The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

0 Comments

  1. wish I could discuss it but amazonuk has just slip the despatch for two more weeks due to “stock” issues probably caused by global warming

  2. Loved the last chapter and the last line of the Epilogue. And it took me three tries to twig to why Zerika brought up human sacrifice when she spoke to Vlad the first time. And I love the way Vlad and Vlad Norathar interact.

    Thanks again!

  3. It’s really all about the deleted scenes, isn’t it?

    It was great to catch up with a lot of people we haven’t seen for a while. (Or in VN’s case, never before.)

    Read it straight through in one long gulp. Thanks!

  4. Speaking as an attorney, you completely nailed what lawyer jokes should be.

  5. Thanks for releasing this one on the Kindle as well. Now I can start reading without hunting for it at the bookstore.

  6. I am incredibly disappointed that I still can’t get this in Boise, ID. All the book-box stores say it will be at least a week.

    Maybe Amazon will be different.

  7. Borders failed me this morning, possibly for the last time. And B&N is too far to make it on my dinner hour! I was so eager, too. I envy those who will be reading and enjoying this.

  8. I love Vladsday! It doesn’t come often enough.

    Vlad sure is acquiring a diverse set of skills. But what’s the origin of his manners with VN? It doesn’t feel to me like anything he’s encountered in Dragaeran aristocracy, and we didn’t see it in the East…

    His mood in the epilogue bodes a pretty violent sequel.

  9. I’ve just started it, though I bought it yesterday. I had to wrap up some loose ends in previous books that I hadn’t finished yet. I have to say I’m quite pleased with how everything is going. I missed our old friend Morrolan.

  10. Another highly entertaining read. Thank you!

    Lots of good subtext and development in this one.

    Vlad seems to be developing into a much less abrasive character (Teldra’s influence seems to be showing itself). Resourceful and observant as ever, it’s fascinating watching him interacting with his old friends on a much more equal basis.

    When you have Morrolan e’Drien, Aliera e’Kieron, Norathar, and even Sethra Lavode deferring to your ability and expertise, I guess you have to be doing something right.

    Lots of little digs and references to previous adventures, but overall, I enjoyed the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) political examination. It seems extremely topical right now to analyze just what the role of the state is, how it justifies itself, and what its idea of “justice” really is. This was handled extremely well, being insightful without getting in the way of an interesting detective story. And furthermore without being at all preachy.

    I think I need to go back and watch some “Perry Mason” re-runs; Vlad in this one seems to be the Dragaeran equivalent of Paul Drake. Fun stuff!

    The last line in the epilogue was extremely powerful. I’m not sure I can say I enjoy the twist it gives to the story, but it’s certainly effective in making you stop and rethink the whole story, and maybe come to some unexpected realizations about what you just read.

    Bravo! This book stands as a great example of just exactly why I read these. Can’t wait for Tiassa.

  11. Unfortunately, I went to two book stores yesterday, and neither of them had it.

    Fortunately, I got my hands on a copy today and read it straight through, despite attending an english class.

    The last deleted scene literally had me laughing out loud.

    I also giggled at several moments, but the one that stood out to me the most was when Vlad got his revenge on Kragar.

    Thank you for the story, sir.

  12. Nothing to discuss here. I have to wait. Getting anything sent from America takes a long, long time.

  13. It’s out?! You’re the worst author at self promotion I’ve ever encountered. Which is unfortunate because you’re pretty much my favorite.

  14. Got it late yesterday — couldn’t stop reading it. Will have to digest it further and reread it several times for the wonderful flavour — but reading it was similar to the experience of eating a really good meal that one has been waiting for for months and having it live up to and exceed every expectation.

  15. I’ve not much in the way of comments, other than to say I enjoyed this one immensely. It’s nice to see Vlad kicking butt in His City once more.

    Bravo!

  16. Very nice! To Dennis @2 – I’m thinking Teckla Sacrifice to Justice. Also, it was very good to see all the faces we haven’t seen in a while. I did sniffle a bit at the Cawti and Vlad Norathar scenes although not as much as the last few lines in Dzur. Also, nice to see the Devera references!

    Cheers!

  17. @Scott Drummond I thought she was telling Vlad that “all is not as it seems.” Aliera was the human sacrifice.

    Also, I get the feeling, although I could be wrong, that things are moving to a climax timewise. I know there are seven more books (including Tiassa), which may not all follow Iorich in the timeline, but I have a hard time seeing another several year internal gap following this one. It seems like the next story in the timeline (whether it’s Tiassa) will fall pretty close to Iorich and other stories will follow rapidly on from that.

  18. Interesting – I was looking into the Lyorn Records Wiki and seems like there will need to be some changes – in Aliera and Devera’s Wiki entries, Aliera doesn’t know about Devera – In Iorich, Aliera let’s on that she now knows about Devera when she tells Vlad that she doesn’t mind that her daughter plays with Vlad’s son. Wonder what the backstory is on Aliera’s discovery of her daughter is?

  19. @Dennis – yes, I believe Aliera was set up as a potential human sacrifice, but do believe that the Tecklas in Tirma were the true sacrifice (to Justice). The Empress did say she cared about them…

  20. Scott@18:

    Yes, there is now much on the wiki that needs revision. Everything from Devera references to backstory elements involving Laszlo, Morrolan, Norathar, Zerika, et al. Articles on major events, such as the Tirma Massacre, and on the political conspiracy behind everything. As well as dozens of new characters and place names, not to mention the fully fleshed out plot summary for the book itself.
    I’m already working on a lot of it. It just takes a while to get things up to date when there’s a new book full of stuff to add. Feel free to help out if you want. Otherwise, I’ll just do it whenever I get around to it.

  21. Majikjon@20 – I do love the work you all do on Lyorn Records – I wasn’t pushing on Iorich for that wiki as much as fishing for comments from skzb!

  22. Scott@21:

    Yeah. Heh. Good luck with that.

    I’m sure we’ll find that out at some point. In another 6 or 7 books or so.

  23. Is Iorich available in Singapore yet, or are they on some odd SE Asian release schedule?

    I unfortunately flew out for a month on the day before release, so closing my eyes on the spoilers.

  24. Yesterday I went to my local BN to get it and they didn’t have it. Lately my local BN has been slacking in the sci-fi/fantasy section. I think the new store managers hates it.

    I went back to the office and saw it was in stock at the store then after work went back and asked the guy at the counter where it was since it had been released.

    “It only came out two days ago.” He told me.

    “So?”

    “Two days ago.”

    “Can you get it from the back for me?”

    “Sure.” He grunted and shuffled off. Ten minutes later, he returned with the book.

    Now I can read it.

  25. Not a spoiler but I did want to share something unfortunately negative (similar to Chris above)…

    I went into the big Barnes & Noble in downtown DC to grab a copy of Iorich after being told by a friend it was out (I’m bad with dates).

    It wasn’t in the big pile of books on the table labeled “New Releases.”

    It wasn’t in the big pile of books on the table labeled “New Hardcovers.”

    It wasn’t in the big pile of books on the table labeled “New Fiction.”

    It wasn’t in the GIANT pile of books on the table labeled “Vampires” (heh).

    At this point I went upstairs to the Science Fiction section… It wasn’t on the “New Releases” shelves in the Science Fiction section either.

    I called my friend out of frustration, about to complain that it must’ve been released electronically before being released physically when I saw two copies hiding in the “normal” Sci Fi section, next to one copy of each compendium.

    Two copies (now one) effectively “hidden” away? Sad day.

    Maybe there should be a vampire on the cover.

  26. By the way, I’m not sure if this is a typo or wordplay, but on p. 51: “[…] ended in a flight of eight stairs-two few for it to be a stairway […]”

    Two few indeed…

    Oh, almost forgot to <3 Aliera for threatening to kill her lawyer.

  27. Pete@25
    And I didn’t even have to go out in the cold and got the pleasure of reading it while you poked around downtown:P

    I also sent a mail to SKZB to ask if he got his percentage from eBooks…..I certainly hope so. I buy HIS books rather than library them to support him to keep writing.

  28. ~$26 for a novella? Why in the world did you hardback this tiny book that might account for a chapter in other author’s series? Its even a small hardback ala read on the toilet joke books. Thanks I’lll pass on the this one or maybe find it on the internet for much less.

  29. Everett@28
    When has length EVER constitute quality?

    As Zelazny before him, Brust puts more in his 200+ page novels than 90% of the other authors out there.

  30. To the contrary of Evrett: I look forward to Brust’s compact novels with more anticipation than any other author’s lengthy tomes.

    To The Man Himself; Bravo. A tour de force. Everything I love about Taltos novels, done even more splendidly than in previous books. Every time I think your style is polished beyond improvement, you prove me wrong and improve upon what I thought was already perfect.

    Thank you for a delightful read. I shall begin on my second read-through after work tonight.

  31. ….I’m not sure when 300+ pages became considered “compact” either. It’s just….book sized.

    And what a wonderful book it was too; Bravo SKZB!

    As to typos, which another poster brought up, the one that most caught my eye was on page 222:

    “First thing that happened was an influx of miners, the second thing was an influx of merchants selling to the minors”.

    Galaxy Quest reference ?

    🙂

  32. Much, much, much better a book as concise as it needs to be to effectively accomplish its objectives than many a bloated biggie that never edits out anything because ‘the story demands it.’ But for the reader, oh the poor blessed reader — those bloats are so much not needed, that indeed, she forgets what the book is about, and is stuffed by half-through, puts it down and never is able to demand herself to once again pick up that thing too heavy to hold.

    Thanks for writing books that are only as long as they should be.

    Love, C.

  33. I have never, ever read a SKZB book and thought, “Gee, this only 200 pages. Rip off.”

    It’s all in the quality. I spent $20 on a novella, The God Engines by John Scalzi , and it was totally worth it.

  34. On the other hand, I once made the mistake of buying an 800-page Robert Jordan book at a used book store.

    Now there was $5 that would have been better spent on a jar of toenail clippings.

  35. I think this one is as good as _Dragon_ and _Taltos_, my previous favorites. Vlad’s Iorich-tinted nature, especially in the epilogue, is startling. But he’s still Vlad. How do you do that, Steve?

    One quibble: Vlad can’t take off his Phoenix Stone long enough for Kiera to heal him, but he can check the time in Perisil’s office before the meeting?

    I was *so* glad to see Lady Teldra. Of course she’ll change shape to be what Vlad needs; to do otherwise would be impolite.

  36. TexAnne@35:

    This actually came up previously; apparently the Phoenix stones only prevent contact with the Orb for time-checking purposes if you are a sufficient distance away. Vlad has comments to this effect in /Jhegaala/. While in Burz, he is too far away to check the time, but before he crossed the Eastern Mountains it was still possible.

  37. Ah, thank you, Majikjon!

  38. TexAnne@35 and Majikjon@36 – To reinforce Majikjon’s explanation – this is actually discussed on page 24 in the hardback edition, 2nd paragraph from the bottom. He’s close enough that the Orb’s effects “penetrated the Phoenix Stone Amulet…”

    Cheers! Scott

  39. Dzur was one of my favorite books ever..I still wouldnt pay 26$ for it. Hardbacking, IMHO is a publishers ploy to rape the pocketbooks of the fans..I dont appreciate it, doubly so for a book that looks like someone’s day caladar in hardback.

  40. Evertt, its my understanding that Authors get more money from hardbacks. Are you going to accuse them as well of a “ploy to rape the pocketbooks of the fans”?

    And explain how the hard cover looks like a day calendar? And if so, how that really matters?

  41. @39 I thought this was “Discuss Iorich spoilers” not “bitch about publishing industry practices.” If you don’t want to pay for the hardback, don’t pay for the hardback. But it’s not really relevant to the discussion of the book.

  42. The Amazon price on the hardback is $14.61
    The Kindle version is $9.99

    I like Hardbacks for longevity, I like paperbacks or ereader versions for portability…

  43. Evrett #39, I agree Dzur is one of my favorites as well.

    I got Iorich on the kindle on my way to work the day it came out. I wasn’t very productive that day.

    Mostly, I liked it.
    Likes: Vlad’s devotion to his friends; Vlad’s ability to get others to do what he needs done; The political commentary; the chapter blurbs that tell of the investigation; Sethra’s condition when Vlad visited her the first time; Kragar- I want a spin-off novel dealing with Kragar; Listening spell on Loish; Onsen with Kiera.
    Dislikes: Too many references to other books “that’s another story.” Once, twice, OK but it got old. Morrolan was really a non factor. the reasons for his inactivity did not convince me to much; too many inverviews with the empress; Talking to the Empress – she is going to reveal something then gets the communication and has to go. Blah, cheap TV “build interest” trick.

    I’d place this book in the middle on the pack as far as the ones I like. Of course they are in the middle of the pack except for Jhegalla at the bottom and Dzur, Dragon, Taltos, Issola, and Jhereg at the top of the list.

    I’m reading Iorich aloud to my daughter, 15, and we are on chapter 3. I think I’ll like it better the second time going through it. I’ve read the entire series aloud to her, it is good bonding.

    ~al

  44. My only complaint is that I’m constantly on edge… in every novel since Issola… wondering when Lady Teldra will wake up…

  45. I have mixed feelings about Jhegaala. I understand that the events of Jhegaala are about how Vlad changes and grows.

    On the other hand, I was excited to hear we were going to see the East and when we did, well, it was depressing. Add to this that Jhegaala isn’t a very upbeat book to begin and you get what it is.

    I consider this book just average in the series. Some I liked a lot less (Athyra) some I liked a lot more (Dzur, Yendi).

  46. Chris@45:

    I used to feel that way. There are several books in the series that are not as upbeat; Teckla, Athyra, Jhegaala.

    Then I re-read them, and slowly realized that those books actually have a lot more to say than the happier or more action-packed ones.

    I think this is a result of the way Steve writes; he gets a lot of mileage by what characters DON’T say. If you can learn to read between the lines, and not miss the forest for the trees, you may discover (as I did) that the less cheery books have their own compensations, and are far more interesting and complex than they first appear.

  47. I discovered that with Taltos; a book I had an intense dislike for until I read it a decade later, then I enjoyed it much more.

