I don’t often reread books; since I have hundreds of unread books floating around, it seems like a bit of a waste to read a book I’ve already read—what’s the point of buying all these new books if I’m just going to read old ones? Of course, I also have hundreds of read books sitting around, and if I never re-read them, their utility starts seeming questionable, so I suppose it’s just as well that (inspired by Chad’s re-read and review) I picked up Steven Brust’s Jhereg for a reprise.

Jhereg is the first of the Vlad Taltos novels, and I’d only read it once, back in 1996. Going back to it after having read all the sequels promised to be a very different experience—for one thing, the Taltos books matured as they went along; for another, there was a big plot revelation made in Orca that drastically altered some things we thought we knew. So I was interested to see how Jhereg looked in light of later events.

The answer turns out to be: amazingly well. I was surprised by the depth of Jhereg—I remembered it as a snappy, fast-paced, but fluffy story; but there was already significant depth and emotion in it. And I was enormously impressed by the world-building solidity; quite often, when writers start a long series in a novel world, the first book or two gets the world a bit uneven, but Brust had Dragaera down from the first page. I was even more impressed by the integration of Orca‘s revelation: Not only is it not contradicted by anything in Jhereg, but events in the book actually make more sense in light of it. I wonder now how I missed those plot holes.

I’d already considered this a good book, but upon re-reading, I’m forced to up my estimation of it. This is genuinely quality fantasy, head and shoulders above most the stuff out there. Highly recommended.


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