Hawk: A New Novel Vlad Taltos Kindle Edition
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About the Author
STEVEN BRUST is the author of Dragon, Issola, the New York Times bestsellers Dzur and Tiassa, and many other fantasy novels. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Wonderful... Like most of Brust's books, this witty, wry tale stands alone and is very accessible to new readers. --Publishers Weekly on TiassaDelightful, exciting, and sometimes brilliant. --Neil Gaiman Steven Brust may well be America's best fantasy writer. --Tad Williams --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- File Size : 1026 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 233 pages
- Publisher : Tor Books (7 October 2014)
- ASIN : B00J6TWICO
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Language: : English
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: 537,486 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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If you are new to the Vlad Taltos/Khaavren universe, I would advise against starting with this book. The best place to start reading about Vlad is either the first published book in his series, " Jhereg ", or the chronologically first one, " Taltos ."
The hero of the other series set in this world, Khaavren, is a supporting character in "Hawk." The best place to start reading about Khaavren is in Brust's first book about him, which is a marvellous parody of Dumas's The Three Musketeers , called " The Phoenix Guards ".
I am adding to this review, in August 2020, that another significant character in "Hawk" now has his own book. The backstory of one of the major characters in "Hawk" is told in Brust's latest Dragaeran adventure, "The Baron of Magister Valley" which is a retelling of "The Count of Monto Cristo" and is set many centuries earlier at the time of Adron's Disaster and therefore overlapping with "The Phoenix Guards."
Yes, I did say that the two series are set several hundred years apart, and yes, I also said that the hero of the other series appears in this book. That's because although some characters including Vlad are human (e.g. Homo Sapiens Sapiens) the majority of characters including Khaavren belong to a race who can live for thousands of years.
All the "Vlad Taltos" novels and "Khaavren" romances are set in a world of magic, where there are several intelligent species, including two types of men and women. Humans like ourselves are usually referred to as "Easterners," the other type of men and women call themselves humans but are usually referred to in the books as "Dragaerans" or occasionally as Elves. Dragaerans are taller than humans, live much longer (a couple of thousand years), and then after death are eligible for reincarnation if they have not annoyed a God too much or had their soul destroyed by a "Morganti" weapon or a "Great Weapon" such as the sword "Lady Teldra" which Vlad now carries.
"Morganti" weapons do not just kill you, they also destroy your soul. "Great Weapons," of which there are supposed to be no more than seventeen, are particularly powerful Morganti weapons which are at least to some degree sentient, can decide whether to destroy your soul or not, and which can seriously harm even gods. We learn a bit more about Great Weapons in general and Lady Teldra in particular during this book.
All Dragaerans belong to one of seventeen "Great Houses" named after animals of the fantasy world in which the novels are set. Thirteen of the fourteen novels featuring Vlad Taltos, including "Hawk," are named after one of these great houses, usually also featuring a member of that house in a prominent role: if Steven Brust is planning to write a novel for each house we are about three-quarters of the way through this very long-lasting series (the first book was written 22 years ago).
Each of the animals for which the great houses are named epitomises two characteristics, and the houses tend to have a preferred occupation to which those characteristics are relevant. For examples Dragons symbolise war and conquest, Dzur (which look a bit like tigers) represent heroism and honor, hence Dragaeran members of House Dragon and House Dzur (known as Dragonlords and Dzurlords) tend to be soldiers. "Tecla" look like mice and symbolise cowardice and fertility: members of House Tecla are peasants. "Iorich" epitomise justice and retribution, and members of that house tend to be judges or lawyers. "Chreotha" represent forethought and ensnarement, and members of that house are merchants. The Orca (Killer Whale) represents brutality and mercantilism: members of that house are sailors, pirates or - wait for it - bankers, and "Jhereg" representing Greed and Corruption are gangsters or assassins.
To Dragaerans, the Hawk symbolises Observation and Perception. There have not been many members of this Dragaeran house in the series to date, but on the basis of this book at least some Hawklords are powerful sorcerers.
The hero of this book Vladimir, Count Szurke (a.k.a. Baronet Vladimir Taltos), began his career as an assassin and crimelord within the Jhereg organisation (mafia). Several books later, Vlad went on the run from the Jhereg, who put a massive price on his head, after developing an unfortunate case of principles, which he tries very hard to hide.
Early in his career Vlad acquired a companion and familiar called Loiosh, to whom he is telepathically linked, and Loiosh later acquired a mate, Rocza. Loiosh and Rocza are actual Jhereg - that is to say, they are small intelligent flying reptiles.
Until this book, Vlad had dealt with the fact that the Jhereg had put a huge price on his head by a combination of using powerful magic to hide from them, staying out of their way whenever possible, and being ready to defend himself.
But during this book, attacks on Vlad, and on people he cares about, by the Jhereg seriously overstep the mark.
I'm not going to give the details to avoid a spoiler, but certain Jhereg do something sufficiently out of line in terms of threats to Vlad's family that it is plausible that Vlad would both be furious and determined to do something to prevent more such attacks even at immense risk to his life. He decides to do something about both the individuals behind the attacks on himself and his family and his estrangement from the organisation.
The chronological sequence of the "Vlad Taltos" series jumps about all over the place, both between books and within most of the books. Furthermore, there are all sorts of little nuggets buried in these stories which don't fully make sense if you have not read previous books. I personally think it is best to read these stories in the order they were published.
You can, alternatively, make an argument for reading these books in chronological sequence. However, there isn't an "official" chronological sequence, and attempts to create one, including mine which I'm about to give you, are subjective. That's because most of the books contain things which happen at very different times. For example, one of the books is a riddle and murder mystery involving a building which is also a platform to travel through time, so that moving from one room to another can take you forward or back several hundred years.
Here is the list of Vlad Taltos novels in publication order, with the chronological place of the main action of each book in brackets after:
1) Jhereg (4th)
2) Yendi (3rd)
3) Tecla (5th)
4) Taltos (1st)
5) Phoenix (6th)
6) Athyra (8th)
7) Orca (9th)
8) Dragon (2nd)
9) Issola (10th)
10) Dzur (11th)
11) Jhegaala (7th)
12) Iorich (12th)
13) Tiassa (13th)
14) Hawk (14th)
So in other words, the chronological sequence approximates to:
The five Khaavren romances, in sequence, are
1) "The Phoenix Guards" (equivalent to "The Three Musketeers")
2) "Five Hundred Years After" (equivalent to "Twenty years after")
Then a trilogy "The Viscount of Adrilankha" (equivalent to "The Viscount of Bragelonne") which comprises
3) The Paths of the Dead
4) The Lord of Castle Black
5) Sethra Lavode.
Written in the same style as the Khaavren Romances, by the same supposed author, and set at about the same time as the first of them, is "The Baron of Magister Valley,
Overall I found both the "Taltos" novels and the "Khaavren Romances" very entertaining: I recommend both series and this book.
Saying all that, this is still a Steven Brust book and therefore much better than most writers manage at their best. It just isn't Brust at his best.