    I have read Issola two times and I still don’t think I’ve gotten it yet. I liked it but I felt like I was missing something.

  48. Issola is one of the most straightforward books in the series (at least since Jhereg and Yendi, anyway).

    It has a lot more action, bigger bad-guys, more plot-driven developments, and one-line wisecracks than the other books. I think this is why it’s among the more popular books in the series.

    If you feel like you’re missing something in it, I would recommend paying more attention to the discussions that Vlad and Teldra share about language and courtesy. The subtleties in that book are more obvious once you realize that the story is really all about Lady Teldra.

    That aspect can get lost with all the other action and goings-on with the plot in that story.

  49. Am I the only one giggling about “irrigate a navy canal”?

    Is it just my own skewed perspective that finds a joke in there somewhere? Maybe I’d just better get along.

  50. Jeff: Hee. Glad someone caught that.

  51. Thanks for another great read! It was great to hear some of the old Vlad’s voice blended with more maturity in his actions. Definitely felt like someone coming home after a long time away. Interesting contrast in his decision re: Cawti, especially in light of his involvement due to Aliera. The interactions with Vlad Norathar and Zerika (rather than HM) were definite highlights.

  52. And the obligatory, “So Tiassa’s coming next week, right?” 😉

  53. So, one of the things I was wondering about was when Vlad mentions that he still has “most of the money left over from Laris,” or something to that extent. My understanding was that:
    1) Mellar was the job from Jhereg that paid the big money. Laris was from Yendi, whose territory was next to Vlad’s and was in cahoots with the Sorceress in Green.
    2) In any case, most of that cash got used in Teckla to buy the territory in South Adrilankha for Cawti’s Commies.

    Was there an oops here, or was this intentional?

  54. I think Vlad got names confused.

  55. 800 YEARS LATER…

    Lord, I was anticipating this book for so long that it seemed centuries had passed. Now I have made the mistake of reading it in one full day. Sigh.

    I nearly pretend that I loved this book.

    It should be an Edict that it be read by all humans.

  56. Loved it. Best one of the last three (with Dzur and Jhegaala). Also, I read this not too long after a reread of 500 Years After. Through the first half, I thought I had the whole situation pegged as an elaborate plot to move the cycle forward, but I was clearly wrong.

    Spot on humor. I laughed a lot. Big plusses for Kragar, Sethra drunk, and the Vlad & Vlad Norathar bits.

    Personal minuses (these didn’t detract from the story, just would’ve been cool): Not enough Morrolan, a small mention of Khaavren but no appearance, and it would be nice to see Vlad really fight someone with Lady Teldra. Sorry if these come off as me telling me how to do your job, I’m not! I’m just saying they’d be really cool!

  57. I liked it.

    Looking forward to the next one.

  58. Seems like Morrolan didn’t hold too much of a grudge. That’s lucky.

  59. In America – there is plenty of help if, as the dedication to Bull says, you need support. I dont want to fund your problems. I have my own. Hopefully your next release is more affordable.

  60. I’m reading Iorich to my daughter now. I am enjoying it the second time even more than the first time. 🙂 When reading chapter 3 (Location 1253 in the kindle version), Vlad mentions his food during a past incarceration and says of the soup, “I think they may have waved a chicken at it.”
    When I read this part, my daughter cracked up, as she is wont to do at times. I continued reading and she was sketching as I went on… She sketched her version of the scene:
    http://www.alchurch.net/chicken.jpg
    🙂

  61. Al: Hee! My compliments to your daughter.

  62. What a waste of paper.As someone who still has my paperback copy(first printing) of the first Vlad book,I’m sure that Iorich (sigh-I bought two copies-see above) will be my last.How about a plot,or part of one,even a small fraction of a part of one.The next Taltos book will,I’m sure,feature Vlad as vampire.Guaranteed sales,they’ll fly off the racks.All the build-up as to how he is on the run from this powerful criminal organization,book after book.Now he hangs out and looks over his shoulder every once-in-a-while.He’s more likely to get hurt by stubbing his toe.
    Steve,nice while it lasted-see ya.

  63. Got the book yesterday and read it in one sitting. Fell in love with Cawti and Vlads relationship once again. Laughed hard at Vlad getting his revenge on Kragar. With a lot of the newer Vlad books (after Phoenix) I didn’t really like them until I read them a second time. This one I loved from the beginning.

    One thing that I found especially interesting during the reading is that here in Germany we are having a political affair at the moment that is not too unsimilar to the one described in Iorich. Wikipedia has a pretty good description of the affair (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunduz_airstrike)
    So far it has cost the labor minister (who was minister of defence at time of the airstrike) his job along with the Generalinspektor of the Bundeswehr (our countrys highest ranking officer) and the vice minister of defence and might also come to bite the current minister of defence in the ass.
    If alcohol and tobako is going to be made illegal in the near future at least I will know whats up…

  64. Having said that I loved the book, there is still something that I don’t understand plotwise.

    I get that the Jhereg are able to pressure the empress to make narcotics illegal if they imply that the drugs were the reason the massacre happened.
    What I don’t get is how they can pressure the empress into arresting Aliera, who is a close friend of the empress. I don’t see what the Jhereg have on the empress that important enough to have her arrest Aliera.
    Come to think of it, I don’t really get why the Jhereg is doing it either. Yeah, it would bring Vlad back to Adrilankha, but so would many other plots (any way of messing with Cawti comes to mind, or saying Valabars has an allnight buffet) which don’t include pressuring the empress to arrest her warlord.
    What do you all think? What am I missing

  65. I mean, besides the final question mark…

  66. Think I’m going to have to buy one of those “shut up, loiosh.” Shirts at some point.

    So Vlad got his Klava at one point in the book. I think that means he won.

  67. Heh… wondered when we’d see a BBQ joint show up. I think they use this stuff at the Punctured Lung: http://www.strawsbbq.com/

    The dry rub is what you want.

  68. Thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I’m looking forward to a re-read when my brother has finished reading it. As far as hardcover-vs. -paperback goes, you are and have been for years on a very select list of authors for whose works I will cheerfully, not to say ecstatically, shell out hardcover prices without the least hesitation. And I also order for the library where I work, so you sell a few more to me that way too. 😉 (This past year alone I’ve had to replace at least five lost/stolen/missing copies of various titles of yours!) I especially enjoyed being sucker-punched by the joke on Page 32, which didn’t sink in all the way until I was a good two or three paragraphs on!

  69. Er, wait a minute. What joke on page 32?

  70. I’m amazed to read certain rude comments here. I’ve never posted but I check in fairly regularly and have always considered the posters here to be, besides intelligent, courteous.

    I don’t know Mr. Brust personally but I believe that he has an incredible amount of personal integrity. He seems to encourage lively debate and doesn’t balk at negative criticism.

    Perhaps it’s a stretch to consider this forum a part of Mr. Brust’s home but it seems to me that a few of you could learn a thing or two from Lady Teldra or, for that matter, the Jhereg.

  71. Missy K.@68 – was there something funny in the descriptions of the decor?

  72. I am with Tom here – the rudeness displayed by Evrett and Ross is disturbing. If you don’t enjoy the book, nobody is forcing you to buy another one. But to visit the author’s blog and complain? That is tacky.

    Perhaps some people feel they didn’t get their money’s worth. I, on the other hand, feel that I got a much better value for the money I spent than I do on most things of similar cost. I would pay that much to read it once, and I expect to be reading it many times over.

    I am a musician, and I work for tips. When I do an especially good rendition of a song, I often get tipped extra. In that spirit, I’m making a donation to Steve’s account immediately after I post this. It’s a small way of saying “Thank you” for providing me with one of my greatest pleasures in life; a great story.

  73. skzb@69: maybe the double doors?

    Scott@18: Aliera’s comment in Iorich about Devera hit me the same way it did you — especially since Devera still isn’t officially born — but then I remembered a bit of a hint near the end of Issola that Aliera could soon be finding out about her daughter. Once she did so, I’d imagine she’d be keeping track of what Devera did. It has been four years…

  74. Well, that was another fantastic book. I’m super pumped about the upcoming Tissa! Standing ovation for SKZB!

  75. Man oh man am I seriously waiting for Vlad to get into a big fight where Lady Teldra awakens. I can’t help but admire the restraint you show in not writing that scene… Okay, admiration over. Write the scene! 🙂

  76. skzb,

    Thank you for another enjoyable read. While it is not my favorite I always enjoy revisiting my old friends in Dragaera. My one peeve, touched on by Ross @62 with a sledgehammer, is twofold. Vlad is extremely limited in what he can do with the Phoenix Stones limiting his actions. While this provides some interesting elements to the plot it does take away some of the magic from the world which I enjoy. Also, the Jhereg seem to be really incompetent. With Vlad right under their noses they didn’t even get in a decent assassination attempt?

    I look forward to Tiassa, where Khaavren investigates the murder (by Morganti) of Vlad Taltos and Kragar is suspect of ordering the assassination. This will certainly get the Jhereg of Vlad’s back. Oops – was I not supposed to say anything about that?

    Andrew @73 (and others): Who says Devera has not been born? The last “official” reference was around the time of Phoenix or if I am wrong around the time of Dzur. Either way that allows for some years (4-8ish) for her to have been conceived and born. And with the gods involved who knows how that metaphysical crap works. I’m just saying.

    Keep up the good work.

    Jason s.b.f.

  77. Excellent work, Steve; well worth the wait. All of the Vlad books are good, but some are better than others. This one is among the very best.

    I was inspired to write a 5-star Amazon review: http://www.amazon.com/Iorich-Vlad-Steven-Brust/dp/0765312085/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263233946&sr=8-1

    Amazon has placed it as the first review. So maybe those who haven’t discovered the joys of Dragaera will be inspired to look.

    Scanning other comments, I guess I wasn’t the only one who found the novel’s last line ominous and disturbing.

  78. @skzb – What are the economics of the various forms of publication? Do you profit to a greater degree from a hardcover sale, paperback sale, or ebook sale? Or the same from all three?
    Ordinarily I buy the hardcover as it is first out. But if another form of sale is more advantageous to you, let us know.

  79. Dru: Your interest is kind, but I don’t actually know or care; if I start thinking about that stuff it’ll mess with my work. Thanks for the thought, though.

  80. SKZB @ #69 — Since I don’t have the book in front of me (my brother has it at his house now), I may have remembered the page incorrectly. However, it’s the scene where Vlad follows Morrolan to the library, past the chained tomes. A few paragraphs past that, I suddenly remembered Morrolan once telling Vlad that he had books devoted to curses for people who fail to return books. It just made quirky (and funny!) sense to me that the chained tomes would be the curse books in question. My apologies if I got the paging wrong, there. My even more profuse apologies if I got the joke wrong . . .

  81. Ah. No, you’re right. I hadn’t thought of it as a joke exactly. Thanks for the clarification.

  82. Alaska Fan@77 – Nice review, now in position #3 on Amazon’s review list.

    As for the last line – I don’t think of it as ominous – more sad as in a commentary on that the state of that society and also some character development in Vlad as he reflects on his past misdeeds.

  83. Thanks for yet another great Vlad story. At the risk of parroting others, I really enjoyed the reappearance of old friends, however brief plus great interaction between Vlad Norathar & Vlad. I couldn’t help but wonder if Lady Teldra was going to awaken when he pulled her out when he/they made his/their move. I found myself wondering if it was about to happen at random points in the story while I was reading it.

    Probably not my favorite in the series, but I’ve yet to read a Vlad story and come away disappointed and Iorich was no exception. I hope the next one will come in hardback as well. I find myself anxiously awaiting the next one. Thanks again!

  84. I really enjoyed returning to Vlad’s world– I only recently discovered you as an author, so the past books I read in one big gulp. It was hard to wait for Iorich! I hope Vlad is heading towards the apex of his Jhereg conundrum; it seems to be heading that way. Without his witchcraft and ability to walk around the city freely it feels like something is missing. I also want him to know his son better, of course.
    I loved the last line of the epilogue, very poignant.

  85. So, so good. Too many favorite parts to name them all but the entire desk riff had me laughing out loud. Partly because I somehow managed to not expect the size joke and partly because I’m secretly a twelve year old boy.

    More now please and thank you.

  86. Thank you. *bows*

    But I just learned, to my dismay, that though I have all the other novels in my collection, I only have one of a possible twenty(?) short stories. Dare I hope for a collection?

  87. Am I the only one who noticed the cover?

    Everything I can find suggests that a(n) Iorich is a reptile, so what is that, a Tiassa? Thought perhaps it was a reference to that house’s involvement in the whole story, but no.

    Did I miss something?

  88. Every time I read one of the Vlad novels, I find something that cracks me up. After I finished Iorich, I imidiately started to re-read Dragon (because I had it with me) and that read through was the first time I noticed Sethra saying that none of them knew any thieves. Aliera mentions that Vlad could get them in touch with one, which made me think of who he knew that was a thief…

    I think what people had against Iorich was that it was a political/legal thriller staring an action hero. They just can’t look past what he’s done before.

    As another note, I was so happy that someone besides Vlad fixed the problem, and that they went behind his back to do it.

    And another thing. This book had so many in-jokes, it seemed like there was one on every page. Perhaps this is another one not to start the series on? I know a lot of the early books have references to things that hadn’t been revealed to the reader yet (Loiosh asking if they had met Sethra before [the smell must have made him suspicious]), but this tale made a LOT of allusions to the previous stories.

  89. Renee @87

    Yes. I hates the cover. Hurts us it does.

    But also, hey. Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe Steve’s itch is not as reptilian as the cycle drawing suggests, and it is merely my itch?

    Also, sorry. That’s not a Tiassa either – there ain’t a dang thing feline about that baboon.

  90. Jeff-a babboon? Huh, didn’t see that before but I can kind of see it now. I thought it was very sabertooth-tigery. Perhaps SKBZ will shed some light on this for us.

    Cover aside, I enjoyed the book, but I admit the imperial intrigue and politicking is less appealing to me than good old swashbuckling and getting to spend more time with our favorite cast of characters. Am hoping for more of both in the next book–although as long as Khaavren is featured (fingers crossed) I will be a Very Happy reader.

