Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
Verra, Vlad's patron goddess, hires him to assassinate a king whose country lies outside the Dragaeran Empire, resulting in increased tension between the two places. Meanwhile, the peasant Teckla and the human Easterners persevere in their fight for civil rights. As Vlad's wife Cawti is a firm partisan of the movement, and Vlad is not, their marriage continues to suffer, causing Vlad to make some decisions that will change his life forever.

246 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 1990

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Steven Brust

109 books2,128 followers
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)

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
2,413 (37%)
4 stars
2,803 (43%)
3 stars
1,139 (17%)
2 stars
125 (1%)
1 star
8 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 124 reviews
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,865 reviews370 followers
September 11, 2017
The fifth book of the Vlad Taltos series, and I feel like Brust has prepared the way to get back on track again. Vlad is our friendly, neighbourhood assassin and generally amusing, snarky guy, but he has been involved in Dragaeren politics for several books, with he & his wife Cawti on opposite sides of the divide. It’s difficult to write humour for a character who is engaged in a struggling relationship, and humour is the main attraction of this series, in my opinion.

And now for something completely different—at book’s end, we see a new Vlad emerging. Has he really put his assassinating ways behind him? Or will he find that it’s a difficult profession to retire from? Are he & his wife going to have to go their separate ways? How much longer will he have his beloved grandfather to lean on?

I’m glad Brust didn’t write another prequel to avoid the issues. I’m looking forward to the next book to see where the tale goes from here.

Book 263 of my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project.
Profile Image for William.
233 reviews33 followers
March 4, 2021
Phoenix is the fifth volume in Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series. Vlad is hired for his most risky job yet by an unlikely employer.

Vlad and Cawti continue to try and work things out, and Brust proves yet again that he can write complicated relationships well. Morrolan, Aleira, Sethra, Noish-Pa, Kragar, Loiosh, and Rocza all return as prominent characters, and we learn something new about all of them. Vlad also meets a drummer named Aibynn on the island of Greenaere who I thought was cool since I used to play African drums. There was alot about Aibynn I liked, the uncertainty of his motives, and especially the concept of "drum magic." That really set my imagination to work. I pictured kind of a shamanic figure, "dreamgrass" and all. :) Events heat up in South Adrilanka, and of course Cawti is in the middle of it, putting Vlad's loyalties and motivations under the interrogation lamp.

The series continues to improve, and it feels like Brust really hit his stride in Phoenix. This series does a lot for me. It has it's roots in good old familiar fantasy, but Brust has grown it into something original. It's gritty, but the characters are still human, and it's been a pleasure getting to know them throughout the series. It's smartly written, briskly paced, and I always enjoy curling up under the blankets and listening to Bernard Setaro Clark read. Bedtime stories for adults.

I had originally planned to read only five books in this series in 2021, and start some other series to provide some variety, but Vlad Taltos really has my interest so I will keep reading.

Great series, highly recommended to everyone. On to Athyra!
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,977 followers
August 21, 2015
As a Vlad Taltos novel, it doesn't follow the same tricks as the previous novels, which bodes well. The main issue, assassination, starts and finishes almost immediately, but the ripple effect tears the rest of his life apart.

I can't say that I'm very surprised that his marriage has fallen apart, because that was the main terror of the last novel, as was the revolution, which has now finally blown up the great city.

Poor Vlad. Not only is his vaunted practicality falling to shit, he's actually becoming a reasonably respectable hero that actually CARES to do the RIGHT thing. Oh my. I mean, it's not like we haven't seen a glimmer of this moral and caring Vlad in the past, of course, but to actually admit it to himself?

Oh, The Horror.

And so ends one major chapter of his life, in more ways than one, and he's left with only his dragon companions and his trusty blade and Wonderous Magical Item.

Where will he go? What kind of mischief will a major crime boss and assassin extraordinaire get up to now, without a wife or crew to hold him back?

