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October 6, 2014

On sale today: Hawk, the 14th novel in Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos sequence
Posted by Teresa at 05:13 PM * 39 comments

hawk.jpg On sale today in hardcover and e-book in North America, and on November 1 in the UK and certain other parts of the world.

Excerpt here!

My (rather glib) flap copy:

Vlad Taltos was an oppressed and underprivileged Easterner—that is, a human—living in Adrilankha, capital of the Dragaeran Empire. Life was hard. Worse, it was irritating. Then Vlad made a great discovery: Dragaerans would pay him to kill other Draegarans. Win-win!

The years of Vlad’s career as a crime boss and top assassin were cut short by a revolution, a divorce, and an attack of conscience (not necessarily in that order). In the midst of all that, he broke with the Jhereg, the Dragaeran house of organized crime. He’s been a marked man ever since. The Jhereg want to kill him. The Jhereg would love to kill him.

So Vlad’s been avoiding Adrilankha as much as possible. That hasn’t worked out too well. His life is there: his ex-wife Cawti, his son, and all his friends. One of those friends is his former assistant Kragar, who’s taken over Vlad’s old territory and criminal operations. Vlad will need Kragar’s help if he’s going to return to Adrilankha and deal with this mess.

It won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t be simple. Because there are no messes like the ones you make yourself.

Some other people’s opinions:

“Adventure, humor, and pure fun…Highly recommended.”
Booklist on Tiassa

“A wonderful return to form…This witty, wry tale stands well alone and is very accessible to new readers.”
Publishers Weekly on Tiassa

And:

Hawk, the 14th book in Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series, is a moving, funny and tantalizing end-game glimpse of the assassin, reluctant revolutionary and epic wisecracker. [I’ve] been reading this generation-spanning series of Hungarian mythology, revolutionary politics, and gastronomy for more than 30 years.

“I have been reading the Vlad Taltos books all my life, have literally grown up with them, and eagerly await each new volume, counting the years while Brust finishes it. He claims he knows where it’s all going — has known, in fact, since the first book — and there’s ample evidence for that, because if there’s one word I’d use to describe these, it’d be ‘premeditated’ — in a good way.

“That’s because each volume of this series is, first and foremost, a caper story. Even the ones where Vlad lies dying on a cave floor for the whole book. Brust is one of those natural caper writers (as is amply evidenced in The Incrementalists, his wonderful collaboration with Skyler White), a pulp writer in the Hammett tradition, someone with what William Gibson calls ‘wheels on his tractor.’ In other words, a writer who can spin a yarn that keeps you guessing until the end, aware of many precise moving parts all meshing in synchrony to drive a magnificent jeweled watch of a story.

“Even better, Brust uses those marvellous plots to tell even more marvellous stories, full of delightful and gorgeously flawed characters whose mistakes are both inevitable and horrible, and whose victories are improbable, partial, fraught and deeply satisfying. Brust writes people you want to root for, even though they probably won’t succeed (after all, who succeeds in the long run?).”
—Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

Comments on On sale today: Hawk, the 14th novel in Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos sequence:
#1 ::: Clifton sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2014, 11:30 AM:

Preordered from B&N, is supposed to be shipping to us today. Hurrah!

#2 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2014, 11:40 AM:

Clifton, did you forget to reset your name? There's a bunch of spam currently, but not in this thread.

#3 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2014, 01:19 PM:

Okay, a bit confused here: because they're not published in the UK, I've only read 7-8 of the Vlad books. Is there a chronology anywhere that I can use to figure out what I need to fill in the gaps? And is Hawk readable as a stand-alone (assuming familiarity with the first 3-6 in the series) or does it depend on more recent in-series story arc developments?

#4 ::: nathanbp ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2014, 01:40 PM:

Wikipedia has a list in published and chronological order (although personally I'd recommend reading in published order): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Brust#Dragaera

I haven't read Hawk yet, but based on the flap copy it depends on some of the more recent developments in the story arc.

