cover image Dragon


Steven Brust. Tor Books, $22.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86692-1

""So there I was, in a full-scale battle; that is, in a place where no self-respecting assassin ought to be."" Dashing Vlad Taltos, the swashbuckling hero of Brust's popular Taltos fantasy series, makes his hardcover debut after seven mass market appearances (Athyra, etc.), with an early episode in his adventures. Vlad's cleverness and skill as an assassin have earned him a place in House Jhereg. They've also drawn to him some interesting friends and enemies, as well as acquaintances who can be called a little of both. At the request of Lord Morrolan, a powerful figure in House of the Dragon, Vlad traces the theft of an ancient artifact, a Morganti greatsword, to a rival Dragonlord, the Count of Fornia. Although Fornia's motivation in the crime seems transparent--he wants to start a war over the accusation of theft--Morrolan obligingly agrees to fight. And when Fornia sends a couple of bruisers to tell Vlad to stay out of the matter, the assassin's outrage leads him to join Morrolan's forces. While Morrolan and his military strategist coolly plan each phase of the conflict, Vlad gets a close-up look at the ugliness of war. It doesn't take him long to decide that the physical fighting is a cover for a more subtle battle, and that the Morganti greatsword is the key. As always, Brust invests Vlad with the panache of a Dumas musketeer and the colloquial voice of one of Roger Zelazny's Amber heroes. This is a rousing adventure with enough humor, action and sneaky plot twists to please newcomers as well as longtime series fans. (Nov.)