on one hand as instrumental in overthrowing feudalism, then trashed them on the other as reactionary capitalists who held down the proletariat. Today, we generally find “bourgeois” used in the sense of selfish, materialistic, mediocre, and/or unimaginative. Hence Noish-pa’s immediate bad-smell connection. Oh, and clan Saekeresh embodies the same ideal as the town they named: “sikeres” is Hungarian for “prosperous.” It’s also significant that the first Count overthrew a Baron; baronial land grants were heavily rooted in the moribund feudal system.

    All those points and more, I get. (Heh, my favorite Hungarian language joke anywhere in the series to date is Állam, *Brokedown Palace*.)

    But I’ve got mostly jack on flippen Chayoor and Inchay. If anybody else out there can set me straight, I’d much appreciate it.

  110. Hey, as long as we’re clearing out old business before The Tiassa Coming— No, there is no direct link between Jhegaala and The Sun, the Moon, & the Stars by way of the post-torture waterfall painting or Vlad’s related art-critic musings. I did spot two Zelazny riffs in that same part of Jhegaala’s storyline, though.

    First, we have Dahni, tapped by Vlad for an emergency rescue from the Guild’s clutches in the paper mill.
    “Why should I trust you?”
    And Vlad: “I trusted you to rescue me, didn’t I?”
    Followed by: “Think it over….You were my best shot so I took it. Right now, doing what I want is your best shot.”

    Playing on Bleys, tapped by Corwin for an emergency rescue from Eric’s clutches in Amber Castle.
    “You needed someone…and I was the lesser evil.”
    Then: “How far can I trust you?”
    And Corwin: “As far as I can trust you.”
    While thinking: “It sounded like the best deal I’d get anywhere.”
    (Nine Princes in Amber. Which also gives us Zelazny’s five-act “Play on Shakespeare,” a source of inspiration for Brust’s art-history-Easter-egg-hunt-within-a-scavenger-hunt in SM&S, so I get my game plug, too.)

    Second, we have a three-part chain of Brust riffing on Zelazny riffing on Brust, wrapped up in a wiseass-familiar zinger scored by Loiosh.
    Vlad: “What do you think, Loiosh?”
    Loiosh: “He might have bolted.”
    Vlad: “Yeah, I know. But if he hasn’t?”
    Loiosh: “I can’t think of anything better, Boss. But we’d best do it fast. It would be embarrassing if the Jhereg put a shine on you right before we were about to go into action.”
    Vlad: “You’re sounding like me.”
    Loiosh: “Easterners are short. Jhereg are reptiles. Water is wet. I sound like you.”
    Vlad (to readers only): “I let him have that one.”

    Playing on Frakir, temporarily granted full sentience and a witch’s-familiar-style psionic voice link with Merlin. Same basic score, slightly less zing.
    Merlin: “Thought I saw something there.”
    Frakir: “Maybe you did. Doesn’t mean it’s there.”
    Merlin: “Talking for less than a day, and you’ve already learned sarcasm.”
    Frakir: “I hate to say it, boss, but anything I learn I pick up from your vibes. Ain’t no one else around to teach me manners and like that.”
    Merlin: “Touché.”
    (Knight of Shadows. In which Frakir’s short-term upgrade is a play on the Loiosh readers have known and loved to laugh with since Jhereg.)

    Two earlier commenters in this thread raised the subject of Verra’s involvement in Vlad’s trip East, and that reminds me of a third Brustian riff on Zelazny. Not specifically tied to Jhegaala but still on-topic. It’s also an indication of how both authors have regularly plucked their riffs from classic (and classical) storytelling themes.

    Starting with Zelazny this time, in the original Chronicles of Amber:
    We have Prince Corwin,
    returning from centuries of hardship and exile,
    much changed from his former self,
    playing a pivotal role in repairing the Pattern and thus stabilizing all reality,
    then refusing the throne and losing the girl, but ending up with a part-Courts-of-Chaos-monster son.

    Shifting to Brust and Brokedown Palace:
    We have Prince Miklós,
    returning from 2 years of hardship and exile,
    much changed from his former self,
    playing a pivotal role in remaking the Palace and thus stabilizing all Fenario,
    then refusing the throne and losing the girl, never getting to meet his part-demon daughter.

    And now we have kindred spirit Vlad putting yet another face on the Reluctant Hero archetype.

    Unquestionably, his coming to Fenario is part of Verra’s overall Plan, but it has nothing to do with demon-summoning or paper-making. The Demon Goddess cut him off and cast him adrift from his too-comfortable existence for the same reason she forced Miklós into exile. Like any good weapon/tool, Vlad needs some serious tempering. Which is exactly why Jhegaala is the book it is: Vlad’s beginning metamorphosis is what Verra’s Plan requires. She’ll engineer his return home when she decides he’s had enough, and not one Dragaeran minute before.

