Review: Vallista

I’m a fan of Steven Brust and his Taltos novels, of which this is one. As with all the other Taltos novels, on the surface it’s a snappy fantasy novel with a wise-guy protagonist. Magic, swords, and wisecracks abound. As with all the others, this has a tone, theme and form different from the others. This one is has the form of an escape room adventure. Vlad finds himself embroiled in a sorcererous puzzle without knowing why, how, or what the goals are. Kind of like waking up on Myst.

He’s resourceful so he quickly gets moving, and despite the air of confusion, the story moves smoothly along. Vlad is mostly alone, but he always has a wise-cracking familiar along and he’s narrating this to an as yet unknown interlocutor, so the humor and sharpness stick around.

As with so many of these novels, Brust’s mastery of the specific form and genre writing in general is so strong that if this story sounds like you’d like it, you’ll like it. But if you like to ruminate on these things and think about societal and personal themes there’s a lot to chew on.

Strongly Recommended.

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