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The Phoenix Guards and Steven Brust


Steven Brust is fairly well known, but I'm always surprised by how many fantasy readers haven't heard of him. Any other fans here?

The Phoenix Guards is one of my all-time favorite novels. Quick pace, funny and exciting, and hands down the most entertaining author voice I've ever found.

Black Dragon

Hi Telcontar,

Unfortunately, I've never heard of Steven Brust. If one was interested in checking out his writing, where would you recommend starting?


Start with the Phoenix Guards. :)

He actually has a lengthy and enjoyable series featuring a character named Vlad Taltos, for which he is best known. I cannot remember off the top of my head what book starts that series. The Phoenix Guards is the beginning of a smaller series, but exists as a completely stand-alone novel for those that don't want to start a series (which I did not, when I picked it up).


Unfortunately, I've never heard of Steven Brust. If one was interested in checking out his writing, where would you recommend starting?

Actually, don't start with Phoenix Guard–unless you're a major fan of Alexandre Dumas. The style they're written in is very much a pastiche, and may not be conducive to continued interest.

The two best books to begin with are the first two written, Jhereg and Yendi. These can actually be read in either order: Yendi was written second, but takes place immediately before Jhereg. If you read Jhereg first, it'll spoil one thing that would otherwise be a surprise, but not by much, and the characters and setting are at least arguably better introduced in Jhereg. (Though I read Yendi first, and didn't feel as if I'd missed anything.) Once you've read those, you'll either have fallen in love with the world and Brust's amazingly fast-paced, sardonic writing style (yes, the pacing does show through, though not to the same extent, even in the Dumas pastiches)… or else there's no point in ever reading anything by him again. (That, plus it indicates you're a benighted heathen utterly lacking in literary taste, sophistication, or humor, and that you're ugly and your mother dresses you funny. But I digress.… ;) )

After those, the balance of the books set in Dragaera can be read in pretty much any order, with the following caveats:

(1) There are two different sequences of novels, plus a singleton. The ones I generally refer to as the "historical" ones are the Dumas pastiches, which ought to be read in order relative to one another, though in any order relative to the various books in the Taltos sequence. They are:
- Phoenix Guard
- Five Hundred Years After (sequel)
- The "Viscount of Adrilankha" trilogy: The Paths of the Dead, Lord of Castle Black, Sethra Lavode (sequel, at least in the sense they follow many of the same characters and certain pivotal events from the foregoing)

(2) The singleton, Brokedown Palace, can be read at any point, and is stylistically different from either of the other sets (or anything else he's written: he's fond of experimenting). In fact, unless you're already familiar with at least parts of both other sets, it will be impossible for you to guess where or how it fits in with any of the rest, apart from a vague geographic sense.

(3) The Taltos series (named for its main character). If you really, really want to read them in the order they occur–which has little to do with the order they were written in–this is:
- Taltos, Dragon, Yendi, Jhereg, Teckla, Phoenix, Jhegaala, Athyra, Orca, Issola, Dzur, Iorich
However, Taltos and (especially) Dragon will make more sense if you are already familiar with the world from other books, so I can't particularly recommend starting with them. In fact, some of his books take place in split time-frames, so there is no way to place the whole of the book into a strict chronology. For the books following Jhereg:
- Phoenix will make limited sense if you have not read Teckla first. If you end up temporarily skipping both due to lack of availability, it won't be too hard to fill in the things you've obviously missed when reading later ones. (You'll give yourself a couple more spoilers, but as he constantly moves back and forth in writing order anyway, any of his books will spoil at least one thing in at least one other. :rolleyes: )
- Orca should probably be read before the books that follow it, as there are two important surprises that will be spoiled if you don't.
- Issola absolutely ought to be read before Dzur and/or Iorich.

The thirteenth book in the series, Tiassa, is due out the end of this month. Verra knows where it's going to fall in the chronology.…
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