Another Tiassa Update

After several conversations with Reesa, what I think is the last chunk of Tiassa has fallen into place well enough that I can see where I’m going.  I think.  Maybe.  For the moment.  So I believe I’m on track to finish it.   I have noticed that, with each of the last several books, I have pissed off some percentage of Vlad fans, and this makes me sad.  So, with this book, I’m hoping to piss off all of them.  I hate half measures.

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0 thoughts on “Another Tiassa Update”

  1. Hah, tough shit! Some of us will always squeal with delight at having inhaled the latest Vlad. ;)

    Then again, some people like getting beaten with hot pokers . . .

    Bad analogy.


  2. Good luck with that.. I’m awfully hard to piss off. :)

    Hrm.. unless you finish it, then just tease us with tidbits for a few years and never publish. That’d do it. Don’t do that.

  3. I… like Iorich and Issola and Dzur! (though I do think Dzur’s second act was a bit long and resolution a bit short, but it was still fun, and it makes everyone hungry)

  4. I have noticed that, with each of the last several books, I have pissed off some percentage of Vlad fans, and this makes me sad.

    How the H— ….

    No, no, not the part about it making you sad. But how does that work? Yes, Issola hurt, and deeply. But what do we read fiction for? Okay, so there is something of a diverse set of answers to that, but how many of us, really, read fiction so that the author can give us every damn thing we ever thought we wanted in a story? Isn’t that boring? I mean, a friend of mine who is a musician once advised, “Write the book you want to read.” That, apparently, is how he does his albums. So it seems foolish to look to Steven Brust, or any other author, to deliver us what we cannot give unto ourselves.

    Catharsis, catharsis, catharsis. Whether it’s a young boy’s lack of pockets, the staid faith of the fiddle player’s moment of clarity, or the costs of such devotion among friends as we do not see in modern life, is our pathos now about indignance and outrage? How sad, if so. Often it’s the little things, like Zerika’s neuroses expressed as she trod the Paths of the Dead, that bring the greatest rewards.

    I cannot imagine the Taltos cycle being comfortable and predictable.

    Over a decade ago, you sat on a panel in Seattle with Robin Hobb and a couple of others. I promised you a beer in Minneapolis, but never made it to the show. As you talked with passing fans after the panel … even now I recall the old line about how you enjoy other people’s speculation about subtext. It was easy to see in your responses, and hard to guard against as a fan. But what muttered theories could there be if everything about the story was comfortable and predictable?

    Maybe I just don’t understand readers at large. Indeed, this would not be the first time the question has occurred to me; it may well be a primary reason I can’t seem to actually finish a novel.

    I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time, and if it takes you a while to get it where you’re happy with it, I can deal with that.

    If you confuse me, if you wound me, if you break my heart, it is actually more than I can ask. And if you manage to actually piss me off? I’ll hitch a ride to Texas and deliver a case of beer to your doorstep.

  5. You’ve yet to piss me off (although Orca still has the distinction of being the only book I’ve actually thrown at a wall. “She’s WHO?!” Slam).

    Hard for me to get mad at a book or a character, they’re just fiction. Now an author, that’s who I get pissed at. But rarely.

    Well, I was slightly mad over Dzur. It ruined my diet.

  6. What have people been angry about? The Vlad books continue to entertain, delight, and touch off the more than occasional deep thought.

    The last three books (or one) of the Khaavren Romances did leave a little to be desired – that one (or three) just didn’t have the same feel as the first two, to me anyway. Maybe that was the point though.

    What I’d really like to see is for Steve to leave Dragaera again sometime.

  7. I say “Fuck ’em!” Don’t worry about pissing off Vlad fans.

    Listen, I know people who are still pissed that Vlad and Cawti broke up, who confine themselves to rereading Taltos, Yendi, and Jhereg. Ah, conservatives. Not politically, I mean, uh, plotifically? I don’t know what the word would be for people who don’t want their favorite characters to ever change or have anything permanently bad happen to them. But I do know that the point is fuck ’em.

    Anyway, I say screw trying to please Vlad fans. Instead, try not to piss off fans of good stories. This fan of good stories says you haven’t pissed me off yet. But keep it up, Brust, or I’ll send over someone to break your typewriter. *Then* you’ll know I’m serious.

  8. So, with this book, I’m hoping to piss off all of them. I hate half measures.

    Umm. *frets*

  9. I have yet to read Iorich, which is in the mail somewhere between the glorious bookshop and me, so perhaps I’m missing out on some annoyance that an otherwise presumably sane person might have been exposed to.

    I’m with bd on this one, except that I’m not going to buy you a case of beer. :)

  10. Hmmm. I’m two books behind – I wonder if I’m part of the fan base which is going to be pissed off with those two books or not?

    In prep for Iorich, Jo Clayton did a semi-public re-reading of the cycle for which sent me hunting (fruitlessly, it turns out) for my copy of Jhereg. For some reason, libraries I live close to don’t own your books, and they very rarely show up at used book stores (except Cowboy Feng’s. Which is perhaps indicative.) I hate buying a book before I’ve read it, but for Vlad, I tend to make an exception. Jhegella is out in paperback…

  11. Any author who can elicit an emotional reaction other than ‘how the hell did this crap get published?’ from me gets a feather in his or her cap. Even if it is along the lines of ‘Brust, you magnificent bastard’, said with a tone of grudging respect, after something horrible happens.

  12. L0oking forward to angrily slamming Tiassa against the wall in a year or so…

    and then picking up Hawk or Chreotha or whichever a couple years after that.

  13. The only thing which is likely to piss off sufficient numbers to satisfy you properly would be to stop writing, and you don’t give the impression of being someone who would simply give up. I’ve been following Vlad’s career pretty much from the start and the two of you seem fairly well-matched for sheer bloody-minded unstoppableness ;-)

  14. the only thing i keep waiting for is lady teldra’s awakening.

    nothing pisses me off about this series.

  15. Maybe its because I haven’t read the Iorich (spoiler) thread, but what in the hell could you be pissed off about in reading a fantasy book?

    ok, I just thought of something: while Vlad and company are out walking in the jungle, Loiosh gets eaten by a large snake. And this happens for no reason in the book.

    That would piss me off.

    Or the one actual example that happened to me: Douglas Adams writing the final book of the Hitchhiker’s Guide. That book pissed me off. Because it was obvious from page one that he only wrote the book because he had been pestered to do so for years. So it was a great big,”Fine you want another book? Here, choke on this.”

    I highly doubt that Brust will do an entire reboot of the series or kill off Loiosh without a really really spectacular reason, so I feel pretty safe.

  16. Just happy to hear that Tiassa is on its way, with inspiration of mind and a cunning plan.

    If that plan should piss me off, it’s up to me to write a better one I guess….

    Go Steve go…

  17. I am one those who really liked Orca and Athyra. And I do like that changing nature of the serie. But since Orca Vlad have been cut off from his friends, yes he does see them and works with them. But he is not living with them, and that gives a feeling to me, that the books are in sort in between a phase change that has gone on, for a to a long time.

  18. I didn’t much like either Athyra or Jhegaala. It is probably significant that Vlad is incapacitated through large parts of both. I loved Orca, especially the revelation that Platedlizard objected so much to. Which just goes to show. I just reread Issola and, while the end is sad, I can see that the great weapon is going to be big in some story. And we have got a glimpse of some of its powers in Iorich.