#5 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2014, 01:47 PM:

Arrgh, yes, ignore the spam bit. Thanks, Mary Aileen.

What's particularly aggravating is I'd swear I'd deleted that from the pull-down history in this browser, but there it is back again. I wonder if the website had somehow memorized that into a cookie as the default, in place of my usual handle.

#6 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2014, 02:03 PM:

Charlie, if you hunt through Jo Walton's posts, she did a discussion of possible/recommended reading order for the Vlad books. One helpful thing to know is that unlike many series, it is impossible to read them in chronological order, because some of them are telling the story in two different time periods at the same time. (IIRC, Dragon is one of those.) As I recall, Brust concedes that was in part by design to make reading in chronological order impossible and irrelevant.

I think if you've read a few of the most recently published ones it's usually possible to make pretty good sense of what's going on, but you will definitely get more out of each book if you at some point read through them all in some order, ideally order of publication. Just reading the excerpt at Tor, I can see one would get more out of it after having read Teckla, Orca and Jhegaala at some point for context.

#7 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2014, 02:04 PM:

Addendum: the above should have read "if you hunt through Jo Walton's posts on the Tor website"...

#8 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2014, 02:30 PM:

As well as the first chapter on Tor.com, linked in the post, Brust may be seen reading the second chapter here.

#9 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2014, 03:05 PM:

Note that Jo Walton's posts on the Tor website are fully spoiler-iffic.

#10 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2014, 12:46 PM:

Charlie @3: The ISFDB gives the publication order as:

1. Jhereg (1983)
2. Yendi (1984)
3. Teckla (1987)
4. Taltos (1988) (also appeared as Taltos and the Paths of the Dead (1991))
5. Phoenix (1990)
6. Athyra (1993)
7. Orca (1996)
8. Dragon (1998)
9. Issola (2001)
10. Dzur (2006)
11. Jhegaala (2008)
12. Iorich (2010)
13. Tiassa (2011)
14. Hawk (2014)

#11 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2014, 04:30 PM:

The post of mine you may want, without significant spoilers is this one. But you should read them in publication order. He delibrately wrote Dragon so that reading them in internal chronological order wouldn't be possible.

And all of them kind of stand alone, but they kind of stand better when they're leaning on each other.

And Hawk is great, I really really enjoyed it. He just gets better and better.

#12 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2014, 11:55 PM:

Thanks, Jo! I was looking for that one but could only find the discussion in the review of Jhereg.

#13 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2014, 07:04 AM:

In addition to Dragon, Tiassa is also from various time periods (though not intermixed as Dragon is. Dzur (I think) has flashbacks not previously remembered, but those are minor.

Just finished it. I appreciated a lot of things, but have to call out the Leverage shout out. Yay.

#14 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2014, 03:58 PM:

"And Hawk is great, I really really enjoyed it," says Jo Walton above. Well, she ought to:

"It just hit me today, as I was looking over the final draft of Hawk and considering the early chapters of Vallista, that at the moment I’m kind of writing for Jo Walton. I can live with that."

http://dreamcafe.com/2014/03/30/who-do-you-write-for-and-the-effect-of-good-criticism/

#15 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2014, 12:49 AM:

My ultra efficient library got me one of two holds placed last night, unfortunately it's for books 4&5, not 1-3.

So, I wait. With an unread book taunting me.

#16 ::: Jody Cahn ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2014, 01:46 AM:

well i was going to buy Hawk, but Jo has convinced me to start at the beginning. hope i get some work done in between the next 11 books.

#17 ::: Jody Cahn ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2014, 08:11 AM:

First 5 ordered as 2 of the British omnibus editions Jo hated, since none of the early stuff is on itunes here (France). it was a mistake learning how to use ebooks on the computer and that you can get things right away and cheaper (though not cheaper than the 5 I just bought) ... for someone who works at home on her computer and has a great deal of trouble putting a novel I'm really enjoying down, this could be a problem.

