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(Vlad Taltos #4)

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  7,586 ratings  ·  156 reviews
Journey to the land of the dead. All expenses paid!

Not my idea of an ideal vacation, but this was work. After all, even an assassin has to earn a living.

The trouble is, everyone knows that a living human cannot walk the Paths of the Dead, and return, alive, to the land of men.

But being an Easterner is not exactly like being human, by Dragaeran standards anyway. Thus, the
Paperback, 181 pages
Published March 1st 1988 by Ace Books (first published 1988)
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  7,586 ratings  ·  156 reviews

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3.5 stars

Another prequel, as we learn both how Vlad came to the be ruthless assassin that he is and how he got involved in/survived one of his old war stories. Brust must not have figured out yet how to move on after book 3, in which Vlad and his wife, Cawti, find themselves in conflict over a resistance movement.

A return to the past gives us the old Vladimir, who is cheerfully amoral and who only experiences twinges of conscience from time to time. The wise-cracking Loiosh (his familiar, a fly
Melissa McShane
With Vallista coming out soon, and having finished listening to the Vorkosigan Saga from beginning to end, I decided listening to Brust's Vlad Taltos books would be a great idea. But I've read most of them multiple times, so...why not take advantage of this opportunity to read them in internal chronological order?

So my husband and I started with Taltos. (The earliest segment is actually the prologue to Jhereg, but we decided not to break down the books piecemeal.) It is the weirdest experience r
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Taltos is another excellent entry in the Vlad Taltos series. Vlad and Morrolan take a trip to the land of the dead, and we get some more insights into Vlad's early "work."

I was hoping to find out what happened after the events in Teckla, but the story in Taltos was a worthy departure. Morrolan and Aliera were barely mentioned in Teckla, so it was nice to have them back and color in some of the details about their relationship.

I highly recommended Taltos to anyone who has finished Teckla.

On to bo
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is actually a solid 3.5 stars.

What do you call a prequel of a prequel? We're heading into Vlad's personal past again, but this time only a few years after his days as a tavern owner.

The story is the most straightforward with the least digressions of any of Brust's novels I've read, except during the last third of the novel when I was forced to shift back and forth between current action and flashback regularly. Both sequences were interesting on their own, but something about reading them
Kat  Hooper
Sep 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
3.5. Excellent audio.

Taltos is the fourth novel in Steven Brust’s series about Vlad Taltos, a human crime boss in the fantasy world of Dragaera, where humans are short of stature and lifespan compared to the species that rule the world. Taltos is actually a prequel to the previous novels (Jhereg, Yendi, Teckla) in which Vlad tells us about an incident that happened years ago while he was solidifying his reputation as a new crime lord. One of his lackeys tried to cheat him, so Vlad went after him
Jennifer Wheeler
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
It’s always odd to me, when I run into a series that at first I really seem to either outright dislike or am apathetic towards, and it suddenly takes a right turn. This 4th book in the Vlad Taltos series has done that. I enjoyed it a great deal more than the first three, and am now looking forwards to the rest of the series. I’ve gotten used to the timeline jumping about (publication order seems to have nothing at all to do with chronological order), and I’m actually interested in where the stor ...more
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I absolutely love this series. Can't recommend enough. If you haven't read it, and are a fan of fantasy, do yourself a favor and start it! ...more
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-audio, quest
My favorite Vlad Taltos book so far. It was made much more interesting to go back and visit the start of Vlad's career after getting to know him in his full power in the first three books. ...more
Chris McGrath
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this immediately after Jhereg since I didn't have book 2 available at the time, and it's chronologically the earliest book in the series. Unfortunately it was a much weaker book for a few reasons.

First, it's a prequel, which isn't always a bad thing, but it seems to exist only to explain how Vlad becomes friends with some of his cohorts from the first book, unless there were some other important revelations I missed by reading it out of order.

