Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Paths of the Dead (Khaavren Romances, #3: The Viscount of Adrilankha, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Paths of the Dead (Khaavren Romances, #3: The Viscount of Adrilankha, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Paths of the Dead

(The Khaavren Romances #3.1)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  2,650 ratings  ·  52 reviews
The Paths of the Dead is Steven Brust's long-awaited sequel to The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years After.

Two hundred years after Adron's Disaster, in which Dragaera City was accidentally reduced to an ocean of chaos by an experiment in wizardry gone wrong, the Empire isn't what it used to be. Deprived at a single blow of their Emperor, of the Orb that is the focus of
Paperback, 448 pages
Published August 18th 2003 by Tor Fantasy (first published 2002)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Paths of the Dead, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Paths of the Dead

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,650 ratings  ·  52 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Paths of the Dead (Khaavren Romances, #3: The Viscount of Adrilankha, #1)
Melissa McShane
Jul 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, fantasy, epic-fantasy
I'm torn about how to rate this one. It really is the first volume of a longer work, and ends rather abruptly, so I feel like I'd rate the overall story higher than each of its parts. So four stars makes sense, but it doesn't account for so much of what I love about the book.

For one thing, Khaavren isn't the central character anymore; that's his son Piro, the titular Viscount of Adrilankha. Khaavren has fallen on hard times after what he perceives as his failure to protect the Phoenix Emperor fr
Feb 04, 2009 rated it did not like it
This book is an overblown, wordy wasteland. Nothing happens except that characters are introduced and travel around a lot. The writing is self-indulgent and the characters bland. There are about three chapters of good material here, and the rest should have been slashed. When I gave this book to my husband, I circled the handful of pertinent passages and told him, “Just read these, then skip to the next book.” I wish someone had done the same for me.
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Rich by: I did
This book, and for that matter the entire series, has elicited a wide range of critical responses, many of which, it startles me to say, included commentary that can be most accurately summarized as describing the book as too wordy. My counter to this line of thought is this: I disagree.

Now that this issue has finally been laid to rest, I'd like to point out that the series is fun and that the reason Señor Burst has used this type of flowery language is that he's trying (successfully) to evoke
Clay Kallam
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Orb is re-releasing the final three books of the Khaavren Romances by one of my favorite authors, Steven Brust. “The Paths of the Dead” (Orb, $15.99, 399 pages) and “The Lord of Castle Black” (Orb, $17.99, 397 pages) continue the saga of a fantasy world that’s, yes, pre-industrial and has magic, but Brust’s style is completely at odds with the 21st century emphasis on gritty realism, suffering and negativity.

In fact, Brust harkens back to the work of Victor Hugo, which proceeded at a most delibe
I can't swear I finished it. I loved the first two books of the Khaavren series, especially the second (enough to re-read it, which was rare for me to do with fantasy by the mid 1990s). But I remember almost nothing about this sequel other than finding it dense and dull. In a way, this is appropriate. Steven Brust's series is an homage to The D'Artagnan Romances by Alexandre Dumas. The corresponding volume, The Vicomte of Bragelonne, was dense and dull too. Dumas did redeem his series with a str ...more
***Dave Hill
Dec 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: text
(REREAD) The weakest of the Khaavren Romances, largely because it is a time lacking in (for the moment) adventure, a Dragaeran world diminished by the Interregnum, and all the more mundane for all of that. The final three KR novels are, clearly, a single tale, broken up for either financial or time commitment reasons, and the ending of this volume -- which is mostly setting the stage for the next two -- is exceedingly abrupt. Still, it's fun to see the gang, even diminished and off at the far co ...more
Dec 08, 2014 rated it did not like it
A wordy "Book within a book" style bunch of facts and figures that end up going nowhere. Listened to the audiobook for close to two hours and still didn't know what was going on. ...more
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: epic-fantasy, 2015
Another amazing book in the Vlad Taltos universe. I really don't have much to say since I really liked it. ...more
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The joy of a Steven Brust novel lies in two equal parts: one, the story itself, and the other one, how the story is written.

We wrote the above statement, and already the clamoring chorus of malcontents and complainants has crescendoed. "Dare you say," they chirrup, "that we all must find joy the novels of Steven Brust? And furthermore," they warble, "that, should we find such alleged joy in his written works, that joy needs must be divided in two? Can we not," they splutter, blubber, and keen,
Feb 01, 2021 added it
Review written 2003
The Paths of the Dead (The Viscount of Adrilankha, Book 1)I've enjoyed most of what Mr. Brust has written over the years, and I'd hoped that this was another novel in the Vlad Taltos series, but it turned out to be set in an earlier period of the Dragaeran Empire. Ah, well. A few years ago, he wrote The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years After. This one could have been called 150 Years After, as it takes place that much past FHYA.