There's absolutely no reason in hell to go over the implications of the title, except that Mr. Brust had imbedded his own meanings quite nicely into the worldbuilding without ever needing to apply it to our mythology. Too bad the story, itself, does the job quite adroitly. :)

Profile Image for Melissa McShane.
Author 58 books746 followers
November 14, 2017
This is an improvement on Teckla, but not by much: Vlad's marriage is still imploding, Cawti is still being stupid, and there's still trouble in South Adrilankha. What makes this interesting is that Vlad's new job is given to him by none other than Verra, the Demon Goddess. She wants someone assassinated--a king, no less--and she wants Vlad to do it.

I enjoyed the setup for this one, as it takes Vlad outside the Dragaeran Empire. Having listened to this on audiobook, I don't remember some of the details. I don't have the memory for names I have when I've seen them in print, so now I can't remember the name of the drummer who rescues Vlad, but he was an interesting character. And the fallout from Vlad's assassination is excellent, as is the demonstration that his friends care deeply about him. Once again there's the conflict between Vlad's stated hatred of Dragaerans and his abiding friendships with Morrolan, Aliera, Sethra, Kiera, and particularly Kragar.

I also like that Vlad really does have to come to terms with what he does for a living. It works better here than in Teckla, where Cawti and Kelly manipulated him into making a decision that wasn't fully his. Here, Vlad faces the reality that on some level, he's an assassin out of inertia, and on another level, he's doing it because he likes it, and on a third level, it's fundamentally who he's become. And some of those things aren't pretty. So Phoenix is the story of Vlad Taltos deciding who he's going to be. And that's excellent.

But it's also personally disappointing to me, and maybe I shouldn't ding the book for this. But I hate seeing Vlad and Cawti's marriage fall apart, even if I feel Cawti's transformation is better supported in this book than it was in Teckla. People change. People grow apart. Cawti just handled it really poorly in not being willing to talk to Vlad about what she was feeling, and particularly in her refusal to admit (at least within the pages of the two books) that a lot of her behavior was motivated by guilt over being an assassin, and a need to expiate her sins. So it makes me sad that

At any rate, I look forward to moving on to Athyra, which marks a major shift in the structure of the series--maybe not a shift, because it doesn't persist beyond that book, but a stylistic and narrative difference that shows once again that Brust is a master storyteller and fully in control of how he lays the story out, even when I'm not happy with it.
Profile Image for Michelle.
450 reviews16 followers
June 2, 2022
Book 5 in the Vlad Taltos series. Another re-read.

Vlad is given an assignment by the demon goddess Verra. Considering the source, he shouldn't have been surprised at the way things went southward at a good clip. Before you know it, there is an official international incident.

The pending war isn't the only problem for Vlad. There is trouble brewing in the ranks of the Jhereg Organization, trouble escalating throughout the Empire, trouble festering in the Easterner Quarter, and the expected trouble within his own deteriorating marriage. Things are pretty much a mess in any given direction.

This was a really good installment. I had forgotten one particularly significant action of Vlad's. That one makes waves for the entirety of the rest of the series. As a matter of fact, there are series-wide repercussions for several of his decisions and actions in this one book, and not all of them are bad.
Profile Image for Contrarius.
621 reviews90 followers
May 4, 2012
What fine, fine books these are. Insert satisfied "ahhhhhhhh" here. I can't imagine why I never finished the series when I was reading these back in the 80's.

