Steven Brust

Updated Thursday, 18 October, 2012

Steven Brust is one of my favorite authors (I know, he's on the list, so he must be, but even among the authors on the list, he stands out as one of my favorites, so I guess he's a favorite of the favorites). I especially enjoyed the novels involving Vlad Taltos. Vlad is, by profession, an assassin. In addition to this, he's a foreigner in a culture that doesn't take well to foreigners. But he has very important friends. And he has some wonderful adventures.

I have to say, though, that probably the Brust novel I enjoyed the most was Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille. I keep hoping that he'll come out with a sequel to it, but he doesn't seem to be listening. Freedom & Necessity was also an excellent read, but I'll warn you now, it was a difficult read. I found myself reading one or two chapters at a time, just because my brain couldn't take any more. I really got into it, though, and I strongly recommend it for anybody who loves political intrigue.

Books I've Read by Steven Brust



Agyar
A suave and mysterious drifter shares an abandoned house with a compassionate African-American ghost and spends the nights seducing various inhabitants of an Ohio college town. (from an Amazon.com review)
Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille (out of print)
Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille is a great place to visit, but it tends to move around a bit. From Earth to the Moon to Mars to another solar system, it is always just one step ahead of whatever mysterious conspiracy is reducing whole worlds to radioactive ash. And Cowboy Feng's may be humanity's last hope for survival (from an Amazon.com review)

Freedom & Necessity (with Emma Bull)
The early 19th century was a heady time of repeated challenges to the assumption that the social order as it stood was supernaturally (divinely) ordained. A particularly sticky web of politics and romance traps Susan Voight and James Cobham in a dense, thrillingly suspenseful plot connecting a reforming democratic labor movement, Chartism, to a secret society, the Trotters Club, whose corrupt members intend to exploit a magical ritual for their personal, complicated purposes of vengeance and power. Layers of truths and falsehoods mislead and confound the protagonists in their dealings with each other and the conspiracies; they come to understand that only honesty can save them. Although the perversion of the natural power of sorcery fails because it is unnatural, the social order, unnatural or not, is more resistant to justice. (from an Amazon.com review)

The Gypsy (with Megan Lindholm)
In Lakota, Ohio, veteran cop Stepovich and his irritating young partner Durand unwillingly become involved in a series of killings, apparently connected: in one case the murder weapon is a distinctive gypsy knife; in another the victim is an old gypsy fortuneteller. Stepovich arrests a confused suspect and takes a knife from him, but some sort of psychic connection is established: Stepovich knows the man isn't guilty and fails to turn in the knife, and soon the suspect mysteriously vanishes from jail. Turns out that the man, a Hungarian gypsy named Csucskari, exists in both the physical and spiritual worlds; he is waiting for the coming of the devil--in this instance, a horrid female devil named Luci, the Fair Lady, who has ensorcelled a number of young people and threatens to drown the world in darkness. Csucskari's purpose is to oppose her, but first he must join with his musician brothers Raymond and Daniel, and obtain a psychic assist from another necessary participant, the Coachman. Stepovich is psychically involved, too, as are Durand and Stepovich's former partner Ed; Stepovich's teenaged daughter is one of Luci's victims. The affair will result in a desperate battle on the spiritual plane, as cops and gypsies struggle to overcome Luci and her thralls and minions (from an Amazon.com review)

To Reign in Hell (hard cover) or (out of print)
To Reign in Hell is deft and subtle in weaving a tale of conflict among friends -- the Firstborn of Heaven. Satan and Yaweh, archangels, and lesser angelic minions populate an Eden like Heaven. Conflict comes among them unbidden and grows. The heroes are not necessarily whom you expect from among familiar names. (from an Amazon.com review)
The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars
Since his first Vlad Taltos novel in the mid-1980s, Steven Brust has gathered a loyal audience. With The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, originally published in 1987, Brust interweaves a traditional Hungarian folktale with the modern story of three young artists' struggle against the world's indifference. This underground cult novel will now be enjoyed by a wider and new generation of readers. (from an Amazon.com review)

The Dragaeran Novels

    Vlad Taltos
    The Book of Jhereg (Jhereg, Yendi, and Teckla in one volume)
    Vlad Taltos x 3! Three Steven Brust fantasy novels in one all-new edition-featuring intrepid assassin Vlad Taltos and his jhereg companion. A welcome addition to any fantasy fan's library, The Book of Jhereg follows the antics of the wise-cracking assassin Vlad Taltos and his dragon-like companion through their first three adventures-Jhereg, Yendi, and Teckla. From his rookie assassin days to his selfless feats of heroism, the dauntless Vlad will hold readers spellbound-and The Book of Jhereg will take its place among the classic compilations in fantasy. (from an Amazon.com review)
  1. Jhereg
    Our anti-hero in this story is Vlad Taltos, a pragmatic assassin who constantly finds himself in extroadinary situations. The story centers completely around him, and he is an interesting enough character that he carries the burden fairly well. The freshness of the writing has to do with its roughness. This isn't the poetry of Herbert or Tolkien, instead it has a rough and tumble realism to it that you don't see often in this genre. The world of Steven Brust has no romance in it's magic, which somehow makes the world romantic. It's a kind of gunslinger-y high-fantasy. (from an Amazon.com review)
  2. Yendi
    Vlad Taltos tells the story of his early days in the House Jhereg, how he found himself in a Jhereg war, and how he fell in love with the wonderful woman, Yendi, who killed him. (from an Amazon.com review)
  3. Teckla
    Right after he almost single-handedly saves the Empire from an internecine war, our surly hero discovers just where his wife has been disappearing to in the evenings--she's been keeping company with a bunch of Easterner and Teckla insurgents who wish to break the Cycle and bring a rule of the people, by the...wait...oh yeah. Anyway, along the way Vlad discovers that his peers in House Jhereg are provoking the revolutionaries and realizes that his now-estranged wife is caught in the crossfire (from an Amazon.com review)
  4. Taltos
    Lord Vlad Taltos returns in the prequel to Jhereg, Yendi and Teckla in a fantastic adventure in which readers learn what really happened when Vlad found himself walking the Paths of the Dead. (from an Amazon.com review)
  5. Phoenix
    In Steven Brust's fifth novel of the Vlad Taltos series, our "hero" (Vlad Taltos) attempts to come to terms with his role as an assassin, his "racism" and his job as a crime-lord. Vlad begins to realize that, perhaps, what he does for a living is wrong. He then confronts his weaknesses head on. Add to this the fact that everyone in the book is trying to kill him and you are in for the ride of your life. (from an Amazon.com review)
  6. Athyra
    Vlad Taltos, sorcerer, sometime witch, and former assassin, and his faithful jhereg take on the biggest hitters of the House of the Jhereg. (from an Amazon.com review)
  7. Orca
    Vlad--wanted all over the Empire, and trying to elude capture--aids a young boy who saved his life and probes the secrets of the House of the Orca. (from an Amazon.com review)
  8. Dragon (Mass Market Paperback) or (Hardcover Edition)
    Dragon

