Sunday, 20 July 2014

Vlad Taltos #2: Yendi by Stephen Brust

Published: March 15th 1987 by Ace (first published 1984)
Goodreads Summary: Vlad Taltos tells the story of his early days in the House Jhereg, how he found himself in a Jhereg war, and how he fell in love with the wonderful woman, Cawti, who killed him.


I was midly disappointed by Yendi, the second book in The Vlad Taltos series. Contrary to Jhereg, where I was immediately pulled inside the story, things were much slower in Yendi. A quarter or even half the book felt like Brust (the author) was merely listing a series of action instead of telling a story. And it was hella boring. 

Stephen Brust has decided to write a non-linear series, therefore, his second book instead of continuing where his predecessor left, takes place in the past.  At the time, Yendi starts, Vlad is still single and his business just kicked off. Loish, his pet/ companion/ friend is present and so is Kragar his secretary.

One day, completely out of the blue, Laris a good fella (notice the sarcasm) from the Jhereg house just like him starts messing with his business. He orders a couple of Vlad’s men killed, disturb a couple of our hero side activities, like it’s betting business, and most naturally, he tried to send Vlad down to his grave (and he actually succeeded once, but thankfully, revivification exists in this series).

So, just like in Jhereg, Vlad has to find out his enemy’s motive and neutralize him if he wants to remain in the living world. And just like in Jhereg, he’ll seek a helping hand from the Dragon Lord Morrolan and his niece Aliera. Now that I think about it, Yendi kind of essentially recycle old recipes in order to make a brand new meal. 

Also, in a way, I felt like this novel was just a way to introduce Cawti, Vlad (future) wife and that’s about it. She’s a top notch assassin just like him, and she tried to kill him twice in Yendi. I don’t feel like I truly learned more about the world Brust’s created or anything. Considering what we learned in Jhereg about Vlad, I think there were other (better and more interesting) roads the authors could have explored.

Characters wise,  whether it is “now” or then, there hasn’t been any change in their personality. A young Vlad was still a skilled assassin, who knew how to handle his business, and the people on his dead-list and he was a single block. Loish was already (and perhaps, he has always been), a noisy but funny little Jhereg (a sort of poisonous dragon like creature, in Dragarea). And Kragar from back then was no different than the Kragar we met in the previous book. Same goes for the Dragon Lords, Morrolan and Aliera. Same old, same old.

Don’t mistakes my scepticism for loathing. I actually enjoyed Yendi. It was a quick, fun read with some nice action scenes. And I really like the turf war between Laris and Vlad. It’s just that in my opinion, instead of being a refined vintage French  wine, Yendi is one of these bland (and much cheaper) wines you’re always sure to find in a Tesco, Walmart, Aldi...etc. 

Bland and cheap isn’t necessarily a bad thing, on a night you really feel like getting a little bit tipsy, this wine from Tesco or wherever would save your life (sort of). But bottom line is, bland and cheap remains bland and cheap no matter how you look at it.

And so, even though I liked Yendi, I can’t say it was an amazing book. Nonetheless, I’m still looking forward to Teckla.

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