    When can we expect to see Tiassa?

  19. I have been reading this series since I was 12. At 31 now, that is a long time.

    I can say in all that time, a Vlad book has never pissed me off. I can still remember coming across a copy of Jhereg in a used bookstore in Key West. That copy is long gone, replaced by the omnibus edition, but since the cover with a flying lizard sucked me in, I haven’t looked back.

    The series hasn’t always developed the way I wanted. Vlad’s decisions haven’t always been the same as my own, but that has only increased my enjoyment.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t have my own preferences for the series, and if anyone cares here they are:
    1) Stop trying to write the books to stand alone. They don’t really stand alone anyway (at least at this point), and the constant references to other stories, and brief explanations of prior characters annoys me. Comparing to LoTR, how bad would it be if every time a character from the past popped up, there was an explanation of who that was? My solution, of course, is simple, I just skip those bits, so for me they effectively aren’t there.
    2) Please wrap up the ‘Jhereg want to kill me’ plot. Of the novels in the series, it has played a part (major or minor) in six of twelve books, seven if one includes Phoenix. That isn’t to say that I dislike the concept in general, but it, to me, has certainly run it’s course. We get it. He pissed people off, other people want to destroy him for it, he will ultimately resolve this, evolve in a way that makes it unimportant, or die. I hope this happens in Tiassa.

    But, those two things aside, I trust skzb to handle it his own way, in his own time. He has been entertaining me for more than half my life. I couldn’t thank him enough for the hours of enjoyment I have gotten from his writing, and I would buy him a beer any day. Or a wine, if, as Vlad, that is his preference.

  20. As a Brust fan, who was once a Vlad fan, all I can say is…


    I adore you. :P

  21. The only thing that would piss me off is if you stopped writing the books completely. :D

  22. Hey, some people got mad all the way back at _Teckla_.

    I thought _Jhegaala_ was awesome, though Vlad’s isolation was very wearing. Just finished _Iorich_, where Vlad is back among people long familiar to us but everything is canted sideways. Brilliant. Not very soothing, but brilliant. There’s nothing like trading one discomfort for its opposite. I have managed not to get into a cycle of reading first one and then the other and then the one and then the other and then — but it was a near thing.

    Vlad pisses me off on a regular basis, and you have been known to do so yourself, but never by writing a novel.


  23. Trying to get all of us…well that’s just lacking in ambition. You should be aiming for all of us, plus our neighbours and our dogs – at the very least ;-)

  24. I have to say that my least favourite Vlad book is almost always the most recently published one, simply because the anticipation for each is always so great that it would be nearly impossible to live up to (and even though I am aware of this trap, I always fall into it). When I re-read the books (as I always do–I am currently re-reading them now, twice in a row, first in publication order and then in chronological order, and am sad that I on my second time through Dzur and am thus almost done), I find things to like and appreciate in even those I did not enjoy as much the first time through. I will admit that Yendi and Taltos are probably my absolute favourites, and so far, Jhegaala my least (mostly because I wanted to see more of Fenario’s culture, and we are told repeatedly that Burz is atypical), but there are few things that would, I think, totally and permanently piss me off.

  25. The only way I can imagine you’ll piss off the fans is if the titular Tiassa has nothing to do with Khaavren – say, if the title is tangential to the House the way Jhegaala was.

  26. You’d have to go further than that. To piss of _everyone_ it would have to be nothing to do with Khaavren, set both in the four years before Iorich and four years after, and in it Morrolan decides to go adventuring through his windows and exits the series altogether, Vlad gets back together with Cawti and then she dies, and due to a magical experiment gone wrong, Aliera turns into a talking cat.

    … Although to tell the truth, I’d probably still like it.

  27. Maybe Vlad could become the next Lord of Chaos, and then have the series end with no resolution.

    That’d probably do it.

  28. It’ll be difficult to piss us all off. I wish you the best and look forward to your effort.

  29. Had no power for nearly three days after a storm, so I reread 500 Years After, Paths of the Dead, Lord of Castle Black, and am on Sethra Lavode. Here’s hoping Tiassa includes one of our beloved Tiassa characters!

  30. Not to doom anyone, but to arbitrarily piss us all off, he’d just have to permanently kill off Vlad, Morrolan, or Noishpa. Or perhaps to suit the titualar theme, Khaavren. Winter is coming – Adrilankha, look out.

  31. Dru@41:

    Can Sethra go out in the sunlight? She is a vampire, after all.

    Good thing she lives in a land that is perpetually shrouded in overcast.

  32. I’m with Jay@25; I’m ready to end the Jhereg-want-to-kill-me thing.

    Preferably by way of Teldra/Godslayer waking up, and Vlad out-Jhereging the Jhereg. He needs to be running the place. :)

    But that’s probably why I’m not an author…

  33. So… you’re aiming to piss off ALL the Vlad fans, huh?

    1) Hot Vlad on Morrolan action. We all know it’s coming (no pun intended).
    2) Kill Loiosh. If you’re really angling to piss everyone off, this would be a great way to start. Have him eaten to death by angry teckla.
    3) Hot Vlad on Aliera action. We all know it’s coming (no pun intended).
    4) Vlad needs to develop Parkinsons… or cancer! Then you can rapidly shift the book from being an adventure story to being about the courageous Tiassa doctor who is trying ideas never tried before to save this worthless Easterner!
    5) Hot Vlad on Sethra action. We all know it’s coming (no pun intended).
    6) Vlad really needs an episode where he runs a wacky talent show.
    7) Hot Vlad on Verra action. We all know it’s coming (no pun intended).
    8) Vlad: The Musical
    9) Hot Vlad on Kragar action. We all know it’s coming (no pun intended).

    Ok, I have to go back to work.

  34. Ok, back from doing work (I love my job). To continue:

    10) Lady Teldra wakes up and begins to complain.
    11) Hot Vlad on Zerika action. We all know it’s coming (no pun intended).
    12) The Vlad-Jhereg war resolved with a wrestling match and beer pong.
    13) Hot Vlad on Noish-pa action. We all know it’s coming (no pun intended).
    14) Vlad, seeking additional defense from the Jhereg, enlists Chuck Norris as a bodyguard.
    15) Hot Vlad on Valabar action. We all know it’s coming (no pun intended).
    16) Have the Demon cut off Vlad’s hand, then reveal that he is Vlad’s father.
    17) Hot Vlad on Barlen action. We all know it’s coming (no pun intended).

  35. I was honestly pissed off when you killed Lady Teldra. And the stupid knife she became is only a shallow compensation for loosing such a great charakter. On the other hand i treasure Issola more than any other book of the series.

    So i’m really looking forward to you pissing me off again. Also many thanks for Iorich which i just finished reading a second time. The interaction between father and son (and Cawti) is more than awesome.

  36. Damn it, you made me think some more. Like, how _could_ you really piss me off? I’ve got all your novels in my bookcase, so it would take some doing. I started reading your books back in my Weis/Hickman, Feist, and Salvtore days and while I’ve found that my tastes have changed over the years, reading and rereading Vlad’s stories has remained constant. You’re making me think and care, whether or not I really wanted to in the first place.

