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Series: Vlad Taltos

This note was last modified Wednesday, 21-May-2014 22:23:19 PDT.

This note contains spoilers for the series.

By my old friend Steven Brust. I'm numbering the Vlad books as their own series, but the books allegedly from Dragaera written by Paarfi (the Khaavren romances), and Brokedown Palace, are set on the same world. And it seems completely possible that the Paarfi books and the Vlad books will converge; they already share characters (Dragaerans are very long-lived).

This series has taken a fairly unusual path. It started out being a fairly ordinary (though well-written and with interesting world-building) story about a criminal on a fantasy world with at least two intelligent races (humans, called "easterners", and Dragaerans, called "humans").

(The jhereg are clearly intelligent, dragons apparently are, clearly the Serioli are, the cat centaurs must be, and then there are the gods and goddesses who are clearly real and not clearly of any of those species; so, really, quite a lot of intelligent races, though we spend nearly all our time with the first two. But I digress.)

Vlad, however, has grown a lot as a character. He's not very comfortable as an assassin really any more. And he's made sufficiently unusual (and powerful) friends that he gets involved in much weirder activities than he used to.

I find this whole progression fascinating. There's a clear character "Vlad" there, he's just going through enough of his life, and having big enough experiences, that he's not the same all the time. This can of course interfere with the enjoyment of people who love the initial Vlad beyond the ability to go with the flow as he matures.

There are indications in several books that Vlad is telling his story to a "magic box" that can play his voice back, given him by a mysterious stranger. This could easily be a tape recorder from our world. Also, the "easterners" there have pretty clear descent from Earth (and the Dragaerans are the results of the Jenoine playing with dragaeran animals and easterners). This world could be something like the world in Zelazny's Lord of Light, a human colony on an alien planet.

The intended plot cycle is to be one book for each House in the Cycle (17, of course), plus one named for Vlad and a final book called The Final Contract. This project is well over half completed; there's some hope we may eventually see all 19 books.

The development of the world of Dragaera as seen in Steven's books is complex. There were at least three generations of gaming world, run by two different people (Robert Sloan, who went by Adrian Thornley when Piarra was started, and Steven) but involving a number of the same players, and then Steven made a lot of changes after that, partly just to get a world he wanted to write stories in, and partly to separate the intellectual properties (Steven and the other gamesmaster have remained at peace). For example, in the version of the world I played in (run by Steven) Vlad and Aliera were the major gods of the world. Psychic contact with the gods could sometimes be achieved, often mediated by use of the telephone if Reen wasn't at the gaming session.


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David Dyer-Bennet