    Provided she can keep him too off-balance to take matters into his own hands first. After all, she failed to see the added Kelly-and-Cawti complications brewing, back when she set Vlad up for an Imperial fall in Phoenix. We know her godlike abilities have their limits. And Reluctant Heroes can be tricky tools to master.

  111. Add-on to my post above.

    *Damn*, he almost slipped “Rainy Season in the Tropics” right past me. I was only joking when I said the waterfall painting in Jhegaala didn’t provide a direct link to The Sun, the Moon, & the Stars. Truth is, I’d decided the idea was too farfetched to even bother pursuing. Mid-post, though, as I watched my thoughts take shape in black and white, my Brustian Game-On Alarm started to howl. I finally found time to confirm my belated suspicions tonight.

    The Count’s painting is described in Chapter 12 of Jhegaala. One of the book’s two Zelazny riffs also appears in Chapter 12, but it isn’t the one from Nine Princes (which, I like to think, would have triggered my Alarm much sooner). Both riffs are–no, people will REALLY think I’m a wingnut if I get all bogged down in Brustian game logic here. Just trust me far enough to Google for images of “Rainy Season in the Tropics,” the painting title from Chapter 12, Section 6 of SM&S (Church’s original is at the de Young in SF), and decide for yourselves if it bears a reasonable resemblance to Vlad’s comments in Jhegaala.

    (Sigh.) NO idea is too farfetched to pursue when the game is afoot. Which reminds me: did anyone else pick up on “Dahni’s” gaming approach in Chapter 8? My point, exactly.

  112. Second—and final, I hope—add-on to my comments @ 128 and 129. Delayed because I needed to page-check different book formats before posting. Also, I didn’t want to pit my boring old *Jhegaala* news against the way hotter *Tiassa* traffic. Plus, I’m so out of my comfort zone over the amount of space I’ve already hogged in this thread. Nevertheless.

    The hardcover edition of *The Sun, the Moon, & the Stars* came out in 1987. Beginning with *Taltos* (1988), Brust also tucked a carefully crafted set of look-outside-the-book *SM&S* game references into several subsequent works. Now, in *Jhegaala* (2008), I’m pretty sure we’re seeing the start of a 2nd, 20-years-after reference set.

    Best arguments are the 2 *Jhegaala*/*Taltos* links. I was almost scooped on reporting the first, when knob_e @ 127 said “eddieberry” and “koelsch” aren’t continuity errors in *Jhegaala*. For whatever reason, though, knob_e failed to note that the bogus spellings don’t relate only to decoding Fenarian names. Brust is equally bent on jogging our memories about where else we’ve seen those two words—“correctly” spelled—being tossed around together. Heh, in *Taltos*, among Vlad’s beyond-Deathsgate-Falls gear. Dahni-rulebook-worthy object lesson for readers who casually blow off Brust’s many minor lapses in continuity: sometimes they really are nothing more than simple screw-ups, but often they’re a sneaky signal to smart readers that the author is Up To Something—ignore those little red flags at your peril. Ditto heads-up for all readers: never expect Brust to limit himself to just one purpose for any given flag. In this case, he’s delivered the Fenarian hint and the *Taltos* link. With maybe a bonus nose-thumbing at humorless Continuity Police bitching.

    The second *Taltos* link starts with those “odd white scars crisscrossing the backs of” Zollie’s hands on page 57 of *Jhegaala* (hardcover or mass market paperback). Switch to page 57 of *Taltos* (Ace paperback original edition only—doesn’t work for the trade twofer), and you find “tiny scars all over the backs of [Loraan’s] fingers.” A strange enough detail to call out in any one series character, but in two of them, com­pletely unrelated and very different in nature, appearing on the same page of separate books published almost exactly two decades apart? It’s the matching page number that really tubes the “coincidence” dodge. And Brust’s original set of look-outside-the-book *SM&S* references is built on similar numbers-gaming, some of it borderline evil, all lost to readers who are stuck with the twofer and threefer trade editions of the earlier series titles. Too bad Tor has now and forever tubed that Brustian hat trick along with any hope of a “someday” reprint in the author’s intended book format. Sorry, dudes.

  113. Fenarian name updates (re @127).

    Best bet for Chayoor is Asshole. (Segglyuk. Seriously.) Excellent fit with Vlad’s reaction on learning the guild master’s name, as well as his attitude toward authority figures in general. If I were trying to fake an unfamiliar spelling, I’d have gone with “Shegyook,” but the “sh” and “g” are both sort of…phlegmy-sounding, and could easily pass for a slurred “ch” and a gagging “y.” The only thing not to like about Asshole for Chayoor is the fairly distinct “k” sound instead of an “r” at the end. And I haven’t found anything else I like better.