    So, to start with, dumb it down and pretty it up a bit:
    1) Hot glittering (or is it glittering hot?) Agyar on Sethra action. “So that’s where he disappeared…”
    2) Morrolan & Verra marrying and, before riding off into the sunset, handing out great weapons to all their puny mortal friends.
    3) Remedying the unicorn deficiency in your books.

  37. Well, if you’re looking for suggestions, you can always make Vlad have a spiritual awakening and become a tree-hugging Vegan who believes “The universe is a happy place!”. That would do it; but not for everyone. People being the way they are, no matter what you do, some will hate it, and others will love it, even such dreck.

  38. @Mark Hall #45.

    I think on item #14 you may have confused Vlad with Mike Huckabee.

  39. I was afraid the Jhereg-is-hunting-Vlad storyline would not be wrapped up until the end of the series, as part of the end of the series. Then I realized Steve has basically told us in Iorich that the Organization knows it can draw Vlad out by messing with his friends. That kind of thing can’t go on much longer without causing a new Dragon/Jhereg war. Which, of course, would be cool.

    I myself cannot wait for the series to end so Steve can start on the next cycle of Dragaera novels – the Adventures of Vlad Norathar! Book 1 starts with an adult Vlad Norathar prying Lady Teldra from his father’s cold, dead fingers and then, with the help of his mysterious friend Devera, embarks on a seventeen book long orgy of revenge….

  40. Oh and please release all your books exclusively as mini hard backs. And make your publisher charge double. And make the retailers force all customers buying them to stand outside at the nearest street corner shouting: “Vlad is cool! Sethra is hot!” before the transaction is complete. ‘Cause, y’know, authors are powerful that way. ;)

  41. It didn’t bother me that Teldra died. Shit, it bothers me more that all the major characters keep on living. If I remember correctly I think my response to her death was, “Damn, that sucks. Cool though that he had the balls to kill her off. Wouldn’t want to be the one to tell Morrolan about it.”

  42. The piss off would be the series ending, at middle age, I hold strong to my teen memories of first following Vlad while I was hating growing up.

    I would luv to see a combo of the young lad coming into his own mixed in some vain with stories of the original Vlad as a youth.

  43. What has anyone had to be pissed about? Perhaps the last three books in the series would not be my personal favorites but I still found them enjoyable.

    I remember one poster complaining about the length of one of the books vs the price point but you could always check the book out from the library if that was a problem for someone.

    I’m trying to think what he could do to piss me off, that is within the bounds of the story.
    I don’t think killing off any of the characters, not even Rocza or Loiosh.

    I suppose if he killed off Zerika or Norathar or any other characters in contradiction to what was written at the end of Sethra Lavode I suppose that would do it as I hate egregious continuity violations.

  44. Pamela @ 30 has me pegged. I got pissed off at Teckla when politics came between Vlad and Cawti, so I have no doubt that Steve is quite capable of doing what he threatens. I have to admit though that concern over getting angry wasn’t my first thought when I read this, it was “Man I am so jealous of Reesa right now.”

  45. I am surprised no one has said this…

    What would piss me off? Steve not writing any more books. If he dies, I hunt down his body, and hire a witch. Unless he is killed with a Morganti blade, and then that would just be sad.

    Steve, you don’t happen to have a Great Weapon that can harbor your soul for a while, do you?

  46. I dunno. I’m still kindof hoping the series ends with Vlad killing the Cycle, but it’s sortof low-probability.

    Still, freakin’ thing deserves to die after how much it’s twisted Dragaera.

  47. Rathgar@55: I was a fan of Steve’s for 11 years before first meeting him. So yeah, it’s seriously cool to get to help him brainstorm past the writing bumps in the road. I’m very honored and pleased that Steve enjoys it as well.

  48. Hi Steve,

    I think every single one of your Taltos books are GREAT, awesome and kick-ass (this includes all the other Dragaera novels too, I absolutely love’em!)…well except for Iorich .

    So let me give you a some tips on how to piss off all Vlad fans (your idea, not mine). Have Vlad go on another Sherlock Holmes trek walking around and complaining about how much his feet hurt with the inevitable joke from Loiosh. Don’t mention Lady Teldra at all until the end of the book where she will do something inexplicable right before the book ends.

    Yeah, that should do it.

  49. The only thing that could piss me off about this book would be a lack of khaavren. I’ve spent most of my adult life waiting for a khaavren/vlad story!

  50. Pissed, no.

    Frustrated, however, is a different story. I want to Godslayer/Lady Teldra to wake up!!! That is all, but that is just nerd rage, so basically nothing at all. Still love the books and looking forward to the next one.

    Probably more than I should….

  51. I applaud your conviction, Mr. Brust. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, don’t let the fans change how you wright your books. I know I enjoy your stories written in your style, and while your style has evolved, I still think it’s you.

    We don’t need Jhereg on a Plane (Although I would probably enjoy it…)

  52. For the record:

    Today, I purchased Jhegaala (new), am about 1/4 of the way through, and am not yet pissed off. I’ll get Iorich when it comes out in paperback (must preserve integrity of collection.) Have ordered a (used) copy of Jhereg, because I only need the 1 book (and must preserve integrity of collection.)

  53. Have finished Jhegaala. Am not pissed off, but do crave lamb stew. Luckily, I have a recipe for that.
    Jo Clayton’s re-reading of the series clued me into the fact that Vlad embodies the characteristics of the house for which the book is named; I liked watching Vlad morph from an Easterner who lives in the Empire to a Dragaeran who happens to look like an Easterner.

  54. Having Morrolan examine Vlads son and finding he has the soul of a Vulcan named Spock. That would piss me off. Lol
    Keep the writing going my friend, I think Vlad has a few more adventures in his future.

  55. Add me to the list of fans who would like to see the fight with the Jhereg finished somehow (and not with them killing him). I realize it adds dramatic tension to the stories, but it also keeps him out Adrilankha and also unable to do sorcery.

  56. I never understood that kind of fan mentality where they would get mad at the writer for what they decide to do with their characters. There have been series that I just lost interest in after a few books, but at no point did I feel pissed off at the author for what the character did. They are your characters, and who I am to tell you what to do with them, or what they would do?

    Jhegaala was not my favorite, but Iorich was pretty interesting; just seeing Vlad with his son would have made it worthwhile on its own, and the actual plot was pretty entertaining. And getting the drop on Kragar, that’s priceless.

  57. While recounting to my daughter (who, together with her husband is a Brust enthusiast) how several people felt that the feud with the Jhereg was getting old, I finally figures out one way of ending it. I said that I would like to see it ended, but not by killing Vlad, unless he was revivifiable. And it suddenly hit me. Maybe even a Morganti sword could not capture the soul of a wielder of a great weapon.

    So here’s the scenario: Vlad is killed; Godslayer captures his soul, Sethra realizes what has happened and revivifies him. The Jhereg is satisfied and that is the end of it. Does it make sense? No, but authors can set their own parameters.

  58. I’m sure Mr. Brust appreciates the back rub from fans… but yikes! There can’t be this many people that haven’t re-read the books and taken a critical eye to at least one.

    Personally, I feel that all of the stories after Issola just had less grace.

