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review 2018-04-04 03:32
Magic investigators on the trail of a killer.
Good Guys - Brust, Steven

Kind of odd, isn’t it? I’m waiting for my chance to kill a complete stranger, and to kill him in an ugly and gruesome way, so I fill in the time by checking out local architecture and museums. How did I become this person? Well, put that way, it was simple: Some son of a bitch had destroyed my life, and he just didn't give a shit. To him, I’d been another chance to climb a ladder, add zeroes to his bank account, have more people calling him sir. To him, that’s what mattered. Maybe there really is no satisfaction in revenge, but I can tell you one thing for sure: There's no satisfaction in letting someone get away with ruining your life, either.

 

And the Museum of Science and Industry is as good as the hype, so there’s that.

 

In almost every Urban Fantasy series there's some sort of explanation for how magic/magic beings/magic users/etc. is/are kept under wraps so that we muggles can keep living our lives unaware of what's going on all around us. Some of it is a by-product of magic/the supernatural that just clouds our minds, some of it is the result of efforts of the supernatural community (or at least part of it) keeping it under wraps. In Steven Brust's Good Guys, The Foundation is tasked (among other things) with keeping magic off of the radar of mundane people.

 

Now when you have someone like our above narrator, killing complete strangers in ugly and gruesome ways enabled by magic, that particular task gets more difficult than usual. Here enter our protagonists -- a Foundation Investigation and Enforcement team consisting of a very skilled investigator, a young sorcerer, and someone who provides security for them -- they might also pick up a little extra help along the way. The team works through a combination of old school detective work, magic, high-tech wizardry and gumption to find the connections between these victims and use that to uncover just who might be behind the killings.

 

The investigation is well-constructed and keeps the reader guessing and invested. Brust's jumping between various perspectives is well-done -- the touch of only the killer being in the first person is an interesting touch (most authors would have one or more of the Foundation team as first person, with the killer in third) -- not just with the team, but with various other individuals within the Foundation, giving a real sense of the scope of this group. The characters are interestingly conceived and executed -- the killer's motivation is easy to understand (not saying it's easy to sympathize with, but you have a hard time wanting him stopped at all costs). When the pieces finally fall into place, it's very satisfying.

 

One of the nicest touches Brust gave this world is a tiny budget for the Foundation -- for a global security and research enterprise, they seem to be operating on a shoestring budget -- they certainly don't pay their employees very well. I'm not sure why this tickles me the way it does, but unlike the Men in Black, S.H.I.E.L.D., or any of the other clandestine groups that fill our imaginations -- these guys can't just whisk around the world at the drop of the hat. They have to fly coach at one point, rather than use the teleportation ability of the Foundation.

 

The members of the team make very little, and live pretty solitary lives (it's not like they can tell anyone what they do) -- there was a humanizing moment for each of them at various points through the story considering a pet to help them fight the solitude (all different potential pets, too).

 

This was a solid thriller with some great Urban Fantasy touches, a very satisfying solution that rings true. Well-paced, well conceived, and well-executed -- in short just what you want out of this novel. A very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. I don't think this is the first of a series -- but if I'm wrong, I'll gladly jump on the sequel.

 

2018 Library Love Challenge

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/04/03/good-guys-by-steven-brust
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review 2017-10-26 08:23
Vallista by Steven Brust
Vallista: A Novel of Vlad Taltos - Steven Brust

From the blurb: 

Vlad Taltos is an Easterner an underprivileged human in an Empire of tall, powerful, long-lived Dragaerans. He made a career for himself in House Jhereg, the Dragaeran clan in charge of the Empire's organized crime. But the day came when the Jhereg wanted Vlad dead, and he's been on the run ever since. He has plenty of friends among the Dragaeran highborn, including an undead wizard and a god or two. But as long as the Jhereg have a price on his head, Vlad's life is messy.

Meanwhile, for years, Vlad's path has been repeatedly crossed by Devera, a small Dragaeran girl of indeterminate powers who turns up at the oddest moments in his life.

Now Devera has appeared again to lead Vlad into a mysterious, seemingly empty manor overlooking the Great Sea. Inside this structure are corridors that double back on themselves, rooms that look out over other worlds, and just maybe answers to some of Vlad's long-asked questions about his world and his place in it. If only Devera can be persuaded to stop disappearing in the middle of his conversations with her.

This is something of a closed house murder mystery that Vlad has to solve.  It's entertaining but not as good as previous installments of the series.  I miss the inclusion of Vlad's usual cast of unusual friends and acquaintances.

 

NOTE:  While this novel is a complete story, new readers will miss out on references to previous books in the series.

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review 2017-09-11 21:54
Phoenix / Steven Brust
Phoenix - Steven Brust

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.

 

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.

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text 2017-03-19 08:16
3 Favorite Authors, 3 Witty Tweets

 

 

 

 

 

We look nothing alike. Nothing. And Emily is safely dead. Dead, I say. Why would you even imply that she is still alive & our clone-leader? https://t.co/aIBlYrRYfl

— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) March 3, 2017

 

 

Quote of the Day: "Political slogans serve oftener to
disguise interests than to call them by name." Trotsky

— Steven Brust (@StevenBrust) February 24, 2017
 

Indescribable is an adjective. Adjectives describe things.

— Mark Lawrence (@Mark__Lawrence) February 1, 2017
 
Click here for other posts in the series.
 

 

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text 2017-02-03 07:32
3 Favorite Authors, 3 Witty Tweets
The Way of Shadows - Brent Weeks
Prince of Thorns - Mark Lawrence
Jhereg - Steven Brust

 

 

 

 

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