**spoiler alert** Call it a 3.5. It's the second book in Brust's Vlad Taltos series, which I'm going to take a stab at describing as Sherlock Holmes-e**spoiler alert** Call it a 3.5. It's the second book in Brust's Vlad Taltos series, which I'm going to take a stab at describing as Sherlock Holmes-esque stories featuring gangsters and set in a fantasy world with magic and fantasy races and such. In particular, in an atypical move for a fantasy series, Yendi takes place at an earlier point in Taltos' history than the first book in the series, at an earlier point in his career as a minor crime boss. The Taltos series is odd--well, it's odd for a lot of reasons, but for the moment, I'd like to talk about Taltos himself. Vlad's an assassin and a criminal, but Brust manages to make him sympathetic. Part of that is, in this story at least, he's clearly the one reacting to someone else's aggression; it also takes some of the sting out of being an assassin figure when Brust sets up that this is a world where resurrection magic is generally common. That makes death more of a strongly worded complaint than the end of a situation. Finally, we don't actually see him shaking up people for protection money or so forth very often; generally, he's just trying to unravel why and how people are trying to kill him.
In this particular case, there's a man named Laris who's attempting to usurp Vlad's territory in their mutual crime syndicate, and preferably do so over Vlad's dead body. The means to accomplish the latter becomes clear when Vlad is attacked by a string of assassins, the first of which being a pair that includes the human Cawti--which readers of the first book will remember as Vlad's eventual wife. Some revelations emerge about Cawti's partner, and Vlad begins to suspect Laris' backer may have a different goal than he originally imagined. The confrontation with Laris is actually quite anticlimactic when it happens; for Brust, the point of the book is more Vlad's pursuit of the solution to the strange array of facts he's been presented with. There are also a number of the usual nice Brust touches that elevate the book beyond just a whodunnit with dragons. Vlad is noticeably shaken at several points by the attempts on his life, which is nice; too often, death becomes something blaze in fantasy, and to take a moment to step back humanizes Vlad quite a bit. He also gets a nice speech in on racism in the Empire, on what it means to grow up among people who think you're a mindless savage--nothing particularly new, but worth reminding the reader, since Vlad spends so much time with friends who treat him as an exception. And the relationship with Cawti is very interesting. It's almost comically speedy, but Brust makes it believable, within the confines of the storyworld he's set up. There's nothing quite as memorable as the description of what it's like to have a knife at your throat that opened the first book, but it's a good read, all the same....more
One part Peanuts, one part Daria, one part X-Men, one part Hogwarts. SuperMutant Magic Academy is a collection of one page strips that flesh out intoOne part Peanuts, one part Daria, one part X-Men, one part Hogwarts. SuperMutant Magic Academy is a collection of one page strips that flesh out into a longer story of prom at the book's end. Tamaki's sketched out a whole little world for her cast of a dozen or so superpowers teenagers. She does a great job capturing their fragile optimism alongside a teenager's angst-ridden ennui and scepticism.
Also, my favourite strip is the two jocks who joke that reading Dorian Gray will make them gay, proceed to read it and fall in love, raise a family, and pass away quietly with each other after long, fulfilling lives....more