Mar 29 2011 11:35am

Tiassa (Excerpt)

Tiassa by Steven BrustPlease enjoy this excerpt from Steven Brust’s Tiassa, the latest book of the Vlad Taltos series, out today, March 29th from Tor Books. For more good times in the Draegaran Empire, check out his original short story, “The Desecrator,” here on Tor.com.




Sethra greeted me with the words, “There’s someone I’d like you to meet, Vlad.” I had expected something more like, “What are you doing here?” as I’d shown up at Dzur Mountain without any advance warning. But then, if Sethra Lavode had been accustomed to do the expected, she wouldn’t have been Sethra Lavode.

I had been visiting my friend Morrolan, who had been kind enough teleport me to Dzur Mountain, and after a long climb up a wide and tiring staircase I had found her in a library, reading a book that looked like it must have weighed ten pounds.

My familiar noticed it as well. “It’s not a book, Boss. It’s a weapon. It lands on you, and that’s it.”

 “I think you’re right.”

I was torn between curiosity about this person she wanted me to meet, and the business that had brought me. She asked if I wanted wine, and I did, and her servant, a strange, twitchy old guy named Tukko, thumped a bottle and a glass down in front of a chair. I sat and drank and said, “Who?”

“An Easterner.”


“Far from here.”

“All the Eastern kingdoms are—”

“Very far. He doesn’t speak any language you’ve ever heard before.”

“But you have?”

“I hadn’t either, but I learned.”


“The Necromancer taught me. Once you’ve learned a few languages, the others come easy. I’m working on teaching him ours, but it’s slow going.”

“How’d you meet him?”

“The Necromancer introduced us.”

“Well. Now I’m intrigued.”

“You were intrigued when I didn’t ask what brought you here.”

“All right, now I’m more intrigued.”

“What did bring ou here?”

“Now that I’m out of the army, I thought we could swap war stories.”

She smiled and waited.

“Okay,” I said. “It’s this.” I opened my pouch, found the object, and held it out for her to inspect.

“My,” she said. “Where did you get it?”

“That’s a long story. What is it?”

“I’m not sure. It’s interesting, certainly.”

“Who goes first?”

“Up to you.”

“This guy you want me to meet—what’s the deal? He have a job for me?”

“Sort of. Not your usual kind.”

“By my usual kind, I assume you refer to my perfectly legitimate herb shop?”

“Yes. Not that.”

“What then?”

“He wants you to talk.”

“About what?”

“Everything. Everything you do, legal and illegal.”

I studied her. She looked serious. “Sethra, if I ever did something illegal—which of course I never have—why would I be so stupid as to talk about it?”

“Reason one: There is a lot of money in it. Reason two: There may, from time to time, be other things in it for you—useful trinkets. Reason three: Because I tell you, on my honor, that nothing you say will ever be heard by anyone who can do anything to you.”

“How much money?”

“Five hundred imperials’ worth of unminted gold for a few hours of conversation, with the option of doing it again if it works out for all concerned, and maybe several times.”

“Five hundred.”


“That’s a lot. Why me?”

“He wanted me, but I won’t. I suggested you instead, because you can give him what he wants.”

“What does he want?”

“To understand what life is like here.”

“At Dzur Mountain?”

“In the Empire.”

“And I can tell him that?”

“I believe you can, yes.”

“No one will hear it? On your honor?”


“Okay, I’ll meet him, and I’ll think about it.”

She nodded. “Good. Now, where did you come by the Tiassa?” She held her hand out for it, and I gave it to her. She held it up and studied it carefully. It was a really remarkable thing—about the size of my palm, all of silver, except for the eyes, which appeared to be very tiny sapphires. The wings were thin, and filled with a multitude of tiny holes so the light shone through, and there were whiskers around the mouth. After a moment she pulled her eyes from it and looked back at me. “How did you say it came to you?”

“I happened to come across a recently deceased individual, and it was in a pouch at his belt.”

She smiled. “No you didn’t.”

“Why Sethra, whatever do you mean?”

“The idea of you going through the pockets of a random corpse you stumbled over is absurd. You’re trying to make me think it was someone you killed. But a Jhereg assassin never robs his victim. It’s unprofessional.”

