Issola

Written by: Steven Brust

Issola Book Cover
Okay, so maybe I've been living in the woods too long, where you can't even get a decent cup of klava first thing in the morning. So who should turn up but Lady Teldra, the courtly servant of my old friend the Dragonlord Morrolan?

Teldra wants my help, because Morrolan and Aliera have disappeared, and according to Sethra Lavode, it looks like they may be in the hands of the Jenoine. Do I want to mess with them? The guys who made this place? And I thought I had problems before...

Oh well, what's a little cosmic battle with beings who control time and space? It's better than hunkering down in the woods without even so much as a drinkable cup of klava.
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Issola Reviews

Sheila
Sorry to say, but I've found this series to become steadily less enjoyable, and to me, this was the worst yet. Way too much time spent in expository discussions and way too abstract in its concepts. The action was minimal - sit around somewhere and talk, go somewhere else and talk. Go back to the first place and talk yet again. Throw in an occasional action scene left purposefully vague and confusing, then talk again. Vlad's sarcasm is just not enough to carry the story, and other than Teldra, t Sorry to say, but I've found this series to become steadily less enjoyable, and to me, this was the worst yet. Way too much time spent in expository discussions and way too abstract in its concepts. The action was minimal - sit around somewhere and talk, go somewhere else and talk. Go back to the first place and talk yet again. Throw in an occasional action scene left purposefully vague and confusing, then talk again. Vlad's sarcasm is just not enough to carry the story, and other than Teldra, the other characters show little personality in this story. Overall, I found it boring. 2 stars, which on my scale means I finished it but wish I hadn't.
Leif
I enjoyed Issola much more than its predecessor, Dragon; the grand scope and clearly drawn narrative locations serve Brust well here, as does the surprisingly affective plot, by which I mean that I hadn't expected the conclusion of the story to strike me with the emotions that it did. It was a bit of a slow burner but, wouldn't you know it, pulled everything together into a really solid shape by the novel's end. And to be honest, I think that for adventurous stories like this that really counts, I enjoyed Issola much more than its predecessor, Dragon; the grand scope and clearly drawn narrative locations serve Brust well here, as does the surprisingly affective plot, by which I mean that I hadn't expected the conclusion of the story to strike me with the emotions that it did. It was a bit of a slow burner but, wouldn't you know it, pulled everything together into a really solid shape by the novel's end. And to be honest, I think that for adventurous stories like this that really counts, moreso than experiments with narrative form, for example. At any rate Issola, as polite and retiring and resolute as its character Teldra, made me interested and curious to read the next in Vlad Taltos' continuing catastrophes. What more could be asked?
Rich
Vlad was back to being Vlad in this one. After a departure from the usual to using different POV's over the last couple of books, this one was all from Vlad and nothing but. I appreciated the changes, but it was good to get back to what I'd liked about the Taltos books in the first place: Action, jaunty dialog and the characters we'd grown accustomed to earlier in the series. To those who'd grown weary of this in the first several books and didn't want to return, it's probably time to look for a Vlad was back to being Vlad in this one. After a departure from the usual to using different POV's over the last couple of books, this one was all from Vlad and nothing but. I appreciated the changes, but it was good to get back to what I'd liked about the Taltos books in the first place: Action, jaunty dialog and the characters we'd grown accustomed to earlier in the series. To those who'd grown weary of this in the first several books and didn't want to return, it's probably time to look for a new series to follow.

Memory of the original read all those years ago: Looks like Vlad's going to hook up with Lady Teldra, and the ending. That's pretty much all I remembered, which doesn't speak well for my memory, or the sorts of things I choose to remember.
The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology :: The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul :: The Collected Works of C.S. Lewis :: Sleeping Dogs :: Yendi
Jennifer
Once again Steven Brust kept me laughing out loud throughout Issola. I even got some funny looks from people around me as I failed to conceal my amusement. Brust brought Vlad and Loiosh back to their usual sarcastic selves after years of hiding from the Jhereg. Courtesy of Lady Teldra (an Issola), we learn a little more about Morrolan and Vlad learns a little more about himself. For those who have followed Vlad back and forth though time, we finally get an answer to Spellbreaker. The fates of Sp Once again Steven Brust kept me laughing out loud throughout Issola. I even got some funny looks from people around me as I failed to conceal my amusement. Brust brought Vlad and Loiosh back to their usual sarcastic selves after years of hiding from the Jhereg. Courtesy of Lady Teldra (an Issola), we learn a little more about Morrolan and Vlad learns a little more about himself. For those who have followed Vlad back and forth though time, we finally get an answer to Spellbreaker. The fates of Spellbreaker, Vlad, Lady Teldra and a Morganti dagger are all intertwined. What fate has in store for them, I can not tell you that, you must read it to find out. But I can say it was quite a shocker and I never saw it coming.
Psychophant
If the previous Taltos book, Orca, had two powerful characters doing a minor task (and becoming frustrated at it), this time we have many powerful characters opposing even stronger enemies, and becoming frustrated at it.

