What I think I like best about the Vlad Taltos novels is the voice, just as it has been what I liked best about the Paarfi novels that comprise most of the rest of Steven Brust’s Dragaeren world. Although, mind you, I’ve read other books by him where the voice was not the primary feature, so it’s not like voice is his only skill. (In these, it is pretty clearly a stronger skill than plotting just lately, but even then, I wonder how much of that is really the author, and how much of that is Vlad’s voice coming through more strongly than ever, with his own interest in the plot (read: events occurring in his life) taking a backseat to his interest in how those events are affecting his physical/mental/emotional wellbeing. Our Vlad is definitely… but I get at least a little ahead of myself.)
Iorich documents the furthest step forward in his life to date. Still on the run from Jhereg assassins, Vlad’s life seems to consist of, well, not very much, though as usual he implies there are chapters to it we have not yet been told about. This latest interlude of not very much is rudely interrupted when his friend Aliera is accused of practicing Elder sorcery, which she does all the time as a matter of common knowledge even though there is a good reason for it to be so heavily illegal. As most of his friends that would otherwise take care of such a problem are constrained by matters of honor, Vlad immediately sets himself to the task of untangling the odd political situation that has resulted in this common event suddenly being taken seriously for the first time. Which would be basically fine, except for those Jhereg assassins that in case I didn’t mention it intend to not so much kill him as destroy his soul. No question, it’s a bit of a sticky situation.
Here’s what I liked about the book, though. I was down on the plot a few moments ago, but reading over that muddled mess in the previous paragraph that I am pretty sure I have nevertheless described succinctly, it’s a plot that interests me. In practice, it’s a little slower than it should be, but the central questions are really compelling, and Brust dumps all manner of politics into the mix along the way, even including an eventual explanation of what’s been going on. But what really grabbed me was Vlad’s ongoing metamorphosis as a character. He has long been my definitive example of an unreliable narrator, and that’s still true. But I have the sense that he has a much clearer picture of who he is than he has had in previous of his stories. (For one thing, there are at least a couple of mocking references to his own unreliability as a narrator, which I’m confident he was not aware of in, for example, Jhereg or Teckla.) Like I said before, his lack of reliability comes more from what he chooses to care about, these days. And that metamorphosis of character is… well, it’s not what Vlad cares about, that’s not true. But it’s what Brust cares about, and Vlad’s voice is showing it more and more with each book since Phoenix, whether Vlad intends for it to or not. There will come a time, before this series is over, when the man will be an actual human being. He’s not there yet, but I and my psychology degree look forward to it with almost childlike glee.
 Look, this is like the 12th or so book in a series. You should ought to read that series, if you haven’t, but if you haven’t, nothing much of this brief summary will make sense. Just trust me that Vlad’s voice is worth your time.
 Not just politicking, which is a usual ingredient of a Vlad novel, whether at the personal, professional, national, or even ontological level. But in this case, actual politics. It has been observed that Brust was reading Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations during the period in which this book and the next one were/are being written. There’s not a direct line to that fact, at least in this book, but it’s reasonable to assume his political self could have been pushed to the front as a result of it.
 If you think it is odd to so frankly discuss a literary character’s self-awareness, well, you’re not wrong about that. But it exists all the same, and without breaking any fourth wall. That’s a pretty neat trick in itself.