  91. I quite liked the cover. Stephen Hickman does a good job with these.

    Sure, it may not represent anything like an actual iorich, but all those four-legged jheregs on previous covers don’t really do any better.

    Anything is preferable to having Vlad portrayed as a Hitler youth, in any case.

  92. Several times in the past, when faced with a choice between procuring Mr. Brust’s latest work – in hardcover – or a days victuals, I have followed gentle Mica’s example, and done as Kieron the Conqueror did on the cliffs of Adrilankha; I have tightened my belt, and awaited the morrow. I am honored to state that I am perfectly willing, and indeed eager, to do so again at the earliest opportunity.

    Having thus stated my position, and given some hint, I hope, of the esteem that I have for this famous wordsmith, I feel compelled to express how aghast I am at the ease with which some people display not only their lack of manners, but even more tragically, their complete and utter lack of taste. At the risk of seeming ungentlemanly, I almost can pretend to pity these poor individuals, who were clearly raised by Orca. One can almost imagine that they prefer coffee to klava!

    I had the pleasure of receiving Iorich (which I had pre-ordered from Amazon, for a mere pittance of the cover price) unexpectedly three days ago, and instantly told my spouse and my handsome son that they must take steps to provide themselves with dinner, as I would be unavailable for the next four hours. I was able to completely immerse myself in this new epistle, save for a minor break in the middle of Chapter 13 – my four month old kitten, Ziva Lavode, had apparently decided to act like the miniature Dzur she so closely resembles, and had attacked the kitchen trash can with sorcerous fervor, bent on rescuing the forlorn bits of mayonnaise clinging to the bottom of the jar … But I digress. Suffice it to say that I finished the book in only three and a half hours, and immediately went back to read Jhegaala. And then Dzur. And then, since – the Horse! Has it been six months since I read this??? ¬– the Phoenix Guards.

    I do not pretend to be qualified to judge whether or not one book is better than another; I give myself the pleasure of taking each as it comes: one more nugget of gold from a master; one more evening spent in the company of people whom I have never met, but who I consider to be lifelong friends; one more glimpse into and through their eyes. For this privilege, Mr. Brust, I am profoundly and deeply grateful.

    And just a few other points, if I may, which may give rise to future speculation, or at least to spirited debate or perhaps delightful conversation: it has been mentioned that an Iorich is possibly not a saber-toothed-tiger-looking thing. Can the cover of Jhegaala be so quickly forgotten? Is a Jhegaala a freaky-bird-looking thing? Can this possibly be a coincidence? Really??? And since, as I believe I recall from realizing it several years ago, and moreover from reading it again yesterday, the first mention we have of Devera is when she brings her grandfather a message relating to him the circumstances of the birth of her mother, his daughter, can Devera really be constrained to linear time? I leave these thoughts with other, certainly more able minds, with kind and warm regards and service.

    SKZB, thank you, thank you, thank you.

  93. Lady Thorn: Goodness, that was impressive. Thank you. Maybe I should start a “write like Paarfi” contest here.

  94. skzb @93 – Yeah, but then how do you decide the winners? People would be out-Paarfi-ing Paarfi for a contest like that…

  95. Hey, I liked Imperial intrigue and politicking and I liked the book alot.

    My only real problem is that no one got called “Your Equitableness.” But I’m willing to live with that. Can’t help but wonder where in the timeline Tiassa is set, but I guess we’ll find out eventually.

  96. Dragon had a dragon on the cover.

    Issola had a bird on the cover.

    Dzur had a panther-ish creature on the cover.

    Jhegaala had a lizardy venomousy creature on the cover that could conceivably be reasonably an artistic interpretation of one of the stages of life of an intrinsically variable creature.

    Iorich has a creature that has fur on it. The ears are too small for me to read it as a feline at all despite being pointy rather than round. It looks most like a baboon with an elongated jaw.

    Perhaps it is a modern interpretation of a lizard, in that we presume dinosaurs could probably have had some fur and certainly feathers.

    It is otherwise an artistically pleasing cover, well balanced in form and tone.

    And yes, a baboon is a smaller slight than a clean shaven blond Vlad. But it still isn’t an Iorich as I understand them to be.

    Perhaps I am misinformed, though, as I said previously.

  97. Re deleted scenes: Heh. I wonder if this is true:

    It seems to me that over the last 25 years or so, there have been a lot more instances of fictional characters realizing they are in a fiction.

    Of course this has happened on occasion prior to this period, too, for example in the works of the great James Branch Cabell among other fantasists, but I think since Heinlein worked on his ficton-travel stuff in his later books (apparently designed to make sure all his characters somehow had happy endings), I’ve seen it more and more frequently in many different contexts.

    What does this mean? Is it just an ironic post-modern literary meme? Are we as characters getting close to the end of our own story and finding it’s not all that well written and hoping for our own inter-fictional interventions? Who can say….

    —-

    Anyhow I thought the book Iorich itself, not counting the addendum, was quite good, but somehow not as satisfying as some others. Nothing in it really surprised me, and the main plot didn’t really grab me. Still an enjoyable read, just not, well, quite as enjoyable as some of the others.

  98. Meta humor, or “breaking the fourth wall” is a tradition almost as old as theater itself. You can find examples in ancient greek plays of this.

    This is just the literary equivalent.

    I have also noticed this technique used more frequently since the advent of the Internet. I think it’s due to the “sound-byte” mentality that seems to thrive so well online in comments left on message-boards.

    Heinlein’s last works did use this as a repeating theme, starting with “The Number of the Beast” and continuing in “The Cat Who Walks Through Walls” and “To Sail Beyond the Sunset”.

    A limerick starts with a rhyme,
    That is made on the very next line,
    But once in a while,
    As a matter of style,
    The last line doesn’t.

  99. Mr. Brust, although I was quite overcome by your gracious reply to my paltry scribblings, necessitating a lengthy rest in a darkened room, with a chilled glass of a rather unamusing white wine ready to elbow, I am afraid you give me too much credit; there can be only one Paarfi, and while I flatter myself that I have some small grasp of his stylings, ultimately, I lack his sagacity and perspicacity, not to mention the requisite brevity one must posses in order to truly succeed at this inimitable and intimidating craft. Heh.

  100. I think SKZB uses the “fictional characters realizing they’re fictional” device in the deleted scenes quite well. You often see that kind of thing in the outtakes and deleted scenes on DVDs. I also like how Devera pops up in every book he writes–reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock’s cameos in all of his movies.

    But I think using that fourth wall breakage or collapsing all of the universes into one as part of the overall narrative (the way Stephen King did in The Gunslinger series as well as the way Heinlein did in his later books) is lazy and self-indulgent. (And I revere the early works of both authors.)

  101. Renee@100:

    I think using that fourth wall breakage or collapsing all of the universes into one as part of the overall narrative (the way Stephen King did in The Gunslinger series as well as the way Heinlein did in his later books) is lazy and self-indulgent. (And I revere the early works of both authors.)

    It certainly can be, if not handled correctly. But in other instances, such as the Amber Chronicles, I think this can work very well.

  102. I think that especially in first person you have to allow the narrator to indulge or comment on the way he’s telling the story. First person speaks of presence, been there, and conversation between teller and reader.

  103. I’m a bit surprised by how melancholy I still am after reading the book. All the memories, the walk through the old neighborhood, the final role call… It was a great read.

    But I must say that I throughly enjoy the image:
    In Castle Black (only floating castle then in existence), Vladimir Taltos (ex-assassin, witch, Baronet of House Jhereg, Count of Szurke, etc.) and Morrolan e’Drien (wizard, witch, warrior, Duke of House Dragon, etc.) standing in a pantry while eating a snack.

    Thanks for making such powerful guys be just folks.

  104. Mor @ 103 – That did it for me, too. I imagined them dropping crumbs on the floor and totally ignoring the fact.

  105. Adam@104 – I also can see a servant trotting in to fetch said loaf of bread or bottle of wine and trying to do an inoffensive double-take and graceful retreat simultaneously.

  106. Thank you, Steven.

    Two things. Could you manage to write the next one so it is a little easier to put down? I got to bed far too late last night.

    Also, you, sir, are an incredible tease. All the touches and thoughts about Lady Teldra were cruel. And then, when we finally see her bare, it is over in mere moments. Sigh. Loved it.

    OK, enough to you, now the general stuff.

    As others have noted, that is a damned strange looking beastie on the cover. Hickman does some lovely artwork, but the perspective seems seriously screwed with that lower jaw. But I also know that what goes on the cover is a marketing decision, pure and simple. Dragon-ish things are out, fangs are in. Or tusks. Whatever those are supposed to be.

    I didn’t read the last line as ominous, just appropriate. Vlad’s comment on justice, and where he fits. As the priest says to Yama, “What man who has lived for more than a score of years desires justice? For my part, I find mercy infinitely more attractive.”

    Oh, and I loved the detail with the number of steps. How many, I wonder, for a lowly Teckla?

    Now I just have to wait for Ellen to read it so I will have someone to talk to about it.

  107. I loved the number of steps back taken back. But I didn’t get the number of steps in a flight on page 51 – “a flight of eight stairs – two few for it to be a stairway to the next floor”. Why would stairways have 10 large steps instead of 17 smaller steps?

    Also, the teeth on the cover creature are weird. The jaw must move sideways for it to eat.

  108. Yummy! Just devoured it, then regretted how fast I devoured it. Liked it best of the last three, because I used to work for lawyers. Loved the Cawti/Vlad (“Cawlad”? “Vlawti”?) scenes, the Norathar scenes, and the Sethra and Aliera scenes.

    Oh, and the Kragar scene was worth the price of the book on its own.

    Only found one typo — don’t have the page in front of me at the moment, but when someone (Norathar, I think) is talking about the uprising, she talks about the miners and the merchants who sold stuff to the “minors” (sic). Damn those spell-checkers . . .

    Of course I wanted it to be longer, and more involved, and push the over-arching plot forward, but then I’m greedy. I’ll take the Tuesday Chef’s Special at my favorite restaurant over $9.50 Rib Nite at a crappy chain on Saturday night any day. Well worth the hardback price.

    And Steve, those deleted scenes were priceless. I’m tellin’ you man, put 90 pages of that stuff together, put it on lulu, and enjoy the beer money rolling in.

    It’s my understanding that Devera is unanchored in time and space, and it’s quite possible Aleira found out about her since we last saw her. Quite possible.

    And don’t forget to add Serioli to the list of titles you’re going to do. You already blew the noble 17 by adding Taltos, so you might as well. And I’m pretty curious about the buggers, anyway.

    The scenes between Vlad and Zerika were poignant and touching — why can’t Vlad just become a Lavode (or para-Lavode) and get official protection from the Jhereg? No one messes with a Lavode. Except for Gyorg. And remember how that turned out . . .

    All in all, you have my thanks for gracing us with yet another glorious Vlad adventure. My undying thanks.

  109. I am not sure if this says anything about me.. But I have realized the #1 reason I read this series is the dialog between Vlad and Loiosh. And I would like to thank you for those Mr. Brust.

  110. Howard @ 107: I think the point about the stairs that Vlad was trying to make is that the stairway was two stairs too short to reach the height of the next floor up if the area he was entering was built to the same scale as the rest of the palace. I believe he made the comment to illustrate the confusing nature of the layout and design of the palace, something he had considerable problems with throughout the story.

  111. Regarding covers:

    I’ve noticed that Loiosh, in some manner or form, has appeared on the cover of every Vlad novel (much like how a Phoenix was featured on all five volumes of the Khaavren romances), Dragon, Yendi, Jhereg are all good examples. Some of them show him interacting with the beast in question, such as Dzur or Issola. A rare few show Loiosh as a fusion of sorts with the named animal. I’ve always taken Jhegaala to be someone’s fever dream of a Loiosh/Jhegaala mix, and I still believe that Loiosh is cackling madly on the cover of Phoenix.

    So, what’s up with Iorich? I see no Loiosh. If THAT is Loiosh, what’s he crossed with? Looks more like what I think of as a Tsalmoth than a Iorich either way, and… well… I don’t know what to say.

    Fire the artist? Out of a cannon? I know, I know, it’s not Steven’s choice. Still, though, a man can dream.

  112. In regards to deleted scenes…

    Does Vlad learn curses from some Orca while on board a sloop called ‘the Jenny’?

  113. I have no idea what the protocol for these kinds of things are. I haven’t a clue what the rules are here. In truth, I’ve never posted a damn thing in my life.

    I do know that for the last 2 decades I have been a huge fan of Mr. Brust’s work and I suppose that’s why I am here today.

    I just finished reading Iorich: it took me 2 nights. I read at night because I have a sleeping disorder (getting old sucks!) and they help. A good book will last me several weeks. This was a great book.

    I usually read fairly quickly and I found myself re-reading several passages. It wasn’t because they were incomprehensible but because they were a lot like (yea I know the food analogy is WAAAAYYYYY overdone) a fine meal. I had to stop myself and re-read, slowly, most of the book.

    It was superb, and if you see this Mr. Brust, then you have my thanks. I can’t wait to read the next one.

  114. Vlad is back! Hate to say, but I was frankly disappointed by the faux Nero Wolfe novel that was Jhagalla. But I loved Iorich and will reread it as soon as I get it back from my wife’s clutches.

    If I had a criticism to make it is that you have to have read all or nearly all of the previous Vlad novels as well as the Khaaven romances to really follow the story. For example, where in the story does he request Kiera? I finally decided it was in the elision (…) on page 110. Or did I miss something? Someone who has not read Orca will be mystified. Lady Teldra, who is she? As it happened I had just reread Issola (one of the top ones, even if it is a shame we are apparently never to see her again).

    I can only assume that now Vlad will have to stay in Adrilankha to watch over Cawti. That should be interesting.

    I think my favorite Vlad novel is Orca, not one that anyone has mentioned. I can’t say why, but the last scene with Kiera is one of the reasons. Also Vlad at his kindest, dealing with Savn.

    One thing that bothers me about the whole Dragaera scene is that the noble houses seem to be dying out. The four heroes in the Khaavren romances appear to have one child among them. The House of Phoenix seems to be unable to survive.

