by Steven Brust

Cover image

Series: Vlad Taltos #14
Publisher: Tor
Copyright: October 2014
ISBN: 0-7653-2444-X
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 320

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This is the fourteenth book in the Vlad Taltos series (not counting the various associated books and other series), builds directly on the long-term plot arc of the series (finally!), and is deeply entangled with Vlad's friends and former life as a Jhereg boss. As you might imagine from that introduction, this is absolutely not the place to start with this series.

For the past few books, Brust has been following a pattern of advancing the series plot in one book and then taking the next book to fill in past history or tell some side story. That means, following Tiassa, we were due some series advancement, and that's exactly what we get. We also, finally, get some more details about Lady Teldra. Nothing all that revelatory, but certainly intriguing, and more than just additional questions (at last). When Brust finally takes this gun off the wall and fires it, the resulting bits of world-building might be even better than Issola.

At its heart, though, Hawk is a caper novel. If you're like me, you're thinking "it's about time." I think this is the sort of story Brust excels at, particularly with Vlad as his protagonist. Even better, unlike some of the other multi-part novels, this is a book-length caper focused on a very important goal, and with the potential to get rid of some annoyances in Vlad's life that have lingered for rather too long. We see many of Vlad's Dragaeran friends, but (apart from Daymar) mostly in glimpses. This is Vlad's book, with heavy helpings of Loiosh.

The caper is also a nicely twisty one, involving everything from different types of magic to the inner workings of the Jhereg organization. As is typical for Vlad's schemes, there are several false fronts and fake goals, numerous unexpected twists, and a rather fun guest appearance. Oh, and lots and lots of snark, of course. I think my favorite part of the book was the interaction between Vlad and Kragar, which added a lot of emotional depth both to this story and to some of the previous stories of Vlad's life as a Jhereg. And I'm hoping that where Brust leaves things at the end of this book implies a Vlad who is more free to act, to see his friends, and to get entangled in Imperial politics, since I think that leads to the best stories.

Of course, if Brust holds to pattern, the next book will be backfill or side stories and we'll have to wait longer for a continuation of the main story. As much as I like those side stories, I'm hoping Brust will break pattern. I'm increasingly eager to see where this story will go. The all-too-brief interaction with Sethra in this book promises so much for the future.

If you like the Vlad Taltos books overall, you'll probably like this one. It's a return to the old scheming Vlad, but tempered by more experience and different stakes. There's a bit of lore, a bit of world-building, and a lot of Vlad being tricky. This series is still going strong fourteen books in.

Followed by Vallista.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Reviewed: 2015-10-25

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