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The Phoenix Guards (The Khaavren Romances #1)

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,041 Ratings  ·  166 Reviews
A thousand years before the birth of Vlad Taltos, the Dragaeran Empire is a hotbed of intrigue, sorcery, intrigue, swashbuckling adventure, and intrigue. For those who would be heroes, it is a delightful time to be alive--and an easy place to die.

Khaavren of the House of Tiassa is a son of landless nobility, possessor of a good sword and "tolerably well acquainted with its
Paperback, 491 pages
Published June 15th 1992 by Tor Books (first published 1991)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 11, 2013 Carol. rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of epic fantasy, comrades-in-arms
Recommended to Carol. by: me. Good job, me!
Swashbuckling adventure! Sinister plots against the Empire! Will good friends, honor and friendliness prevail?

In all reviewer honesty, I've had this book for a number of years now (fine; since I bought the paperback release in 1992. Yes, Grasshopper, I'm that old) and have re-read it more than a few times since. I'm re-reading it now with Fantasy Aficionados, so it's time to trumpet its virtues.

Apparently in the style of The Three Musketeers (which I have not read), Brust goes one better by sett
Oct 27, 2015 Bookwraiths rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths.

Steven Brust is an unabashed fan of Alexander Dumas, and The Phoenix Guards is his attempt to both emulate and exceed the swashbuckling master of such classics as The Man in the Iron Mask and Count of Monte Cristo. And if one begins this work understanding that this tale is a simulacrum of The Three Musketeers, then you shall have a far better chance of enjoying the book.

Like Dumas, Brust opens this work by stating that it is based upon a manuscript by another
Apr 09, 2015 Lynn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comedy, fantasy
"Good day, my friend. Has your day been a pleasant one?"

"In truth, it has. I have finished reading a unique book."

"How, unique?"

"It is unlike any other book I've read in quite some time."

"Really. And what did you think of this book?"

"Well, I will tell you."

"Please do."

"In truth, I will. It has both tales of action and many conversations."

"Those things do not make a book unique."

"No, but the action is exciting, with many duels and plots of intrigue. The conversations--"


"They are not unlike
Elijah Kinch Spector
Well, that was good stuff.

Steven Brust's extremely specific ode to The Three Musketeers dances very close to the line of taking its gimmick too far many times, but never quite crosses it. What we get, therefore, is an extremely fun, in which the characters are familiar and likable, but not straight-up derivative, and in which the flowery language and verbose descriptions help to set the scene at the beginning of many chapters, but thankfully peter off soon after, letting the reader enjoy the eve
Mornblade Keltoislave
Sep 13, 2010 Mornblade Keltoislave rated it it was ok
While I am a fan of Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series, I wasn't as happy with this book.
"Why is that?"
I will tell you.
"I hope you do."
I certainly will.
"Then please continue."
Thank you, I will.
"You are welcome."
So it is this, then... Steven Brust wrote this in hopes of creating something of his own in a style similar to that of Alexandre Dumas ("The Three Musketeers", "Count of Monte Cristo"). And he did a good job at that. But the book comes off as unnecessarily wordy, with lots of annoying int
Feb 26, 2009 Amanda rated it did not like it
I tried to read this book because I love the Vlad Taltos series by this author, but I just could not get through it. He changed his writing style to be very High-Victorian-England style of proper english and grammar, but to me, it's just dry. It's so hard to get through the words that all of the action and humor is completely lost to me. I was sad, because I think the story idea is great one and I was really excited about this book! Now I'm just mad.
Tim Hicks
Jul 30, 2015 Tim Hicks rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I read and enjoyed this book years ago. Recently I re-read Dumas' The Three Musketeers and enjoyed it greatly, and of course I was reminded of this book. What a hoot!

It's hard enough to write a tribute in the style of another author. It's harder to set in a complex existing world, even if you are the creator of that world. To also include a moderately complex plot that resolves very neatly makes it quite an achievement.

If this is the first book you've ever read that's in the ruffles-and-flouri
Aug 09, 2010 Linda rated it did not like it
UGH. This book does not deserve any stars. I devoutly hope that his writing improved *GREATLY* after this story considering how many books he has published. I didn't get past the first few chapters. Not only was the writing stilted and flat, it was like reading a gaming session and a bad one at that. The MC arrives in town, goes to a bar. Forms an immediate connection with two other people after exchanging a sentence or two of conversation. At the end of the last chapter I read, they head off in ...more
Lee Dunning
Feb 22, 2015 Lee Dunning rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before I get started on my review, allow me to make one thing clear—do not read this book simply based on my liking it. You could very well hate it. It is one of the few books I've read which has such a polarizing effect on those who pick it up. It is written in a specific style no longer utilized by modern writers and as such turns a lot of folks off. Read an excerpt if you can. You'll quickly discover if you find the writing entertaining or annoying.

"The Phoenix Guards" is not a new book, but
Sep 14, 2012 Chy rated it it was amazing
Well, it is amazing.