    Which reminds me of another problem. What house do children of Phoenixes that didn’t have the actual bird seen flying over their birth house belong to? Do they revert to being Teckla? And what about halfbreeds? And if the houses are genetically determined, what sense can it make for someone to fight his way into the house of Dzur and then become a Jhereg? Clearly anyone, even a Magyar, can become a Jhereg.

  115. Chapter 5:
    “She [Sethra] smiled, ‘I always knew you [Vlad] had the makings of a good Emperor.'”

    (Location 2020 in Kindle Version)

    Has there ever been an Easterner as an Emperor? What are the odds that Zerika will hand the orb over to him? 🙂 She was mentioning stepping down, right? Wow, wouldn’t that cause all Hell to break loose. (Sorry for the cliche.)

  116. Can someone clarify the following things for me?

    Vlad goes to introduce Daymar to Kragar on page 287. Kragar replies “We’ve met” and there is a comment about Daymar missing the inflection in Kragar’s voice. As I recall Kragar introduced Daymar to Vlad in “Dragon”. But since the house of the Hawk stands for “observation and preception” in the cycle, why would Daymar miss the point here? I assume that Vlad is just tweaking him because there is no need to introduce him to Kragar.

    It seems odd to me that the Left Hand of the Jhereg can find Vlad in the palace and hire four people to beat Vlad, but the Right Hand cannot hire one or more people to find Vlad in the palace and either (a) knock him out or (b) remove his protection so a spell can be put on him to keep him quiet, and take him away to be dealt with. And odder still is the epilogue where Vlad says he is staying at the Dancer’s Rest and sneaking out to go see Cawti. Surely the Jhereg are smart enough to locate him if they know the starting and ending points of a trip he is going to make. Why not just watch Cawti’s house and stop anyone coming out for “inspection”?

    Its not that I want the Jhereg to get Vlad, but this does seem to strain credulity to me.

    I will be interested to see how Steven gets Vlad out of the fix he is in at the end of Iorich.

  117. Just finished this today and now I’m getting the familiar feelings of sadness that I’ll have to wait at least a year for a new adventure with my buddy Vlad Taltos. This book reminded me a lot of Dzur, which is one of my favorites in the series (my favorite so far would be Athyra). Really looking forward to Tiassa now.

    Also, mad props for how you handled the VN scenes. It was great getting to see how Vlad handled meeting his son, wasn’t awkward or cheesy or sappy or cliche or anything. There’s another first-person fantasy series I’m reading that might have a kid on the way, and I’m not sure that author is up to the task…

  118. Steve,

    I just finished this weekend. I loved the book, I do like your writing but the lack of violence is really bothering me (and how often do we get to say this?). As Vlad gets older and wiser he certainly gravitates away from what he was, this is important and I understand it. I think my problem is that in my life I get to lay elaborate plans to play powerful people against each other in a bid to advance myself, but I don’t have the opportunity to stab anyone in the left eye with a sharp object when things don’t go my way. I think this is what I miss the most about the younger Vlad. Looking back on things I think the best moment in the whole series is Vlads reaction to his wife not being set free when he asked nicely. In fact at the end of the book I reflected on the fact that the story hadn’t really advanced at all save for seeing his wife and kid a couple of times (good job on that though, well written). I feel as though the end went missing somehow, a book with no real resolution is merely a teaser for something more. I have to agree with the supporting characters here and drink excessively to deal with this.

    Do you see the moments of extreme violence completely behind Vlad now?

  119. @117

    Chris P., I think I know what series you’re talking about.

  120. I have to say that I enjoyed Iorich a lot. Is it among my favourite Vlad books? I guess I’d have to re-read. But then, I tend to prefer the less popular installments like Athyra and Jhegaala (but also Taltos and Dragon). Unlike many I don’t like super-powered Vlad all that much.

    I loved that we saw more of Zerika – she is among my favourites of the Dragaeran cast and was a saving grace of Viscount of Adrilankha, along with the original PG quartet. Ahem.

    I have to say that it was strange not to see Khaavren, since the Phoenix Guards were involved and a dubious character with a Great Weapon was coming to visit the Empress. Also, strange that neither he nor anybody else from the Paarfi romances were among the trusted advisors of the Empress. I kinda expected to learn that Pel was behind Aliera’s arrest, but nope.

    Horrible thought – Pel couldn’t have been fictional, could he? I mean, Dumas could invent personages from the whole cloth, but figures from his books were safely dead for a couple of centuries.
    OTOH, Morrolan didn’t kill Paarfi yet, after all the unflattering stuff written about him in the Viscount (where he appears almost as a retard, at least in the beginning) so…
    And then again, the next-gen quartet definitely felt fictional.

    Anyway, I too would love to see a crossover of Vlad et al. with characters from the Romances.

    I was also very glad the Norathar got a bit of characterization. She seemed more of a cipher until now, but now it is clear that she is indeed both clear and capable and would make a better successor to Zerika than either Morrolan or Aliera.

    Liked Perisil too and was expecting him to turn out to be a Jhereg plant the whole time. Missed opportunity for them, but I was relieved when he turned out to be clean.

    Re: noble Houses dying out, I don’t think that it was supposed to be happening. On the contrary, Vlad’s Dragaera always seemed to me more populous than Khaavren’s.
    Nearly all important characters being single children/childless is more of a setting plothole, IMHO.
    Certainly, in the more risk-prone Houses like Dzur or Dragon anybody who survives long enough to marry should breed like rabbits, just to prevent them from darwinating out within one generation.

    The House of the Phoenix… given everything their most powerful sorcerers and the Orb know and can as well as the mythology of the animal, induced partenogenesis/cloning shouldn’t be too tall a call.
    Also, Zerika will abdicate young – re-creation of the House of the Phoenix (by the same means that first it came into being, perhaps?) could be the next goal on her agenda.
    I hope that we’ll see Lazlo without the Paarfi filter eventually too and find out what’s the deal with him.

    I had a distinct feeling, BTW, that Zerika saying that she could do nothing for Vlad was in part a prompt for him to solve his situation somehow. I mean, she could have at least reimbursed his expenses, right?

    Re: the Jhereg being impotent. IMHO Vlad is so ridiculously powerful, both personally and politically, that he is indeed a very tough nut to crack. And them wanting to do it Morganti makes it extra difficult for them. I have wondered for some time why nobody apart from that Easterner Count in Jhegaala has ever tried to poison Vlad, though. The only thing he doesn’t really guard against. Oh, and they should have invested into anti-jhereg venom antidotes long since.

    Hopefully, the next one will provide a furious finale to the “Vlad on the run” story arc. It was good, but IMHO it’s potential has been plumbed by now.

  121. I liked Iorich. Stuff is starting to gel together for me – this is the book that connected most of the themes together in one place for the first time. Except, maybe, the Jenoine, who are conspicuous by their absence.

    I was inspired to start reading through Jhereg again, and I noticed something: one of the paintings that Vlad sees at Castle Black (the dragon mother defending her young) is described as being painted by the Necromancer, with a nearby painting done by Katana. Is that right? I thought Kathana did the dragon painting (Phoenix Guards), and that the Necromancer arrived after that, during one of the Viscount of Adrilanka books. The Jhereg reference is in Chapter 11.

  122. Celebel@120:

    I have a theory that all the talk about a double-secret prime minister on page 96 may be a veiled reference to Pel. But I can’t prove anything.

  123. Mr. Brust,

    I just finished Iorich. Very nice! I have been a fan since first reading Jhereg that I picked up new in the bookstore back in the ’80s. I look forward to Tissa!!

    David

  124. Can you open up a discussion on To Reign in Hell..it really really really should be mass produced for an age where people struggle against the status quo…

    Also when does yourich get printed in paperback..I’m salivating all over these forums from the spoilers

  125. I just finished this last night (I must be getting old, it took two days instead of one). Much to my lack of surprise, I loved it.

    I do have one question; did anyone else think that there wouldn’t be any assassins at the end, and the Left Hand was tricking Vlad into showing up so they could make him look like the assassin (who would be caught with a Moraganti dagger)?

  126. An excellent conclusion to the book. The final scene with Zerika was just great I thought.

    My only compliant would be the 45.00 AU (around 50.00 US) price tag I paid in Australia.

  127. Thanks Steve, for another wonderful book.

    I really enjoyed this; I laughged out loud at the bribe of Yenth and Kragar jumping out of his skin: fantastic!

    For the first time, I finished a Vlad book really worried about Vlad and his friends: so much isolation…Kragar’s comment about how old Vlad is…everyone’s drinking alone (until Vlad joins them)…Cawti and Vlad Northbar’s life in danger…and of course, “If there were justice, I’d be dead.”

    The one hope: “Unless, of course, I can fix it.”

    I really care about these characters: thanks for making them so complex!

  128. Steve,

    I must say, I enjoyed the joke on the back cover that wasn’t in the book and didn’t have to do with having plans… Seems like Aliera, Sethra, Zerika et al aren’t the only ones enjoying the vine. Tad’s in the sauce and apparently has been since Jhegaala!

    There’s been much mention in the comments above on the cover art. I personally felt your most compelling cover by far was the original one for Agyar. Did you ever work with that artist again for a cover? If not, is it impolite to ask why or how that works?

    I wish you success on the book and will reserve my congratulations to your fans – of which I am one – who have the privilege of exploring more of Dragaera.

  129. I enjoyed this book. I liken it to Orca (a favorite) because it gave us a chance to see more of the Dragaeran society, but it also developed the characters in places out of their element, where a sword was not the solution. I was hoping for a similar big reveal at the end, but I shall remain patient given Vlad’s precarious position at the end of the book.

    One thing has really puzzled me. Why was it important that the Left Hand know that is was Vlad who asked for the spell for Loiosh? It was set up I believe to cause confusion in the Left Hand, however I do not see how it helped his cause.

    At worst it telegraphed that Vlad knew about the meeting house, thus making it easy for the Left Hand to block his interference and even set up a trap. At best it was a plot device to put Cawti in danger, and thus force him to remain in town.

    Speaking of favorite books, the least for me was Teckla, though it was also the most relevant, given that I was breaking with a long term girlfriend at the time. I have only been able to re-read it once, with great precaution.

  130. I really enjoyed this book, but I have a question…

    When will Vlad write a full-on cookbook? Maybe something with equivalent substitutions (where necessary) so that we can all enjoy some of the same cuisine that he is…. And make sure he includes wine recommendations! Eating vicariously just doesn’t cut it… : )

    Thanks!

  131. Steve@128. The joke is there on page 177, separated by an additional dead teckla joke…gotta love it!

  132. I am glad to be in such good company as the posters here (well, most of them)!

    Since so many have shared their speed-reading, I also feel less guilty for devouring the book in just a day, I always feel like I should be savoring it. Perhaps it’s time to re-read it…

    Lady Teldra as a rapier – wasn’t expecting that, thought it could only be various dagger/knives…healing Vlad, should have anticipated that since Spellbreaker did that once with Vlad’s cut…

    Overall, a very enjoyable book, although I got tired (as I suppose Vlad did) of all the walking around the Palace….

  133. Kurt @ 131 Thanks, but I was referring to our good man Mr. Brust recently moving up in the world of Tad Williams:

    Compare pre- Jhegaala’s “Steven Brust may well be America’s best fantasy writer” to Jhegaala and Iorich’s “Steven Brust may well be America’s bestselling fantasy writer”.

    Much as we all love Steven and his well written works, sadly, perhaps even tragically, the quote from Tad on Jhegaala and Iorich is not remotely true, though both we and probably Steven would like it to be! 🙂

    Perhaps Mr Williams is just enthusiastically speculating on Steven’s nationality. He’s not just ANYone’s bestselling author, dadgummit, he’s America’s bestselling author.

    I’m guessing someone unwittingly tidied that quote up a bit. I found it humorous in any event. Hopefully Steven does too!

  134. Your books are always too long to wait for and always too quick finish. This was no exception.

    My favorite scene was Morrolan and Vlad eating together in the pantry. I can’t imagine that the Lord of Castle Black gets very many opportunities to do something like that.

  135. Read this while in flight across the Pacific, then handed it to my sister and we had both finished it before we landed. (I think my brother-in-law read it on the way home. And no worries, I’m sure they’ll buy a copy too once it comes out in papaerback.)

    (spoilers for earlier novels) This was the first Vlad novel since Issola that I enjoyed on the first read (though on re-reading, I can see that the reason I didn’t like Dzur the first time through was that I was waiting so anxiously for Lady Teldra to wake up and she never did, and I was dreadfully disappointed that Vlad didn’t get to meet his family in Jhegaala–both of those books are much more enjoyable now that I know what’s coming). And this one had lots of spots where I chuckled aloud, or wished my sister had already read it so I could talk with her about it *right then*, etc. Lots of fun, thanks!

  136. Hi Steve,

    Iorich was outstanding! As usual it made me go back and read some of the earlier volumes.

    As I was rereading Yendi and Taltos it occured to me how long you had in mind the Kiera/Sethra thing. Sometimes when I write things (just for RPGs) I’ll throw something in but not fill in all the detail and later I come up with an interesting way it can tie in. With Sethra/Kiera it seems you always planned them to be one in the same as it doesn’t play out until 13 years after you write Jhereg. Was this plan always in your mind, or did it just become an idea that fit?

    Thanks for the great book!

    Ethan

  137. Thanks, Ethan. That one was planned from the beginning.

  138. That’s really awesome. I really like when things are hitned at or eluded to and then not explained until later books. When things are shown and then cleaned up in the same book it often feels to neat. Having the reveal on this last over years made a much bigger impact on me. It made me go back and re-read things and see the threads and hints. Great work!

  139. Pardon my grammar. Lack of sleep is catching up to me!

  140. The last deleted scene was the best one of all.

    It is not obvious what part of chapter 17 it was “cut” from. It’s pure dialogue with no direct indication who the two speakers are. It doesn’t appear to have the other deleted scenes’ “meta-ness” about it. It says there’s something to be said, but pretends not to do so.

    All that is illusion: I believe Steve’s provided enough for us to find answers to all those. If they’re what I think they are, I’m really excited for the future.

    The key that unlocks everything is that unlike any other deleted scene, this one is in Paarfi’s style.

