Forge, Jul 2008, $24.95
Vlad Taltos is upset with his divorce as he married expecting forever. However, he is more concerned over his former employer, Jhereg putting a hit on him for his recent betraying activities. He concludes if he wants to remain with a head on shoulders he has to leave Draegaria until Jhereg’s assassins find a different target to ocuppy their time.
Vlad decides to visit maternal relatives he never met in some way out place. His only clues are their surname is Merss and they reside in Burtz, Fenario. He leaves with his usual retinue of familiars and his telepathic lizard pals Loiosh and Rocza. In Burtz, Vlad expected a hero’s welcome or at least a welcome to the family greeting. Instead he is warned to be careful by everyone in the paper mill town he encounters including his Noish-pa grandfather as he is under surveillance because the leaders expect him to cause trouble. The outsider is further stunned by a lack of a local coven, a given in every Fenario village and the normally potent Guild remains silent while workers are abused. However when a fire that looks like arson kills most of his relatives, Vlad begins to investigate, but each clue he and his limited support crew uncover leaves them with many more questions and danger from a powerful despotic oligopoly.
This is a fresh change to the strong long running series as not only does Vlad leave town enabling the audience to meet some of his maternal roots, but he conducts a fabulous whodunit investigation. The story line is fast-paced but humorous with the amusement mostly performed by the two lizards who provide 1930s style sidekick comments to the sleuth. Fans will enjoy this entertaining trek into Vlad’s heritage Steven brust writes a delightful fantasy investigative thriller.