    Inchay continues to thwart me at every turn. The sign above his door pretty much has to be showing us a continuity-busting traffic cone (AKA safety cone). What’s up with *that*? Vlad’s mistaking the image for a hat made me think of cone-head or dunce. Or Dumb-ass, to match Asshole above. Sadly, the online Hungarian-English dictionaries aren’t going for that line of investigation at all.

    Then there’s Tahchay Loiosh, the Count’s scribe. Forgot all about him in my previous post. We already know Loiosh is Loyal (Lojális). Hung up on the “ass” theme, I was liking Wise-ass for Tahchay, because Vlad has been known to call Loiosh a wise-ass jhereg. Except, my online sources aren’t buying that one, either. Társ can be translated as Sidekick, but then I don’t know where we’re supposed to find the “ay” ending. Társ- is also a combining form of “joint” or “associate,” which might be aimed at Loiosh’s witchcraft role as Vlad’s familiar, and also plays into a pun on how he and the scribe are both career “spellers.” Again, no solid vocabulary hits along those lines, although csel translates as art or artifice or gimmick or fake. Still working on it. Occasionally.

    Now on to my real agenda tonight. In the fine old tradition of Turnabout Is Fair Play, I feel duty-bound to snark: “For whatever reason, [miaveiledlady @ 128-130] failed to note that [three of her cited references] don’t relate only to” a single source apiece.

    First, @128, her Zelazny reference pairing Loiosh and Frakir is also a *Taltos* reference. Temporary Loiosh impersonation aside, we all know Zelazny’s Frakir was based on Brust’s Spellbreaker. Which Vlad liberated from Loraan in *Taltos*.

    Second and third, both of the references @130 are triple plays. They’re cited by miaveiledlady as links to *The Sun, the Moon, & the Stars*, but each can also be tied to a specific incident in—yep, *Taltos*. Where, in each case, we then find a built-in-bonus reference to Zelazny.


  114. Inchay be damned. Best explanation I’ve been able to dig up would require that *Brust* be: a) misdirecting us with a “ch” sound when we really need to look for a “ts,” AND b) totally head-gaming us with that bloody traffic cone sign. Neither of which is too devious a trick for him to play, but the combination feels decidedly unsatisfying. Time to move on.

    I do have two more Hungarian name jokes before I go, in case anyone is interested. At least, they made *me* laugh. Neither is particularly flagged for our attention, so it could be I’m over-thinking again.

    Baresh Orbahn. Orbán translates only as the Hungarianization (?) of a foreign name: Urban; the everyday-adjectival urban is a different word entirely. Béres commonly translates as something like hireling (bér is hire), but two of my favorite sources also give us farm hand. Heh. Dude may think he’s a savvy entrepreneur and general Man About Town, but our “Urban Farmhand” is still basically just shoveling manure for his masters in both Coven and Guild. Like any other peasant.

    Old Baron Neeyali, overthrown by the first Count Saekeresh. Should have included this with the Burz joke, but the Baron’s name appears only once, and I didn’t make a note of it while I was reading; took me forever to track it down again later. Nyáj is Hungarian for herd or flock. Just as Count Saekeresh is a “prosperous” count, Baron Neeyali was a “herd” baron—like a cattle baron, except, he probably owned sheep instead. A form of wealth well befitting the land-based feudal economy of his day. The joke comes in when we realize that Neeyali is also a surname (family name, patronymic, whatever), thus lumping the baron right in with the rest of the brainless, bleating Flock(s), mired in the stagnating feudal system until Saekeresh kicked off the local industrial revolution and chopped him into dog meat.

    James N @ 94 (along with similar posts by Jason s.b.f. @ 70 and big mike @ 50): building on the Burz joke, I hope you realize that your comment about there being no Jhegaala in *Jhegaala* is true only in the strictest literal sense of no currently-Orb-linked, House-Jhegaala-certified elfs running around town. Burz is, in fact, as teeming with Jhegaala as it is awash in the bourgeoisie. As we learned from Aliera in *Taltos*, “there’s no difference between the soul of an Easterner and the soul of a Dragaeran.” As we further learned from Vlad in *Dragon*, the Jhegaala have “titles of the nobility but lives of the bourgeois.” The “title” part may be a bit misleading in a Fenarian context, but we also learn from the same passage in *Dragon* and from other books in the series that the Jhegaala are…heh, merchants.

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