There are two things kicking my ass about the review of Jhegaala. (Well, three, if you count reviewing a book so deep in a series, but I’m used to that.) The first is that the next two reviews will be so simple, and then I’d be caught up, if only I could get there. The second is that I was developing a wonderfully insightful theory about Vlad’s relationship with with Loiosh, only to have it disproven a few pages from the end of the book. Grrr. I may, of course, be getting ahead of myself.
So, anyway, Vlad’s an assassin, right? And for reasons explained elsewhere, he’s on the run from the mafia-esque organization for which he previously assassinated people. As a result, he has fled Adrilankha to spend a few years among his own people, maybe hook up with relatives of his mother that he never met as a child. Except, he’s Vlad Taltos, and he naturally finds himself elbow-deep into the hornet’s nest before he hears the first buzz of approaching trouble.
I loved it, of course. You will too! Inevitable (if unintentional) spoilers follow…
I can’t really say it’s a stand-out book of the series, because, hell, they all are. The word holds no meaning. But what I loved about this one in particular is how neatly it bridges some changes in his character. The Vlad that I always took as amoral and slightly sociopathic is probably closer to extremely angry all the time, and… well, I can’t exactly explain what made it apparent to me. The time when he starts to mellow out a little bit is yet in the future, it’s just that this is the first time that anger has been the apparent cause behind his behavior. I still don’t really like Cawti that much in Teckla, but I understand her a little better now.
And I loved the way that Loiosh plays double duty to Vlad, not just as an eyes-and-ears assistant, but as a tethering line on sanity. What I spent some time wondering, only to be cruelly disabused right at the end, is if Loiosh actually talks to Vlad, or if Vlad just imagines both voices in his head as a way to think things out and Loiosh is for the most part a slightly more intelligent jhereg who responds to mental commands. Probably not, it turns out, but it would have been a fantastic, series-spanning mislead by Brust if it had happened that way. (They are very similar, in any event; the only real difference I see is that Vlad is the impulsive side and Loiosh the cautious one. Other than that, they are almost always of a mind with each other. I guess Loiosh has an easier time admitting affection for Cawti, too? At least, these days.)