My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Review: Tsalmoth

Tsalmoth Tsalmoth by Steven Brust
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the 16th book in the Vlad Taltos series and is actually a flashback story taking place between Yendi (#2) and Jhereg (#1).  If you are new to the series, I highly recommend that you read Jhereg first as an intro to the wisecracking and irreverent main character … Baronet Vladimir Taltos of the House of Jhereg, nefarious crime boss and sometimes assassin.  Here is a quick glimpse at the humor Vlad brings to the story:

[Vlad introduces the reader to his soon to be wife Cawti] “I met her on a warm, pleasant day with a nice breeze flowing in from the  the ocean-sea when she killed me. Nothing personal, she’d been paid.  And I got better didn’t I?”

[Vlad talking to his Capo] “Find someone to watch this guy.  I don’t want to watch this guy.  I’m the boss.  The boss doesn’t have to watch guys.  That’s why we become the boss.”

And the world building is one of my favorites (which, combined with the MC is why the first of this series in on my favorites shelf).  Seriously … this is one of the few fantasy series that both wife and I buy on sight; so if you haven’t started it, you should.

Now … if you are, like me, picking up the next of the series that you have already been reading, I can hopefully assure you that you will not be disappointed.  Publication wise, this book follows Vallista … which was a bit weird and something of a disappointment if I am honest.  This 1st person PoV flash back harkens back to the beginning of the series where most fans fall in love with the character … the setup appears to be Vlad reminiscing with Sethra for some reason that is either not revealed or I do not recall.  The time period is the period just prior to Vlad getting married to Cawti (who is primarily a foil to Vlad just so that there appears that there will always be an adult in the room).  Each chapter opens with a brief segue into a commentary on various marriage customs amongst Easterners (humans) and Dragaerans (elfish) houses. The plot revolves around a mark getting “shined” before paying back the 800 Imperials owed to Vlad at a time when Vlad’s “business” would have a hard time absorbing such a loss.  Vlad being Vlad … pours good money after bad until he uncovers a much bigger plot involving criminal/family factions and self interest within the House of Jhereg, as well as the sorcerous (and very dangerous) Left Hand … it’s enough to get someone very dead.
I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#Tsalmoth #VladTaltos #NetGalley

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.