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Brokedown Palace


3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,925 ratings  ·  95 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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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  1,925 ratings  ·  95 reviews

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Aug 31, 2013 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
Oct 01, 2009 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 b ...more
[Name Redacted]
Jun 26, 2013 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
Dec 09, 2008 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
Frank Vasquez
Jan 29, 2015 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
May 05, 2015 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. ...more
May 17, 2015 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. ...more
Dec 29, 2009 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
Mar 02, 2011 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. ...more
Jan 16, 2009 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.
Nov 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 19, 2007 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. ...more
Aug 22, 2009 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... ...more
William Leight
Dec 11, 2017 rated it liked it
“Brokedown Palace” is part of Brust’s Vlad Taltos series, though it’s far from clear whether it has a significant connection to the central storyline or is more of a standalone story in the same universe. It’s also clearly inspired in some way by the Grateful Dead song. And, finally, and unfortunately, I’m pretty sure, after my latest reread, that it’s a political parable: a Marxist one, to be precise, since Brust is a lifelong Communist, of the Trotskyist persuasion. (Interestingly, when Brust ...more
Feb 18, 2014 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
Michael T Bradley
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I noticed there was like a 4-year gap in the Taltos novels and was curious to see what the other stuff Brust produced in that timeframe was like. So I checked out Brokedown Palace, and was not disappointed. The style is so ... breezy, and conversational (the interludes are nothing but random characters telling us myths/legends), it's amazing that a story even emerges. It reminds me heavily of the Doctor Who New Adventures style: It might not succeed consistently, but it isn't afraid to take risk ...more
Tim Hicks
Dec 19, 2014 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
Kristi Cramer
Apr 06, 2013 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
Jan 12, 2014 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
Jan 16, 2016 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
Daryl Nash
Dec 23, 2009 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
Alan Edwards
May 12, 2010 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
Anne K.
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
A great stand alone book taking place in the world of Taltos. You maybe don't need to read any of the other books that take place in this world to read this one but it definitely fleshes it out.

I really liked this, which is evidenced in my reading it straight through and not putting it down until I was finished. I especially loved the dynamics of the brothers. Siblings, I myself have four, can have such complicated relationships. I also liked the sense you got of this crumbling decaying castle
Dev Null
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, faerie-tale
Brust always does an amazing job of adopting styles in his writing. This time he does an excellent imitation of something like one of Grimm's faerie tales, with maybe a touch of 1001 Nights... but set in his own fantasy world (which will be familiar to readers of his Taltos books, but you don't need to have read those to understand and enjoy this.)

I liked this rather a lot. The plot is a little twisty, and even at the end you're never quite sure exactly what happened and why, but it has some int
Jeremy Preacher
Apr 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Brokedown Palace combines my two favorite things about Brust's writing (other than Dumas pastiche) - Hungarian fables and Dragaera. The only reason it took me so long to get to it was that I was under the totally mistaken impression that it must be somehow related to the Claire Danes/Kate Beckinsdale movie of the same name.

It's an odd little book, and raises more questions than it answers in terms of the Dragaera mythos, but it's definitely worth reading.
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I decided to pick this one up after finishing The Khaavren Romances. It's set in the same universe as the Dragaeran stories, but set entirely in the East. Miklos is the youngest of four brothers, and his eldest brother is the King of Fenario. The Palace is falling apart, and the Demon Goddess Verra tells him that the only way to save the Palace is to kill or drive away Miklos. Things do not go according to plan. ...more
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I love how different parts of the Dragaeran universe are written in different styles, yet all hold together. This one is done like a fairy tale, which makes it seem like ancient history with its own myths tossed in, but certain hints suggest that it may be tied to the Vlad Taltos novels more closely than it first appears. It's an odd, dreamlike book, but very good with characters that could have easily been flat fairytale figures... and yet aren't. It's weird. Go read it. ...more
Jul 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of very few fantasy books that I read in high school that has stood up to repeated re-readings as an adult. Brust turns a mostly dysfunctional family dynamic into a mythic story of redemption and rebirth. His characters are so compelling, you can see exactly where their decisions will take them, all the while hoping and rooting for them to do something different. Every time you read it!
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Brokedown Palace was my first exposure to Steven Brust. I don't know that it was necessarily the best place to start (some story elements weren't really explained; I can only assume they were covered in previous books), but the story itself was very interesting. I'm definitely interested in exploring his Vlad Taltos books. ...more
Kat Zantow
Sep 17, 2011 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.
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Cyborg Knights: February 2017 Fantasy Selection: Brokedown Palace 1 3 Mar 09, 2018 03:52PM  

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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)

Other books in the series

Dragaera (1 - 10 of 22 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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