    –potential spoilers–

    Dzur, Jhegaala, and Iorich all lacked the subtlety of the previous books–and I’m not talking about a change in Vlad’s mood so that the story mirrors his inner self. Vlad might have changed, or will, but that does not account for the loss of gently swaying curves of mystery and action. The stories went from a bell-curve to a triangle. Before, you strolled, trotted, and ran along with Vlad, but now, you pull your square-wheeled cart behind him and try to keep from getting crushed by it on the way down.

    I also think this applies to The Viscount of Adrilankha, but much, much less so.

    I think maybe the world changed in or around the early 2000’s for Mr. Brust. It’s none of my, none of our, business, but if it means anything to anyone: I miss what has been forgotten.

  59. I think too much critical thought can derail the experience. Sometimes I just want to read (or re-read, or in the case of Steve’s work, re-re-re-re-re-re-read) a damn book.

    I’ve been working a second job at a soulless corporate conglomerate wine chain for the last several years for a couple of reasons.

    1) I love wine, and I get a substantial discount which radically expands my buying power. Shockingly enough, this surprises no one who knows me.

    2) I actually enjoy working with people, and this gives me face time as opposed to electronic or telephonic contact with human beings. Shockingly enough, this surprises everyone who knows me.

    I study wine and wine literature, I taste dozens upon dozens of bottles, but fairly regularly I just want to enjoy a damn bottle of wine.

    So I buy my $10-$15 dollar go-tos, subtract my discount, buy a pizza and enjoy myself. Or whatever. It depends on my mood. Getting a bottle that sparks something special is a bonus.

    And that’s Steve’s work to me–I KNOW I’m going to enjoy it. If I pick up something I missed, or it provokes some thought, or I twig to something different, that’s all bonus.

    That the bonus still happens a LOT is a testament to Steve’s art, I think. But that’s just me.

  60. You might have some trouble pissing me off as every book you’ve ever written has been pure gold to me. I love them all, some I like more than others, but when they’re that good all they have competition with is Zelazny. Good luck making the book what you want it to be and not what the fans want it to be, If I recall I’m in it to read YOUR stories, not what I’d write. There’s fanfiction for that.

  61. Yeah, they’re all different. Yeah, I get pissed off by different parts in different ways. Yeah, I enjoy some of them more than others.

    I’m talking about days in my life here. Oh, the Vlad books, too. Wouldn’t want to miss a one. Of them either.

  62. Vlad is the best thing I have ever read period. the things you write to keep the series fresh are astounding. don’t let some whiny fan boys living in their parents basements bring down the master. I would read your writing if it were on cereal boxes. well thats my rant and keep your chin up

  63. Haven’t pissed me off as far as the stories go. I’m just along to read your novels, not one that I immagined up. I think it’s fun to read someone elses immaginatin instead of listening to mine every once in a while.

    Besides, why should you worry about pissing people off? It’s your story, not ours.

    Only thing that irritates me is the waiting for the next one part . . . . :-D

  64. I would like to add my feelings that the only thing which would really piss me off is for the writing to stop.

    It’s your story, you’re doing a great job, don’t stop. If you piss off fans, you’re making them feel something with your writing. That’s what writing’s all about.

  65. I’m unclear on the how pissing off fans or not pissing them off has anything whatsoever to do with the Cool Theory of Literature.

    Cool evolves, for each of us, author and reader. C’est la vie.

  66. to A Fan @ 72

    Really? I actually found both Dzur and Iorich to be much more smoothe, accomplished novels than earlier books. I tend to divide “early Vlad” (which I do still enjoy) from “later Vlad” at roughly Orca – which was a staggerer for me when I read it, but one I really enjoyed once I let go of wanting it to be like other books before it.

    I felt Viscount was a little less smoothe than the earlier Paarfi romances, but attributed this to the author having to be more careful what he said about people still alive and influential in his present, as well as the decay of the culure of the Empire during the Interregnum.

    Steve is a novelist, and an entertaining one. I certainly see development in his craft over the years. Vlad isn’t the only one maturing. Our author is as well.

  67. Because I don’t know where else this should be posted…..I just finished the Khaavren Romances and Brokedown Palace for the first time. I resisted reading these works for a few reasons but mainly that I, being such a Vlad fan, thought there was no way I could get into the tale from the Dragaeren perspective and I was afraid I wouldn’t like them. Boy was I wrong.

    Now, the internal debate for me is whether I like Paarfi’s style or Vlad’s style more. They were simply fantastic stories, and I had no idea that events with which I was somewhat familiar through Vlad had such compelling details with a glimpse into some of the parts of Dragaeran society Vlad being human cannot show us.

    Brokedown Palace was also fantastic, and it was very cool to me how it tied in to Vlad’s series at the end. The only disappointment for me is that I no longer have any un-read Dragaera material to keep my mind off of the fact that Tiassa likely won’t be available for a good 6 months or so.

  68. So, it’s been four months. Can we PLEASE get another update? Pretty please, with honey on top.

  69. The most recent update on Tiassa is here and on Steve’s Twitter feed: The first draft is done as of May, but he hasn’t said anything about the status of revisions.

  70. As I read The Phoenix Guards, I dog-ear the pages that have cool passages on them. As I re-read it, when I get to a dog-eared page, if it’s not as poignant as it once was, I un-dog-ear it. That’s only happened maybe once. Several times, I’ve found extra pages to dog-ear “after further review”.

    When my original copy of TPG died, I bought another. The first thing I did, before re-reading again, of course, was to go through and transfer all of the dog-ears from the original to the new copy. Welcome to the library, rookie.

    I’m not a fan of Athyra or Jhegaala.

    At one time (and at the same time), I had an iPod named Loiosh (talked inside my head, you know), a PDA named Spellbreaker (but did not keep it on my left wrist), and a laptop named Teldra (performed minor feats of magic).

    You keep writin’ em, and I’ll keep readin’ em.

  71. “Long-time fan, first-time poster.” Sorry ’bout that…

    The only Vlad “adventure” I can’t get very good with is Teckla, for way too many reasons to go into here. Suffice to say, I simply don’t see the reason for it.

    Anyway, I’ve been pissed off at Vlad/Cawti/Morrolan/Sethra et al so damn many times I’ve lost count. Actually, that’s part of the fun of the books, right?

    My only real gripe: while I know quality takes time, I wish Steve could write faster!

  72. I haven’t been pissed off by any of the recent books, in fact I quite like them.

    I re-read the series every year (sometimes twice)

    The only way Tiassa could possibly piss me off is if it is a complete re-telling of Teckla from the point of view of some random Tiassa that has nothing to do with Khaavren.

    Teckla is the ONLY book in the series that I contemplate skipping with my re-readings.

    The book strikes me as one of those books in which the author is pouring a lot of his personal self into it. While great in a memoir, in a fictional story (especailly one in a series) I think this makes the book very different and it doesn’t fit with the mood and feeling of the rest of the series.

  73. I wouldn’t say I was pissed off by your recent books but they do worry me. I’ve been reading your books since early middle school – Phoenix Guards was the first…drawn to the image of the phoenix behind the swordsman on the cover, I bought it from a book fair…in retrospect that was a really tough way to start reading you but the world gripped me despite how much confusion I had reading that book at that age – and I feel like I’ve watched you as you evolved your style.

