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Brokedown Palace (Dragaera)

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  1,663 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
Back in print after a decade, Brokedown Palace is a stand-alone fantasy in the world of Steven Brust's bestselling Vlad Taltos novels.

Once upon a time…far to the East of the Dragaeran Empire, four brothers ruled in Fenario:

King Laszlo, a good man—though perhaps a little mad; Prince Andor, a clever man—though perhaps a little shallow; Prince Vilmos, a strong man—though perh
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Orb Books (first published 1985)
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Oct 21, 2013 Bookwraiths rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews
Brokedown Palace is a fantasy fable, as told by Stephen Brust.

The tale itself is set in the Dragaeran world of Vlad Taltos in the human (Easterner) kingdom of Fenario, which borders the land of Faerie (Dragaera). Legend tells that mighty Fenarr established the land and brought it peace by riding a Taltos horse (talking horse) across the mountains into Faerie, where he took up the magic sword Allam, and forced the lords of Faerie to swear to leave his peo
Nov 04, 2009 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Beyond Reality November 2009 Fantasy Selection
Synopsis : A stand-alone fantasy set in the world of Steven Brust's bestselling "Vlad Taltos" novels. Once upon a time . . . far to the East of the Dragaeran Empire, four brothers ruled in Fenario: King Laszlo, a good man — though perhaps a little mad; Prince Andor, a clever man — though perhaps a little shallow; Prince Vilmos, a strong man — though perhaps a little stupid; and Prince Miklos, the youngest brother, perhaps a little — no, a lot-stubborn. Once upon a time . . . there were four bro ...more
[Name Redacted]
Jun 26, 2013 [Name Redacted] rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, sci-fantasy
I first picked this book up because it had cover art by Alan Lee, and at the age of 13 (as today) I was an avid fan of Lee's work. What is more, I somehow managed to read the entire thing, enjoy it thoroughly, and NEVER CONNECT IT WITH BRUST'S "VLAD TALTOS" SERIES. Despite the fact that it mentions animals specific to the world in which that series was set. Despite the fact that I was already a fan of Brust's work. DESPITE THE FACT THAT I HAD JUST READ THE FIRST SIX BOOKS IN HIS "VLAD TALTOS" SE ...more
Nov 18, 2009 Kathi rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 09, 2008 Jack rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Possibly my favorite Brust novel, it's a curious little work set in the same world as the Vlad Taltos series, albeit with no obvious connection other than geography. This takes place in Fenario, a small kingdom in the East. King Lazslo has three brothers and the crumbling palace of the title, and the book revolves, as these so often do, around the future of the kingdom. Where it differs from most palace intrigue novels is that there is no villain. None of the brothers is inflamed with hatred aga ...more
May 21, 2015 Wm rated it really liked it
I like the way that the characters/setting didn't always react in the way that a fantasy reader would expect. Part of that is due to the novel being an allegory, but I think it outgrows the allegorical-ness and turns into something a bit more interesting and strange while still very familiar -- a fairytale-ish, family drama-ish, high fantasy-ish, allegorical-ish kind of thing.
Tim Hicks
Dec 19, 2014 Tim Hicks rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I'll skip the plot summary since Wendell Adams has written a 449-word one earlier (!)

I hadn't heard of this book as I plowed my way through the entire Vlad Taltos and Phoenix Guards series.
This one was written in 1985, after Jhereg and Yendi. Brust was 30 then.

It's set in Dragaera but the overlap is limited to occasional mentions of jheregs and an appearance by the/a Demon Goddess.

But the style is unmistakably Brust - slightly arch, a bit cynical, with the occasional formal burst and quite a
Sep 01, 2009 Emma rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fifantasy
I'm not sure how to rate this book because I came away from it quite confused about what actually happened. I feel like a lot of it went over my head, so it'd be interesting to read a wikipedia article (or something similar) written by someone who actually understood it. For example, who is Miklos' daughter supposed to be? Minor point, I know, but presumably there's some allusion I'm missing there...
Jan 21, 2016 Blake rated it it was amazing
loved the cover art. the story it self was tremendous my favorite character being Vilmos. a little disappointed with the ending of the book didn't go quite as I had expected. But I can definitely see myself rereading this book at some point.
Jan 16, 2009 Chy rated it really liked it
Short Summation