In this novel, we get to learn a lot of thin
Mar 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, swashbuckler
Part 1 of 3 down.

Some Thoughts:

I know some people can't abide the voice in these, the pretentious narrator speaking directly to the reader, I personally can't stand movies or television breaking the fourth wall, but this is very much my sense of humor.

I never did read all of The Vicomte de Bragelonne (of which The Man in the Iron Mask is but a portion) and probably wouldn't remember enough if I had to mark all the parallels, but Brust does a very good Dumas in tone at the very least.

I am wonde
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Overall this sort of style doesn't work for Burst's world. If I hadn't read other books in the series I would have no idea of what was going on. I appreciated the look at the world before Taltos, but even as a lifelong fan of Dumas it was a slog to finish, and felt like it was mostly introductions. The concept of it being a historical novel in universe does not make this more interesting either, since most of the participants are still alive by the main series, yet we learn little about them at ...more
Sep 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Since this is meant to be one work, my review is at the Sethra Lavode title.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
looking forward to the second half.
Nov 27, 2016 rated it liked it
The country has changed much since Adron's Disaster banished the Orb and collapsed the Empire. Khaavren, formerly Captain of the Phoenix Guards, has sunk into a deep depression. But his son, Piro, and others born during the Interregnum, look to the future with more hope. They long for adventure. And when Piro receives a mysterious summons, it looks like adventure has finally found him.

The first and most important thing to know about this book is that it is (as the introduction mentions briefly)
Eric Barnitt
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Paths of the Dead was the first book in this series that I didn't like. If you've read this far, you should have either accepted or learned to enjoy the style of dialogue and narration. If that overly-flowery and needlessly complex style isn't your cup of tea, I'm wagering you'll have been turned off from this series a while back.

My dislike of this particular novel is somewhat hard to pin down to a specific set of reasons. Rather, the overall conclusion based on the sum of the individual parts
This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For
The Paths of the Dead continues the Khaavren Romances series of Steven Brust. Depending on your point of view, it is either the third book of five or the first third of the third book of three. Unlike the first two books, this one definitely ends more abruptly with much of the story untold so Brust's contention that it is really just the first part of a longer book and should not be considered a book in its own right makes some sense.

The style is whatever the extreme opposite of terse is. As wit
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
This was a re-read (in preparation for Tiassa). I hate to say it, but as much as I enjoyed the Khaavren romances, I didn't enjoy this one. Somehow it fell completely flat. The Morrolan segments felt very skippable and, well, boring.

Re-read in January 2013. I'd picked up The Phoenix Guards to re-read and continued on to Five Hundred Years After, and it seemed natural to continue on to this, which is either the start of a trilogy or a three-volume novel or one novel split into three books, dependi
Jan 07, 2013 added it
Very, very frustrating. I love most of Brust's work, especially the entire Vlad Taltos series.

And both the Khaavren and Viscount series cover events earlier in the history of the same mythos that I'm very interested in.

But Brust chose to write them in the same style as Dumas and other writers of that period.

"And pray tell, what is the problem there?"

"It drives me crazy!"

"How, crazy?"

"Most certainly!"

"In what way?"

"Do you want to know?"

"I am nearly certain I do, perceive, I did just inquire."

Jan 08, 2013 rated it liked it
As I previously mentioned, the story itself is good, being a prequel to the Vlad Taltos collection where we are introduced to characters whose origins were previously unknown to us. However, the book is a somewhat bitter-sweet experience, offset by the unusual writing Brust chose to incorporate into this installment of the Khavreen Romances. As one person puts it, it is narrated "..with a distinctive voice that satirizes the flowery and verbose style of Alexandre Dumas and his contemporaries." N ...more
Stuart Lutzenhiser
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Re-reading this series straight through since the first time I read it, I read with the gaps caused by publication and a large one in the last volume since I waited until it was in paperback. I recall that each book got less enjoyable - while still good - which is understandable since the first two are *so* good - it is really not possible to write 5 books at that same level. But I'm willing to believe (at least for the time it takes me to re-read) that it was only my perception caused by the pu ...more
C is for **censored**
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tree-books
The star rating given reflects my opinion within ‘the official goodreads rating system’. (Notice the two important words... OPINION and RATING)

1 star: Didn’t Like it
2 stars: It’s Okay
3 stars: Liked it
4 stars: Really Liked it
5 stars: It Was Amazing

I don’t really give a rat-fuck that there are some who think I ‘owe’ an explanation for my opinion. Nope, nada, and not sorry about it.

