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One of the books in the Vlad Taltos series by Steven Brust. This book is first in order of writing the series and is chronologically placed as either the first or the second (parts of it are prior to Jhereg, other parts after). Others consider this the fourth book in the series. Whatever the case, it is recommended that it be read later in the series unless the reader has already read the entire series once through before.

Please realize that from this point on, it is impossible to describe the nature of the book without letting a few 'spoilers' drop.

Of all the books of all the all the authors I have read few jump around more (or as well) as those written by Steven Brust. The book takes place in three distinct time frames:

  • Chapter lead ins: the spell
  • Background segments: early age
  • Main Plot: Present time

The main plot starts with the hunting of a employee of Vlad's and tracking him to Dzur Mountain, home of Sethra Lavode (necromancer, undead, enchantress and person you don't want to mess with). From there, Vlad is employed to steal an item from a wizard's keep (not his primary job title - he's an assassin, not a thief) and later to the Halls of the Dead (the Dragaera's afterlife) to meet up with the Gods, rescue a soul, and eventually make it out alive.

Early on in the book Vlad wonders what it would be like to cast a teleport spell using witchcraft rather than sorcery and concedes that it would take a long time, lots of preparation and be quite exhausting. In the main plot, the casting is a paragraph - however, the first few paragraphs of each chapter are the preparation and casting of this spell.

The background segments take place from early childhood of Vlad through his training in both the Dragaeran (elvish - no, these are not your Tolkien elves) and Eastern (Homo Sapiens) ways: sword fighting and magic. Eventually Part of the story of Vlad's joining the business (mafia) side of House Jhereg is told. The background segments end with an employee of Vlad's defaulting on a loan and running to Dzur Mountain.

All three of these time lines are mixed together in each chapter. Fortunately for the reader, all of the time lines run linear within themselves - there is no flashback on a flashback and Brust is superb at multiple time lines within a single book (most of the other books in the Vlad Taltos series are similar in style along with Gypsy written in conjuction with Megan Lindholm).

If you happen to own the books rather than checking them out from the library and are unconcerned with the re-sale value I would urge you to make marks in the book to note references to other stories or various plot twists (such as significant mentioning of Spellbreaker or Godslayer or a certain duality).

Along with the rest of this series, I highly recommend this book for readers of fantasy who enjoin the occasional chuckle when reading. This is not your standard fantasy fare.

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