Second, there are two different prequel storie
Stassi Andreeva
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Compared to the previous book, this one is awesome! It's the funniest so far, very witty and gives us a lot of insight on how the Vlad we know actually came to be. It's a solid 4 for me, would've been a 4.5, but the paragraphs at the beginning of every chapter were kinda annoying for me. ...more
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: f-sf
The one where Vlad meets Morrolan, Sethra, and Aliera.
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, humo, assassin
Taltos has three storylines each told by Vlad in first person. The first one, which appears in italics at the start of every chapter is Vlad casting a witchcraft spell. The second one is Vlad’s story of the way he met Morrolan and Sethra, and his adventures with Morrolan in the Land of the Dead. In the third one Vlad tells about his boyhood, growing up, and generally about his life as an enforcer and assassin until the second storyline starts.

In the second storyline Vlad has just recently starte
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sff
The book follows three timelines that intertwine until they merge by the end of the book. The first opens each chapter and involves a step in the spell-making process, though you do not know what Vlad intends for the spell to do. The second and third timelines switch between Vlad’s initial steps in becoming an assassin and a minor power within the Jhereg and his trip with Morollan to the lands of the dead to retrieve Aliere. Ordinarily, the above statement would be considered spoilers but since ...more
Aug 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book, although probably not as much as I enjoyed the three previous ones (in publication order). The plot was a little thin, but that may partly have been because we already know from the previous novels that Vlad walks the Paths Of The Dead and comes out alive. The rest of the (pre-Paths) plot line sort of felt a bit contrived, as if Brust really just needed an excuse to get Vlad and Morrolan to the Paths Of The Dead so he could tell the story he wanted to tell.

Also, I felt like
Jan 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
And here I know you can see the cool cover that is terribly inaccurate. From Vlad's curly hair to its color, to his clean-shaven face to the dragon-thing-that-is-so-not-Loiosh on his arm. I would like the cover, if it weren't so terribly, terribly inaccurate.

Anyway. This is my favorite book of the series, as well as one of my favorite books ever. I realize, now, that a good portion of my feelings for it stem from knowing the rest of the series. A lot of that comes from reading the first three an
Jamie Collins
Oct 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
3.5 stars. I'm reading these in publication order, and this is my favorite of the series so far. It's a prequel to the first book and I enjoyed being introduced to familiar characters. We meet Vlad's unobtrusive partner Kragar for the first time, and learn how Vlad's unlikely friendships with Morrolan, Sethra and Aliera were forged. I didn't miss Vlad's wife Cawti one bit.

Brust's writing is amusing - I laughed out loud at least once while reading this. The plot is fun, and I liked way the book w
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a fun read, Vlad is quickly becoming one of my favourite characters.
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good read. Wasn't fond of the jumping around ...more
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The fourth book in the Vlad Taltos series, Taltos, takes us back in time to the events before Yendi. So, if you're keeping track, the fourth book in the series is the first book chronologically -- so far. While I'm normally a stickler for seeing characters develop in a linear fashion, I also enjoy a good flashback. This was an excellent flashback.

When we first saw Vlad, Morrolan, Sethra, and Aliera together in Jhereg, they were friendly, despite the fact that Vlad was both an Easterner and a mem
Dec 07, 2020 added it
This installment of Vlad's story takes us back in time a bit, to the point in his personal story when he first makes the acquaintance of Morrolan, Sethra Lavode, and Aliera; though she's a rather special case, and the point of the main plot line in this story. In fact, this story unfolds like a trifold wallet; there's the main plot line, in which Vlad is entangled in the affairs of Morrolan and the House of the Dragon, first stealing a staff which contains Aliera's soul from an Athyra wizard wh ...more
Michael T Bradley
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
So after the soul-crushing beauty of Teckla, we now get a tale from Vlad's past: What exactly was he doing on the Paths of the Dead when he was younger?

First, I have to say, I'm REALLY baffled by the cover, as Vlad is ALWAYS called "Whiskers" by the Draegereans, who can't grow facial hair, and it's always a thing that Vlad has a mustache. I get that he's younger in this book, but I could swear that his mustache is mentioned once or twice (certainly we flash back at times to him being VERY young
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 stars.