This is the tale of four brothers, the oldest of whom is the King of Fenario, and they are in the last days of their crumbling 400-year-old castle. The king refuses to acknowledge that it’s crumbling, even as stairwells and walls collapse. The others struggle in one way or another to back him up, make him see truth, or do what they can to keep the walls from collapsing another day. And the whole time, something is growing in the youngest prince’s room. Something that is special.
Sep 03, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it
Brust is best known for his Vlad Taltos series. This takes place in the fully human part of same world across the mountains & is written as a fairy tale. Reminded me a bit of Patricia A. McKillip's style in the The Riddle-Master of Hed or Ursula K. Le Guin's in A Wizard of Earthsea. There is more unexplainable magic, something I usually don't care for, but it really worked well. The characters were great - all of them. I'd explain that last more, but it would be a spoiler.
Frank Vasquez
Feb 04, 2015 Frank Vasquez rated it it was amazing
"Point? I don't know, my Prince. Maybe, within this story, there is a prophecy of the tale of your own life. Maybe more. Maybe the point is the futility of all human endeavor. Maybe it is the triumph of justice, whatever the cost. The point? I don't know. You wanted to hear a story so I told you a story. Ask yourself the point. If you were entertained, that is enough for me."

What a brilliantly-written novel. Burst is on poin here. Each character is crafted finely, and you can really get a feel f
Dec 30, 2009 April rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Damn, damn and dammit. This book was over way too soon. Started it yesterday and finished it this morning. I even went so far as to make myself get up and get a new cup of coffee at the end of each chapter. I think this is my favorite book of the year! Whimsical, magical, heartbreaking and joyful I am sitting her contemplating picking the book up again and re-reading it.

I fell in love with each of the characters, I fell in love with the palace, both old and new, I fell in love with the land its
Daryl Nash
Dec 29, 2009 Daryl Nash rated it liked it
Prior to my planned re-reading of the Vlad Taltos series and reading of the Khaavren romances next year, I thought I'd get my feet wet with a book that has sat on my shelves unread for nearly twenty years. What a strange little book. It's like a fairy tale through the lens of Dragaeran mythology. Knowing Brust's political leanings, it's hard not to see this as sort of a Marxist fable, but the pieces don't line up just right, so perhaps I'm missing something and the Hungarian (and Greatful Dead!) ...more
May 25, 2016 Jinjifore rated it it was amazing
This was the first book by Steven Brust that I read, and it's still one of my favorites. I loved the disjointed, almost dreamy style of the narrative, and loved the characters and the way they interacted with each other, mostly based on how they regarded the old castle. I really enjoy stories where the characters come into conflict not because they are "bad" or "evil," but because they simply have different motivations, motivations that aren't necessarily in themselves wrong or misguided.
There are few fantasists who can create characters and places as fully realized as Stephen Brust. Set in the same world as his "Vlad Taltos" cycle, this novel has all new characters and as such may be read without knowing the other books. I found this to be one of the most fantastical and lyrical of Brust's novels. It reads very much like a fairy tale with underlying themes of familial relationships, the need to abandon old ways, resistance to change, and of course, that touchstone of many a fan ...more
Kat Zantow
Nov 01, 2011 Kat Zantow rated it liked it
Oh, I just glanced at my recently read list and I saw this.

It was startling. I had completely forgotten about what, a month? Though most of Brust is win, this book was strikingly not memorable. I think it has something to do with the lack of conflict excepting building vs. tree, and different interpretations of conversations with horses.
Jan 12, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-adult
Brokedown Palace is told in the style of a fairytale; filled with a fantastical setting, miracle-like magic, and several lessons strapped to its themes.

Amongst this are four brothers who live in a palace that is rotting away from age, neglect, and a strange plant growing within. Like their home, the relationships between these siblings is also getting strained, as each is vastly different from one another. Chapters are devoted to each character, which gives various perspectives into events and
Feb 11, 2016 Joy rated it really liked it
This is the fun and quirky Brust I love, not that pseudo-intellectual experiment I just waded through: Freedom and Necessity. Here are fable like, tall tales as interludes within a story that is loosely connected to the Vlad Taltos world. Humans are the main players in this plot; a Wizard, a Captain of Guard with a grudge, three Princes and the oldest brother, a mad King, in an ancient palace in serious disrepair. As you read you will catch the analogies about life and purpose but all contained ...more
Rachel Schieffelbein
I'm going to reread this before I rate it. But I do remember really enjoying it.
Kelly Moran
Mar 03, 2008 Kelly Moran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this very powerful. The movie was good too, but the book was better.
Jason M Waltz
Aug 19, 2016 Jason M Waltz rated it it was ok
an odd little book. felt like it was trying oh so very hard to deliver a message, but it kept getting in its own way diluting its importance. 'quaint' keeps coming to mind as I try to describe it. murder attempts, magical shenanigans, fairy tales, fairies, swords and demons and goddesses and deaths. My favorite: taltos horses, I love them, and he lived up to specs. nothing compelling to speak of, or share, or recommend. I see a lot of 5-star reviews, so obviously this story was not meant for me. ...more
Aug 12, 2015 Eskana rated it really liked it
This story centers on four brothers, the oldest of whom, Laszlo, is the ruler of the kingdom of Fenario, a fantasy kingdom right across the mountains from Faerie. Mostly the story is about the youngest brother Miklos, but all the brother's POVs are used from time to time, letting you get to know them. At the beginning of the story, Miklos has been horribly beaten by his older brother (not a typical happening, fyi), although we don't quite know why, and he runs away for two years to Faerie. The s ...more
Kristi Cramer
Jul 23, 2013 Kristi Cramer rated it really liked it
It had been a while since I read Steven, and it took a while to get back into his writing style.