    The past two or three books, I feel really less involved with what’s going on. There’s so little insight to Vlad’s thoughts now. The mysterious aspect of the Vlad novels is what blew me away from the start but…now it feels like the answer for each mystery is just being dangled just out of sight from the reader: “Oh! Vlad knows what to do! Bet you can’t wait to see it! Now, here’s some more unrevealing dialogue which will give Vlad more ideas you won’t be party to.”

    All the plot points are still fantastic to me and I’ll always want to know what happens next. I just hope Vlad won’t shut us out much longer.

  74. Hmm, what could he do to piss me off with the Vlad novels? At the very end, the last line would be, “And then, Mr. Feng woke up.”

  75. Ravex: I’ll pass your comment on to Teresa Nielsen Hayden, my editor, so she can have the pleasure of saying, “See? I told you!”

    Not that she’d say it. But she’d think it.

  76. I’m hoping there’ll be something where Vlad looks at his hand and says “Why didn’t I check for poison? I always check for poison! What am I, some kind of non-assassin experienced guy who doesn’t check for poison or something?”

    Of course, if you REALLY want to make people cranky, throw in a werewolf and have some kind of love triangle involving Sethra Lavode, the werewolf and some angsty guy with a stupid haircut…that would work.

  77. did my first re-read of the Vlad series this year (except Orca, which I seem to have misplaced). Found the books I remember as being a little disappointing the first time around (like Teckla), were much better on the re-read, now that I have the benefit of knowing more of what came after (and before, as the series is nothing close to chronological) than I did back then.
    Am looking forward to Tiassa. Somehow I just can’t see Steve succeeding in pissing me off. Unless AP@92 has it right & all of a sudden there’s a Vampire-Werewolf-Vlad love triangle.

  78. Adam- The problem is I just realised…if I was Steven Brust…I’d put both of those scenes in. Especially the werewolf bit and at the end of the novel write something like “Thanks for the suggestions. Next time, write a book yourself.

    Laurie- Well, there is that. I wasn’t over the moon about some of the changes in writing style in Athyra I think it was but hey, a writer needs to write the way they want to, but I think people are a bit strange when they want writers to write they way THEY want and get all cranky when the writer does something they don’t like.

    As I said to someone when they had a bit of a cry about Sturm getting killed in Dragonlance years ago “Welcome to life princess. It’s not always going to be how you want it to be.”

  79. 3 ways to piss everyone off:

    1) Sell your rights to a crappy studio who turns Vlad into a Space Pirate who fights Alien Zombie Ninjas.

    2) Bring on a younger version of Vlad to “Pass the Torch to”.

    3) A who book dedicated to Vlad starting his new career as a tax preparer and all the new skills he needs to learn.

    Other than that I like the character too much to give up.

  80. 3) A who book dedicated to Vlad starting his new career as a tax preparer and all the new skills he needs to learn.

    It’s’ called Orca.

    Or close enough… :)

  81. Garrison H: Harsh on Orca, but funny. I liked it more on the re-read.

    New #3) Vlad borrows the Orb and has one big long therapy session with it where he identifies the true meaning of the violence he creates and learns that all he ever really wanted was his father’s love.

  82. Vlad gets the Jhereg off his back by helping them create pyramid schemes and Amway distributorships.

  83. Per the mighty Amazon, Tiassa is scheduled to be relased March 12, 2011. I find it a little creepy that a book knows what its going to be doing that far into the future.

    I’m not pissed off, just bemused and slightly disconcerted. But, hey, it’s a start.

  84. I am among those fans who have felt a bit “disappointed” with the last couple of books (“disappointed” in the way you would be if you wished the interior of your red Ferrari were black instead of tan). I think my frustration is that, because of Vlad’s fugitive status, it’s virtually impossible to have the old-school dynamic of the whole gang of main characters (Morrolan, Aliera, Sethra, Kiera, Zerika, Kragar, Cawti et al.) developing together they way they used to, or at least to have any kind of substantial development of any of those characters and their relationship(s) with Vlad. Steve, you worked around this well on Orca, in which we got to learn lots about Kiera, a core character from the beginning, and we had her working closely with Vlad in solving a mystery. Iorich was somewhat in the wheelhouse since Aliera was at the center and we were back in Adrilankha, but none of the aforementioned characters really did anything or developed in many ways–it was mostly Vlad and the lawyer. And, fine, a Fenarian adventure was begging to be told with all of the hints you’d dropped about Vlad going there at some point, so that makes Jhegaala fit. But I could really give two tosses about the Left Hand and/or Savn and/or some random Eastern coven of witches and/or any other ancillary places/characters that we’ll probably never see again and don’t fit into the uber-story of Vlad + Morrolan + Zerika + Sethra + Aliera + Kieron across the ages. (Which is why Athyra, to this day, is my least favorite of the books; it’s like a red Ferrari with a light green interior.) Issola gave us so much goodness on that front. My personal fear is that these last few books are just treading narrative water until The Last Contract, and we’re going to have to share Vlad’s own frustration at his hijaked life through all of the intervening books (barring a jump back in the timeline, or some clever resolution of the Jhereg bloodlust). Anyway, that’s my $0.02. Or, whatever Tiassa will cost, I guess, since I’ll never not buy one of your books and devour it the moment it comes out.

  85. “with this book, I’m hoping to piss off all of them”

    am beginning to think, Steve, that the only way you could piss off all of us would be to not write anymore books.

    on re-read, liked Orca far more than I remembered from the first time. Have decided I really should re-read the series more regularly.

  86. Jodiin- This: “1) Sell your rights to a crappy studio who turns Vlad into a Space Pirate who fights Alien Zombie Ninjas.” is one of the best ideas I have ever heard. I would totally be okay with Vlad becoming a Space Pirate who fights Alien Zombie Ninjas.

    AndyBob- Really? I quite liked the different settings. The only thing that REALLY irked me, is that Vlad goes from a master assassin type guy to a guy who doesn’t even consider poison in the drink. Also, not enough stabbing really.

  87. Alexander Primarchus: But wasn’t that the whole point? Vlad let down his guard because surely those plain, simple Easterners couldn’t be as mean and nasty as all those looming Dragareans he used to hang out with… His own prejudices, or hopes, came up to bite him in the ass.

  88. @106 (Alexander Primarchus): I’m totally cool with different settings. I loved Orca, set in Northport. I loved Issola, set God-knows-where for the first half, and then at the Lesser Sea. I loved Dragon, set in the middle of nowhere near Barritt’s Tomb. My point wasn’t about setting, it was about the most recent books consisting mostly of Vlad on an island. (Speaking of islands, I loved Phoenix.) I like when I can learn a little about other characters that span the books, like everyone I mentioned before, and have Vlad interact with them more actively, as well as inform us about things like Vlad’s past life as a Dragearan, Great Weapons, Verra, Sethra, and the other mythic aspects of the world. I know that the uber-plot of the series means that the Kragar-Vlad dynamic of solving some Jhereg problem that happens to tie into larger issues is probably gone for good, and that’s probably to the good. And I’m not saying the narrative needs to be dominated by Morrolan, Aliera, & Co. (Dragon is a nice example of how they can be peripheral and yet integral to what’s going on.)

    I’m rambling.

