enhanced] DD-B

Book Note: Steven Brust, The Phoenix Guards

I read this book about 17-Jun-2002. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1991. This note was last modified Wednesday, 29-Aug-2007 23:45:36 PDT.

This note does not contain major spoilers for the book.


I'm reading this along with the Dragaera readalong mailing list (you can find info on it here). Which means I'll be reading it fairly slowly; we're allowing time for discussion on each couple of chapters before moving on. We hope to do this book and 500 years After in time for the appearance of The Paths of the Dead this November.

This is the first of the "Paarfi" books (allegedly written by a Dragaeran author named Paarfi, who is roughly their version of Dumas). I really love the extended, discursive, prose that the narrator and sometimes some of the characters speak. There's a reason that Paarfi books are 34 chapters instead of 17!

Steven was inspired by a particularly good translation of Dumas. The translator is not credited in the original turn-of-the-century (um, that's the previous century) Little Brown editions. Tor has since brought out that edition in an inexpensive mass-market paperback. Steven wrote an introduction to this edition, though it's not mentioned on the outside of the book.

Indeed, I couldn't hold myself back; I finished the book well in advance of the readalong group. Enjoyed it a lot, too. I'm bothered by how sanguine everybody is about how close things came to the wrong outcome—I guess there really wasn't any expectation of fairness in the system.

The question of the long lifespans gets more interesting when examined from a Dragaeran perspective (in the Vlad books we see everything through the eyes of a human). Are the Dragaerans more patient than we are? Well, some of them, notably Aliera, certainly are not (though she barely appears in this book). Tazendra isn't exactly laid back, either. The very ease with which Vlad interacts with Dragaerans shows they run on the same timescale in many senses. However, this book does say that the treaty with the Easterners was completed quickly because of their short lifespans.

I imagine (I'm told by the person who did it) that Paarfi's prose was hell to copyedit. I can certainly understand that. This book seems to me to have a few more errors than is normal, but the normal variation is large enough that that could be simply bad luck. The fact that I can even discuss the issue shows that the copyeditor did a superb job.

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David Dyer-Bennet