Read The Book of Jhereg Online

Authors: Steven Brust

The Book of Jhereg

T
HE
C
YCLE

Phoenix sinks into decay

Haughty dragon yearns to slay
.

Lyorn growls and lowers horn

Tiassa dreams and plots are born
.

Hawk looks down from lofty flight

Dzur stalks and blends with night
.

Issola strikes from courtly bow

Tsalmoth maintains though none knows how
.

Vallista rends and then rebuilds

Jhereg feeds on others’ kills
.

Quiet iorich won’t forget

Sly chreotha weaves his net
.

Yendi coils and strikes, unseen

Orca circles, hard and lean
.

Frightened teckla hides in grass

Jhegaala shifts as moments pass
.

Athyra rules minds’ interplay

Phoenix rises from ashes gray
.

The Adventures of Vlad Taltos

JHEREG

YENDI

TECKLA

TALTOS

PHOENIX

ATHYRA

ORCA

DRAGON

ISSOLA

DZUR

Anthologies

THE BOOK OF JHEREG

THE BOOK OF TALTOS

THE BOOK OF ATHYRA

An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

THE BOOK OF JHEREG

The Book of Jhereg
copyright © 1999 by Steven Brust.

Jhereg
copyright © 1983 by Steven K. Z. Brust.

Yendi
copyright © 1984 by Steven K. Z. Brust.

Teckla
copyright © 1987 by Steven K. Zoltán Brust.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

This one’s for Liz.

The author (that’s me) would like to thank Steven Bond, Reen Brust, the late Lee Pelton, John Robey, John Stanley, and, especially, Adrian Morgan, who started it all.

ACE® is a registered trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

The “A” design is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

For more information, visit
penguin.com
.

eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-66573-2

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Ace trade paperback edition / August 1999

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Version_1

Contents

The Adventures of Vlad Taltos

Title Page

Copyright

Author’s Note

Pronunciation Guide

JHEREG

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Epilogue

YENDI

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

TECKLA

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Author’s Note

One of the questions I’m most often asked is: “In what order would you recommend reading these books?” Unfortunately, I’m just exactly the wrong guy to ask. I made every effort to write them so they could be read in any order. I am aware that, in some measure at least, I have failed (I certainly wouldn’t recommend starting with
Teckla
, for example), but the fact that I was trying makes me incapable of giving an answer.

Many people whose opinion I respect believe publication order is best; this volume reflects that belief. For those who want to read the books in chronological order, it would go like this:
Taltos, Yendi, Jhereg, Teckla, Phoenix, Athyra, Orca
.

The choice, I daresay, is yours. In any case, I hope you enjoy them.

Steven Brust

Minneapolis

March 1999

P
RONUNCIATION
G
UIDE
Adrilankha
ah-dri-LAHN-kuh
Adron
Ā-drahn
Aliera
uh-LEER-uh
Athyra
uh-THĪ-ruh
Baritt
BĀR-it
Brust
brūst
Cawti
KAW-tee
Chreotha
kree-O-thuh
Dragaera
druh-GAR-uh
Drien
DREE-en
Dzur
tser
Iorich
ī-Ō-rich
Issola
î-SŌ-luh
Jhegaala
zhuh-GAH-luh
Jhereg
zhuh-REG
Kiera
KĪ-ruh
Kieron
KĪ-rahn
Kragar
KRAY-gahr
Leareth
LEER-eth
Loiosh
LOI-ōsh
Lyorn
LI-orn
Mario
MAH-ree-ō
Mellar
MEH-lar
Morrolan
muh-RŌL-uhn
Norathar
NŌ-ruh-thahr
Rocza
RAW-tsuh
Serioli
sar-ee-Ō-lee
Taltos
TAHL-tōsh
Teckla
TEH-kluh
Tiassa
tee-AH-suh
Tsalmoth
TSAHL-mōth
Verra
VEE-ruh
Valista
vuhl-ISS-tuh
Yendi
YEN-dee
Zerika
zuh-REE-kuh
J
HEREG

Let the winds of jungle’s night
Stay the hunter in her flight
.

Evening’s breath to witch’s mind;
Let our fates be intertwined
.

Jhereg! Do not pass me by
.
Show me where thine egg doth lie
.

Prologue

T
HERE IS A SIMILARITY
, if I may be permitted an excursion into tenuous metaphor, between the feel of a chilly breeze and the feel of a knife’s blade, as either is laid across the back of the neck. I can call up memories of both, if I work at it. The chilly breeze is invariably going to be the more pleasant memory. For instance . . .

I was eleven years old, and clearing tables in my father’s restaurant. It was a quiet evening, with only a couple of tables occupied. A group had just left, and I was walking over to the table they’d used.

The table in the corner was a deuce. One male, one female. Both Dragaeran, of course. For some reason, humans rarely came into our place; perhaps because we were human too, and they didn’t want the stigma, or something. My father himself always avoided doing business with other “Easterners.”

There were three at the table along the far wall. All of them were male, and Dragaeran. I noted that there was no tip at the table I was clearing, and heard a gasp from behind me.

I turned as one member of the threesome let his head fall into his plate of lyorn leg with red peppers. My father had let me make the sauce for it that time, and, crazily, my first thought was to wonder if I’d built it wrong.

The other two stood up smoothly, seemingly not the least bit worried about their friend. They began moving toward the door, and I realized that they were planning to leave without paying. I looked for my father, but he was in back.

I glanced once more at the table, wondering whether I should try to help the fellow who was choking, or intercept the two who were trying to walk out on their bill.

Then I saw the blood.

The hilt of a dagger was protruding from the throat of the fellow whose face was lying in his plate. It slowly dawned on me what had happened, and I decided that, no, I wasn’t going to ask the two gentlemen who were leaving for money.

They didn’t run, or even hurry. They walked quickly and quietly past me toward the door. I didn’t move. I don’t think I was even breathing. I remember suddenly becoming very much aware of my own heartbeat.

One set of footsteps stopped, directly behind me. I remained frozen, while in my mind, I cried out to Verra, the Demon Goddess.

At that moment, something cold and hard touched the back of my neck. I was too frozen to flinch. I would have closed my eyes if I could have. Instead, I stared straight ahead. I wasn’t consciously aware of it at the time, but the Dragaeran girl was looking at me, and she started to rise then. I noticed her when her companion reached out a hand to stop her, which she brushed off.

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