  89. Andy Bob@106: I have enjoyed the storytelling that has been weaved with the past few works. Now I must say up front that Morrolan is my favorite character anytime, anywhere. That said, these books are the character story arc of Vlad. As much as I love the great cast of supporting characters we come to know, the fact is that Vlad has some developing to do that he can only do on his own. So although I enjoy the times when The Castle Black/Dzur Mountain crew are around, I also enjoy the times when Vlad has to go it alone.

    The only thing that bothered me about “Athyra” was the narrative style. I’d just rather be in Vlad’s head. Still, it was a great story as Savn’s fate in Vlad’s scheme paved the way for Vlad to become a bit more selfless in later books.

  90. Sharon. C- Not being the author himself, I have no idea. I’m going to say it’s a case of ‘a plot device’.

    Andy Bob- As you like. Rambling is okay sometimes.

    James- I kind of agree, although I saw Athyra as a mental literary exercise more than anything else.

  91. @108 AndyBob:
    “I know that the uber-plot of the series means that the Kragar-Vlad dynamic of solving some Jhereg problem that happens to tie into larger issues is probably gone for good, and that’s probably to the good.”

    I don’t know, I could see a story with Kragar as the boss who has bitten off more than he can chew. Vlad as his minion running off doing surreptitious errands and slowly piecing together the larger story that Kragar has kept from him. Steve could really go for it and tell it from Kragar’s point of view and it could still work in the meta-narrative of Vlad narrating to a box the story that Kragar narrated to Vlad.

    Just my own rambling.

  92. Apropos of Mr. Brust’s comment about pissing off the fans of Vlad, the possibilities of future Vlad novels and the various comments expressed above. I believe I am destined to be pissed off by Mr. Brust but only because I don’t see how he will have the time or energy to tell all the stories I would like to hear from him.

    I want, no, need to hear: The tale of why Khaavren really quit during the easterners’ uprising and then apparently returned to his post (that is what I want Tiassa to be about…even if Vlad isn’t part of it). The tale of Laszlo (between the Viscount and Vlad books) and what sort of magic he has utilized to provide his long life. A similar period piece as to what Piro and the gang have been up to. Anything that provides more background to explain the perceived badass-ery of Norathar. A Viscount level treatment of the origin story of the empire. How Sethra intends to solve the lack of another phoenix problem.

    More on point to Vlad:
    The tale of Kragar’s origin, the tale of Daymar’s origin…or simply the circumstances of their first meeting (Hawk?). Ditto how Kragar really met up with Mario. The background relationship story of Aliera and Kragar (it just sees like there is more than the normal level of hostility that one would expect her to have for a Jhereg…even one that was formerly a Dragon). More younger Vlad storied (details, details, details of his time with Welok, more jobs he pulled off, his rise and eventual replacing of Tagijatin). Stories previously hinted at (a demon taking Blackwand from Morrolan, Vlad being able to make a certain escape because his pursuer had the wrong kind of shoes, etc.).

    That’s just the tip of the spear. Alas, I just don’t see how Mr. Brust can accommodate my needs here. I will thus continue to enjoy every word he writes, but will also except that I will be disappointed (and perhaps even pissed off) about what he doesn’t.

    Please keep it up Mr. Brust (oh, and if you feel like it please make explain why in Phoenix some of the greatest wizards in the empire appeared to consider phoenix stone as seemingly unknown prior to that, yet only a few years later in Iorich it seems to be common knowledge).

  93. I really enjoyed Dzur, and like most other readers, it made me hungry. Stop describing delicious food in your books, jerk.

    It was also nice to finally find out what Mario did after he retired from rescuing princesses from dragons.

  94. I liked Athyra, and managed to like Teckla even, though I didn’t really enjoy it. Am looking forward to Tiassa, and looking further forward to The Man in the Phoenix Stone Mask someday, though it sadly looks as if Paarfi has lost interest in him.

    But he might take up some other bit of history. There are quite a few loose ends lying about. I wouldn’t want them all picked up, but Brust seems as good as Zelazny at leaving loose ends. Wonderful trait for a game master looking for a story hook.


  95. As I said, going chronologically through again. I am now past Athyra, which in my previous post I mentioned not appreciating the narrative style.

    I have found upon this reading that I appreciate it more than I have previously. It gives an insight into the Teckla mind that you don’t get from the other books, even Teckla. It is interesting to see Savn develop through the characteristics normally associated with his house, and then because of his experience with Vlad, rise above and challenge those same characteristics (albeit naively).

    I would still rather be in Vlad’s head, but this is a good read.

  96. Love the series. I regularly re-read it… Is there any chance the whole series will be e-book-i-fied? My kindle is sad without the early Vlad novels.

  97. James @ 116 (and earlier Athyra post-ers)

    Ahh, but did you find the last 4 of the 9 mangled quotes from Shakespeare (not to mention the 3 related jokes) that I’ve been trying to interest Mr. Mandel in posting over at Cracks and Shards? (He has the first 5–no extras.)

    And, if so, have you figured out that the whole joke set does double duty as a Clue to the Easter-egg-hunt-within-a-scavenger-hunt that Brust has going on behind the scenes in “The Sun, the Moon, & the Stars”?

    Sorry–just a case of New Year’s Day after-the-fireworks boredom here.

  98. Add on @120

    No takers, huh? Well, this really isn’t the right place to be discussing SM&S. OR Athyra.

    Still, as long as I had already crashed the Tiassa party, I should have gone on to mention: there’s also another SM&S reference in Athyra. Straightforward narrative paraphrasing. A lot easier to spot than the game clue.

    All done now.

  99. Its a pity the books are not released in Kindle format (a Tor-Amazon publishing thing?) This of course, does not stop me from buying the hardbacks when they come out.

  100. @120/121, part 3

    Okay. All done UNLESS you want to count Athyra’s 2nd hidden 9+3. But I had–still have, mostly–my reasons(*) for not wanting to go there too soon. Assuming it does count, however, it really is the last SM&S reference I’ve found to date.

    In Athyra, I mean.

    I currently have no further plans to hijack any unrelated discussion threads for Brustian game talk. Spit-swear. You never know, though; I could find myself getting bored again.

    (*)For those who’ve been entirely, uh, clueless about the SM&S art-history Easter-egg-hunt-within-a-scavenger-hunt until now, @120, @121, and this comment in combination offer a (very, very, almost-vanishingly) tiny taste of typically Brustian fakeout moves therein. That would be one of my reasons.

    You’ll just have to Go Fish for the others.

  101. @miaveiledlady-
    I read SM&S once about a hundred years ago, apparently quite cluelessly. Obviously time for some rereading. Thanks for the heads up!

  102. Mr. Hack @113,

    For whatever this may be worth, I have long considered Kragar to have been a lover of Aliera. Within 60 pages of learning that Kragar knows Aliera, we also hear Kragar recounting his success in getting information from a lady Lyorn recordsmith that suggests both how that liaison came about and why Aliera is so (seemingly) furious.

  103. Since we’re hijacking threads…I’ve read all the Vlads at least twice and now am reading Zelazney’s Amber series for the first time. My question for Steve is are you Random? Because I’m 10 pages into the 3rd book and other than sky surfing he’s got you down.

    BTW I see where Vlad got his voice and I love what you did with him.

  104. Jo’din: Hee. Interesting. Never thought of that. But, you’re right: poker and drumming.

  105. I think my favorite scene is in Hand of Oberon when Roger makes his cameo. Have you ever played with a scene like that? I imagine that Steve would be terrified of Vlad.

