Brokedown Palace

Written by: Steven Brust

Brokedown Palace Book Cover
Back in print after a decade, Brokedown Palace is a stand-alone fantasy in the world of Steven Brust's bestselling Vlad Taltos novels.

Once upon a time…far to the East of the Dragaeran Empire, four brothers ruled in Fenario:

King Laszlo, a good man—though perhaps a little mad; Prince Andor, a clever man—though perhaps a little shallow; Prince Vilmos, a strong man—though perhaps a little stupid; and Prince Miklos, the youngest brother, perhaps a little—no, a lot-stubborn.

Once upon a time there were four brothers—and a goddess, a wizard, an enigmatic talking stallion, a very hungry dragon—and a crumbling, broken-down palace with hungry jhereg circling overhead. And then…
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Brokedown Palace Reviews

Chris
I'll proably try reading this again at one point for the fairy motifs, but it is boring the H.E. double hockey sticks out me and I like the idea of talking horses.
Noah Stacy
Well, here we have Stephen Brust's first dip into the other bit of Dragaera--the East, where humans live. In particular, Fenario, which is basically Hungary. That said, you don't really learn so very much about Fenario here. First up, this is a bit of a fable, or fairy tale, rather than a straight narrative of fictional events. (Also, it's apparently a Marxist allegory on top of that. Brust is not at his most charming when he is dragging Marxism into the books; in this case, at least, he isn't a Well, here we have Stephen Brust's first dip into the other bit of Dragaera--the East, where humans live. In particular, Fenario, which is basically Hungary. That said, you don't really learn so very much about Fenario here. First up, this is a bit of a fable, or fairy tale, rather than a straight narrative of fictional events. (Also, it's apparently a Marxist allegory on top of that. Brust is not at his most charming when he is dragging Marxism into the books; in this case, at least, he isn't anvilicious about it.) Second, it's just about the royal family of Fenario, and the eponymous palace. Not a lot happens here, with perhaps the most interesting event--Prince Miklos's time in "Faerie", or the Dragaeran Empire we know and love--takes place entirely off stage. Ultimately, this is a requirement only for completists and proper Dragaera nerds; it's not painful, but it's certainly not required or even recommended.
Julie Capell
There are few fantasists who can create characters and places as fully realized as Stephen Brust. Set in the same world as his "Vlad Taltos" cycle, this novel has all new characters and as such may be read without knowing the other books. I found this to be one of the most fantastical and lyrical of Brust's novels. It reads very much like a fairy tale with underlying themes of familial relationships, the need to abandon old ways, resistance to change, and of course, that touchstone of many a fan There are few fantasists who can create characters and places as fully realized as Stephen Brust. Set in the same world as his "Vlad Taltos" cycle, this novel has all new characters and as such may be read without knowing the other books. I found this to be one of the most fantastical and lyrical of Brust's novels. It reads very much like a fairy tale with underlying themes of familial relationships, the need to abandon old ways, resistance to change, and of course, that touchstone of many a fantasy novel, belief in oneself. Great mini-tales, tall tales really, intersperse the narrative and have the feel of actual stories Brust may have heard in his real life, perhaps from a much older relative? Many of these were quite funny and lent a picaresque flavor to the book that I quite enjoyed. Would be a worthy addition to any Brust collection.
Ravelstein :: To Jerusalem and Back :: The Best American Essays 1988 :: number9dream :: At the Earth's Core
Alan Edwards
One thing I really enjoy is Steven Brust's ability to write novels in the same fantasy world that have completely different tones and writing styles, depending on the subject. His Vlad books are noir, his Khaavren series echoes Dumas so well I half-suspect that Brust is actually possessed by the Frenchman's ghost. Brokedown Palace is written like an old-school fairy tale, with interludes of other fairy-tale stories often thrown in between chapters. I had trouble getting into the story, put it do One thing I really enjoy is Steven Brust's ability to write novels in the same fantasy world that have completely different tones and writing styles, depending on the subject. His Vlad books are noir, his Khaavren series echoes Dumas so well I half-suspect that Brust is actually possessed by the Frenchman's ghost. Brokedown Palace is written like an old-school fairy tale, with interludes of other fairy-tale stories often thrown in between chapters. I had trouble getting into the story, put it down a few times, then got into it enough that it finally hooked me. It's an enjoyable story, but some people might go in expecting Vlad-Brust or Dumas-Brust and be disappointed. I wasn't, but as I said, it was hard for me to get going. Still an enjoyable read.
Mattathias
Steven Brust is pretty good at writing fairy tales-- in fact, he's one of the few modern writers who I think really captures the sensibility and feel of traditional folk tales. And this makes the interludes in this book, which are Fenarian fairy tales, quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, this doesn't carry over into the main narrative, which is boring as all get out. As other reviews have noted, it's a Marxist parable with little to no characterization or plot. Everyone sits around while a tree grow Steven Brust is pretty good at writing fairy tales-- in fact, he's one of the few modern writers who I think really captures the sensibility and feel of traditional folk tales. And this makes the interludes in this book, which are Fenarian fairy tales, quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, this doesn't carry over into the main narrative, which is boring as all get out. As other reviews have noted, it's a Marxist parable with little to no characterization or plot. Everyone sits around while a tree grows. Yep.

