The Adventures of Vlad Taltos Critical Essays

Steven Brust


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Jhereg, Brust’s first published novel, evolved from a tabletop fantasy role-playing game the author played with a group of friends. Perhaps indicative of the series’ origins, the book was criticized by reviewers as an unexceptional “sword and sorcery” story with an obnoxious young punk as its protagonist. Vlad Taltos, a cynical assassin, is not the most sympathetic of protagonists. His profession makes for a bloody series of stories, not to mention a narrow worldview.

Although Brust’s first attempts at fiction subscribed to the “hack and slash” school of fantasy writing, he began to experiment with tone and style in subsequent novels. One reviewer noted Brust’s skillful handling of a triple first-person viewpoint (Vlad’s present, immediate past, and distant past) in the fourth book of the series, Taltos. In the sixth book, Brust abandoned Vlad as narrator, opting to tell the tale through the eyes of an intelligent but naïve young Dragaeran peasant. This change in point of view led to a greatly diminished emphasis on bloodletting.

Brust went on to publish other books in the science fiction/fantasy genre, including To Reign in Hell (1984), Brokedown Palace (1986), Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille (1990), The Phoenix Guards (1991), and Five Hundred Years After (1994). The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years After (known collectively as the Khaavren Romances) are set in the same world as the Vlad...

(The entire section is 623 words.)