These books seem to have aged very well. I really see nothing that would mark them as "older" fantasy, or that would prevent anyone who enjoys "modern" fantasy from having a heckuva lot of fun with them. Brust tortures Vlad just as much as any author of "dark fantasy" does today, he's is just as morally gray (at least to start with) as any modern fantasist could desire, and he goes through about as much angst (although very manly, suppressed, inarticulate angst to be sure) as Harry Dresden. Add onto that the humor, the efficient and snappy prose, the blistering pace, and the convoluted plots, and you get consistently great yarns. Really, who could ask for more?
Profile Image for Jennifer Wheeler.
549 reviews76 followers
October 1, 2020
This 5th book reads as if it could have been the last book in the series, but also comes closest to getting a 5 star rating out of all of them so far. Lots of action in this one, and plenty of laughs. Worth noting at this point - Kragar is easily one of the most interesting and likeable side characters I’ve ever come across in a series. His ability to go unnoticed is both incredibly useful, and a source of great humour. I expect the next book will most likely jump back in time again, and I’m looking forwards to reading more of Vlad’s adventures.
Profile Image for Daphne.
571 reviews66 followers
May 1, 2016
There is something incredibly satisfying about this series. It's witty and orginal. I've fully bought into the world that Brust has built.
Profile Image for Shaitarn.
497 reviews35 followers
September 25, 2022
3.5 stars.

After DNFing a couple of books, it was a pleasure to read a book that I actually enjoyed.

This book follows on directly from the third book, Teckla. Vlad is given a job from his patron goddess, to assassinate the king of Greenacre, an island nation off the coast of the Empire. This action quickly triggers a war and as Easterners (humans) are being conscripted, riots break out in South Adrilankha, the poor ghetto area that Vlad owns, and the revolutionaries, including Vlad's wife, are arrested.

Although I found Teckla, with its political meanderings rather dull, this book was better as it had more action and a faster pace - call me shallow, but I prefer Vlad going out and getting on with his assassinations rather than discussing how the Empire should be run. Cawti and Vlad's relationship is still collapsing, but it's not quite as bitter and bad as it was in the previous book, which was something that contributed to its downer feel.

I found this book better than the third and it reassured me to the point that I'll continue to buy and read the Taltos books as I can find them (for some reason they seem rather hard to get hold of here in the UK).
Profile Image for Susan Gottfried.
Author 16 books135 followers
February 4, 2022
I heard a whisper that Steven Brust has been outed as one of those problematic personalities in the SFF world. That's not a surprise when you read his books.

But I like the books, and Phoenix shows why. There's real (and surprising) sensitivity from Vald toward Cawti, including a few sentiments that really linger with me. I love how their relationship is handled in these pages. I love the images of their past love and how it contrasts against where they are as a couple.

As far as the story goes, it's kind of typical Vlad, and of course it's fun. That's what we come for, after all. The rollicking adventures of Vlad Taltos, and to see how far he can push things. This time? Maybe too far.

Unfortunately, my library does not have book six. I put in a request that they buy it and I'll keep checking, but I might wind up needing to skip it and ugh. It's going to be a pivotal book in the series and I don't want to miss it.
Profile Image for Jamie Collins.
1,427 reviews265 followers
October 28, 2011
Not as much fun as the last book, because we're back to anguish over the pending revolution and trying to rescue Vlad's wife, who doesn't want to be rescued. Not fun to watch a marriage break up. It's poignant, but again, not much fun to watch somebody come to the realization that they might be a bad person.

There's some good stuff here, though, plenty of action and adventure. I enjoyed the drummer. I enjoyed Vlad meeting the Empress. I'm not sure where Brust is taking the character next, since this felt a little bit like a finale, but I look forward to finding out.
Profile Image for Maggie K.
471 reviews120 followers
April 2, 2013
probably a bit more than a 3.0, due to the fact that the mehness I am feeling is because the main character is in a 'meh' place in his own life. A transition novel, and I am very curious about the 'new' Vlad!
Profile Image for Scott.
385 reviews22 followers
December 14, 2017
Maybe the best of the bunch so far. I don't know where the story goes from here, but I'm stoked to experience it.
Profile Image for Keith .
351 reviews7 followers
June 10, 2022
Hired by his god to kill a king, what could possibly go wrong? Kicking off a war between three countries. Losing his wife to the protest movement sweeping the ghetto. Upsetting then betraying the criminal underground who now desperately want him dead. Yeah, Vlad is living a very full life if he can survive it.
Profile Image for Anna.
728 reviews17 followers
February 6, 2020
I forgot the events of Phoenix came so early in the series
Profile Image for Kat  Hooper.
1,583 reviews399 followers
March 20, 2015
3.5 stars. Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.