This is the fourth Taltos book but actually the first one chronically; it’s probably also the most ‘traditionally fantasy like’ of the Taltos books with some traditional fantasy tropes in place (view spoiler). It shows us Vlad’s early career as an assassin and area boss and the beginning of his friendship with Dragaerans Morrolan and Aliera of House Dragon and the undead sorceress Sethra Lavode.

This is the early Taltos – ammoral a
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Well, it took me four books to realize "Dragarean" just meant "elf." That was an interesting realization that explains so much.

I've realized that the Vlad Taltos series is basically my palate cleanser; whenever I read a book that's really long or really intense, I follow it up with one of the Vlad Taltos books. It's easy, solid fantasy with characters I like and not too much going on. It's straightforward, interesting, but nothing amazing. I like that. I did feel that this book was a little mor
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The highly anticipated backstory that encouraged me to continue the series after the disaster that was Teckla.
Vlad goes to the Hell and it's just as exciting as it sounds, with deadly conflicts and goddesses being bitches, the main story being interrupted with Vlad's extreme youth, from his childhood to his first Morganti murder.
The strange relationship between Vlad and Morrolan is amazingly written: there isn't and there cannot be any instant bonding between a Duke of House Dragon and some lit
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
For me the biggest problem with this book and the series is that they are not in order; I would not recommend reading this series in the numbered order listed on Goodreads. It's confusing to bounce backwards and forwards in time throughout the books. This book undermines what I thought I knew about the character backstory as it seemingly contradicts previous books. Being that I'm already discombobulated by the un-sequenced books, bouncing forward and backward in time throughout the book was disc ...more
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed seeing things for Vlad before he knew Morrolan, Aliera and Sethra. It's fun to hear about there being a story of such and such in the previous books and then getting to actually hear the story that they referred to. I really like all of the characters so I am glad that we got to see how they became "friends". The only thing that lost stars for this book were all the flashbacks to Vlad's start. I didn't really care for the skipping around between the two different stories in the same bo ...more
Samuel Lubell
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
This book gives some more backstory on Vlad's relationship with Sethra, Aliera, and Morrolan. Unfortunately, I found Vlad's refusal to abandon Morrolan unconvincing, especially since they would have just met. And the solution is literally a dius ex machina that Vlad had no reason to think would work, and, for that matter that Kiera had no reason to entrust Vlad to keep (especially as she didn't seem to care that he had to lose it.) Disappointing. ...more
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vlad-taltos
Highly enjoyable entry in the Vlad Taltos series.

Taltos is another prequel, similar to Yendi (Book 2), but this one is actually set earlier than we've ever seen (so far).

There are two stories being told simultaneously - First, the story of how Vlad first met Sethra and Morrolan, and was tasked with venturing into the Paths of the Dead to free Aliera. And Second, Vlad's life story of growing up in the streets, working with his grandfather, becoming a Jhereg, and eventually an assassin.

Both storie
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I didn't really like this one as much as the others, it's not that the story wasn't good, it's that this one was so jumpy. The time like was going between two main times, then a third at the beginning of each chapter. What really annoyed me was that at the end you saw the one time line was basically ending not to far it seemed from the other beginning. I think a more linear approach would have been better. ...more
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I like the way Vlad Taltos tells his stories as if the reader and he are old friends. That sense of familiarity lends to the likability I have for this character.
The use of past events intermingled with the current events was a tad confusing at times. That being my only complaint, the book was a quick read for a lazy day.
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Dragaera: Taltos 1 3 Oct 12, 2012 01:31AM  
Dragons, dragons ...: Vlad Taltos 1 2 Sep 14, 2012 05:36AM  
Dragons, dragons ...: Loiosh 1 3 Sep 14, 2012 04:00AM  

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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

Vlad Taltos (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Jhereg (Vlad Taltos, #1)
  • Yendi (Vlad Taltos, #2)
  • Teckla (Vlad Taltos, #3)
  • Phoenix (Vlad Taltos, #5)
  • Athyra (Vlad Taltos, #6)
  • Orca (Vlad Taltos, #7)
  • Dragon (Vlad Taltos, #8)
  • Issola (Vlad Taltos, #9)
  • Dzur (Vlad Taltos, #10)
  • Jhegaala (Vlad Taltos, #11)

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