It is the becoming frustrated part I do not enjoy, the long trudge till a solution, a bit contrived, appears. It also explains a lot about the world's cosmography and prehistory, but the way all that information is presented is more didactic than fun.

In the end Vlad is even more If the previous Taltos book, Orca, had two powerful characters doing a minor task (and becoming frustrated at it), this time we have many powerful characters opposing even stronger enemies, and becoming frustrated at it.

It is the becoming frustrated part I do not enjoy, the long trudge till a solution, a bit contrived, appears. It also explains a lot about the world's cosmography and prehistory, but the way all that information is presented is more didactic than fun.

In the end Vlad is even more powerful than he was, just when his excessive power (or powerful friends) is what, in my opinion, making the series increasingly less fun to read. A bad position.
Gollor
Enjoyed this book, Vlad is developing in unusual directions for his origins, from easterner punk, to jhereg assassin, to something that doesn't fit into the books neat classifications of peoples.

This book further develops his relationships with his Dragaeran friends, and his goddess Verra. Brings into unclear focus the strange Jenoine, and how they, the Easterners, Dragaerans, Seoli relate to each other on this world.

Was a little unhappy about the fate of Lady Teldra, I always liked her. But as Enjoyed this book, Vlad is developing in unusual directions for his origins, from easterner punk, to jhereg assassin, to something that doesn't fit into the books neat classifications of peoples.

This book further develops his relationships with his Dragaeran friends, and his goddess Verra. Brings into unclear focus the strange Jenoine, and how they, the Easterners, Dragaerans, Seoli relate to each other on this world.

Was a little unhappy about the fate of Lady Teldra, I always liked her. But as with many of the characters in this series who have died, perhaps her roles has merely been redefined.
Suz
This book is a bit different than the rest of the series (so far) in that the mytharc is really big in this one, much more so than even the Paths of the Dead storyline (in the Taltos series, not the other novel by Brust).

In it, Vlad needs to rescue Aliera and Morrolan from the Jenoine with the help of Sethra, the Necromancer, Verra (! yes, the demon goddess), and Teldra (?!).

It's bonkers, and a pretty solid read. Lots of action, plenty of Vlad's snark, and he levels up, so I hope we get to be do This book is a bit different than the rest of the series (so far) in that the mytharc is really big in this one, much more so than even the Paths of the Dead storyline (in the Taltos series, not the other novel by Brust).

In it, Vlad needs to rescue Aliera and Morrolan from the Jenoine with the help of Sethra, the Necromancer, Verra (! yes, the demon goddess), and Teldra (?!).

It's bonkers, and a pretty solid read. Lots of action, plenty of Vlad's snark, and he levels up, so I hope we get to be done with wandering in the woods (it's been a while, I can't quite remember the rest of the story arc).
Contrarius
Issola is a very good entry in the Vlad Taltos series. This one harkens back to the earlier books -- first person POV, no narrative tricks (aside from frequent sardonic winks to the fourth wall), frequent humor, a bit of philosophizing, and exciting action. We finally get to learn what happens to Spellbreaker, Vlad gets some significant character development, and more of the cultural cosmology of Vlad's universe gets explained. And it's a quick read, too -- but for heaven's sake, don't read this Issola is a very good entry in the Vlad Taltos series. This one harkens back to the earlier books -- first person POV, no narrative tricks (aside from frequent sardonic winks to the fourth wall), frequent humor, a bit of philosophizing, and exciting action. We finally get to learn what happens to Spellbreaker, Vlad gets some significant character development, and more of the cultural cosmology of Vlad's universe gets explained. And it's a quick read, too -- but for heaven's sake, don't read this book without reading the earlier installments first.