Phoenix, the fifth novel in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series, is a turning point in Vlad’s story. By the end of this book, his life will have changed drastically. The story begins as Vlad is stuck in a situation that he might not be able to get out of alive. In desperation, he calls on Verra, his patron goddess, for help. She saves him (or so it appears), and in return she demands that he sail to the island kingdom of Greenaere and assassinate its king. Vlad can’t refuse, and so he goes. This sets off a series of events that eventually lead to a Teckla revolution in Adrilankha. During all the turmoil, both Vlad and his wife Cawti, a member of a rebel group, are captured and rescued more than once, and both have reason to believe they don’t have much longer to live. The usual crew is there to help, though, including Kragar (Vlad’s assistant), Loiosh and Rocza (his jhereg... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...
1,627 reviews18 followers
June 22, 2015
I love all the Vlad Taltos series that I've read. In this book, Vlad tries to help his estranged wife Cawti, who was arrested for inciting rebellion of the downtrodden Easterners and Teckla in South Andrilankha. He is also given a job he can't refuse, to assassinate a king, which gets him into real trouble. (Vlad is an assassin and crime boss.) The ruling species (Dragaerans, otherwise known as elves) run the Empire, and Vlad is an Easterner (otherwise known as a human), but he has two familiars to help him (he's also a witch)- two mated jheregs- flying reptiles with poisonous bites , as well as influential Dragaeran friends. So, he enlists their help, and it's a very captivating story. Sethra Lavode, Morrolan, Aliera, Lady Teldra, Daymar are fascinating characters who are in most of the Taltos books, and in some of the Viscount of Andrilankha series as well. All are highly recommended to anyone who enjoys fantasy with witty banter.
Profile Image for Kati.
1,759 reviews65 followers
August 25, 2015
One star down for Cawti being in this. I seriously hate that woman's guts and the way Vlad behaves like a pathetic puppy around her. As far as Brust's female characters go, I would much rather learn more about Kiera, Aliera, Sethra Lavode, the Empress or even Verra herself.

But Cawti aside, I loved the book dearly, mostly because Vlad finally, FINALLY admitted to himself that he loved his Dragaeran friends, Morrolan and co., and that he couldn't very well keep insisting that he hated Dragaerans in general when most of the people he cherished were Dragaerans. Also, Aibynn the Drummer. LOL! Aibynn was amazing.
Profile Image for Rich.
124 reviews11 followers
November 13, 2012
This wasn't my favorite of the series, mostly because Vlad spent too much time being troubled by his wife and other humans instead of putting pointy things in the dragaerans, but less than favorite Brust is still better than most people's best. I've only a few more to read before I've caught up--including my least favorite, Athyra and my favorite, Issola. Maybe I'll skip Athyra--boring. Or, maybe it will be better the second time around?
Profile Image for Jefferson.
231 reviews
July 26, 2017
Each book in Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series is named after one of the Houses in the Dragaeran society ruling class. The first book, Jhereg, is named after the House in which Vlad holds the title of Baronet, also a "jhereg" is a small, sentient dragonlet; Vlad has one named Loiosh as his familiar. In the subsequent novels, the title and characteristics of the House reflect the plot: for example, in the second book, Yendi, the story revolves around a complicated mystery, the kind of long-game the Yendi are noted to be found of playing.

The fifth book, the one I just finished, is Phoenix, the title of the Empress's House. Vlad does have several notable encounters with the ultimate ruler of the Draegeran society, but the title is a metaphor that extends to Vlad himself. At the command of his patron goddess, Verra, Vlad assassinates the king of a small neighboring country, launching Dragaera into war and causing civil unrest in his home city of Adrilankha. As his world dissolves into chaos, Vlad realizes that he can help, he can save his wife and family, protect his friends, and resolve the conflicts at home and abroad. To do this, he must act as a phoenix and burn his life to the ground. His career, his marriage, his friendships, his family ties, his status in the House of Jhereg, even his life... he must be willing to sacrifice. It is for the next book in the series to see whether or not he will rise from those ashes.