    First, this is courtly language, so the deleted scene takes place at or near court, not at Perisil’s office. That’s also more likely because there are twice as many pages in chapter 17 with Zerika as without her.

    Because of its style, the speakers are ones from previous Paarfi writings, but contemporaneous with the action in chapter 17 because they’re in a deleted scene from there. Although that could mean Piro, Daro, or even Zerika herself, the simplest answer is the most likely: of the original foursome, only Khaavren and Pel remain, and I believe that’s who’s speaking here. The one who has something to tell but doesn’t is quite characteristically Pel, and he’s addressing Khaavren.

    We know that Khaavren holds his old post commanding the Phoenix Guards, and that he also heads a covert intelligence unit, the Special Tasks Group.

    Although Pel appears to be missing from his jobs of Prime Minister and Imperial Discreet, that’s just as a Yendi would want it. The clue that he’s still around and acting behind the scenes is on page 96.

    Given their jobs, it would make sense for either to be relating some special intelligence to the other. It occurs at the end of the book because it is about the next book. If it’s really only to be one of them, it will be Khaavren because it is his House.

    The meta-ness is present because here in the very last words of the book, they’re trying (not) to tell us that for the next Vlad book—which is Tiassa, Khaavren’s House—one or even both their characters will reappear as primary actors as we’ve never before seen them in a Vlad book, only in Khaavren books.

    There may be other foreshadowings that this is on its way. Vlad’s been getting downright chummy with Zerika. He’s now aware that Lászlo knows Sethra, and wonders why this is news to him. And he’s been spending a whole lot of time in and around the palace.

    I can’t wait!

  141. Having just finished Iorich, I spent the last few days trying to think up something eloquent to say. All that keeps coming to mind is “What a great fucking book!”, I don’t know what that says about me or the book but…what a great fucking book!

  142. came here just to mention “irrigated on the navy canal”, but somebody else already did. Is there a “favorite Zelazny moment in a Brust novel” thread?

    but reading through… Vlad not being assassinated: wonder if now the Demon now being in power (a completely practical guy), has something to do with it. Considering who his friends are, and that House Jhereg is near the bottom of the cycle and has to deal with so much internal crap eg. Left Hand, is it really wise to Morganti a guy like Vlad? And, if you were an assassin, would you be anxious to go after a guy like Vlad (especially taking into account his infernal luck)? The good ones would know how risky that was. Maybe if you were Mario…

    Speaking of Pel, is it just me or is there some resemblance?

  143. Ok, now I’ve read it the only thing I missed was Telnan/Zungaron. What’s he been up to the last four years?

    Surprised no one has commented yet on Vlad’s comment to Cawti that he had had a Dragaeran lover, a “bard” if I’m recalling the passage correctly. Could this be Sara, the Issola minstrel from Athyra and Orca?

    tchrist@ 140 I think you may be reading a bit too much into that last deleted scene?

  144. Dru@143 Thank Verra someone finally mentioned this! It has been driving me crazy – at first I thought Vlad’s reference was a kinda/sorta point to Lady Teldra (as all the Great Weapon bonds seem rather intimate) but then there is pg. 228 where Vlad says: “Those thoughts led me to another Issola I knew, but I pushed those away: I needed to concentrate on business.” I doubt he means Skifra, and what other Issola does he know except the minstrel Sara? If it is so, another step forward for Vlad, who once commented that sex with a Dragaeran smacked of bestiality to him.

    BTW, I’ve been lurking here for awhile, love the conversations. Steve, you had a drink with me in Vegas years ago, and were very kind to a fan, thank you. And thank you for the years of reading pleasure.

  145. Dru@143, the lover thing had me curious. Perhaps related to that, I was also trying to figure out why Vlad keeps getting steamed about Norathar, too. It’s as though he’s jealous of her relationship with Cawti—which is a bit weird, because various statements lead one away from any lesbian interpretation here. It’s been too long since I read Teckla, or even Orca, to be more sure. Iorich had enough about this to make me scratch my head about it again.

    As for reading too much into things with the last deleted scene, why sure, that’s always possible. It does all seem to make a certain sly sort of sense, though, don’t you think?

    But I do realize it might just be my own wish-fulfillment fantasy at work. But I truly believe it’s not an interpretation that’s either too silly or too subtle to be what Steve could have had in mind.

    We shall see. I won’t be disappointed even if I am wrong, though, since I’m never disappointed with any of Steve’s books. I once gave a complete set of original printings of all his books as a wedding present.

  146. Has anyone noted the odd exchange between Vlad & HM during his second audience (p231)? He says, “I hadn’t realized you know the Necromancer.” She frowned. How did you–” then looked down at her golden outfit. “You’ve seen Sethra recently.”

    When he’d visited Dzur Mountain earlier (p104), Vlad complimented Sethra on her dress and asked if those were sapphires on her necklace. Sethra responded that she got them from the Necromancer.

    If these are related, it seems the connection is both obscure and insignificant. And the latter is rarely seen in the Vlad novels.

    So am I missing something?

  147. Jim @ 146:

    This strikes me as a sneaky way of telling the reader that Zerika was wearing sapphires, without directly saying so.

    It implies that the Necromancer is still around and active. We haven’t seen anything out of her since /Dragon/, so it’s good to know she’s still floating around out there somewhere.

    Other than that, is there a significance to the sapphires themselves? Are these a device given to those of critical importance to the Empire? A defense against the Jenoine, perhaps? Or just a gift from the Necromancer to some of her friends?

    Could be important. Could be a red herring. Time will likely tell.

  148. Er, /Issola/, actually. She was present at the end battle there.

  149. Majikjon@147: What color stones are sapphires? 🙂

  150. tchrist@149:

    Well, they’re kind of a blueish purple… Hey wait!

    No, but seriously, I doubt these are amorphia stones, or Vlad probably would have identified them as such.

    To the left; this may be one of those situations where Vlad is deliberately withholding something from the reader, and he DID recognize them as amorphia stones, and just isn’t telling us.

    I’ve always kind of wondered about the same thing in regards to the blue stone set into the hilt of Iceflame.

    Again, I don’t think we have enough information right now to say either way.

  151. Dru @143 and Kerstan Szczepanski @ 144: It strikes me that bad sex is very unlikely with an Issola, in the sense of sex that would make one feel bad so who better to banish thoughts of bestiality or general ickiness.

    On Iorich in general I enjoyed my first reading but it’s definitely one of the books I’ll have to read again (and again) to really get to grips with it. I have a feeling too that there are things that happened which won’t become clear for another couple of books (as ever).

    On Lady Teldra’s eventual awakening I wonder whether she remembers or knows about some of the things that Vlad has forgotten or been made to forget. I can think of at least one: Vlad said, in Dzur I think, that he wished he had had the chance to share a meal with Teldra, something he in fact did, most memorably, in Issola. That’s one of my favourite scenes actually, where Teldra puts Vlad’s food together for him and after the the first couple of ravenous bites he makes sure to eat slowly so that she has time to eat herself. I find it very touching especially in view of what is to come.

    And food brings me to my final thought I found that I was really noticing throughout just how ferocious Vlad’s appetite is. I mean obviously he puts away a vast amount of food in Dzur and in Issola it’s clear he always makes sure to have a little something put by but in Iorich you get the frequency with which has to seek out food. I’ve been reading discussions about Steve’s books for so long that I can’t remember where I first came across this but isn’t there something about Vlad not just being called Taltos but actually being a Taltos, one of whose characteristics is the greatness of the appetite?

  152. Oops just investigated in Cracks and Shards where I learned that Taltos do not need to eat and drink, apologies for posting without researching.

  153. Have read this now several times.
    Took me three goes to get the ‘you’d make a good Emperor’ line.
    We know that Norathor is Empress when Paarfi submits his manuscripts.
    What better way to kick off the next cycle than to hand over the orb to a reincarnated Dragearan, since, as far as I can see, Easterners are in many ways more dragearan than dragearans? *Giggles at prospect of Lioish arguing with the Orb for equal sarcasm time*
    Also WHEN is Teldra going to finally wake up?
    Considering her role as Morrolan’s Senechal, maybe she’s catching up on several centuries of well-deserved sleep?

  154. tchrist & Majikon @147-150: Good analysis. Makes sense.

    And yes, sapphires are typically blue, though some *do* have a purplish hue.

    Not sure if this ties in, nor whether it’s got any relevance. Your comments reminded me that on his final visit to Aliera’s cell (p229 & paraphrasing), Vlad jokingly asked if he could smuggle her in some amorphia in the form of little blue stones. She answers that the stones are blue, and she’ll take three.

    We’ve already learned that the Dragaeran world has many layers of defenses against Jenoine incursions. The Empress with the Orb and Sethra with Iceframe and Dzur Mountain are certainly considered to be two of the most indispensable. And if she’s not on the same tier, Aliera is certainly one of those elite. Plus she is arguably the most experienced with elder sorcery.

    So two of the anti-Jenoine team are wearing sapphires given them by the Necromancer –another of the defenders– while a fourth –Vlad– offers to find a fifth –Aliera– Amorphia stones that by description could be called sapphires.

    Interesting, but probably just a blue-, er, red herring.

  155. The art of diplomacy is being able to say “nice doggie” until you find a big enough rock.

    This seems to be behind a lot of the ideas about Lady Teldra “waking up.” Yet Lady Teldra the individual was an Issola, not a Dzur or a Dragon. Why would battle, in particular, awaken her? Not that Issola do not strike, but they strike with precision and ideally just the once. There is that old Godslayer reference hanging around, too.

    Still think that Kragar is Devera’s father.

  156. 1st off, been a hooked fan since ’83. Thanks for countless hours reading then rereading between the lines. Always great food for thought and speculation; on both the stories and the world we live in.(What IS the primary function of government?)
    It’s great to see old friends back in Iorich. Aliera, Morrolan and especially Kragar. Aliera and Morrolan seem painfully one dimensional. I wonder if this is due to time apart; as when seeing an old friend briefly after years away you only get the surface and see none of things that shape them as they are now?
    It seemed obvious to me when the Khaavren romances were finished that eventually they’d be tied into the Vlad series as it winds to its conclusion. They are intimately involved with the primary characters. How can they not be part of the climax.
    Speculation: Perisil is Pel? The Empress Discreet being a Yendi would find a devious way to protect her conscience and Vlad. He is one of the keys to defence against the Jenoine and Pel would know that. I’ll have to reread again to catch something about Perisil that is nagging at me.
    SKZB leaves us wondering again. Great story telling is why we keep coming back for more!

  157. I think Iorich sums up governments primary function and obligation nicely.

    PS: Vlad’s comeback line to Aliera after she reveals that she knows Devera is playing with VN.

    “Why would you? They are cousins after all.”

  158. Can somebody explain me the main intrigue? It seems that Jhereg making the Empress to convict Aliera was a way for her (Empress) not to make drugs illegal, which, I think, was the main goal of Jhereg.

  159. Shade@158:

    Actually, both Aliera’s arrest, and the banning of drugs seem to be part and parcel of the same Jhereg strategy.

    They are putting pressure on Zerika to perform both actions, by convincing her that she will lose the cooperation of the Houses (and her ability to govern effectively) through unspecified means.

    At a guess, I would speculate that these “means” involved both the alliance with the House of Orca, and perhaps by inciting discontent amongst the Teckla and Easterners at the outcome of the investigation.

    The conviction of Aliera and the blaming of drug influence would both act as scapegoats, obviating the need for a lengthy investigation that would only further serve to incite the populace about the injustice of the situation (think Rodney King riots), since any fair investigation would likely result in very little action taken against anyone. (The state is not about to condemn its own existence, and everything that happened in Tirma was within what the state considers “necessary” to that existence.)

    In the end, Zerika becomes convinced (with help from Vlad) to start the investigation anyway, and eschew the scapegoat solution being offered by the Jhereg/Orca alliance. (Note: it is unclear whether the Jeherg really cared whether Aliera was convicted or not, this part of things seems mostly designed to get Vlad to stick his neck out so they can nail him.)

    In the end, the riots happen as expected, but the Phoenix Guard are able to suppress them, and so apparently the Jhereg/Orca plan to ban drugs has fallen through… For now.

  160. An excellent novel. I’ve never regreted buying your books and look forward to the next.

  161. Majikjon@161

    Thanks for the answer. But my point is if Zerika finds one scapegoat why she needs another? Yes, Jhereg has some type of leverage because of the Tirma. And to avoid riots she would agree for one scapegoat, but why would she need two, if one works? And also it should be much more difficult to convince her on blaming it on drugs AND Aliera than just on drugs, so why not concentrate on more important goal (with all my respect to Vlad I think its drugs 🙂 ). Especially considering that there was no official blaming it on drugs.
    Only one explanation comes to my mind – if Jhereg was trying to pressure Empress by asking more then they need, with a possibility to drop the Aliera demand, and Zerika ruined that by only agreeing on Aliera part.
    But that means that Jhereg’s Imperial Representative not very good on negotiations, which I find hard to believe.
    So that made me confused 🙂

  162. I got the impression that the Jhereg/Orca group were blaming it on Aliera, and causing riots, but giving an option to the Empress to blame it on drugs instead (which was their true goal). In other words, they wanted Aliera charged and an investigation that they influenced initiated, so that they could give the option to the Empress of acquiting Aliera if the Empress went with the drug explanation of the atrocity.

    The Empress, not being a decadent Phoenix, thought it out and decided to hang Aliera out to dry as the illegalization of drugs, while profitable to the Orca and Jhereg, would have a huge adverse impact on the population and state. Instead, the Empress hoped that Aliera’s many friends would either: 1) aid her escape; or, 2) find some other way of avoiding the whole mess.

    Vlad came through, if only by: 1) pointing out that giving in to the Jehereg once and playing their game doesn’t mean the Jhereg won’t come back to the issue again (as any good crime boss would know); and, 2) finding an excuse (which happened to be the truth) for the Empress to release Aliera AND to kick the Jhereg in the groin. Number one should have been enough for most, but, as stated before, the Empress is not decadent and wants to be right when she asserts the power of the state against any group.