#18 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2014, 02:12 PM:

So many books to acquire, and here comes another one. Always fun.

#19 ::: Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2014, 02:05 PM:

It's nice to see Vlad finally facing his big problem, and succeeding by doubling down on his original-. I like the offstage cussing- 'he made a suggestion', so forth. Zelaznyesque. Brust has always done great dialog, lifting from whoever's best as well as a lifetime of great talking- I think I spotted a phrase lifted from Larry Correia. Vlad sure eats well. Is there a Vlad cookbook floating around?

#20 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2014, 04:23 PM:

I finished it this weekend and enjoyed the hell out of this one.

What I enjoyed the best is Brust's brilliant sleight of hand - like the very best magicians' close up work, he scrupulously shows the reader all the pieces in play in advance of the trick, and it still left me, like Vlad's marks, totally blindsided by how Vlad has planned to pull the whole thing off.

(I think I can say that much without spoilers, as that's clear from the very set-up of this book. Not going to say any more but "Hawk", indeed.)

#21 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 10:42 AM:

Jo Walton @ 8: what would be the effect on a new reader's (or re-reader's) brain of consuming all the \sections/ in chronological order?(*) IIRC, your discussions of Rothfuss have pointed to what seem to be setups for explosions (or at least major reveals) down the line; for those of us who can't emulate the Red Queen, would this be useful? Or is it more useful just to reread everything (possibly more than once, as Norman Conquests may need to be seen in toto more than once) to have it all make sense?

(*) Crude analogy: the MITSFS donor who didn't want to cope with Ace Doubles and so divided each one, with card stock to protect the exposed pages. This is a reason the MITSFS has ]book[s in its index that are very probably unique.

#22 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 11:01 AM:

Chip @21, I just dug out ALL my Vlad Taltos books preparatory to reading Hawk. Which I therefore expect to get to some time around Thanksgiving, if I'm lucky....

#23 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2014, 05:32 PM:

Man, I’m still reading The Incrementalists.

(And just right now, typing the title out for the first time, noticed the pun.)

#24 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2014, 07:04 AM:

Chip @21: Tiassa would work as a running gag, Dragon wouldn't be very good.

#25 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 03:25 PM:

So, I bought Hawk from Kobo, but I can't find a way to save it independently to my computer. It can live on my Kobo reader or on the Kobo cloud, but apparently nowhere else. This bothers me, because I don't expect my Kobo reader to last forever and I may or may not replace it some years later with a different brand. So I like to have a copy backed up on my computer. That's how I saved all my old Sony books when they went out of the e-reader business...

Anyone have any hints? I hit the web, but either my google-fu is inadequate or it's just not possible. (There is no blue "download" button on this book in my Library. Apparently it's a "kepub"...)

#26 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 05:05 PM:

Cassy B. (25): Can you connect your Kobo Reader to your computer via USB? If so, does it show up as a drive on your computer? In that case you may be able to copy the file to your computer from the reader. (This procedure works with my Nook; I'm not sure about the Kobo.)

#27 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2014, 11:35 PM:

Mary Aileen @26, they're saved with hashed filenames and it's not immediately obvious what they are. I was able to get Calibre to save-to-disk from the Kobo ebook, but it saved in a format that my machine doesn't recognize. It just says "File" under format. And I can't open the file with either Adobe Digital Editions or the Kobo program on my desktop, so that's not helpful.

Can one buy directly from Tor to avoid this problem in future....?

#28 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 01:18 AM:

gethuman says that their e-mail is help@kobobooks.com - their online help page is remarkably unhelpful; it expects you to have very specific kinds of problems before it will allow you even to call them.

#29 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 10:06 AM:

PJ Evans @28, I don't expect their help people to even consider this to be a problem. Why should I want to have an actual copy of the file for backup, when they've helpfully backed it up on their Cloud for me? <wry> My not trusting their Cloud is not their problem...

