Tiassa by Steven Brust

Tor
335 pp.

Tiassa (Vlad)
Buy on Amazon.

Tiassa takes place from multiple viewpoints and within a broad timeline. At the center of the story is a silver tiassa, a figurine with great and mysterious powers that had been created by a goddess. Aliera’s time and space travelling (technically paradoxical) daughter Devera steals (okay, borrows) the object and leaves it with whomever she feels needs it the most. The tiassa has an agenda of its own however and almost has as many adventures as the people (particularly Vlad) that come into contact with it.

The first section is “Tag” and takes place when Vlad was still an assassin and crimelord in the Jhereg. (Vlad is also working on the preparations to get married, and the interactions between Cawti and Vlad are very romantic, even though we know how this relationship ends.) He stumbles into a situation with Khaavren’s son, but manages to work his way right back out of it with Khaavren potentially owing him a favor for saving the family from Embarrassment. This is the story of a con-game and is in Vlad’s pov. The tiassa ends up in the possession of someone noble in the Phoenix Guard.

Next in “Whitecrest” we have a possible invasion from the Jenoine and people scrambling to locate a mysterious artifact that can be used to fight everyone’s favorite ultra-powerful race of really scary aliens. Of course, there is some indication that Vlad may have it. The Countess of Whitecrest (who is Khaavren’s wife, by the way) tries to get a hold of Cawti who realizes that this is a trap or possibly a hoax of some sort. She decides to spring the trap and find out who is responsible. This is mostly in third person and shifts between Khaavren, his wife and Cawti. The narrative style occasionally drifts into the same style Brust uses with The Phoenix Guard and sequels. The extremely bigoted behavior of the various Dragaerans are very apparent here and the reader can feel a little superior because we have a better understanding of the situation than point of view characters.

In “Special Tasks” Vlad gets clobbered and Khaavren tries to solve the crime though Vlad is very reluctant to have very much to do with the Phoenix Guards. (This is almost entirely in “Khaavren Romance” style.) Despite being handicapped by his own bigotry and Vlad’s reluctance to explain what might be going on and why, Khaavren eventually figures everything out, though in the end he doesn’t have very much influence in the outcome. (He does however let slip Cawti’s adventures. I think the resulting conversation Vlad might have with Cawti should prove interesting.)

We find out some interesting things about Devera (such as her parentage), about Verra’s relationship with Barlen, (“You’re saying I only have two ideas?” “Two kinds. The kind that frighten me and the kind that annoy me,”) and about Vlad’s relationship with a certain Issola bard who has been a recurring character in the past few books . We also find out how Vlad met the person who has been interviewing him all this time. I enjoyed the book, but not as much as I liked Iorich.

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Filed under fantasy, mystery, Review: Book, Steven Brust, time travel

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