Book Reviews 2006 (5)

The fifth paperback novel of the year that I’ve read claims to be part of a trilogy, but really is a third of a book by Steven Brust.
The Paths of the Dead, Part I of III of The Viscount of Adrilankha.

The Paths of the Dead (The Viscount of Adrilankha, Book 1)
Brust, a Minnesota native, is one of my favorite authors. But even among his fans, there are subcultures. There are those who prefer the Vlad Taltos novels, the ones set in Dragaera and featuring Vlad as the usually first person narrator. There are those who prefer his non Dragaeran novels like To Reign in Hell or Freedom and Necessity. And then there are those who prefer his Dumas-pastiche “Paarfi” Dragaera novels, The Phoenix Guards, Five Hundred Years Later, and now the Viscount novels.
Me, I like Vlad the best but liked Phoenix Guards and 500 Years After, and so I picked up this with high hopes. Its been a while since Brust has done one of these novels, though, and it shows.
I won’t fault him for splitting a large novel into three chunks that, at least in this first chunk, has an inconclusive ending. Sure, the Zerika thread does come to a nice stopping point, but the other threads seem far more arbitrary in their breaking points, and I am not sure why Morrolan’s story is in here at all, save for the fact that it will loom larger in the next two books.
Aside from that inconclusive ending, this novel isn’t quite as crisp as the other two Paarfi novels. On the other hand, a moderately good Brust fantasy is a lot better than much of the dreck out there today and its a dependably entertaining book. And, any book which (albeit while sick) gets you to dream in that world, is a book that I can say that I’ve enjoyed, and will read the other two books in the series.