    Personally speaking, I think the Empress and Empire would be a whole lot better off if Khaveern (PapaCat), Vlad and Kragar formed an informal covert alliance and pulled a Godfather I ending/solution on the Jhereg/Orca combination. Considering the threats to Vlad’s family, this may be in the cards. Regardless, a solution is needed. Likely a very bloody one, unless Vlad can convincingly fake his own death (or actually die- which has the draw back of him being dead though the family would likely be safe).

  163. I was able to read Iorich the night before and last night. I am a satisfied reader.

    The two bits I really liked, as they fit together with each other and many other bits as well, was the protocol of steps walked without turning one’s back on the Empress when leave-taking, dismissed. 7 steps as a Count the first meeting. 5 steps as a personal friend on the second meeting.

    Love, C.

  164. Shade@161:

    Well, why do we need to secure cockpit doors, AND increase baggage security, AND have armed marshals on flights, AND have no-fly lists, AND… &c &c &c.? What do any of these actions accomplish to really make us safer from determined and creative “terrorist” attackers? What do these do to address the underlying causes for why these people are “attacking America”?

    When the state needs to calm the populace, but isn’t willing to change enough of itself to fix the underlying causes of the problem, they will make big showy gestures (sometimes called “Security Theater”) in order to make it look like they’re doing something useful and make people calm down about things that are beyond the state’s ability to effectively change (for whatever reason).

    Sorry. Didn’t mean to start a political debate about current American air-travel politics. I just bring this up to illustrate a point.

    I see a similar situation in Zerika’s position on the Tirma Massacre. Fixing the underlying inequity in Imperial Justice that gave rise to the Tirma situation would require a social and political revolution that she is unwilling/unable to countenance. So, to avoid riots, you make multiple showy gestures to make it look like you’re doing something useful.

    Blame drugs on the situation, then ban them, and it looks like you’re dealing with the problem. Arrest Aliera, the “Warlord in charge” of the army that committed the massacre, and put her out of the picture as a scapegoat, and again, politically, it looks like you’re doing something about the situation.

    The Jhereg/Orca are in position (they think) to force the Empress to employ both measures. If the Empress were to agree to ban drugs, but refuse to arrest Aliera, then they’d just say “No deal. Good luck dealing with those riots.”

    By offering it as a package deal, they get everything they want (for now), the Empress gets a solution that will probably spare a lot of lives (people not killed in the riots) and all it costs her is one individual (Aliera) and the concession about drugs to the Jhereg.

    From a political perspective, the ban on drugs is not just a one-sided deal in favor of the Jhereg, either. By granting them their drug trade, Zerika does gain a measure of control over the Jhereg/Orca Houses. Once they become dependent on the profits of illicit drug marketing, if they ever get too far out of line, Zerika can start legalizing various substances again, and use this to curb their activities.

    Zerika is very shrewd, and may have considered sacrificing Aliera as worthwhile to avoiding the pointless deaths of all those Teckla. Especially since she apparently expected to arrange Aliera’s escape from prison before she could ever be executed, anyway.

    Note: It’s only when Vlad convinces Zerika that Aliera would never go for staying alive as a fugitive that Zerika agrees to begin the investigation.

  165. I loved it. My review ran a few weeks back in my University newspaper. You can see it here at Imprint‘s website and my blog.

  166. Oh, I have to ask: did anyone catch the reference to “House”?

  167. Looks like it time for a reread! Btw I love your books and take great pleasure in spreading the word!

  168. Been reading since mid eighties, when my Grateful Dead addled brain saw Brokedown Palace and I said to myself “how bad can it be”…

    Turns out quite good.. and it just keeps getting better.

    Just finished Iorich, thought the deleted scenes were hilarious. Surprisingly, though, realized I never read the previous book – which the local BN had in stock, along with 4-5 other Brust books. Reading that one now….

    Anyway, I hope the speculation about Khaavren is right, I’d love to see a deeper book that focuses on Vlad and the Phoenix Guards.

    Thanks again for the great books. Never knew about all the hidden threads, now I’ve got to read ’em all over

  169. SKZB

    Kiera after wrapping Vlads cracked rib

  170. Ken: Nope. Good guess, though.

  171. SKZB

    Damn, and she had House’s bedside manner down pat too. I’ll have to reread it again. 3rd time lucky.
    In response to Tiassa: Unlike most other authors with ongoing series you don’t get trite and predictable. I’ve given up on all the others so piss of everyone, I’ll still enjoy it.

  172. Hint: It’s a direct quote from the pilot. Well, okay, not exactly.

  173. Love these books. Hadn’t read a Vlad novel in quite a while and have become enamored with them once again after this last. Reading them is like watching a chess game in a mirror or walking backwards through a … something. Or solving one of those math problems that takes an entire sheet of paper to work out. Just like getting my brain to move through these twisty little passages. A thousand thank yous.

  174. Now that you mentioned House, I’m remembering about a hundred could-be-paraphrases of the series. In fact, I just wasted far too much time wondering what a “deleted scene” of Vlad visiting House would be like, but I couldn’t see Vlad with House, but in his place, and that messed me up when Loiosh threatened to eat a dying patient, so there’s no hope I’ll ever be able to venture a guess about that reference you mentioned.

    But I’ve been sidetracked. My intention was to do an excited dance about finally having read the novel and my resolution had been to avoid reading everyone else’s comments until I was done. I only failed a little bit. So, right—the dancing:

    (By the way, loved the deleted scenes. That was just fun.)

    I always get great love from the subtleties. My favorite this time being the number of steps one takes when leaving the Empress’s presence. Somehow (by some magic, I assume, as that can be the only answer), that 5-7-10 rule for Vlad stuck in my head, and made me pay attention to how many steps he took away from her from then on out.

    I know it’s a small thing, but I thought it was absolutely great. An example of other great small things that I’m forgetting.

    Loved getting to see so many members of the gang again. Heh, heh—especially that first visit with Kragar. I admit, though, that I’ve missed Morrolan most. And his, uh, mood piqued all kinds of interest as to whatever must’ve happened somewhere in the four years between this and Dzur and Issola. I enjoy the wild way my mind is working and get excited about the prospect of having it tethered at some future date.

    Oh! And the little snippets at the beginnings of the chapters. I read the first couple and then realized they were one of those things, so I only skimmed from then on out, with the full intention of going back to really read them when I was done. And that was a highly entertaining practice. That sort of experience really makes me feel at home in a new Vlad book.

    The little oaths to the Demon Goddess did make me wonder what she’s up to, and how her plans are going. I think her role presence was the only thing I was so hoping for in the book, and didn’t see.

    “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try, sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”

    And I did!

  175. Thanks, Chy. That was very pleasant.

    “But we’re doctors. When make mistakes, people die.”

  176. Loved it!
    I also love that your Vlad Taltos novels are not formulaic in any way.
    Like many others in these threads i feel Vlad and Loiosh are lifelong friends.
    To be honest the greatest compliment i can pay you is to humbly admit that Your / Vlad’s musings on life the universe and everything have affected the way i see the world around me. Hats off!
    If Valabars ever releases a cookbook ..sign me up for two copies.
    … And damn you SKZB! Ever since i read Dzur, my wine bill has gone up considerably!

  177. “We’re assassins. When we make mistakes, people don’t die.”

    I knew there was a reason that line jumped out at me, but I was too excited to be following Vlad around to stop and ponder it.

    (And sorry if that’s not the exact line; I’m not actually patient enough to flip through and find it—until I’m able to sit down and read the whole thing again.)

  178. matk: Thank you; that is very pleasant to hear. And sorry about the wine bill.

    chy: Heh heh heh

  179. p. 215, the opening of Chapter 12

    Interrogating a Dragonlord is obviously as irritating to execute as it’s transcript is enjoyable to read. Well done. Aliera’s answers are as keen as Pathfinder.

    It’s perfect and I read it several times to myself, then several times to my friends, all of whom enjoyed it as well.

    Thank you so much, for being you.

  180. Page 195 Vlad checks the Imperial Orb for the time. I didn’t know he could do that with what he’s wearing on his neck.

  181. Idle observation here. For the most part, the covers have been pretty good for showing the House animal. But I could swear that an Iorich is supposed to be a reptile, so what’s with the Tsalmoth looking-thing on the cover?

  182. I finally read it a few weeks ago. Love it massively. (Baffled by the cover, but that ain’t in your control, is it? and not major to me anyway.)

    I keep going back and filling the inside front and back cover with notes, and just saved a whole load of these comments (including the typo notes– now I’ll know not to bother you with those).

    Tchrist@140: You reason like a Yendi.

  183. Couple typo notes before bed, ’cause they require very little thought or comment and I can just check them off in my copy.

    P.142 (Steve, were you having a fire sale on the letter “a”?)
    para. 5: and you have a good [a] memory
    para. 6: an expression that was [a] hard to decipher

    (Which doesn’t affect the fact that I love the scenes with Vlad Norathar. They touch me in a way nothing else has in the books so far… as they do Vlad.)

    p.149, para.1, last line: to d[e]vine ==> divine

    And one more that reminds me of, I don’t remember which book it was in, but some proofreader capitalized *every* damn occurrence of “jhereg”, and maybe other House animals as well:

    para. 6 from bottom: “May I touch the [J]hereg?”

    And one that might or might not be a typo or wrong word: p.145, para. 5 from bottom:
    the mus[k]y smell of ancient furniture
    ??=> musty

    Mark A. Mandel, proprietor, Cracks and Shards
    http://www.cracksandshards.com
    a Steven Brust fan website
    aka Dr. Whom, Consulting Linguist, Grammarian, Orthoëpist, and Philological Busybody

  184. “Is Vlad still a Jhereg?”

    Since things are kind of quiet, I would like to pose two questions I have been think about.

    Here is my first question: “Does Vlad still consider himself part of the House of Jhereg”?

    Let me state the question in another way. Vlad defied the Jhereg in “Phoenix” because Cawti was in danger, and again in “Iorich” because Aliera was in danger. If neither had been involved, would Vlad still have acted against his house in those two cases? Specific to “Iorich”, if Aliera or was not endangered by the Jhereg/Orca deal, would Vlad have thought that “this will make my house money, so it is good”, and let things be?

    As a side note, it seems that the Jhereg still think of him as a member, even though they want him dead in the worst possible way (Morganti). I observe that (a) the Demon himself was willing to take a Jhereg meeting with Vlad (in “Dzur”), and make a Jhereg deal, and (b) they have not revoked his title as far as I have read. Vlad at least does not have to worry about becoming a peasant, since thanks to Zerika he has his “Count of Szurke” to fall back on.

    My own feeling is that if Cawti was not involved, Vlad would not have really care about the Jhereg actions in South Adrilanka, in part because he had is life ordered with the status quo, and in part his feeling that little would ever change for the Easterners whether he acted or not.

    However, I feel that he may have acted in second case, even if his direct friends were not involved. We learned in both “Orca” and “Athyra” that Vlad will go out of his way for protecting the powerless, whether the simple citizens in Northport or the Teckla villagers of Smallcliff. Also, Vlad was seemingly developed a sympathy – or at least an understand of the value – of the Empire it its role of protecting the people from the Houses, so he might have stepped in to help Zerika, though perhaps at a distance instead of from inside the city itself

    This leads to the next question: if the House Of Jhereg was in mortal danger, would Vlad be relieved, or would he step in to help (if properly asked of course)?

  185. “Deus ex Jhereg?”

    Like many others, I am looking forward to a resolution of the problem between Vlad and the Jhereg, preferably before “The Last Contract.” Here are my thoughts.

    We know that there is not enough money in the Dragaon Treasury (or anywhere) to buy off the Jhereg. We also know that they are not afraid of any House, even a House at the top of the Cycle (like the House of Dragon in “Jhereg”). They are not even particularly afraid to take on the Empire, given what happened in “Iorich”. The Tekla and Easterners at the bottom are too disorganized and weak, and the Gods at the top just want the Cycle to keep turning, and besides do not get directly involved in the Houses (as per Verra). What does that leave?

    What if a rouge God decided to simply and completely end the Jhereg? How would they stand up to that threat, given that the Lords of Judgement are often known to act slowly and after the fact? Who are they going to call, if not Vlad and God Slayer?

    What about those other tribes, the ones that existed early on but did not make the cut to be one of seventeen? What if this God, or even simply all of the Houses, decided to replace the disreputable and mixed-matched House of Jhereg with this other house? There would still be seventeen houses so the cycle should go on, and no one would perhaps miss them.

    Or, what if the Serioli finally decide to act, and start taking over the minds of the Jhereg leadership (perhaps through the Morganti swords they carry) in order to use them to destroy both themselves and the Empire together? Yes, I know that this has been done several times in Star Trek and elsewhere, but it can still make a good story.

    Would any of these lead to a resolution of the impasse between Vlad and the Jhereg? And to my first question, would Vlad – as he is now – act to save the Jhereg if losing the House of Jhereg was the only cost.

    On a side note, I was reading a parody site about “Lost”, where someone claimed that some blogger had decided early on that the island simply represented purgatory, and since that had been the actual plan of the writers, the writers instead wrote a tangled, confusing, and often contradictory story line just to avoid that blogger’s reveal. In the case of this web log and the Dreamcafe, I am comforted that whatever we may come up with, Steve will always come up with something even more clever and with more unexpected twists and implications. And thus the fun continues!

  186. Having just finished my first reading of Tiassa, I am confident to report to Dru@143 that I in 140 was certainly not reading too much into the deleted Paarfi scene at the very end of Iorich. Indeed, I think I nailed it exactly. Paarfi with Khaavren and Pel, the secret prime minister, Special Tasks. Splendid and delightful! Thanks, Steve. Thanks very much!

  187. ach! tchrist @186 … no fair! – are you adding a Tiassa spoiler to the Iorich spoiler page? tsk tsk – I haven’t read Tiassa yet

  188. Laurie, I’d say my only real Tiassa spoiler, if you must call it that, was what I wrote in 140 — more than a year ago. No? And that’s all stuff I deduced solely from reading Iorich. It’s hard to call it a Tiassa spoiler given that I hadn’t yet read Tiassa when I wrote it. 🙂

    Even so, it only tells you what (well, whom) to expect to encounter, not any sort of plot give-away. Knowing that Khaavren is in Tiassa doesn’t really seem like a spoiler to me, but perhaps that’s because of how long it’s been since I first started thinking it would be so.

