OT: Steven Brust

Ven vendersleighc at yahoo.com
Thu Aug 21 21:07:05 EDT 2003

Ian wrote

<I'm still working my way through Phoenix Guards.
And I do mean 
"working." It's quite a switch from Brust's usual
style. Yes, I know 
that he's emulating the style of Dumas in The
Three Musketeers. I'm 
still finding it a little touch to get through.
Perhaps I need to 
read longer chunks than I've been able to do so

Is the payoff worth the work?>

I would say: most definitely yes.

Melissa wrote

<To me, the payoff was the style.  Because I
enjoyed reading the book, that
was a reward in itself.  So if you are "working"
through it, I don't know if
the payoff is worth it or not......

Robyn wrote
<See, I had the opposite reaction to Melissa.
picked up Phoenix Guards, and 
later the Viscount of Adrilanka (or however you
spell it) and found them 
completely unreadable. For me, the style was just
really hard work............. snip..............
I think I found it fake, or uneven or something.
It was too obviously 
an exercise in writing in a particular style,
rather than something natural.>

Its a long time since I first read the Phoenix
Guards but irrc I did find the style rather hard
work and persevered for the sake of the plot and
characters, even though I wasn't too sure about
them either. After a couple more Vlad books,
probably at the end of some Brust binge, I read
it again...... this time it was funny, the time
after that funnier still. Brust is playing with
his readers and I'd joined in. 

Thats just my idiosyncratic reaction to TPG. I
suspect that (can I say this without meaning
something quite different in lit speak?) any
strong style is bound to alienate some readers
and attempts at conversion are futile (see my
discussion with Melissa, Hallie et al on (the
still odious to me) Jane Austen. Robyn, I quite
agree that the style is unnatural, I wouldn't say
"fake" as it is not trying to be anything else
other than a mode for Brust to tell stories from
a Dragaeran point of view, from a rather peculiar
Dragaeran's point of view (Paarfi, the narrator
of the "history"). 

Now, I think 500 Years After is a much better
book than TPG. Actually I rather look on TPG as a
first novel, as it is Paarfi's first novel. By
the time he wrote FYA Brust had internalised the
style so as to bring in far more nuance of
character and subtlety of plot. It's the novel
that made me really like Sethra Lavode and love

I think the trick of reading these books is very
much to go with the flow, its no use getting
impatient with Paarfi, wishing him to "get on
with it", to cease listing things he isn't going
to tell you about and boasting of the brevity of
his sentences, the conciseness of his manner of
expression and the accuracy of his history,
because it is precisely these things that
constitute the substance of the writing. The
wonder is that Brust can convey so much
information, humour and romance through this most
absurd of mouthpieces.  

So, my answer to Widdy is: so long as you are not
actively hating the experience, persevere. You
will, at the very least , pick up a great deal of
useful background and backstory for the Vlad

Bettina asked

<Has anyone already read the newest book, "The
Lord of Castle Black" (or is
planning to do so soon)?
I've just seen that it is out now - an since I've
got this weakness for
Morollan, I've considered investing in a
hardcover (you know that "I think I
can't wait" feeling...)>

Have you got/read The Viscount of Adrilankha yet?

I have both Viscount and Lord of Castle Black and
considered them well worth buying in hardback. I
think they're great, but don't feel able to be
very articulate on the subject just yet.
Apparently Brust concieved these as a single book
but the publisher wanted it split in three, so I
feel I'd rather hang fire with my assessment
until I've read the whole. The final volume is
due out next February. Not long to wait!  


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