Book: Teckla - Livre d'Or








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livredor
Book: Teckla
Wednesday, 13 June 2007 at 08:46 pm
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Author: Steven Brust

Details: (c) 1987 Steven K Zoltán Brust; Pub Ace 1999 as compendium; ISBN 0-441-00615-9

Verdict: Teckla is readable but lacks zest.

Reasons for reading it: I was whining that I am running out of books, and rysmiel reminded me that I haven't yet read the third in the Jhereg trilogy. I had been rationing them a bit, because I don't think it generally does a series any good to read several books on top of eachother.

How it came into my hands: rysmiel gave me the trilogy as a present.

I enjoyed Teckla very much, and if I sound slightly negative it's only that it didn't live up to my expectations from the earlier books. In some ways it's a more mature book; there's some real development of Vlad as a character and of his relationship with Cawti, and some serious exploration of the political implications of the fantasy set-up. And while this is done well, it's not done well enough to make up for the fact that this kind of serious stuff is less fun. I like Vlad a lot better as a wise-cracking and highly skilled assassin, than I like angst-ridden! Vlad. Of course in reality being an assassin isn't a very nice thing to be doing, but if I wanted realism I wouldn't pick up a book about a witch and his winged reptile familiar trying to navigate the underworld of Elfland. Similarly, the dynamic with Cawti is certainly more plausible and multi-dimensional than the soppy tone of the earlier books, but an awful lot of the extra dimensions are the kinds of interaction that make me want to yell at the characters to just bloody talk to eachother.

The political stuff is a bit heavy-handed, really. The Teckla-Easterner alliance is just too transparent an allergory of militant Marxism. The hook of Vlad's conflict between his feelings for Cawti and his impatience with her political convictions works quite nicely, and there's at least a reasonable balance between his dismissal of the whole movement as a bunch of foolhardy ideologues, and the sympathetic arguments presented in favour of the Marxist position. The arguments between Vlad and various communist spokespeople take up just too much space though, it's hard not to feel that the various characters are just there as mouthpieces for a political viewpoint.

I think the biggest problem is that I didn't ever feel like Vlad, or the world, was in serious danger. Certainly, he is described as being in danger, but emotionally the tension was never quite there. His being unlimitedly rich, as a result of the events at the end of Jhereg, probably contributed to this. But it's also the balance of the writing, with too much sitting around debating whether there should be world revolution and not enough action.

Even with those criticisms, I was very much caught up in the story. It felt as if it was really short, though actually it takes up almost exactly a third of the single volume trilogy. And I couldn't wait to get back to it when I had to take breaks for things like work and sleep.


Whereaboooots: Adrilankha
Moooood: okayokay
Tuuuuune: The Clash: Train in vain (Stand by me)
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rysmiel: vacant and in pensive mood
From:rysmiel
Date:June 13th, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)
22 minutes after journal entry, 03:38 pm (rysmiel's time)
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In some ways it's a more mature book; there's some real development of Vlad as a character and of his relationship with Cawti, and some serious exploration of the political implications of the fantasy set-up.

I reread the first three only last month, as mentioned in my today's book post; reading them in close proximity, it is clear at least in Yendi that Cawti's political perspective has been there for a while, and Vlad being Vlad just has not noticed. papersky thinks Cawti's perspectives are not solidly enough in early in the book to prop up how they develop towards the end, but to my mind that works entirely; Vlad being thick as two short planks about most things not witchcraft, practical criminality or Fenarian cooking is in all the way through.

I like Vlad a lot better as a wise-cracking and highly skilled assassin, than I like angst-ridden! Vlad. Of course in reality being an assassin isn't a very nice thing to be doing, but if I wanted realism I wouldn't pick up a book about a witch and his winged reptile familiar trying to navigate the underworld of Elfland.

Realising that it's not very nice is kind of important for Vlad, but I should probably note that subsequent books do better at keeping the wise-cracking nature while having taken the serious stuff on board.

The Teckla-Easterner alliance is just too transparent an allegory of militant Marxism.

Allegory like heck; doesn't Sethra say somewhere that the stuff Kelly has dug up dates from way back before humans were on Dragaera or in the current social structures ? I think it is meant to be militant Marxism, dug up from way the heck back in the past.

I think the biggest problem is that I didn't ever feel like Vlad, or the world, was in serious danger. Certainly, he is described as being in danger, but emotionally the tension was never quite there. His being unlimitedly rich, as a result of the events at the end of Jhereg, probably contributed to this.

Fair point, though I thought the expenditure in Teckla was pretty much cleaning out the gains from Jhereg.

Dang it, now I want to get Taltos and Phoenix to you yesterday; a lot of how I see Teckla is really informed by where some of those elements are going in Phoenix.

[ Also, does it show that Lord Khaavren here is Kav'n from the end of Brokedown Palace ? I've wanted to ask that to someone who's not read the Khaavren Romances for some time, but having read that combination of Brust is not common among my friends. ]
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