Of course he will, this is a long series after all, with fifteen books and counting and Phoenix is only number five. And Brust has taken care to set up a long-game himself, with the unknown motives of the Demon Goddess Verra and her mysterious granddaughter Devera (who hasn't been born yet, so she must hide from her mother. I have no idea how that works. See? More to discover.) as well as the unresolved political ploys of the Dragaeran ruling class. But what I love is that Brust is willing to capsize his main character's life in service of that long plot rather than deliver formulaic novel after novel where the details differ but the character stays the same. Jim Butcher did this to Harry Dresden in the aptly named Changes, book 12 of The Dresden Files. Lois McMaster Bujold did this to Miles Vorkosigan in Memory, book 10 of the Vorkosigan Saga. That Brust did it in only book five of the Vlad Taltos series shows how far he is willing to push his hero in service of that plot.
Profile Image for Mary Soon Lee.
Author 88 books56 followers
October 6, 2021
Going by publication order, this is book five in the Vlad Taltos fantasy series, though the publication order doesn't match the internal chronological order. The consensus appears to be that the series is best read in publication order, and certainly that's worked very well for me so far. I've raced through the first five books and liked them very much.

The books are narrated by Vlad Taltos, a young human assassin in a society run by far longer-lived Dragaerans. Books one, two, and four were close to pure fun for me. Book three, "Teckla," which was my favorite of the first four, was more somber. This fifth book falls somewhere between the sheer fun of books one, two, four, and the somber mood of book three. It builds very successfully on character and plot arcs from the earlier books. Along with the wit, the clever plotting, and the lively action scenes that I've come to expect, there's also a comparative gentleness. Overall, I'd rank it as my joint favorite with "Teckla."

Spoiler warning for more specific comments....

Four out of five gentler stars.

About my reviews: I try to review every book I read, including those that I don't end up enjoying. The reviews are not scholarly, but just indicate my reaction as a reader, reading being my addiction. I am miserly with 5-star reviews; 4 stars means I liked a book very much; 3 stars means I liked it; 2 stars means I didn't like it (though often the 2-star books are very popular with other readers and/or are by authors whose other work I've loved).
Profile Image for Lighthearted.
264 reviews24 followers
March 29, 2018
When Vlad finds himself ambushed in South Adrilankha, he offers up a prayer to the Demon-Goddess Vera. She answers. As it turns out, she wants him to assassinate someone for her. Vlad's been considering getting out of the business but how does one refuse a goddess?

The assassination begins a war between the Empire and the sleepy outlying nation of Greenaere. The Empire begins drafting humans and Teckla into its army, which adds to the growing uprising within the Empire. Cawti is arrested twice. To save Cawti's life, Vlad goes against his House.

I love this series. I love the characters, the world-building, the fast-paced plots.

Cawti has changed dramatically since we first met her, but so has Vlad. He finally acknowledges that while he may have hated all dragaerans to begin with, most of his close friends are of that race. He's genuinely friendly to the Orca sailing him from Adrilankha to Greenaere (regular beatings by Orca youth during his childhood inspired, or at least deeply contributed to his early hatred of dragaerans). He's come a long way but where will he go next?

While Teckla showed us the beginnings of a rift between Vlad and Cawti; Phoenix shows the deepening of that rift. Their relationship struggles are sparingly told and heartbreakingly real. They love each other but it's not enough, at least in this book. What will she do with South Adrilankha? Can they find their way back to each other?

The world-building in this series continues to be exceptional. Each book reveals or hints at something new. This time we discover that there are different types of stones which block sorcery and psionic communication -- I wonder what Morrolan and Aliera will do with that information. We also learn that there are legends of strange lands beyond the sea, perhaps even beneath it. And while Noish-pa refers to dragaerans as elves, Vlad finds himself referred to as a dwarf by the dragaerans on Greenaere.