However, his dry humor and understated narrative works for me, as long as I work to follow it.

I found Brokedown Palace to be rather dark and a little less funny that some of his other work. I am also still confused about Brigitta. Possibly because I took about a two month break right in the middle of reading.

That being said, I still very much enjoyed this story. I loved the interactions between the
Noah Stacy
Mar 08, 2014 Noah Stacy rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy, dragaera
Well, here we have Stephen Brust's first dip into the other bit of Dragaera--the East, where humans live. In particular, Fenario, which is basically Hungary. That said, you don't really learn so very much about Fenario here. First up, this is a bit of a fable, or fairy tale, rather than a straight narrative of fictional events. (Also, it's apparently a Marxist allegory on top of that. Brust is not at his most charming when he is dragging Marxism into the books; in this case, at least, he isn't a ...more
Feb 12, 2013 Featherglass rated it it was ok
Apparently the title of the book was inspired by a song of the same name by The Grateful Dead, other than that, there isn't much of a link.

As fantasy stories go, it started off promisingly with a Note on Fenarian Pronunciation, which is a copy of Hungarian phonetics. I was expecting to almost pick up a new language like many of us picked up Elvish when we gobbled up the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings. But Steven Brust is no Tolkien, and the world he wrought in Brokedown Palace is no Middle Ea
Mattathias Westwood
Steven Brust is pretty good at writing fairy tales-- in fact, he's one of the few modern writers who I think really captures the sensibility and feel of traditional folk tales. And this makes the interludes in this book, which are Fenarian fairy tales, quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, this doesn't carry over into the main narrative, which is boring as all get out. As other reviews have noted, it's a Marxist parable with little to no characterization or plot. Everyone sits around while a tree grow ...more
Alan Edwards
Sep 19, 2011 Alan Edwards rated it really liked it
One thing I really enjoy is Steven Brust's ability to write novels in the same fantasy world that have completely different tones and writing styles, depending on the subject. His Vlad books are noir, his Khaavren series echoes Dumas so well I half-suspect that Brust is actually possessed by the Frenchman's ghost. Brokedown Palace is written like an old-school fairy tale, with interludes of other fairy-tale stories often thrown in between chapters. I had trouble getting into the story, put it do ...more
J.B. Rockwell
Apr 01, 2016 J.B. Rockwell rated it really liked it
Great fantasy with beautiful imagery. The crumbling, wandering palace makes a great backdrop for this bittersweet story that reads like a fairy tale. Highly recommend. One to keep and read over and over again.
Nov 19, 2014 Joel rated it really liked it
Brokedown Palace was a satisfying fairy tale with a pleasing dash of originality. It didn't take long to see where the plot was headed, but I thoroughly enjoyed the route Brust took to get there.
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Steven Karl Zoltán Brust (born November 23, 1955) is an American fantasy and science fiction author of Hungarian descent. He was a member of the writers' group The Scribblies, which included Emma Bull, Pamela Dean, Will Shetterly, Nate Bucklin, Kara Dalkey, and Patricia Wrede, and also belongs to the Pre-Joycean Fellowship.

(Photo by David Dyer-Bennet)
More about Steven Brust...

Other Books in the Series

Dragaera (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • Jhereg (Vlad Taltos, #1)
  • Yendi (Vlad Taltos, #2)
  • Teckla (Vlad Taltos, #3)
  • Taltos (Vlad Taltos, #4)
  • Phoenix (Vlad Taltos, #5)
  • Athyra (Vlad Taltos, #6)
  • Orca (Vlad Taltos, #7)
  • Dragon (Vlad Taltos, #8)
  • Issola (Vlad Taltos, #9)
  • Dzur (Vlad Taltos, #10)

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