“Now, how would you know that?”

“Vlad, I have been around a long, long time. So, tell me the truth. Where did you find the tiassa?”

“Is it important?”



“For reasons full of mystical significance. Now tell.”

“I’d rather hear about the mystical significance.”

“I’m sure you would.”

“All right. You know the old market just above Northpier?”

“Very well.”

“That’s where I found it.”

“Just lying there?”

“Not exactly.”


“Now, about that mystical significance.”

“Vlad, I was kidding about that.”

“No you weren’t. You had that look you have when you’re telling the truth in a way you hope won’t be believed.”

That stopped her. “I’m impressed.”

“Thank you. Now, what exactly did you mean?”

“Tell me exactly how you found it.”

“It came to me in a dream.”

“How very tangible it is.”

“Okay, it was delivered by someone I only knew from a dream.”

She tilted her head and said, “I think it might be straight answer time, don’t you?” I opened my mouth, and she said, “Vlad, you know very well you never win these.”

That stopped me. “You’re right.”

“I’m listening.”

I started talking.

1. reaeverywhereelse
Sounds like Mr. Brust is about to introduce hismelf as a character--the Easterner from far away, who speaks no local language, and to whom Vlad will tell the stories in the series
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
Wow. The guy with the box (I presume) and a POV from Devera. Plus Sethra, a mysterious statue and an intriguing Tiassa.
Much coolness.
William Frank
4. scifantasy
...holy mackerel.

OK, I know everybody's focusing on the guy Vlad "should meet," the one (we assume) whom Mark Mandel, in Cracks and Shards (http://www.cracksandshards.com/), calls "Brust the interviewer" (also, perhaps, "Brust the translator"; at some point, I gues he got a hold of Paarfi's romances. How he swung an interview with Paarfi I don't know; maybe Sethra?), but two other bits of blessed fish stand out to me:

First, Devera's parentage. I know that Brust has said it before, but then, as I understand it Brust named every male character except for Vlad and Morrolan as Devera's father. Now we get an unequivocal statement who it is.

The Blue Fox, and the Khaavren Romances intersecting the Vlad books. OK, so Vlad has met Khaavren before, briefly, in passing. This is something else altogether.

And that's in the prologue, interlude, and first chapter.

Kate Nepveu
5. katenepveu
How did I not know there was a new Vlad book coming out?!
Sharat Buddhavarapu
6. Sharat Buddhavarapu
Might I just say that this blew me away? Great writing... going to have to pick up this series as well now. Ugh, reading is such a burden :p
Kate Nepveu
7. katenepveu
Sharat, I suspect this would be a really really weird book to start reading the series with! It appears to be early in the chronology but handing out answers to long-standing mysteries left right and center. (Jhereg is the first published.)

OTOH it's a fun series and if this is the one that hooks you, well, then you can enjoy going back and seeing how everything proceeds from here (presumably).
Stefan Raets
8. Stefan
I agree with Kate - while Tiassa's a lovely novel, it's not a good place to start. Grab a copy of The Book of Jhereg instead. If you enjoyed the writing in this excerpt, I think you'll love the entire series - and by the time you get to this book, you'll be able to enjoy all the revelations and subtle references in Tiassa and get much more out of the book.
Janet Hopkins
9. JanDSedai
Does this mean that Iorich (the previous book) will be coming out in paperback?
William Frank
10. scifantasy
JanDSedai@9: Actually, that brings up a related issue I have--Iorich isn't available on Kindle anymore, either. Even though Macmillan still lists its ebook as available (see http://us.macmillan.com/Book.aspx?isbn=9781429941600), the Kindle link fizzles. BN.com still has it, though. I think I'll send an email to Amazon (and Macmillan) and see what's going on.

(I'm glad I bought Tiassa for Kindle already, though.)
11. Iceman
Any idea when the kindle edition will be available in Europe?
Tim Gough
12. Geckomayhem
This is the first time I've heard of this world/series, whatever it is. I read through the excerpt, and I must say: even though I am unfamiliar with the setting and all the isoteric stuff, it was a great read! Must look into both the author and the series some more. I am inspired by both a great writing style, the imagination behind it, and the fluidity and ease of reading. Even the dialogue was great. :)

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