Friday, August 25, 2006

Lisa's Take: The Khaavrian Romances

What makes a book jump out above all others? What makes you long for characters months after you’ve finished a series? Is it even fair to write a review of a book that you love such a ridiculous amount?

I’ll admit, I’m a big Brust-fan. I’ve enjoyed just about everything I’ve read by him (which is rather a lot of books… somewhere in the 16 or 18 range that I’ve finished, I think?) and I especially enjoy his Vlad Taltos Series. That’s an entirely different review though, and one that I’ll share the honors with JD on. But regardless of my predisposition, the five books of the Khaavrian Romances (The Phoenix Guards, Five Hundred Years After, and The Viscount of Adrilankha (Paths of the Dead, Lord of Castle Black and Sethra Lavode)) are simply amongst the most wonderful works of fiction I’ve ever consumed.

The story, you ask? The story follows four friends – Khaavren, Pel, Tazendra and Aerich – as they meet, join The Phoenix Guards, solve a mystery, protect the emperor, see the downfall of a city and help bring the empire back to life. All in a day’s work and all of that. Screw the story though; it’s fantastic and interesting, but that’s not what makes the books so wonderful. Characters and Prose, my friends, Characters and Prose are what does it.

You just don’t know what amazing prose is until you’ve read these books. The style of speech (which takes a bit to get the flow of – bear with it) sweeps you up and engages you completely – and will have you speaking the same way for months afterwards. Brust embraces and enhances a Dumas-ian prose-style and gives it a knife’s edge twist to make it infectious and amazing. Wit has never been so well done. Merely speaking of it cannot possibly do it justice, but once you’ve read it you will understand.

Characters, you wonder? The Horse! I’ve been wishing to speak of nothing else for an hour! (Sorry, I went back to prose there for a moment, forgive me please.) I’ll admit, books have made me cry before. Not often, but every once in a while (*cough*Martin*cough*) one will get me. The Khaavrian Romances made me sob, I cared about the characters so much. Brust just creates the most amazing, believable, solid…. possessing characters. Every word and action is perfect for that character, every look and movement and shrug. They keep you spellbound, and when the books ended I longed to be close to them again. I literally miss the characters with a pain in my chest sometimes.

So there you have it – now you know exactly what makes the best books in the world the best *wink* Certainly they won’t be everyone’s favorite, but they should definitely be a staple of the Fantasy Connoisseur’s diet. Brust just made the New York Time’s Bestseller list for the first time, so he might be getting wider recognition in the years to come, but in the mean time I’ll do my best to initiate everyone I possibly can to his amazingness.

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