Jhegaala
Steven Brust
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Buy *Jhegaala (Vlad)* by Steven Brust

Jhegaala (Vlad)
Steven Brust
Tor
Hardcover
304 pages
July 2008
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Jhegaala begins shortly after Vlad Taltos deciding to leave Adrilankha, where he has spent most of his life, and to leave his wife. Of course, the decision is probably the only sane one he could have made considering that his previous noble House and employer, the Jhereg, are out to kill him. With this book's start shortly after the events in the book Phoenix, loyal readers will probably get most out of it, but it is possible to sample the series with this book.

Vlad Taltos is a witch, a sorcerer and a former assassin. These days he has to wear Phoenix stones around his neck, severely limiting his ability to use either witchcraft or sorcery. On the other hand, the stones also prevent the Jhereg from finding him and killing him on the spot - so, mostly, the trade-off is a benefit.

Vlad is headed to the East where his people, the humans, come from. His mother died when he was very young so he never knew her, but now he has a lead on her family and decides to go to where they live: Burz, a town dominated by the paper mill stinking the place out for good. Vlad has taken the whole trip as a vacation, to see his own people and relax among them. However, the people of the town turn out to be curiously hostile toward Vlad and his lizard-like jhereg familiars. Nobody answers his questions, and when Vlad finally finds out where his mother's family lives, he realizes that he has come too late.

In fine Brustian style, Jhegaala features an intricately constructed mystery plot spiced with Vlad's ironic style. Most of the characters have more depth than meets the eye, and it's quite impossible to divide them neatly into good and evil camps.

Jhegaala is a departure from the other Vlad Taltos-books with its setting in the East among humans. Most of the other books have been set among the Dragaerans or the elves of this world; the Dragaerans have a good deal of magic available to them, while the humans do not.

Brust divides Jhegaala into five parts, representative of the different stages of development of jhegaala, a frog-like creature. Vlad goes through similar mental development from unsuspecting and relaxed former assassin (symbolized by the egg) to a bitter and knowing person (symbolized by the adult stage). Each chapter starts with a short excerpt from a fictional play called "Six Parts Water." Each excerpt describes the chapter following it, sort of. And once again I am left with craving for more Vlad books.



Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Mervi Hamalainen, 2008

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