I read this book about 27-Jul-2006. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 2001. This note was last modified Friday, 02-May-2014 23:20:32 PDT.
This is book 9 of the "Vlad Taltos" series.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
The latest Vlad novel...for another week or so, that is, until Dzur comes out.
So I thought I'd reread this; I know Dzur starts up seconds after Issola ends. What I think I'm getting out of this (and you'll note I haven't finished yet) is a good reminder of the kind of mood Vlad is going to be in by the time he walks into Valabar's. He's just finished saving the world from the mythical creatures who created the Dragaeran race (that'd be the Jenoine) with the help of the Lords of Judgement (that is, all the important gods) and particularly Verra (the traditional patron of his race), along with the Enchantress of Dzur Mountain (nearly as mythical as the Jenoine), bearing Ice Flame, and Morrolan e'Drien bearing Blackwand, and Aliera e'Kieron (daughter of Verra) bearing Pathfinder. And participating in the creation of a new Great Weapon, which he now carries.
I think this has pushed him over some sort of emotional hump. He's certainly aware that a Jhereg assassin is quite likely to be able to kill him—but it doesn't seem like such a big deal any more. Compared to the risks he's been running, it's really fairly trivial. And he has unfinished business in Adrilankha, beyond just eating at Valabar's. This is most clearly stated on p.245 (of the paperback; chapter 16), where vlad says "The Jhereg? Heh. Let them come after me with their pathetic Morganti weapons. Just let them." Of course, by page 253 (in chapter 17) he says he's recovered from his bravado. In the end, I feel that that extreme degree of bravado has passed off, but that he's still more willing to confront his problems in Adrilankha than he was before.
There's also some detailed discussion of metaphysics and magical systems early on, which gives us a lot of what's known about how these things work on Dragera. I have the idea, though, that they're still somewhat at a pre-scientific stage, so their understanding of things is likely to have weird holes in it that don't make sense to modern sensibilities. In particular, the boundaries of the systems are probably rather imprecisely known, no matter what they think they know.
Oh, and there's also the spot (p.35 in the paperback, chapter 2) where Sethra tells Vlad and Lady Teldra that she was offered godhood. (Shortly before that she says that she is neither god nor demon, so apparently she turned it down.)