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Marissa Lingen

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Hawk, by Steven Brust [Oct. 15th, 2014|11:20 pm]
Marissa Lingen

Review copy provided by Tor Books.

So first things first: the direct, word for word, Burn Notice pastiche does not last more than about a page and a half, if you open this book and are worried. If you haven’t watched Burn Notice, it’s a perfectly sensible way to reintroduce the events of the series, a sort of Where We Are And Where We’re Going. If you have watched all of Burn Notice, however…there’s this moment of…”Oh, Steve, did you really want to associate your long-running series that does a bunch of cool stuff with a long-running series that did a bunch of cool stuff and then completely tanked its ending? You did your death-and-sarcastic-shenanigans first and better!”

But as I said, that only lasted a few pages, and then we are into the plot moving forward, really moving forward–giving Vlad progress on things he values, seeing old friends without it being a string of pointless cameos and without edging out room for new things, plotty new magic problems and a return to Vlad’s assassin roots without a return to Vlad’s assassin state of mind. There is, as one would hope for the book centered around the House of the Hawk, magic theory. There is Daymar and his (???) sense of humor. Hawk has, in short, all sorts of the things you would want it to have, and it has them in the right quick-beats moving-along setting-up-other-things sort of way.

This is clearly the latest in a long series, but you know what? It’s the one of the most recent entries I would feel best about handing people and saying, “ready set go.” They would miss a lot–who are these people? why is it such a big deal for Vlad to contact that person? why is she so terminally upset at that other person?–but y’know, sink or swim, kiddo, you want to start a series this late, you’re probably a person who’s okay with some hard knocks, and the crucial “why the heck should I care” is pretty neatly handed to you for this one. Here: care. Good. Onwards with the stabbing and the shenanigans with the improbable musical instruments.

Please consider using our link to buy Hawk at Amazon.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux


[User Picture]From: whswhs
2014-10-16 04:23 pm (UTC)
I regret to say that I've given up on the Vlad Taltos novels. I read Jhereg and still have it on my shelves. The first sequel was a slog to get through and didn't seem to have the same energy; the second was all political in a way I didn't sympathize with. So I can't bring myself to look at any of the later ones.

My preferred Dragaeran experience is the one mediated by Paarfi of Roundwood. There I had the opposite experience: I couldn't get through The Phoenix Guards, but I picked up Five Hundred Years After and got the joke of its being a Dumas pastiche—and after that I found The Phoenix Guards delightful.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-10-16 04:29 pm (UTC)
The thing about the Vlad Taltos books is that no two of them are doing the same thing, exactly. This can be immensely frustrating or immensely rewarding, depending on the reader.
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From: swan_tower
2014-10-16 05:53 pm (UTC)
but y’know, sink or swim, kiddo, you want to start a series this late, you’re probably a person who’s okay with some hard knocks

I am unsurprised in the slightest that both the Wheel of Time and Harry Potter eventually gave up on reintroducing people and concepts, presumably on exactly those grounds. Anybody who picks up a series* four or five or more books in deserves what they get.

*A series of the non-Nancy Drew sort, i.e. not just resetting the world state at the beginning of each book to tell another independent episodic tale.
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From: vcmw
2014-10-17 02:12 pm (UTC)
I tend, for some reason, to really like the experience of reading a long series where I start from the middle and work my way out in both directions. It's not something I've sought out actively but the handful of times it's happened I've really really enjoyed it. Which is I think actually relevant to the Vlad Taltos books, because if memory/quick websearch serves me right, their publication order / internal series chronology ends up being structured to give a similar effect.

Hrm, Max Gladstone's Craft books are doing something similar with pub and chronological order, aren't they? Now I wonder if there are other series that do this and if I'd like them too.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-10-17 02:40 pm (UTC)
Max's Craft books stand substantially alone, in my experience so far (I still have Two Serpents Rise sitting on my pile), so I think they are the best kind of series to do this with: the kind where each volume will inform and enhance the others but not be required for it.
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From: swan_tower
2014-10-17 05:36 pm (UTC)
I once read a series (Daniel Keys Moran's Continuing Time books) by reading #3, then #2, then #1. Since each book focuses on a different character, this actually works quite well, so long as you don't mind being comprehensively spoiled for the main events of #1: in The Last Dancer they mention stuff that happened, in The Long Run they give an after-the-fact eyewitness account of it, and then in Emerald Eyes I finally saw it happen. Gave the whole thing the character of a Greek tragedy, with the inevitability of it all . . . .

The key thing for me is that if you approach a series that way, it's on you the reader to make it work. I don't expect Moran to avoid spoilers or re-explain obvious things just on the chance that somebody like me has come along: he should tell the story in the way best suited to the probable order of reading.
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[User Picture]From: ashnistrike
2014-10-17 03:48 am (UTC)
I just finished this. So, so happy at all the Forward Momentum.
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