Some years back, I came into possession, quite by accident, of The Paths of the Dead. I'm still somewhat confused (but not seeking any answer) about how that book falls in with this specific series. I know it's included, always, as a "part" of The Viscount of Adrilankha. But, in all areas, I have deduced that this book is the first in the series, and since that's what I've just read, I shall endeavor to stick to this.

It's been years since I've read Dumas, and I've never read
Oct 11, 2012 Dawn rated it it was amazing
Join the Guard! Make new friends! Stumble on to Political Schemes! Have your life threatened! Find love! Experience Betrayal! All while experiencing the roundabout, verbose, inventive prose!

This book is a treat to anyone with a language fetish. Brust was bemoaning the fact that there were no authors in modern times who wrote as Dumas did. And so, he decided to write a version of the Three Musketeers in the style of Dumas, but in his own world of Dragera. This is a fun adventure involving swords,
Ewa Manek
Dec 12, 2007 Ewa Manek rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who appreciate a pastiche
Shelves: fantasy
When I first read this book, I was braced for something of an unpleasant slog, as that is what I had been given to expect from certain reviews that I read. What I got, instead, was a highly enjoyable read that pokes fun at the writing style that it purportedly emulates. I have heard many people complain about the repetitiveness of certain turns of phrase, but, for me, it was all part and parcel of the book's "mission" as it were.
I enjoyed both The Phoenix Guards and its sequel Five Hundred Year
Feb 09, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: epic-fantasy, 2015
This book was wonderful! It is a very direct homage to Dumas and his D'Artagnan Romances, and done in a very... long style. It seems to take pages for anything to get said, and the briefer the writer says he will be, the longer it takes to say anything. The action is written quite nicely, and there are many parts that are really funny.

It took me a little while to read this, as other books grabbed my attention. I hope to read the other books of the Khaavren Romances in fairly short order.
Daryl Nash
Apr 23, 2010 Daryl Nash rated it really liked it
Good thing I re-read it, because even though it's only (!) been seven years, I barely remembered any of the story. The style, which is much more memorable, is at once charming and annoying. The humor begins to fade after the hundredth interchange thus: "Tell me." "Would you have me tell you?" "Verily, I have waited two hours for nothing less." "Then in two words I will tell you." "I await your exposition." I couldn't help but imagine Brust chuckling while he wrote it. Why this book wins is that ...more
John Mitton
Dec 13, 2015 John Mitton rated it it was amazing
Fun Book. Brust is always interesting, and while the writing style is intentionally convoluted, you just have to roll with it. As I'm sure you've run across elsewhere, it's both a spoof of Dumas and a tribute to the author as well. One thing that is not well explained are the 'houses' - if you are a first time reader, it may not make a lot of sense. Each of 17 houses is represented by a creature, and there are deeper reasons for this that you find out as you read the Taltos series; which is a pl ...more
Eric Barnitt
Dec 09, 2015 Eric Barnitt rated it it was amazing
This is absolutely one of my favorite fantasy novels. It's one which I've picked up and read (and re-read) a number of times over the years. My sister happened to pick this up as a Christmas gift a number of years ago, and I fell in love with it. What I enjoy most about the book is that it's just so much fun to read. Some people might be turned off by the style of writing and narration, but I liked it. It was silly and forced, but that always seemed like part of the charm to me. The characters, ...more
Erik Dessureault
Beautifully crafted hommage to Dumas. I almost want to use the word pastiche, but unfortunately that word has taken on a negative connotation that isn't in the original meaning. Young man fresh from the country, noble but poor, comes to the big city to make his fortune, falls in with a trio of older, arguable wiser, adventure-seekers, and together they uncover a nefarious plot and save the kingdom from disaster. Sounds familiar? In the hands of Brust, the familiar tropes of The Three Musketeers ...more
Ignacio Senao f
Sep 10, 2014 Ignacio Senao f rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Uno que es un espabilado va en busca de aventura y unirse a la guardia, por el camino encontraran cual más personaje (la palabra en el sentido de payaso (payaso en el sentido de cómico)) que nos hará sus aventuras muy amenas. Hay distinto tipos de razas, que le da unos atributos especiales a cada una de ellas (son seres humanos pero con rasgos y personalidad propensa a su raza) Se pondrán un objetivo este pintoresco grupo, y para llegar a su meta le sucederán unas muy graciosas situaciones, que ...more
Ginger K
Jul 26, 2007 Ginger K rated it really liked it
The first time I picked up this book, I was expecting something similar to Brust's Taltos series, so I couldn't get into it. The second time, through sheer serendipity, I checked it out along with The Three Musketeers which I re-read first. That time, I got it: The Phoenix Guards brilliantly, lovingly parodies The Three Musketeers, right down to the long-winded and slightly pretentious narrator.
Jan 23, 2015 Elsi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes place in Dragaera as do the Vlad Taltos books from Brust.
As that series is one of my favourites I always knew that I was going to read the Khaavren Romances too.