We don't learn as much about the House of Phoenix as we have about other Houses in other books -- after all, there is only one living member and she's the Empress of the Empire. We learn more about her though, and how she regards her role in the scheme of things.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jon.
982 reviews12 followers
December 7, 2020
Moving forward with the story line, the peasants are still revolting (thanks, Johnny Hart!), and Vlad and Cawti's relationship is still in limbo. The Demon Goddess Verra summons Vlad to the Halls of Judgement and gives him a commission to assassinate the king of Greenaere, an island kingdom a few days sailing away from Adrilankha. Vlad sees this as an opportunity to get away from the situation with Cawti and her rebellion (personal and public) and heads for the island, where he succeeds at the assassination, but fumbles the getaway pretty badly - a latent depressed death wish, perhaps?

The plot line in this one very skillfully weaves together some interesting elements, as the assassination triggers a war between the Empire and Greenaere, which is not nearly as powerless as one would think. The war serves as a distraction that could result in the success of the Teckla rebellion, or vice versa. Also, while Vlad is there, and when his friends are effecting his rescue, it turns out that the island and its people are protected from psionics and sorcery by a type of mineral that is native there - white phoenix stone. The phoenix stone becomes key at the end of this book, and in future installments, as Vlad is eluding the people in the Jhereg that want him dead.

Vlad continues to experience some personal growth, as he thinks seriously about the type of person he has had to become to be a successful killer and minor lord of the Jhereg. As I mentioned in my review of Teckla, I find this to be one of my least favorite in the series, as it drives the final nail in the coffin of his marriage, despite the heroic efforts Vlad puts forth to save Cawti from the dungeons of the Empire, after plotting by the leaders of the Jhereg lands her there. Call me an old softie, but I just hate it that they can't save their marriage.
1,339 reviews14 followers
November 6, 2016
Vlad Taltos is an assassin, and used to taking jobs without knowing all the details---but he's certainly wondering why his own goddess needs to hire him for a hit. And she isn't aiming small, either. But a job's a job, even if this one is bound to have consequences well beyond the usual.

Although Vlad does figure out much of the reasons why by the end, I still felt this one was a bit weaker than some of the other ones I've read. The Demon Goddess is either lying (which didn't seem likely) or appears to be as manageable as a particularly powerful bit of sorcery, neither of which does her much credit as a goddess. And I was a bit irritated, too, at Cawti, for not attempting to save her marriage with the same intensity Vlad is, or at least acknowledging that Vlad has put everything on the line for her. Vlad knows she's put her cause above her marriage, but even so can't help getting himself into worse and worse trouble to try to get her out of danger. But her love seems less committed, and she only helps out when the circumstances have nothing to do with her revolution.

In other respects, though, this is still a lot of fun. Vlad's desperation increases as he's trapped in physical dangers and moral quandaries with no clear way out. Even his alliance with some of the most powerful Dragaerans in the kingdom can't fix things. And his grim humor keeps things funny, even when he's hard-pressed.

Overall, this is still a good read, although one of the few in the series I think shouldn't be read without having read at least one other. I rate this book Recommended.

See my reviews and more at https://offtheshelfreviews.wordpress....
829 reviews1 follower
September 21, 2017
So... for some reason I'm not completely clear on... this book confused me more than previous installments. It was good. It was interesting. I wanted to spend more time with it. Rereading bits. Perhaps referencing previous books. But the books are not available as ebooks. They're not available in regular bookstores. Used bookstores occasionally have isolated copies. I guess I could order the individual novels online. But so far I've been listening to the audiobooks. They're all on Audible, instant access. But an audiobook dictates your reading speed and order to some degree. An ebook... you can control your speed... it is somewhat harder to flip around than in a physical book, but it has the advantage of a search function. Here, I was stuck with the narrator.

Oh... I just figured out these books have been re-released in 2 or 3 book Omnibus editions that are available. So... maybe I'll re-read them now.

