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Books: Yendi and Teckla

In the week since I finished Jhereg I've plowed through the next two volumes in the Vlad Taltos series. I'm not really a "two books in a week" kind of reader these days, but as each of the novels is just a shade over 200 pages and written in the same breezy, compulsively readable style of the first, getting these two off my "to read" pile was as easy as knocking back beers.

Yendi manages to avoid seeming like a sequel in a couple of ways. First, it is set a number of years before the events of Jhereg. Second, it doesn't duplicate the plot of the first book, instead spinning a more straightforward adventure / fantasy yarn: Vlad, a younger man and still fairly inexperienced in the business of organized crime, finds himself in a turf war with a neighboring Boss trying to horn into his territory. And, third, the narrative actually has a romance component. The story lacks some of the inventiveness of Jhereg, but the first set the bar on "clever" pretty high, so it can certainly be excused for failing to clear it.

Teckla, the third book in the series, takes place after Jhereg. This book does suffer from some sequel-itis -- the central story is about yet another turf war, just as Yendi before it. It's also the gloomiest of the three by far, with Vlad moping about for the final half of the story. I hated the fourth and fifth Harry Potter books for exactly this reason, but at least when Vlad gets depressed he goes around stabbing people in the heart with stilettos -- a vastly superior coping mechanism to whining, if ya ask me.

As I mentioned before, each of the books is entirely self contained. You could read them in reverse chronological order and everything would still make perfect sense, though Jhereg is indisputably the best introduction to the series. And all three can be found in a single volume, called The Book of Jhereg. If you're like me you'll have a hankering for more Brust the moment you finish Jhereg, so you may as well get the compendium to ensure that you don't go hungry for a moment.

Posted on January 17, 2007 to Books





Comments

Hey, if you're looking for good, readable fantasy, you could do worse than Brandon Sanderson's stuff. His first novel, Elantris, was a solid debut. A little clunky and heavy-handed at times, but with an engaging plot. I was not hugely impressed with his resolution, but it was a good read.

His newest book is the first of a series (trilogy?) called Mistborn: The Final Empire. It is much better than his first, with more interesting characters and a more satisfying denouement. The nice thing is that it stands alone fairly well, even as it opens up hooks for the next book.

Not that you asked for recommendations, but I consider myself fairly discriminating when it comes to fantasy and science fiction, and I enjoy Sanderson's stuff.

Posted by: Dan Someone on January 21, 2007 8:11 AM

Sounds like you may have made the classic trilogy mistake. It goes something like this: you read the first book, love it so much that you pile into the next one. You enjoy that one, but probably not quite as much, because it doesn't feel as new or exciting. But you're still keen, so you read the third one. By the end of which you're really a bit jaded about it all, and think that it wasn't as good as the first.

Best thing to do? Read something else in between - it means when you come back to the second and third books, they do feel a bit fresh, and you can enjoy getting back into it all again.

Posted by: Nick on January 22, 2007 4:37 AM

Don't let Teckla's depressing tone get you down. Plow through the rest of them. The series gets better and better as it goes; I've read the first nine books four times through each, and the tenth (which came out recently) once.

Then start on the Khaavren romances. Brust is an incredible writer.

Posted by: Mike on January 22, 2007 5:25 PM

As I understand it, Brust was going through a divorce at the time he wrote Teckla. The tone and feel and storyline of that book really, really shows it.

However, as mentioned, the rest of the series is amazingly amazingly good. Count me in with the "have read all of them multiple multiple times over and still love 'em" crowd.

Posted by: Russish on January 23, 2007 2:32 PM

When you first posted about Jhereg a few days ago, I remembered thinking "wait, I sort of liked that book, but as I recall, the series goes downhill from there...." Now I recall that I quit at "Teckla," because it was so damn depressing. So I guess what the rest of you are saying is that I should give the subsequent books a chance?

Posted by: elizabeth on January 23, 2007 4:23 PM