I find that my days of not taking Brust seriously are definitely coming to a middle. That is to say, the only thing I can do after reading this book is fall back on witty quips that were written by somebody much more clever than I.
This second book in the Vlad Taltos series actually takes place before the first one. While the first book was a fresh take on fantasy that brought some incredible newness into the genre in the nineties, the second one feels like it’s stuck in the same pattern. It loses all of it’s tension because we know how things turn out and the sometimes clever banter and sometimes painful puns have gotten old.
All of those things could be forgiven if this book was not so boring.
There is very little going on at any one time except a lot of talking heads. I still know almost nothing about what these characters look like, what their surroundings are, even their ages. There is a lot of talking, though. Vlad talks his way into a gang war, then talks until his enemy can’t help but hire assassins just to shut him up. Then there’s some kind of weird bit about who is the heir to the throne and it’s a good three chapters of talking before the reader is thoroughly confused enough for us to pretend that the characters must know what’s going on, at any rate. Then there’s some fighting with really vague descriptions and some goofy discussions about how powerful people are and how scary they are — without ever actually showing us the scary.
That’s pretty much it. Good dialogue can be very entertaining to read. Good dialogue has tension. This book has none.
I get the feeling this is kind of the MO for Brust’s work. The first book I kind of gave it a pass because his style was occasionally funny and kept me interested. With this second book I found it dull and unaffecting — which according to the spell-checker is not a word.
There are some people that just love Brust’s style and I understand that. It’s not for me. I acquired these books as an omnibus of three novels so he’s got one more chance to make me love his characters. As it is right now, I’m must not feeling it.