I did really enjoy this story. It was so interesting that I am very tempted to re-read it now that I've found a paperback and ebook copy available as the Book of Taltos. This book was written as a... perhaps poor... lesson in how to be an assassin. An interesting and humorous conceit.
Profile Image for Michael T Bradley.
751 reviews5 followers
April 28, 2019
It is very, VERY difficult to talk about this book without talking about the ending, which I try to avoid. So I'll just say this:

The conundrums Vlad faced in Teckla are pushed beyond their straining point, and some real change happens to the status quo. What I found especially interesting is stuff from Book 4 (Dragon? Cripes, I can't keep the names straight), which was a flashback, comes into play here, also. Brust obviously has at least a few large master plans in place, and I can't wait to see what the grand climax is for all these storylines.

It's also tough to talk about this book because what seems to be the main plot at the beginning (Vlad gets a request for "work" from a shocking patron, then has to go to a foreign land to carry it out) is in fact a plot that gets resolved quickly offscreen, and the gist of the story becomes something else entirely. In the first few chapters, I thought, okay, we're going to take a break from the main "plot" that Teckla revealed & just have a book focusing on Vlad as an assassin + expanding the world some beyond the Empire. Which .... IS the case ... for about 20 pages. Then it's right back into the thick of it.

MAN, I loved this book.
Profile Image for Megan.
863 reviews6 followers
January 18, 2019
This Vlad book was a little depressing overall. His marriage is still falling apart, he has enemies trying to snuff him at all sides and he doesn't really know what he's doing with his life. I was most depressed about the rift between him and his wife, since it seems like they just met and were in love. I don't like the revolution stuff so much, at least this book had some assassination stuff in it. I really don't like the part where Cawti is being particularly stupid about things which she started in Teckla. Not my favorite book in the series but it still was a quick read and I wanted to know what was going to happen to Vlad. I still really like all the characters except maybe Cawti. I still like that there are humorous parts to the books even if the majority of it is not really funny.

I am curious to see where the story goes from here since it's been kind of left open and who knows what will happen from here. There are also several things hinted at in this book that I would love to know more about. Overall 3.5 out of 5 stars.
7 reviews
March 9, 2020
I feel genuinely bad about Phoenix. It's not a bad book by itself, with decent plot twists and amazing dialogues BUT: it follows Teckla and Teckla's storyline, and Teckla is such a ridiculous disaster there was no redemption possible for Phoenix.

I want however to speak about the ending (no spoilers) - have you often encountered the perfect ending, bittersweet, written in an amazing language, that shooks you to the core, that haunts you for days , letting you wonder whether your tears are from sorrow or astonishment? In fantasy, I've only seen that twice: in Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelasny and in Phoenix by Steven Brust.

P.S. Bonus for the encounter between Morrolan and Noish-pa, one I've anticipated since the very beginning.
Profile Image for Frank Burns.
395 reviews1 follower
May 18, 2023
A very strong 4.5 here as Brust finishes the changing of his protagonist from mafioso boss/assassin.
In this one Taltos is summoned by his goddess and given a mission to go kill a king. Which he does and then chaos ensues. This book has a lot of fun with unintended consequences. Firstly, it makes the points that even gods get it wrong (this is undeniable, have you seen the state of the world?). Secondly, he continues with the themes of development and change that were strongly began in Teckla. Finally, there is an acceptance that change means sacrifice, something has to give.
This is a very adult, and in places a little sad, book that still delivers as a bit of a thriller.
Profile Image for Alex.
8 reviews
April 6, 2019
Short but fun fantasy read. Nice to read something in first person for a change, and it allows some nice quirks in terms of story pacing.

Was initially very sceptical about the main character being an assassin, but pleasantly surprised he is not written as insufferably edgy and dark.

Point of note and potential spoiler: I picked up the book initially hoping it's feature phoenixes. It however features nothing of the sort, and the book seems to only have been named due to the name of the year in which part of the book takes place.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 124 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.