    It’s also printed on the Tiassa dust jacket, you know. I think that makes it a teaser, not a spoiler. At least, I hope so.

  189. true enough; all forgiven

  190. Really?

    Not one solitary, Brustian-minded gamer out there who’s willing to take a crack at decoding the next installment of the 20-years-after SM&S game reference set I began exploring in the Jhegaala Spoilers thread? (See http://dreamcafe.com/words/2008/07/06/jhegaala-spoilers/#comment-13164 et seqq. I’m too lazy to check again, but I think it’s a string of 4 or 5 posts in all, including a tail-end chippy comment contributed by knob_e.)

    [Editorial deletion.]

    In the interest of luring a few more players into the game, I offer the following reference-decoding hints for *Iorich*:

    1__Continuing the pattern established in *Jhegaala*, we’re dealing with 3 reference sources—the 1st of which is *SM&S* itself—and a game-signature 9+3 reference configuration.

    2__This installment, however, is All About The “Deleted Scenes.” Huz-ZAH!—no need to go trashing back and forth through the rest of *Iorich* on a fevered quest for vaguely suggestive imagery. And in that single bit of intel, I’ve virtually (heh) handed you 1 of our 3 *SM&S* source references, as well as the core of another. Just give *SM&S* a brisk-but-thorough going-over, then practice thinking devious Brustian gaming thoughts until something clicks.

    3__The *Iorich* installment is also more about the numbers-gaming than *Jhegaala* was. Those “Deleted Scenes” chapter-and-page citations are telling us where to go for our scene-reinventing reference matches. Or, at least, confirming that our guesses are correct, once we get there by other means. Fair warning (which is way more than you’ll ever get from The Author): Some Manipulation Required. Sneaky, sneaky manipulation, mostly. This is, after all, BRUSTIAN numbers-gaming.

    4__In the *Jhegaala* installment, we found several references to *Taltos*, the 1st of Brust’s post-*SM&S* works to include a chunk of his original reference set. Now *Iorich* swaps in *Phoenix*, the 2nd component of Brust’s original set and our 2nd reference source for this installment.

    5__Our final source here, as in the *Jhegaala* installment, is Roger Zelazny’s cumulative *Chronicles of Amber*. What the hell, I’ll even throw in the specific *Iorich*-linked titles (in series-chronological, not reference-listing, order): *The Hand of Oberon*, *The Courts of Chaos*, *Blood of Amber*, and *Sign of Chaos*. (Bonus hint: whichever previous commenter mentioned Zelazny in connection with the Ch. 11 Deleted Scene was bang on target; that is indeed one of the Amber references in the bunch.)

    6__We can’t fill our entire 9+3 *Iorich* quota from the “Deleted Scenes.” That’s where we fall back— Pox on pestiferous continuity, we fall back on information I deleted above for length and content. So there.

    Unless there are questions, I’m done for this round. Judging by the deafening lack of response to my earlier Jhegaala-thon, nobody needs yet another doesn’t-know-when-to-quit blowhard wasting cyber-column-space at w-w-w. Nor do I have anything I need to prove anymore; Brust has already seen enough to figure I’ve got his game damn well nailed. What HE may not need, exactly, but really (*REALLY*) wants right now—has been wanting for more than a quarter-century—is to get the many gaming slackers among us to grab hold of his hidden SM&S challenge and run like hell with it. Only—again, fair warning—he’s bloody determined to make US make that happen with a bare minimum of giveaways on his part. Plan your moves accordingly.

    Happy New Year.

    BTW to a certain trio who Know What I’m Talking About: Still waiting on that peachy-keen Great Weapon and/or kick-ass Sethra-Lavode-caliber team leader. Not to mention, the whole venue thing still totally sucks. Likewise, the being dragooned thing.

    BTW to foot-dragging gamer types: Don’t own a copy of next-installment *Tiassa*; no telling how long it may take me to acquire one. Your best bet is to play on without me, dudes. Shit, we haven’t even advanced to the main SM&S game yet, and ain’t none of us getting any younger.

  191. RE miaveiledlady @ 190

    Uhh…WTF. Right?

    First, there are 3 posts in miaveiledlady’s Jhegaala Spoilers “string,” with my “contribution” adding a 4th @ 131. The closest m comes to a real explanation—there or here—is in a single paragraph of her Jhegaala thread post @130 (http://dreamcafe.com/words/2008/07/06/jhegaala-spoilers/#comment-13507 ).

    Talk about blowhard (and believe me, I know I shouldn’t).

    Here’s the short form of what she thinks she’s trying to tell everyone @ 190, above: Brust was Up To Something—as m would put it—when he conceived and wrote The Sun, the Moon, & the Stars (“SM&S”), and now the Deleted Scenes collection in Iorich is just another sally in his ongoing campaign to nudge readers toward getting a clue. Not unlike Devera giving Junior those trick toy animals to puzzle out—we know *she’s* Up To Something, too. So. Every one of our tr—uh, Deleted Scenes can be linked directly to SM&S (just 1), OR to Phoenix (2) or the Amber Chronicles (4), each of which has its own SM&S connection. What m DOESN’T say is that something else about each Deleted Scene will echo one or more details in the source reference for a different Scene; Brust’s “sneaky, sneaky” numbers gaming includes turning those echoes into a “mostly” sequential-by-source daisy chain. (Seriously—Tom cruise? Does that not positively *reek* of Up To Something-ness?)

    Second…“chippy”? That’s the sort of cheap shot that would have had my dear, departed Aunt Moe shrugging her shoulders, rolling her eyes, and snorting a suitably Moe-ish retort like “Skunk smells its own hole first.” On account of, m might be chippy, but I rate myself as nothing short of snarky.

    Third: “We can’t fill our entire 9+3 *Iorich* quota from the Deleted Scenes.” Not to worry; it’s Jhegaala that we “fall back on” to round out our set of 12. There we find a pair of oddball Phoenix references, one of which is another Brustian triple play, for 4 refs, total. Those suckers were enough to screw the hell out of m’s tidy 9+3 reference pattern for that book, so it’s no wonder she didn’t want to mention them in her Jhegaala posts. Now she’s trying to play all in-screw-table, like she knew what Brust was Up To the whole time.

    Fourth, for any “foot-dragging gamer types” who may have missed m’s earliest SM&S-related posts back in the Another Tiassa Update thread (oh, Google it yourselves, if you feel you absolutely must go there), Athyra should be the older Taltos series book Brust references in the Tiassa installment of his Get An SM&S Clue campaign. Couldn’t swear to it, though, since I’m still making my slow and methodical, note-taking way through Iorich.

  192. Re knob_e @ 191

    The information on falling back to *Jhegaala* to find our 4 missing references is essentially correct. And Tom Cruise certainly reeks of something.

    The rest is mostly sour grapes, probably stemming (heh) from the fact that knob_e’s *Jhegaala* posts haven’t attracted any more comment than mine. (Less, in fact, since knob_e DID comment on mine.) Yep, terrible burden to have to bear, low self-esteem; makes some folks downright mean-spirited. I suppose I could pop on over to the Jhegaala thread and deliver a quick ego-boo fix by pleading prettily for the “Inchay” name story that knob_e went all Attitude about not sharing with everyone.

    Only, why bother when I already know the punch line? Plus, it’s funnier—in a painfully-bad-pun kind of fashion—than I think knob_e wants to admit. And Inchay’s safety-cone sign plays right into the joke, so it wasn’t quite fair to claim that Brust is “totally” head-gaming us there. Even if some of us were totally taken in by it.

    But I am well and truly sorry for being such a disappointment to you, knob_e. Really.

  193. miaveiledlady @ 192

    Fine. Okay. Whatever.

    Does this mean we have to make like flippen BFFs now?

  194. Well. Why not. At least, until the next snarky head-butting opportunity.

  195. m @ 194

    Snarky, yeah. Don’t you be forgetting that again before the next time comes along.

    A final, tiny bit of Brustian numbers-gaming for anyone who hasn’t already been bored stupid and wandered off in search of a rest cure. And you don’t need to know jack about SM&S to get this one:

    Dennis @ 17 speculated that the Taltos series isn’t likely to stretch out for too many Dragaeran years beyond Iorich. Bet on that. Cash, if you have it. Iorich is set in the first half of 252 PI. Events in Vlad’s life are due to culminate sometime in 253. The year he turns 34 years old. Or, put in Brustian terms, Mystical Number 17 x 2. Remember: we learned in Taltos that he first became an assassin at age 17. And his birth year was 219, or 19 – 2 = Mystical 17. And it was in 234 that Noish-pa first set Vlad on the path that brought him and Loiosh together. He’s got a great line in Taltos about how the number 17 keeps popping up in his life, but I’m away from home and don’t have the book handy to quote it exactly. (Lucky you, right?)

    Wait–Dennis @…17? How perfect is that? Whoever you are, Dennis, did you grab that comment space on purpose?

  196. these numbers games are making me dizzy

  197. knob_e @195:

    1) I’m me.

    2) I only wish I was that clever. I love the symmetry, though. I hadn’t even really thought about Vlad’s age as we near the end of the Vladiad, but it would be pretty awesome if it works out how you described.

  198. Dennis@197

    Damn, I was so hoping we’d be picking up another gamer.

    Thanks, though–to both you and Laurie@196–for letting me know somebody out there is at least checking in when I post. Don’t know about miaveiledlady, but I sometimes get the feeling that a “knob_e” tag is tantamount to hollering “leper-outcast-unclean!” Or maybe “everybody out of the pool!”

    And sorry about the dizziness, Laurie. Trust me, you’re far from alone on that score.

  199. miaveiledlady@194
    knob_e@198

    I have the Ace paperback of “Taltos” and the hardbacks of the most recent books. My copy of SM&S is Ace paperback. Does that title need to be in hardback too? Am I automatically unable to join the game due to lack of appropriate playing pieces?

  200. Sharon C. @199

    As long as your SM&S paperback is a trade edition, you should be good to go; as far as I know, that title has never been released in the smaller mass-market paperback format, but my trade copy is under the Orb imprint, not Ace–just to be on the safe side, look to see if yours ends with “Merry meet again” and “Kovacs ’87” on p. 203.

    As for the Taltos series books, you’re best off if you have *Taltos*, *Phoenix*, and *Athyra* in the mass-market Ace paperback original editions. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to play if you’re stuck with the trade edition twofers, but you’ll have to work around some missing pieces. And, of course, you’ll have to miss out on some of Brust’s funniest tricks from the first set of references. With *Jhegaala* and *Iorich*, hardcover versus paperback doesn’t matter–the pagination is identical. I’m assuming the same will hold true for *Tiassa*. (And yes, folks, there should also be a fourth title to finish out this second set. Then again, it is a Brustian game. Don’t bet the farm.)

    By the way, Zelazny reference citations have all been chapter-only so far, and I expect that to continue–there are just too many different editions of those books in circulation for Brust to rely on specific page citations.

    If anyone is thinking of bailing on the *Iorich* numbers-gaming for lack of the right *Phoenix* source edition–what the heck, knob_e has already spilled that there are only two *Phoenix* references among our seven Deleted Scenes. Now I’ll add that you need specific page numbers for only the first numbers-gaming round, and it IS possible to skate by without them. In the second round–knob_e’s (ahem) “daisy chain”–Brust switches to chapter numbers for those same *Phoenix* references. He did something similar with the *Taltos* references in *Jhegaala*. I didn’t want to mention it then, because I was hoping someone else would catch on and report that little trick. It’s the page numbers that clinch the scarred-fingers match, but if you take a good look at the *chapter* numbers for those two pages, then at the *chapter* numbers for the kelsch-and-eddiberry match, you should see what I mean. A little Brustian accommodation for trade-twofer owners.

    But I’m babbling, because–

    Huzzah! The Eagle has landed, Mafeking is relieved, and we have found a kindred spirit at last!

    Welcome to the game, Sharon C.

  201. miaveiledlady@190:

    I wanted to say Thanks – you got me to re-read Jhegaala, and I appreciated it a lot more on the second reading. Also, you got me to finally buy a copy of SM&S, which I’ve avoided over the years due to Steve’s own description of it, but am now enjoying a great deal.

    I’ve also been enjoying the numbers gaming conversation (although I am admittedly too lazy to join in).

    But Thanks again!

  202. Ashish@201

    Ahh, more feedback. Bless you. As long as we’re not driving you “out of the pool,” around the bend, or up the walls to hang from the chandelier and gibber like…well, like one of us, I’m content with the thought that we’ll suck you in eventually.

    Credit knob_e for some of the more interesting *Jhegaala* posts. That book takes more effort to penetrate than *Iorich*, what with the whole Fen-garian Name Game going on, but it’s well worth a second read for those who didn’t realize on the first run-through that the not-like-anything-else-in-Fenario Merchants Guild is in fact an unaccredited foreign branch of House Jhegaala, or that Brust squeezed a whole chapter on the history of Europe into a few carefully chosen names, or that he snuck so many jokes into a few others. (Or, heh, what really happened to Vlad’s pinkie.)

    I’m always happy to get more readers into *SM&S* for any reason, although I’ll also always think the game is the best part of it.

    Tiny *SM&S* Hungarian name joke–*probably* not entirely intentional, but I try never to assume too much where Brust is concerned. Just out of curiosity, I entered Greg’s last name, Kovacs, in an online translation database, and did a double-take when I not only got an answer, but it turned out to be “forger.” Took me a while to realize: not forger as in falsifier of art works, but forger as in one who uses a forge. His name is Greg Smith.

    Well, *I* thought it was funny.

  203. “Credit knob-e”…yeah, that has a nice ring to it. And about bloody time someone did.

    But leave the Hungarian name joke-telling to me, m, okay? Just a gentle, BFF-like suggestion. Others may be less kind.

    Also, heads-up to all, re miaveiledlady@200: “Zelazny reference citations have all been chapter-only.” Poor–uh, make that a BFF-ly correct “imprecise”–choice of words by m. The citations have been chapter-*generalized* as opposed to page-*specific*, but they aren’t chapter-*only*, especially here in Iorich. Remember, our Zelazny source is the entire combined 1st and 2nd Chronicles of Amber–10 different books to keep straight from reference to reference.