If you are, as I am, also interested in the background of Dragaera, I can recommend the book to you. You will learn a lot of Dragaera before the Interregnum and that from a "Human's" point of view.
This book is probably also a good book for you, if you loved Dumas and are a fan of his writing.

Without wanting to spoil the
Victoria Goddard
Apr 22, 2015 Victoria Goddard rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favourite books; I just finished re-reading it for at least the fifth or sixth time. I have to admit I must be in the right mood for the style, but when I am ... well, I love the characters (and the moment where they have the discussion with Crionofenarr about armies ... well, I don't want to give any spoilers, but it is a superb moment) and the witty banter and, well, the fact that it is kind of a fantasy Three Musketeers.

I have enjoyed Steven Brust's other books, but this is
Jul 22, 2014 Brittany rated it liked it
I keep trying to read this book, because it sounds like something I'd really like. But I've started it four times now, and each time it puts me to sleep. Literally. I'm getting really good sleep, but it's not an auspicious beginning. I'll try again later.
The Idle Woman
Young Khaavren is a gentleman, a Tiassa, who has neither land nor titles but who dreams of making a glorious name for himself in the service of the Empire. Heading to the city in order to join the Emperor's elite force of Phoenix Guards, he falls into company with three similarly ambitious young people: a proud, belligerent Dzur named Tazendra; a discreet, contemplative Lyorn called Aerich; and an elegant, chivalrous Yendi called Pel. When these four are sworn into the Red Boot Battalion of the ...more
I just got this in the mail! So excited.
I can appreciate that the author went for a particular style and stuck with it throughout the entire brick of a novel, but I can't say that it worked well for me personally.

Now, I love Dumas' original "The Three Musketeers" and its sequels, but even the original started frustrating me halfway through the Vicomte de Bragelonne with its wordiness and meandering, so I don't get that excited about pastiches of Dumas' work that insist on copying the extremely verbose style.

I'd even go so far as to
The Phoenix Guards is set a thousand years before the events of Jhereg and is a pastiche of Dumas’s The Three Musketeers. Four noble friends join the Phoenix Guards and become caught up in ongoing plots and conspiracies of the court.

The Phoenix Guards is written with a framing device where it is the account of a historian living sometime after the setting of the story. The style also adheres to Dumas, and it seemed similar to what I remember from reading The Count of Monte Cristo. However, I do
Oct 01, 2012 Dementropy rated it really liked it
Thus far, I am enjoying the writing style. Certainly those familiar with Alexandre Dumas will appreciate the heroics, downright haughtiness of some characters, and the way Brust plays with words like a mad scientist. If the tales of the Musketeers were placed in a high fantasy setting (not that their actions and renown don't do that themselves), the result would be The Phoenix Guards.

Yet, as I've been reading and discussing this books (in fact, the entire series of which this is but one part), I
Dec 06, 2011 Ensiform rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This swashbuckling fantasy is a delightful pastiche of The Three Musketeers, a loving tribute to Dumas' era of romance. Brust succeeds, amazingly, in capturing the atmosphere, the Dumas style, and the four characters in thinly disguised form (Porthos is a female!); but far more admirable, he manages to contrive a convoluted, original plot that reveals itself in tantalizing fits and starts which would make the master proud. At the same time, his detailed world and the mannerisms of the characters ...more
Jul 28, 2013 Sara rated it liked it
Shelves: f, hum
The Phoenix Guards is homage to The Three Musketeers. I think, if I had been familiar with the book, or even if I had known, going in, that it was written in homage, I might have enjoyed TPG a bit more. As it was, it took me a while to get in on the joke.

Don't get me wrong--it is hilariously written. I often found myself laughing quite unexpectedly. (Who knew that a pedantic paragraph about how a particular ford got its name could be so silly? Or that being unable to keep oneself from wondering-
Clay Kallam
May 08, 2009 Clay Kallam rated it really liked it
“The Phoenix Guards” (Orb, $14.95, 330 pages) is at the other end of the fantasy spectrum from the bloody works that dominate shelves today, as it is light, basically blood-free and focuses on fun rather than dismal visions of the future. This is also the first of Steven Brust’s five-volume Khaavren Romances, which have a direct stylistic connection to Alexander Dumas, who was paid by the word and thus extended conversations, which Brust does in a relatively amusing manner. (I try to stick to r ...more
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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

The Khaavren Romances (5 books)
  • Five Hundred Years After (Khaavren Romances, #2)
  • The Paths of the Dead (Khaavren Romances, #3: The Viscount of Adrilankha, #1)
  • The Lord of Castle Black  (Khaavren Romances, #3: The Viscount of Adrilankha, #2)
  • Sethra Lavode (Khaavren Romances, #3: The Viscount of Adrilankha, #3)

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“The others followed, and found themselves in a small, stuffy basement, which would have been damp, smelly, close, and dark, were it not, in fact, well-lit, which prevented it from being dark.” 11 likes
“Chapter the Eleventh: In Which the Plot, Behaving in Much the Manner Of a Soup to which Corn Starch Has been Added, Begins, at Last, to Thicken.” 4 likes
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