An easy four stars on this one. A good book to rekindle my enthusiasm for the series as a whole.
Madolyn
One of the best of the series, the book we’ve been waiting for. At last Brust lets us meet the mysterious “Makers,” in effect the original gods of this world, and find out something about who they are and what they can do. Brust makes them convincingly alien and inscrutable, and the plot piles on surprises. There is also good character development of Vlad as his relationship with key friends deepens. Most of all, we finally get a payoff that’s been hinted at for several books, as a major develop One of the best of the series, the book we’ve been waiting for. At last Brust lets us meet the mysterious “Makers,” in effect the original gods of this world, and find out something about who they are and what they can do. Brust makes them convincingly alien and inscrutable, and the plot piles on surprises. There is also good character development of Vlad as his relationship with key friends deepens. Most of all, we finally get a payoff that’s been hinted at for several books, as a major development occurs during the smashing climax. Very cool.
Malcolm Logscribe
The first time around, I wasn't a huge fan of the Jenoine, which made this book a bit of a disappointment. When I picked it up again, I expected to love the Lady Teldra parts and skip big chunks of silly Jenoine stuff, but I ended up loving the whole thing. It's a very different book than my other favourites in the series, but it has good snark, good characters, and a good ending, and I was completely sucked in.
Kathi
How did I avoid the Vlad Taltos books for so long?
Glad I finally started reading this series, and this installment, the ninth, is one of the best so far. Many typical laugh-out-loud moments, thanks to Vlad's voice, especially his exchanges with Loiosh. Add a few thoughtful conversations, some revelations about some of the recurring characters, and plenty of action, and you end up with this thoroughly entertaining book.
10/10
Josh
This is quality light reading. If you have a couple hours to kill you can burn through this bad boy. I have no idea if I'm up to date on this series, I think I've read almost all of them published before this, so clearly I have some real tolerance for the fact the Brust is an obnoxious human being. But they remain fun books set in an interesting world. I'll probably continue to read them when they cross my path, although nothing to seek out too intently.
Kathy
Another quick read! I'm devouring these books -- still not sure why it's taken me so long to get into them.

