The Adventures of Vlad Taltos Analysis

Steven Brust

The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Vlad Taltos series centers on a wisecracking professional assassin, who is an Easterner—or human—living among a race of beings called Dragaerans. The Dragaerans are humanoid creatures who stand seven to eight feet tall and have a life span of between two thousand and three thousand years. Their empire is built on a class system: Every member belongs to one of seventeen houses, each named for a native creature of that world. Easterners are a much-despised minority. In an effort to assimilate, Vlad’s father squandered his life savings on a baronetcy in one of the lower-status houses.

Vlad, who early on became accustomed to the dangers of urban street life, has risen through the ranks of House Jhereg, a criminal organization, to control the gambling and other illegal activities of a small section of the city of Adrilankha. Reflecting the danger of his chosen career, he never leaves home without an arsenal of weapons concealed on his person. One of Vlad’s favorite mottoes is “No matter how subtle the wizard, a knife between the shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style.”

Vlad also knows some sorcery and witchcraft. He travels with a familiar, a wisecracking jhereg named Loiosh with whom he communicates “psionically,” or psychically. A jhereg is a small, poisonous, winged, lizardlike creature. Loiosh often perches on Vlad’s shoulder. Loiosh has a humanlike intelligence and stays ever on the lookout for danger, which always seems to be near.

Vlad is married to a fellow Easterner named Cawti. She is also a professional assassin and is known as the Dagger of the Jhereg. Vlad and Cawti met when she was hired to kill him—and succeeded in her task. As Vlad aptly put it, “Some couples fall in love and end up trying to kill each other....

(The entire section is 732 words.)