Yendi by Steven Brust

July 27, 2006 at 12:00 am | Posted in 3 stars, Book Reviews, Fantasy | Leave a comment

If you read my review of Brust’s Jhereg, which precedes this book in the Taltos series of novels (by publication order though not chronology), you’ll get a pretty good idea of what to expect from this book as well. Yendi is more of the same, but like many sequels it isn’t quite as well-executed. The plot doesn’t fit together quite as well and Brust’s rather rough hand with dialogue and characterization beyond the narrative voice makes a mess of the romantic subplot. There’s also a really poorly handled Shocking Revelation.

One thing Brust does well is he layers in a lot of hints at backstory without insisting on telling you everything. A lot has happened in these characters pasts, and occasionally its mentioned, but for the most part you don’t actually know any details. That can be a nice thing. However, Vlad Taltos is really kind of low on the totem pole in his organization, yet he’s got ridiculously powerful and influential buddies. And when I say buddies, I mean buddies. He hangs out with legendary figures, and as far as I can tell the only reason they give him the time of day is because they like being around him. He’s not a particularly smart or witty guy and his occupation is one they mostly find distasteful, so it’s hard to imagine how he has gotten to know such luminaries. I’m sure Brust has some backstory that will come up later in the series and that will show how reasonable it all is, but based on the material in this book it’s all hard to believe.

If you have to fly somewhere this book would make for a pleasant diversion, but like Jhereg this book is short enough it might not last the whole flight. According to Brust he tries to write each book in the Taltos series so that it can stand on its own (good thing, these older ones can be hard to find). That being so, there’s no reason to read this book unless you really, really like the others.

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