  106. Was curious to see if any postings were made recently on Tiassa and came upon this thread. Some very intelligent and thought provoking comments: am fascinated that Mr. Brust monitors and occasionally responds.

    My wife and I are both fans who have been drawn in from the beginning: we have found that recommending the Jhereg series results in the creation of new enthusiasts who share the joys of speculating on potential plot twists.

    In the context of the thread it is the complexity of the characters and the depth of the subtleties that provoke our emotions. I’m deeply appreciative of the art in writing a series that allows for so many potential turns. It is this aspect plus the very unpredictable nature of Mr. Brust that keeps me destroying new offerings in a matter of one or two sittings, then re-reading to make sure I don’t miss any of the nuances. After all, being a fan requires playing “connect the dots” after each new offering.

    So while greatly appreciating the humorous aspect of attempting to piss off an entire fan base (kudo’s if you are able to pull it off Mr. Brust) I’m planning to focus on and enjoy the journey that may unfold for us rather than the destination.

    Oh, and how come no one mentioned Telnan, Nightslayer, and what may be coming next with rebuilding the Lavodes? ;P

  107. I’ve also wondered about the Lavodes. It would seem to me that this would be a good out for Vlad Lavode, especially if he and Sethra wipe out the Left Hand which would keep them from taking over the entire Jhereg, which, imho, seems to be their overall plan. Wiping out the Right Hand, the Left Hand would then have complete control and would run things when the Jhereg’s time comes up in the Cycle.

  108. I read a lot of things. Stories are written to entertain. Mr. Brust, you do an Outstanding job of entertaining. Do I get all the answers to all my questions? NO. Am I pissed? No. Irratated? Yea, a little. Pissed? Nope. I have been reading your stories since the 80’s and look forward to many more. You entertain! I am looking forward to Tiassa. Keep ’em coming!

  109. Just finished rereading Iorich, which is my 17th book (or 15th, or 18th) from the dragaeran series. Somehow I felt it was significant. The only thing pissing me off, is that I can’t travel forward in the future to read the unwritten ones. (my attempts were unsuccessful, achieving only one second per second)

    I already read most of them two or three times, but it was some years ago. I would like to ask: which books are the most important to read again in preparation for Tiassa, considering I only have time for 4 or 5 books ? I know I missed a lot of important tidbits :)

  110. @132 & 133

    Going back to skzb’s very first hints about a 3-part timeframe in Tiassa, I’m betting on the evil-Doppelganger Vlad-split story line: Jhereg (just a passing-mention “memory” of an incident that must slot in somewhere between Dragon and Jhereg–probably before Yendi), Issola (actual split), and Dzur (closest to Tiassa’s “current” time). Or have I just screwed up and described Iorich instead?

    Whatever. If you run an archive search for Tiassa, there’s at least one earlier post where skzb spills more than what shows up in this update.

  111. Oops–I’ve just double-checked the source, “Progress report, and thank-you” (8 May, 2010). Tiassa is set after Yendi, before Phoenix (so Jhereg is still a reasonable guess), and after Iorich, NOT after Issola as my memory was claiming. Unless, of course, skzb was indulging in a bit of head-messing.

  112. Speaking of recent and forthcoming books in the Taltos series, and of head-messing, I was about to begin a several-times-delayed reading of Jhegaala when skzb opened this thread almost a year ago. His comment,

    “with each of the last several books, I have pissed off some percentage of Vlad fans,”

    was such a downer that I promptly sent Jhegaala back to the bottom of my To-Read pile. And left it there until this weekend. Now, some 50 pages in, I’m glumly wondering how much of skzb’s pissed-off percentage shares my particular pain. The individual story lines are great. (Okay, Issola? Except for the Vlad-splitting, not so much. But that’s one title out of a dozen and counting.) What makes me contemplate kneecapping people is the proliferation of between-book continuity errors.

    (This is the same complaint that escalated to my eventual spam-canning after Issola came out. Hence, just one quick example here: Vlad’s inexplicably-gold Phoenix Stone pendant in Jhegaala. The original pendant that he gets from Aibynn is BLACK stone [see Phoenix, pp. 43, 148-150, 199, 212, 236, 245]. We’re still mostly cool in Athyra [p. 72] and Orca [pp. 77, 92, although iffy on some other points], but the stone goes gold–or becomes TWO stones–in later-written Issola, Dzur, and Jhegaala. What are we to make of that? Is it a sneaky new plot twist? Apparently not; Jhegaala is set just a few weeks after Vlad acquires the stone–and BEFORE Athyra and Orca. Nor is it the sole Phoenix Stone cock-up to have crept into the series since the stones were introduced in Phoenix.)

    Well. Here we all are, eager to tease out every hidden subplot from book to book. Willing to tackle the author’s intentional head-messing head-on and damn well beat him at it or beat our own brains to mush in the attempt. Only, we’re stuck forever fighting the distraction of *un*-intentional background-messing at the same time, side-junk that does no good for the series universe, or us, or Brust’s own considerable storytelling skills. As the man himself says wayyyy up above somewhere, “that makes me sad.” And I don’t want to put it all off on him. The harder an author labors to get a story Just Right, the harder it becomes to ferret out any residual errors–the mind simply refuses to see them. That’s when the quality of the “inside help” really matters. In a series as convoluted and long-running as this, the tail end of each book’s writing process absolutely demands nit-picking review by fresh eyes backed with unimpeachable intel.

    Sure, on a stand-alone book basis, the Taltos series is excellent. But with better attention paid to between-book continuity, it could be *awesome*. *Wicked* awesome, for the inveterate puzzle-solvers among us. And that’s what I lust after. So, wiki contributors and beta readers take note: if I can stay on top of all the facts about Phoenix Stone–and eleventy-seven other kinds of series information–I expect you guys to do the same. I mean, seriously, how are the rest of us ever going to beat Brust if you keep giving him an unfair edge?

  113. Iorich is the only book I’ve ever had issue with in all of SKB’s series. The main issue was with Vlad’s voice.

    For the first third of the book it felt like someone else was talking. Both in cadence and in content. It kept making me do mental double takes and tried to lead me to a suspicion that someone else was writing in place of the honorable SKB. Whether the cause was from the mood of the author or me I don’t know.

    Needless to say the discrepancies faded, as did my doubts, and all in all it was a good book though I prefer the early impetuous Vlad to the wiser one we have today.

    Something about picturing Vlad in front of a Dragaeran and saying, “What if I told you to kiss my ruddy bum?”, that always makes me smile.

  114. I didn’t have a problem with the way SKZB projected Vlad’s voice because it’s rarely the same from book to book. After 1/4 of a century I expect the author’s moods and life experiences to color the characters. It makes them more interesting to me as a reader. I, like most of you, have read many author’s compilations and the ones that tend to ‘blow goats’ are the ones with static characters.

  115. So many Amber readers in this thread, yet it seems no one ever gets around to mentioning the eleventy-seven Zelaznian riffs that Brust has embedded into his Taltos series over the years.

