Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Tor Books (Mar 2005)
This is book 3 in the Viscount of Adrilankha series, and book 5 in the The Khaavren Series - and still using the unreliable and verbose narrator Paarfi of Roundwood.
The delight of this series is in the language used. Paarfi recounts the events with the style of a Dumas (deliberately so, of course), and even in the tightest of circumstances, the dialogue is courtly and full of circumlocutions. But as the story unfolds with the launch of an attack on the empire by the Duke Kana, there is adventure and death aplenty. Brust is not afraid to have his characters die.
Events tale place some time earlier than the Vlad Talos stories, and much of the abilities there seen are unavailable here. We see only the Dragaera, not the short-lived Easterners, and there is a period flavour (helped by flowery language) in contrast to Taltos. The main characters are noble, and that's due to Paarfi's portrayal - this is unreliable narrator time, and the real events were probably much messier. Also, Paarfi has a politician's sense or whom not to upset: many of the characters are still alive when he is writing, and are pretty powerful.
The title is a little misleading - Sethra Lavode herself is not the central focus of the book, though she is important. However, the cover is really lousy, with a generic 'woman holding a sword' picture, and the back cover blurb, though undoubtedly written for this book, bears little resemblance to the content.
A delight, but that will be no surprise to those readers of the previous books.