If you like Steven Brust or want an introduction to his work, you're probably better off reading a Vlad Taltos novel. Read this if you really like Marxism or old fashioned folk tales. And if you're reading for the folk tales, just skim through for the interludes.
Booknerd Fraser
This was a bit more leisurely than I had expected. In other words, it took a while for things to get started. And really, they didn't "start" until the end. The story is not world-shatteringly epic, though are definately some hero's journey epic themes. I kept thinking about all the "old ways" in our own society that perhaps we should abandon.

And I did like the little folktales between the chapter.
Marva
Rarely is there a book that I quit on in the middle because it is so boring, ill-written, or whatever. This is one. A great shame since I've always liked Steven Brust.

Nearly halfway into it, I kept wanting there to be an interesting story. I guess it must have started further on because I couldn't find one to the point I read.

Derek
Brokedown Palace was my first exposure to Steven Brust. I don't know that it was necessarily the best place to start (some story elements weren't really explained; I can only assume they were covered in previous books), but the story itself was very interesting. I'm definitely interested in exploring his Vlad Taltos books.
Kevin Brady
The story was good up till the end - too much happens at once and is never fully followed up or clarified, the characters start peeling off or dying suddenly, and the deeper meaning/lesson was not deep at all. Again, I liked the story and characters for the first 80% of the book. Worth reading once.
Chris Jackson
This was a very different style for Steven Brust, a very strange story and a very different twist on magic. The close look of watching a madman devolve was done very well. Nice to see the story with a new cover and re-released.
J.B. Rockwell
Great fantasy with beautiful imagery. The crumbling, wandering palace makes a great backdrop for this bittersweet story that reads like a fairy tale. Highly recommend. One to keep and read over and over again.
Lori
Set in the same world as Taltos this story takes place in the land of Fenario, where four brothers rule. The Interlude stories are a nice foil to the main plot involving a slowly failing palace and the upstart growth of a tree in the middle of it.
Marty
Well, it seems like it will be amusing but it wasn't for me. It's a long slog and then it ends and you think well what did I slog for not enough payoff. I never developed enough sympathy with the characters to care.
Emily
This was a fascinating tale. In between each chapter was an interlude that read very much like a Hungarian folk tale. While the Vlad Taltos books always seemed real to me - this book, set in the same world, but in the East, seemed more mythical and surreal.
Woodge
Enjoyable stand-alone fantasy. I liked the four brothers.
Ethan Rose
I really enjoyed this story. I have a fondness for mythology in modern fantasy and this one delivered.
Jenny
This book has actually been one of my favorites from Brust, and its hard for me to like all his books because his writing is so unique; but I must say this one is my favorite so far.
John
Disappointing after the Vlad Taltos series.
Patty
Later in the Vlad books, they begin to refer to some of the events in this one, so it's a good read for background knowledge as it pops up.
Rebecca
So odd, there really were to many perspectives and really hard to finish.
Heather
still feels like there's something in this story that i'm missing....
[redacted by S.H.I.E.L.D.]
This book was so good I want to lower every other book I;ve rated by one star in order to emphasize how good it was.
Jubilee
For the authors first book this was an enjoyable read. It can be fun to read a author's books in reverse order of publication to see where the rest of his works came from.
Amber Kantor
Story line was a little slow. Different style than many books out there. I liked the little folk lore interludes.
Amber
I can never remember what this book is about. I've read it at least a dozen times and all I can ever remember about what happens is that a tree grows through the palace!
Caveadsum
It's been a loooong time. I can't remember if I ever finished reading this book. But I enjoyed what I read.
Matt
Interesting fairy tale style with some classic Brust hallmarks. Enjoyable for the Brust completeist, but there are better places to enter his world for the new reader.
Joel
Brokedown Palace was a satisfying fairy tale with a pleasing dash of originality. It didn't take long to see where the plot was headed, but I thoroughly enjoyed the route Brust took to get there.
Leif
Fun and comfortable fantasy, written so the reader may slip in with ease, demanding little, but subtly offering a rich experience. Brust hits a home run with this clever little stand-alone novel.
Michael Coats
A great faerie tale! Highly recommended to Dead Heads out there.
John Adams
A poetic and atmospheric riff on mythical archetypes, although the story sometimes felt more like an allegory than a coherent plot.
Eddie
Well, this was my "have on hand but can put it down if something else pops up" book. Still, this was very nice in a different sort of way. Brust is just different. But I like it.
Sharon
So much different than the movie when it comes to the characters.But a very good book.
Sholmes3
It was entertaining, but I felt like a lot of details were left out that I wish were included.
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