Sometimes I may add notes to explain what my opinions are based on, and sometimes I don’t. I do this for me, on my boo
Jul 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, reviewed
Brust continues to spoof Dumas style, following the model of the Viscount of Bragelonne to add depth and breadth to his fictional world. In this case it works less well than usual because as it is clearly part of a bigger work rather than a book expected to stand by itself, he does little more than present some characters, set some plots in motion, and present in an overworded way the setting.

It is this overlap between verbosity and lack of resolutions what sets this book worse than others of t
Feb 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Well, I loved Dumas, so obviously I would like this homage to The Vicomte de Bragelonne. After ten years of writing in this style Brust really got it down, and these last three (or, really, a single novel in parts, like its prototype) are the best of the five.

I've been reading Brust since 1987, when my friend Sam Jones introduced me to him, while warning me that "he's not actually a good writer." It was true then, though I didn't believe it at the time; but he has become a very good writer, and
Jan 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Brust's story of how the Empire was reestablished, as told in the voice of Paarfi, the verbose and anachronistic historical novelist.

The Paarfi books are a lot of fun, and while not very much actually happens here over nearly 400 pages the reader is rarely left with the feeling of being short-changed. There is much humour, witty banter, a little derring-do and quite a few asides in which Brust makes more-or-less direct commentary on writing and the styles of other authors.

The plot also allow hi
Kat  Hooper
Sep 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Originally posted at FanLit.

The Paths of the Dead is the first book in Steven Brust’s THE VISCOUNT OF ADRILANKHA trilogy, which is a sequel to The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years. Each of these books is an installment in Brust’s KHAAVREN ROMANCES and they’re all related to his VLAD TALTOS books which, at this moment, consist of 13 novels. All of these books have just been released in audio format by Audible Frontiers. I picked up The Paths of the Dead after reading that it can stand alone.
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book picks up some two hundred years after the events of Five Hundred Years After. Khaavren and Daro have settled down in Daro's manor home, where they have raised a son named Piro. Tazendra has become a sorcerer in service to Sethra Lavode. Pel is an agent for a Dragon warlord, and Aerich isn't up to much. A summons comes the the manor, requesting that Piro come to Dzur Mountain, the home of Sethra Lavode, to undertake a mysterious mission. This mission is revealed to be the restoration of ...more
Joe Hill
Feb 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Good story, forced writing convention. The book is a good companion to the Vlad Taltos novels fleshing out the history of the Draegaran Empire. The story itself I like, but it was difficult to get past the narrator who is supposed to be a Draegaran historian. He comes across as kind of a stuffy old windbag, which I think Brust does on purpose. It's an interesting writing exercise and will appeal to folks that are turned on by different point of view writing. I wish there had been a different nar ...more
Matthew Reads Junk
Feb 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Good, but not great. It's great to see a return to these characters and I really enjoyed the style of writing. Up to a point. After about the 5th encounter of "How so, you have a question?" "I believe that I do." "And are you prepared to ask it?" "Perhaps now I am ready." "Then I am ready to hear it."
it gets a little tiresome.

Not really much happens the plot pretty much crawls along and there's very little swashbuckling that the earlier books contained. Hopefully the middle book will speed thing
Michael Coats
Aug 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"That, then, is the plan: we will have adventures, and then we'll meet girls."

If you've been reading the Khaavren Romances, you will be continuing here. If you didn't care for the first volume (and why not?), then I suppose you'll skip this.

The writing is clever and fun. The action is fast-paced and breathtaking. The characters leap of the page and command attention. Read this and enjoy it!
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Wintersteel (Cradle, #8)
  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
  • Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #2)
  • Men of Men (The Ballantyne Novels, #2)
  • Wild Cards (Wild Cards, #1)
  • A Falcon Flies (The Ballantyne Novels, #1)
  • The Master of Go
  • Ballistic (The Palladium Wars #2)
  • Very Important Corpses (Ishmael Jones, #3)
  • Accidental Honeymoon
  • Petals to the Metal  (The Adventure Zone Graphic Novels #3)
  • The Twisted Ones
  • Yellow and the Perception of Reality
  • City of Red Midnight: A Hikayat
  • Dead Man Walking (Ishmael Jones, #2)
  • Through Fiery Trials (Safehold, #10)
  • Busted Flush (Wild Cards, #19)
  • The Lily and the Crown
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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

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

News & Interviews

  Here at Goodreads, we've noticed that a funny thing tends to happen when we start talking about audiobooks: The same few titles get...
20 likes · 5 comments
“All literature consists of whatever the writer thinks is cool. The reader will like the book to the degree that he agrees with the writer about what’s cool.” 25 likes
More quotes…