    Marching through mud
    just isn’t as much fun as they say.

    After years of surviving in Adrilankha by practicing the trade I know best—killing people for a living—suddenly I’m in the last place any self-respecting assassin wants to be: the army. Worse, I’m right in the middle of an apocolyptic battle between two sorcerous armies, and everyone expects me to play a role they won’t explain. All I’ve got between me and the worst kind of death is my wits. Oh, and a smart-mouth winged lizard . . . (book description)

  9. Issola (Mass Market Paperback) or (Hardcover Edition)
    Issola

    Okay, so maybe I’ve been living in the woods too long, where you can’t even get a decent cup of klava first thing in the morning. So who should turn up but Lady Teldra, the courtly servant of my old friend the Dragonlord Morrolan?

    Teldra wants my help, because Morrolan and Aliera have disappeared, and according to Sethra Lavode, it looks like they may be in the hands of the Jenoine. Do I want to mess with them? The guys who made this place? And I thought I had problems before . . .

    Oh well, what’s a little cosmic battle with beings who control time and space? It’s better than hunkering down in the woods without even so much as a drinkable cup of klava. (book description)

  10. Dzur (Mass Market Paperback) or (Hardcover Edition)
    Dzur

    Vlad Taltos—short-statured, short-lived human in an Empire of tall, long-lived Dragaerans—has always had to keep his wits about him. Long ago, he made a place for himself as a captain of the Jhereg, the noble house that runs the rackets in the great imperial city of Adrilankha. But love, revolution, betrayal, and revenge ensued, and for years now Vlad has been a man on the run, struggling to stay a step ahead of the Jhereg—who would kill him without hesitation.

    Now Vlad’s back in Adrilankha. The rackets he used to run are now under the control of the mysterious "Left Hand of the Jhereg"—a secretive cabal of women who report to no one. His ex-wife needs his help. His old enemies aren’t sure whether they want to kill him, or talk to him and then kill him. A goddess may be playing tricks with his memory. And the Great Weapon he’s carrying seems to have plans of its own . . .

    Picking up directly where Issola left off, Dzur gives us Vlad Taltos at his best—swashbuckling storytelling with a wry and gritty edge. (book description)

  11. Jhegaala (Mass Market Paperback) or (Hardcover Edition) or (Amazon Kindle Edition)
    Jhegaala

    I thought I knew my people.
    I thought I knew who I was.
    I thought a little trip to the East would simplify things.
    I had no idea . . . .

    Fresh from the collapse of his marriage, and with the criminal Jhereg organization out to eliminate him, Vlad decides to hide out among his relatives in faraway Fenario. All he knows about them is that their family name is Merss and that they live in a papermaking industrial town called Burz.

    At first Burz isn’t such a bad place, though the paper mill reeks to high heaven. But the longer he stays there, the stranger it becomes. No one will tell him where to find his relatives. Even stranger, when he mentions the name Merss, people think he’s threatening them. The witches’ coven that every Fenarian town and city should have is nowhere in evidence. And the Guild, which should be protecting the city’s craftsmen and traders, is an oppressive, all-powerful organization, into which no tradesman would ever be admitted. Then a terrible thing happens. In its wake, far from Draegara, without his usual organization working for him, Vlad is going to have to do his sleuthing amidst an alien people . . . his own. (book description)

    Personal note: I really need to go back and reread the entire Vlad Taltos saga. I’ve forgotten so much of it that it really needs revisiting. Even though my memory is fuzzy about some of the other books in the series, this book was a very good read. In fact, it is a good part of the reason I want to go back and read the rest again.

    The Khaavren Romances
  1. The Phoenix Guards
    Khaavren, a young swordsman of the House of Tiassa, and three companions in search of adventure join the Emperor's guards and find themselves immersed in treacherous imperial politics when they become the only hope of saving the Draegaran Empire. (from an Amazon.com review)
  2. Five Hundred Years After
    The sequel to The Phoenix Guards follows closely the model of Dumas' Twenty Years After; in fact, it helps to be familiar with Dumas's Musketeers to fully appreciate Brust's romance. Five centuries after the close of the earlier work--Phoenix Guards, that is--Brust's D'Artagnan, Khaavren, is still serving in the guards. Unfortunately, the emperor has begun to lose his grip and mortally insults Adron the Dragonlord. Add Adron's ambitious daughter and several other influences, magical and human, to that beginning, and you have a complex plot to which Brust does full justice. (from an Amazon.com review)
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