    Items including matched lines of dialogue or narration, which I’m starting to suspect we ought to be treating like another Devera game: looking for at least one appearance in every book. (See? This IS about the forthcoming *Tiassa*; everybody, keep your eyes peeled for Zelazny-isms while reading it.) For example:

    “The funniest thing about time is when it doesn’t.”
    (Vlad, in *Yendi*, Chapter 10)

    Playing on:

    “The most difficult thing about time…is doing it.”
    (Corwin, in *The Guns of Avalon*, Chapter 1)

    Or matched people-places-things-events, like:

    Brust’s black-haired, dark-eyed, stronger-than-human, longer-lived-than-human, always-clean-shaven Lord Morrolan;
    Who picked up a bit of a rep as a demon in other times and other countries, and
    Whose colors are black & silver, and
    Whose House/personal emblem is a bit of dragon’s-head jewelry with gemstone eyes coded to his family line, and
    Whose sword, Blackwand, has notorious magic qualities of a distinctly scary nature.
    (Thus pegging Morrolan as the series character dedicated to Brust’s son Corwin, because he’s…)

    Playing on:

    Zelazny’s black-haired, green-eyed, stronger-than-human, longer-lived-than-human, usually-clean-shaven Prince Corwin;
    Who picked up a bit of a rep as a demon in other times and other Shadows, and
    Whose colors are black & silver, and
    Whose personal emblem is a silver rose, usually worn as a clasp for his cloak, and
    Whose sword, Grayswandir (wandir from Old Norse for wand), has hinted-at magic qualities of a pretty scary nature.
    (The Corwin attitude, however, goes to pure essence of Vlad.)

    Or even matched behind-the-scenes games, like Brust’s 3rd and final SM&S game clue in Athyra (see @ 120, 121, and 123, above—yep, I got bored again), which forms its own little stand-alone game (which, unfortunately, works only for readers who can lay hands on an Ace paperback original copy of Athyra), which plays on the book’s two 9+3 clues, one of which incorporates a pun on Zelazny’s *Nine Princes in Amber*, which not-at-all-coincidentally happens to include a similar—but simpler—game. Collect the assorted Shakespeare references in *Nine Princes*, juggle the associated numbers correctly, and you find—well, try it and see. Brush up your Shakespeare first, though.

    I’ve recorded way too many other riffs to list here. Just so nobody thinks it’s all Brust playing Zelazny, however, there’s this persuasive argument that Brust gave as good as he got:

    Zelazny’s Frakir, introduced in *The Trumps of Doom*, which opened his second chronicles in 1985. Brust already had *Jhereg* and *Yendi* behind him by then. Frakir—a sentient or semi-sentient, silver, ropelike “child of chaos,” usually found wrapped around Merlin’s left wrist when not performing assorted magic functions. How Spellbreaker is that? Possibly-coincidental side note: Vlad wore Spellbreaker on his RIGHT wrist in *Jhereg*and *Yendi*, switching to the left with *Teckla*. Heh, in 1987.

  116. I have enjoyed the hell out of each of the last few Vlad books, and I have been amazed at how the series continues to develop.

    My reading interests have changed significantly since I read Jhereg almost 30 years ago, and yet I still eagerly await every next installment while the books contain layers of interest that would never have appealed to me 30 years ago.

    Even better, the stories still continues to surprise with developments that seem perfect in retrospect.

    Considering that any other fiction series in any genre that I have dabbled in the last decade hasn’t even managed to maintain the quality of writing, readers should be thanking their lucky stars that you put as much attention into the Vlad books as you do.

  117. Steve should definitely post about the 4,000 word Dragaera short story he just posted to But in case he doesn’t, here’s a link.

  118. Or about anything else he’s written, or thought about, or done recently, or is writing or thinking about or doing now, or might be soon to–

    Hell, anything to let us know he’s still alive and kicking. Especially the kicking part.

    Are you there, skzb? Doing okay? Got something we can help you kick? (Around, I mean.)

  119. Dennis @ 141
    Thanks for the link!
    Excellent short, I like hearing this in Telnan’s point of view. Cool!

  120. I would just like to point out to those fans who are uppity about continuity errors, to consider the source: it has been pointed out before that Vlad is not the best of story-tellers when it comes to keeping his stories straight….it’s my opinion that he embellishes parts here and there and isn’t really telling us the whole truth of things…afterall, in his business or situation, and being a human among Dragaerans, it surely has become part of his nature to omit certain facts and outright lie about others. He is being as honest with us, however, i believe, as he can be with himself…which unfortunately is not very at times. Afterall, he is a walking contradiction, a living denial, an enigma even to himself. So take his stories (which he told for pay) with a grain of salt; and realize, too, some of them are told by him years after the event…which most times are a confusing panorama of chaos for him anyhow….so its easy to mix up details….ever hear 2 witnesses to a chaotic event tell exactly the same story?

    I’d say the most believable story about Vlad is Athyra, and that is told (for the most part) in the eyes of a puberty-confused adolescent, who is incedentally under a witchcraft spell.

    Even with Orca….Vlad embellishes, and Kiera is a walking lie anyhow…neither are to be trusted.

    So…all in all…it’s like listening to Uncle Frank’s fish tales….fun to listen to, but don’t believe everything you’re told, and don’t be surprised when a future story contradicts a prior one….

  121. Just checked Amazon and the release Date is still March 29 and the cover shows now. Pretty stoked that I will have this soon!

  122. Damn! I had no idea I’d hit that close to home mentioning Telnan and Nightslayer. Always heard people say rather be lucky than good but I’d rather be both lucky and good.

    Really nice short story. An appetizer for the main dish about to be served.

  123. Damn, that’s just wrong… I pre-ordered this and paid for immediate delivery upon release from B&N, they said it won’t ship until 29th… now you’re telling me I could be reading it! Grrr…
    On the other hand, the pre-order price was $15 or something.

  124. I can confirm that Tiassa are starting to appear in the wild.

    And Evrett, I’d like to point out, as many have before, that a closed mouth gathers no foot.

  125. Dear Mr. Evrett (and I use the term loosely).

    You seem unhappy with a purchase you freely made for a book you really wanted at a price you were evidently willing to pay, in spite of the facts that you were:

    * lucky enough to have bought the book well ahead of the official release date (you probably benefited from an overworked, minimum wage employee),

    * lucky enough to have a book store to buy it from (half of the Borders stores are closing in my metropolitan area),

    * lucky enough to have a book to buy (the written word is loosing its fair compensation),

    * lucky enough to have an author in the first place, who put his hard work and creativity to this, on top of the hundred other things on his plate.

    Here is a suggest to alleviate your pain. For the next book, you can (a) donate $15 yourself to Japan aid, (b) donate $15 dollars directly to the author – which will probably be $14 dollars more that he earned from your last purchase, and (c) invest in making a friend good enough to loan you their copy when they are done. Everyone is better off this way.

    If you do not wish to incur the friend penalty, then you can always wait the extra year for the paperback version. If you do not wish to incur the price penalty, then you can always wait the extra three years for a used version, assuming that any of Steve’s fans are willing to let go of their copy.

  126. I read it!

    Bought it on the 26th from my bookstore. Great payoff! Almost made me cry. And I’m a big tough dude. ;-)

  127. So what’s next SB!?


    In the meantime I can read Athyra and Dzur again to enhance my future second reading of Tiassa!

  128. BTW, if anything I just said is considered a spoiler, feel free to delete my posts. :-)

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