Friday, August 24, 2007

The Viscount of Adrilankha

The Viscount of Adrilankha

Steven Brust

Date: 18 August, 2003   —   $7.99   —   Book

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Fiction, Fantasy

The Paths of the Dead
The Lord of Castle Black
Sethra Lavode

For years, Brust promised a third book to the Phoenix Guards series. And as sometimes happens, that one book grew larger and morphed into several. While technically these three books are a trilogy, and a trilogy sequel to two previous novels, the action moves across all three in such a way that you should under no circumstances attempt to read one alone. I am sure that an omnibus edition will eventually make its way to market, possibly with a companion omnibus in the form of The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years After.

But for the moment, let us merely consider them as one story in three volumes.

The thing that I find most striking about this series is that the Dragaerans are presented as gently dumb. Sometimes it is merely them being slow on the uptake— such as Morrolan not figuring out that his living several centuries while all around him people die after a normal span might, somehow, be considered unusual— and sometimes it is having to be beat over the head with something before they get it. This may be a feature of the pseudo-historical style that Brust has adopted (after all, sometimes Dumas' creations seem more than a little dumb) or it might be a reflection of the true comparisons of intellect. After all, Vlad Taltos is valued precisely because he's a pretty bright guy— not smarter than the smart Dragaerans, maybe, but certainly swifter of thought than the general run of them.

This story covers the end of the Interregnum, the return of the Orb and the re-instatement of the Empire. Of course, such things do not come easily, and there's usually people with plans of their own who get in the way...

You know, I don't think I can speak really well to the substance of these books since they're all bound up in my head with the very long train trip we took to Denver, and with the large amount of time I spent staring out my window as we went through the Rockies and the Sierras and red rock country. They're good and they're fun but really, it was a very long train ride. And the geography wins hands down.

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