A strange twist in the story of Vlad, as he learns something of the strange people (more powerful than gods) who may be the sole reason his people and the Dragaerians inhabit the same world.
Noel
An outstanding example of the best of Brust. Nine books into the series, but with the first 2 chapters you're given the opportunity to enjoy fast, witty dialogue which is the hallmark strength of these stories. One of my favorites as it gives a minor character a major role and provides a deeper view of the worldbuilding and the character transition from minor to major player.
Matthew
Another good read, as are most books in the series. Although by this point some of Vlad's mannerisms are getting to be slightly annoying and redundant to the reader. The over all plot of the entire series really moves forward with this book, even if the explanations of the differing factions don't entirely make much sense.
Karen
Oh my goodness. So much info packed into a short book. Brust manages to explain things without over-explaining, keeping everything in-character and just enough for what you need. And I don't want to give spoilers, but I was very close to wanting to harm the author at one point in the book but he manages to keep my trust and live another day. Impressive!
Chriss
Not bad, but not as exciting or fun as the earlier books in the series. The thing I love about the series is the planning and execution, but there is no real planing in the plot. Most of the book is dialogue between Vlad and Lady Teldra. It's really an origin story for Vlad's Great Weapon. If you haven't read the series before, this is NOT a book you should read.
David
I was on the lookout for one of the Vlad Taltos books for a while -- they've come up in a couple conversations, and they sounded fun. I found this one in a local used book store and brought it along on the plane ride, and I'm glad I did. I like Brust's writing style and characters a good deal. But I wish the first book I'd picked up was not so far into the series!
Joey O'Donnell
I probably liked this least out of the Taltos books I've read so far. But given its short length and the usual Taltos humor, this was still a nice read. It was least favorite due solely to not liking the general scenario as much as that in other books. There were, though, some very nice interpersonal relationships here and an above average ending.
Jana Tetzlaff
Yes, this one was very nice again. I had mistakenly started reading Dzur before I got to this one and it was driving me mad not to know what had happened to Lady Teldra. That one was fun though. I just love Vlad interacting with Aliera and Morrolan...and Sethra...and the Demon Goddess...
Sarah
It was book about a sarcastic man that has to save his friends and the his world from beings from another world with the aid of two flying lizard friends and a woman who greets people when they come to the castle. It is the 10 in the Vlad Taltos novels.
John Watt
Another Superb Vlad Taltos novel!! I love reading these with their own brand of wit and philosophy, and the banter between Vlad and his familiar Loiosh always has me laughing out loud. Very interesting discussions between Vlad and Teldra and as usual a great fight scene. Just love these books!!
James Gonzalez
My favorite book of the series so far. It has a huge cast (all familiar characters in the series make an appearance except one or two), a spectacular battle involving the Jenoine, and a heartbreaking ending.
Carl
It is only right and proper that the ISSOLA book contains a great deal of Lady Teldra, whose charm and graciousness are a credit to Lord Morrolan's judgement in hiring. Vlad also appears, and learns useful lessons, or at least should.
Craig
Not much really happens I felt for over half of the book. Mostly just a lot of talking. Most of it being the main character cracking jokes. It might have helped if I'd read the other books in the series first lol.
Shannon Appelcline
A somewhat puzzling book. So much time is spent loafing around a single room = with Vlad being helpless, that it can't be great. However, that all serves a purposeful dramatic purpose, and the ending is as pivotal as Phoenix's.
Janet
After the last couple of entries, I have regretfully decided that this series is too philosophically nebulous for me. There’s page after page of ruminations, mediations, and considerations, none of which I even began to grasp. I’m through. Goodbye Brust, it’s been fun.
Emily
Remember the Jenoine? Yeah, I didn't, until I went back and read the first book again. Anyway, they're back and they've kidnapped a couple of Vlad's friends. Which leaves Vlad to figure out where his friends are and how to rescue them. All with the help of Lady Teldra.
Despina
Vlad Taltos and Liosh are back, kicking ass and taking down names. This time he takes on a few gods and you get to find out a few things about Lady Teldra and Spellbreaker ...
Caroline
My adoration for Brust keeps growing. I get so lost in his world, with such delight.
Siraj Shaikh
Yet another amazingly written book in the series! I actually cried with the dead of one particular character well death of the body at least.
Todd
This one really rises Vlad to a new level of significance and power. The story is entertaining. Although, not quite the mystery I've been used to
Sirdarksol
Like Teckla, Issola is more than a little heavy on the emotion at times. The balance between drama, comedy, and action is a bit better in Issola, however.
Patty
Next to "Jhereg", this one is my absolute favorite...I thought I was going to cry at the end!
Erin Barr-smith
My favorite Vlad novel so far. Our hero is especially on point, the writing is fabulous, the adventure grand. This particular book focuses on all my favorite characters, too. :)
Beth
I love the Vlad books. This one is as awesome as they ever are. I love me a snarky, flawed narrator / hero, and I really enjoy the world as well.
Robin
Up until now by far the best book in the series. Let's hope Brust can come up with an even better one.
Branden
Absolutely fantastic ending, neat twist. It was also good to get to know Teldra, the Jenoine, and Verra more deeply. Might be my favorite book yet, just for the last 10% alone.
Samual M McMillen
3.5, loved the ending, and as always great characters whom we get to know more of, but the plot leading up to the climax was rather meh...
Nazir Ahmed
Hitchhikey concept of "we are all rats in a maze". We face the Jenoine finally, Vlad's spell breaker unwinds and becomes a proper weapon albeit at a cost. Interesting progress in the series.
Alex
I knew from chapter 1 it was a gamechanger. Good stuff
Doree Weller
It was an interesting book, but dragged at times.
Justin Stade
Great series really pulling me in. The larger picture is starting to show itself in this one.
Skipper Pickle
The best of the series, unless you have some objection to reading the previous 8. Lots of payoff delivered here if you're a continuity buff, but also quite poignant.
Allison
A solid book by Steven Brust, but probably not where to start the Vlad series. Enjoyable.
Tasula
Vlad Taltos:Lady Teldra (an Issola) asks Vlad to help Morrolan and Aliera with Jenoine.
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