#30 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 11:32 AM:

I figure what you ask is if you can even download your books more than once. (Their desktop program is actually reasonable fore reading. Not as good as Calibre when it comes to features, but it will pull the books down to your computer and sync your reader. It's free.)

#31 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2014, 12:11 PM:

Finished it a couple of days ago and I'll second Jo's comment that it was really great. Very interesting things happening.

#32 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2014, 09:53 PM:

Damar is a kick. And it took over 150 pages to get to "Shut up, Loiosh." And the description of the salient features of the typical Hawk is very germane to the structure of the novel (as is Brust's stated intention with these novels; each one is supposed to have a flavor of its House.)

#33 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2014, 12:33 AM:

Late to the party for general advice on what order to read the books in.

I started with Taltos, and think it works fine (It's chronologically the first in Vlad's life.) Otherwise, I'd agree with goign in publication order rather than chronology with ONE exception: I would tell people to read Yendi before Jhereg, right at the start. It's the one place where the chronology actually confused me for a while -- not because it isn't obvious Yendi happens first but *because* so many people were gung-ho for All publication order all the time, and that one was... I thought weakened by reading the other way around.

CHip@ 22, BSD @ 24: I wouldn't even try to read the fragments out of order. For one thing, there's two short pieces in Tiassa where I'd be inclined to ask just where they ought to be read, because the answer regarding when they happen is suddenly a lot less clear cut. And I think the bigger stuff happening in Tiassa around the three adventures would get smothered. it's been a while since I read Dragon, but literally just read Tiassa (partly thanks to this reminder that I was behind in the series, thanks, Patrick), and I assert that Tiassa would in fact lose out for trying to read it in bits.

REreading might be another matter, of course, people play all kinds of games with rereads, but I still want to know where that very spoilery Interlude would go...

#34 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2014, 06:31 PM:

Lenora Rose@33 - I disagree with reading Yendi first, except maybe on a re-read of the series. It's not very good, compared to the others, while Jhereg was a really strong book with a lot of things going on, and is the hook into liking the series and the characters. On the other hand, Yendi was a pretty fast read, something you can buzz through and get some more background depth on the characters.

#35 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2014, 08:32 AM:

I just read Hawk and it may be one of my favorites of the series. Brust is a master of the heist story and this is one of his best.

As for new readers, I'd recommend taking them in publication order first time around, and maybe in roughly chronological order the second time. Be warned that Teckla is widely considered not only the weakest of the series but an outright bad book in some ways; still it's fairly critical for understanding the later books, which are much much better. I like it better than most Brust fans do, but I'll readily concede it's the weakest of the Vlad books and maybe the second or third weakest of the Brust corpus. I liked Yendi a lot, though its plot was a little too similar to that of Jhereg and if the later books had continued the same pattern I would have quickly lost interest... instead he does something very different with almost every book.

Bruce @19: If William Ashbless got his own cookbook, Vlad a fortiori deserves one.

Moderators: would it make sense to add a Hawk spoiler thread?

#36 ::: Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 04:35 AM:

Jim @35- if but we Christians have our beer, nothing's to fear. Me, I liked Teckla.

Moderators- me and Jim.

#37 ::: Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 04:36 AM:

Jim @35- if but we Christians have our beer, nothing's to fear. Me, I liked Teckla.

Moderators- me and Jim.

#38 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 02:05 AM:

Having now read through 7 of the books, I have a new rule. No starting a new Vlad Taltos book after 10pm.

#39 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2014, 05:11 PM:

I recall liking Teckla quite a lot, and there are some very interesting hints in there about Dragaera's back-history, if that's the right word. *

I should reread it and see how those feelings stand. Maybe I should reread the whole series.

* IIRC, I thought it strongly suggested that gur Qentnrenaf (be ng yrnfg gur Grpxyn) unir orra unaqvat qbja abg whfg Znekvfg be Znek-yvxr gurbel ohg Znek'f npghny jevgvatf bire gur (irel ybat) trarengvbaf. But it's been a long time since I read it and I could be muddled.

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