It is said that Steven Brust might be one of the best fantasy authors - he has published somewhere around 21 books, five of which
have reached bestselling rank. American-born of Hungarian ancestry, Brust certainly mines that ancestral connection
in the creation of Brokedown Palace. Originally published in 1986 by Ace Books and re-released by Tom Doherty's Orb imprint
twenty years later, it is perhaps the efforts put into the book's visual appearance that account for its recent revival.
Artist Alan Lee's front and back cover
are an incredible artistic rendition of the palace in all its majestic, crumbling glory. Intricate detail work from the puddles in the path to the nests in the deteriorating arches makes this book appear to be so much more than it is. A visually appealing and interesting map designed by David Cain greets readers within the first few pages of the book.
Brokedown Palace opens in a medieval setting where a young man lies with grave wounds beside a river. He is the victim of his brother, the king, who has a very, very evil temper. There are four brothers in total, and this book is mainly about their relationships and battles. The pace
is kept off-kilter by brief chapters interjecting folklore or sidestepping to other seemingly unrelated stories. The story incorporates Hungarian folklore and is filled with metaphors;
the castle, for instance, represents a body, as well as being a metaphor for the disintegration of the family and the kingdom.
At first impression, Brokedown Palace appears to be an outstanding tale, yet I ultimately found this to be far from the truth.