  204. “Everybody out of the pool!”

    On account of—*hel*-lo: second game. Same book. Main story line this time. Not 100% SM&S-free, But I haven’t yet seen anything that would stop you from playing this one, even if you’ve never read SM&S and never hope to.

    Best of all for the numerically-challenged among us—including me—I won’t be getting into any headbanging numbers-gaming talk here. Just a few general parameters to give everyone an idea of what we’re looking for.

    I’m calling it the Continuity Is *Toast* game. I mean, Brust pointedly thanks Alexx Kayy for “continuity checking” in the front-end acknowledgments, then hands us a continuity-busting mess like this? Correction: NOT a mess—there are several fairly clear patterns to guide us along, if we pay sufficiently close attention. What we’ve got in Iorich is a whole pantload of subtly-patterned *intentional* “oops”-es.

    Although I’m only about a third of the way into my detailed note-compiling for Iorich, I can already see enough to put high odds on finding a total of 6 (or possibly just 4) dozen “off”-to-varying-degrees references: a full 3 (or possibly just 1) dozen for Phoenix alone—that being, after all, our SM&S game-related match for Iorich—plus another 3 “off” references apiece for each of the other books in the Taltos series to date. Since Iorich is only the 12th book, this tally will leave us 3 refs short of our 3-dozen non-Phoenix quota. I can think of several strategies Brust might have used to fudge in the missing 3, and I’m trying to keep all options in play for now, but my gaming instinct says we’ll most likely find 6 “off” refs with both ends in Iorich, then 3 apiece for the remaining 10 non-Phoenix books.

    That really isn’t as many as it may seem. Eric @ 53 has already found one of the bigger no-brainers. (And Brust actually confirmed the correction @ 54. That’s part of the no-brainer: it ALWAYS pays to be deeplysuspicious whenever The Author starts giving information away.) “I still have most of what I got for Laris” (Vlad, p. 128). A single sentence, and it yields 3 different continuity errors. Vlad shined Laris in Yendi, but didn’t get paid for it. Got a hefty purse in Jhereg, but that was for Mellar. And spent most of it to buy out Herth at the end of Teckla. Boom. Then we have items like “the Adrilankha River” (p. 20); a mere 3 words, and how many books does that contradict?

    Of course, not all refs are quite so obvious. I’ve pinned down one that’s borderline evil. Brust does, however, give us a few helpful side-cues. For instance, I’ve spotted 3 distinct words or phrases that keep popping up in close proximity to continuity-busting statements. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a pattern of occurrence emerge there as well, but it isn’t clear to me yet, beyond my strong expectation that those same 3 cues will be used to mark the entire collection. Well, with 1 addition. Subtraction, really. Remember Mark Mandel @ 183 gently ribbing Brust about “having a fire sale on the letter ‘a’ ”? Turns out the joke is on Mr. Mandel, because there are way more MISSING “a”s throughout Iorich than there are surplus, and those little suckers *mean* something. They’re—what’s miaveiledlady’s phrase?—Brustian red flags.

    I admit, 3 dozen refs for Phoenix does sound a tad high, even to me. I already know I can nail the 1st dozen, though. And my gaming instinct keeps insisting that 3 dozen makes a more Brustian pattern. A lot will depend on how I decide we’re supposed to deal with “multiples” like “princes” and “Council of Princes.” We know it should be “heirs” and “Council of Heirs,” but do we count each separately? What about every individual use? And do we base our final tally on the count in Iorich or in Phoenix? My current strategy is to work out the other 3 dozen first, then see what I can learn from the patterns there.

    All other suggestions are welcome. As are corrections or refinements to my quota assumptions. I’m a long way from finished with this one.

  205. Re: the Continuity is *Toast* game.

    Oh, I so underestimated exactly how big a toaster Brust was using. Refused to believe he’d go that far. Here I am, though, not yet halfway through my Iorich notes, and I’ve already got 4 or more between-books “oops”-es apiece for several titles. In fact, I’ve started rereading the whole book, picking up a bunch of items I was able to rationalize away on the first pass, because I’m finally forced to concede that we really are looking at a classic Brustian 9+3 DOZEN intentional errors.

    I’m standing rock solid on an expected total of 3 dozen Phoenix-related cock-ups. I’m also still liking the 2-to-1 ratio of Iorich-only flubs to between-book slips for any of the ten remaining titles, but the gaming ground is a little shakier with those quotas pushed up to 18 and 9. Since Iorich can’t use any of the specifically multi-book-based oopses (like Adrilankha River, for example), my newest assumption is that the missing/surplus “a”s (and other dropped, added, or incorrectly substituted words) actually count toward the internal-to-Iorich error total instead of simply flagging the “real” game items.

    Heh, Brustian payback, that’s what this game is. He’s being every bit as anal as his worst continuity critics over the years. (Don’t look at me; like I said above, I’m totally cool with giving a free pass to anything that might possibly have a logical explanation. I do draw the line, however, at flat-out defying either the basic rules of good storytelling or the established Brustian workarounds thereto.)

    Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure we were all forewarned. Wasn’t it in a blog shout-out for any past-book information on House Iorich colors that Brust said something along the lines of “If I’m going to contradict myself, I want to know I’m doing it on purpose”? Then, in the prologue to Iorich itself, we have Vlad rationalizing away a piddly—and flamboyantly unlikely—detail in the jug-room scene: “a large knife, just lying there—almost certainly the knife the innkeeper used to cut fruit to put in wine punch, but that’s the sort of thing an assassin notices.” Off-season, frou-frou wine punch? In a “rural inn”? Nah. It’s all about professionals, putting to good use the tools of whatever trade they ply. Only, now I’m wondering, does Brust’s “punch” also deliver [“a”] hidden toast?

  206. *Toast* just keeps getting funnier.

    After my last pair of yawners, I fully intended to join BFF miaveiledlady on the posting High Road, backing off and giving everyone else a nice long break from my Brustian Specialness. Good thing I didn’t make any rash promises to that effect, because I can’t resist passing along a couple of my favorite *Toast* game finds so far.

    I’ve already said that certain words or phrases keep popping up in Iorich. Next step was to start making lists, two of which are particularly worth noting. Except, I’m pretty sure the first is only the backbone of a list, with more detail yet to be filled in. A low priority for me right now, but readers who’ve gone on to finish Tiassa might find themselves in an excellent position to figure out what Brust was Up To with the following sentences:

    “There was probably a story there.” ( p. 17)
    “Um. Sounds like there’s a story there.” (p. 35)
    “No doubt there was a story there.” (p. 66)
    “Long story, never mind.” (p. 97)
    “Is there a story there?” (p. 120)
    “Never mind. It’s a long story.” (p. 264)
    “Long story.” (p. 306)

    Iorich is the 12th of a planned 19 books in the main Taltos series, with 7 left to go. Does anyone seriously think these 7 “story” sentences ended up in the current story line by accident? (FYI, “story” gets 3 more Iorich uses: once as part of “two-story rooming houses,” and twice in the Prologue, as Vlad tries to sort out the story on Aliera—which is basically the backbone for his Iorich Vlad-venture.) But is the set a simple acknowledgment that there are indeed another 7 Vlad-ventures still locked inside Brust’s head? (Simple? Brust? Pfui.) Or are there real clues to future story lines in the sentences or paragraphs surrounding each reference? Or maybe (groan) elsewhere in the book, to be tracked down by playing with the numbers on each reference page. That’s where Tiassa readers have an edge: if you recall something Tiassa-flavored in Iorich, you can work backward to one of our target sentences. Only—PLEASE—take any Tiassa-specific discussion over to the Tiassa Spoilers thread. As much as I’d welcome a confirmation on the presence of future story line hints in Iorich, I don’t want anybody blabbing about exactly what they are. One last tip: remember the nature of this game. I’m guessing that anything you find will be about as reliable as the early intel Vlad gleaned on Aliera’s “story” (p. 20).

    I’ve led everyone to expect something funny, though, haven’t I? That would be our 2nd list. In addition to word-repetition, I also mentioned Brustian payback in one of my earlier *Toast* posts. Now we’ve got Brust using one to fess up to the other in falling-down-funny Brustian style. Iorich is the House of Justice, right? “Just”-ice. (Ice? And what’s that line about a dish best served cold? Whatever, I’m too lazy to look it up.) The phrase “just to” appears 11 times in Iorich, and 9 of them make our list (with “just to save herself” and “it hurt just to walk” as no-brainer discards). The phrase “just so” shows up 3 times, all early in the book, and all ending up on our list—they were what first caught my eye. Finally, “just wanted” gets 3 uses, 2 of which fill out the list; the sole exclusion, “just wanted to see you,” was also the only phrase I waffled on while compiling the list. Ultimately, that’s why it lost out: the other list candidates were all fairly clear, and the obvious point of the whole exercise was one of 2 refs on page 147; after omitting the single problematic item, The Point becomes the 7th of 14 statements on the list. On page 147. Which seems pretty damn Pointed to me. I’ve shuffled 5 statements out of their strict order of appearance, “just” because it seemed Brust was prodding me to do so. I don’t want to bore everyone with unnecessary explanations, but I’m happy to defend my decisions if challenged. Note that #1, #2, and #10 are actually double sentences—or near as dammit—thus not only replacing our 3 discards but also transforming our 14-item set into a Mystical Dragaeran 17:

    1….“Just so you don’t get the wrong idea—may the gods keep me from ever conveying a false impression.” (p. 19)
    2….“[J]ust so you don’t get confused. I wouldn’t want you to get confused.” (p. 36)
    3….“Just to be clear.” (p. 288; also “I really should learn not to bait”)
    4….“[J]ust to be contrary and because turning [people’s] bait is always fun.” (p. 285)
    5….“Just wanted to let you know.” (p. 120)
    6….“[J]ust wanted…the…pleasure of seeing you jump.” (p. 147)
    7….“[T]his whole thing…was concocted just to get [people]back.” (p. 147)
    8….“[J]ust to beat you.” (p. 182)
    9….“[J]ust to be unpredictable.” (p. 216)
    10…“Just so you know … I just said it to annoy.” (p. 68; also “she glared”)
    11…“[J]ust to be contrary and because I was in a mood to glare back.” (pp. 217-218)
    12…“[J]ust to taunt.” (p. 25; also “you need to *be sure of* where to *find your target*”)
    13…“[J]ust to find out.” (p. 167)
    14…“[J]ust to see who reacted.” (p. 295)

    I was cackling like a crazy person by the time I hit #7, but I suspect the shot of Brustian Attitude may net me a mess of cold pricklies from oversensitive readers who’d rather believe I really am nuts (as if that matters). I’ve been wondering if the long form of #3 was intended as a side message to early-solving readers: “Just to be clear, if [you] figure out what [I’ve] done, and I don’t see how to prevent that, you might become a target.” I could offer an added link tying all 14 statements together. Probably boost my credibility with anyone who thinks I’m reading my own expectations into a collection of random statements. Definitely get me into even deeper crap elsewhere, though, by tearing the lid off a different can of worms. So, never mind.

    Okay, maybe 25+ years of dealing with unimaginative nit-pickers who “just” don’t get his iconoclastic spin on continuity errors HAS made Brust a wee tad cranky on the subject. Who wouldn’t be? Don’t let his “Just”-ian How Now Hissy-Cow put you off the Continuity Is *Toast* game. He invested a lot of time and ingenuity in crafting its bazillion parts and pieces; reader and author both lose out if all that twisted creativity is left unexplored. Even the game’s most basic series trivia is not always as straightforward as it seems. (How many books does invented-for-Dzur “Adrilankha River” contradict? “Just” 1, it turns out: Taltos, with 2 “Sunset River” uses. But counting the books that give us some other version of “sun” instead of or along with “Furnace” is way trickier.) Plus, he’s taken a “Fractured Fairy Tales” approach to many of the game’s larger “errors,” as he also does with the entire Deleted Scenes collection for the separate, SM&S-related game installment—in every case, we vaguely recognize the story, but the details are all bent out of shape. (Flintway, pp. 144-145? See Lower Kieron Road: Yendi, map and pp. 28, 40, ignoring the added error of Vlad’s office relocation between Iorich p. 144 and p. 145, since the two street descriptions are our focus here; Teckla, pp. 56-57; Dzur, pp. 52-53, 218-219.) Then there are the ever-present jokes, beginning almost literally on page 1. (According to The Cycle as represented on p. 9, the defining characteristics for House Tiassa are “Catalyst & Inspiration.” But what defines the lives of the hapless Tiassa nobles in the Whitemill area on p. 18? Heh: Orca-controlled Canals & Irrigation.)

    In fact, that’s the most important rule in the whole game: be ready to laugh at whatever you find. Especially if you got righteously punk’d by it on first reading.

  207. @ Knob-e ….. Neat!

  208. Thanks, Ashish.

    Now I “just” hope others think so, too. Remember, everyone, I AM prepared to present a defense of my reasoning, if necessary.

  209. *Ouch.* Since vancinema has decided that this thread can more productively be co-opted as free advertising space, without even pretending there’s any connection to anything remotely author-related, and everyone else seems totally cool with the unauthorized commercial break, I guess I really DO need to Back The Hell Off. Three quick clarifications, then I’m gone*:

    First, in my @205 revised comments on the main part of Continuity Is *Toast*, I was STILL underestimating the size of Brust’s toaster. Progress on the word-repetition lists confirms that we definitely want to end up with a 12×12 configuration of intentional errors. Only, we’ll have to get there by some sort of pattern-governed process of elimination.

    Second, turns out that discarding the 3rd “just wanted to” statement from the 14-item Brustian payback list @206 was a bad move. All 3 discards need to be “just to” statements.

    Third, there are 5 more *Toast*-significant lists to be compiled in the word-repetition part of the game. Then, after pairing up the 6 shorter lists, we finish with 4 groups of 14 statements, or 14 and 4 => 144 => 12×12.

    (*And this time, it IS a promise.)

  210. knob_e, it’s Spam. It happens on Blogs. Don’t read anything into it at all.

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