Authors: Steven Brust
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
THE BOOK OF JHEREG
THE BOOK OF TALTOS
THE BOOK OF ATHYRA
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THE BOOK OF JHEREG
The Book of Jhereg
copyright © 1999 by Steven Brust.
copyright © 1983 by Steven K. Z. Brust.
copyright © 1984 by Steven K. Z. Brust.
copyright © 1987 by Steven K. Zoltán Brust.
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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.
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eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-66573-2
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.
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
, 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.
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
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.