09 December 2010
Book Banter -- Brokedown Palace
Author: Steven Brust
Length: 351 pages
Where Word Nerd's Copy Came From: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library
Plot Basics: Brust takes readers to the other side of the world from his Vlad Taltos series, to the land of Fenario. There, four brothers in the royal family are living in a crumbling palace. When the youngest brother, Miklos, dares to mention this to his eldest brother, the King, Laszslo, he is nearly killed and driven from the kingdom. When he returns a few years later, the Palace -- and the brothers' hold on the kingdom -- is threatened by a mysterious tree growing in the crumbling structure. Miklos must come to terms with his family and figure out what home truly means to save himself and those around him.
Banter Points: This is the first non-Vlad book of Brust's that I've read and I have to admit, I was skeptical at first. The narrative sounds nothing like the tone of a Vlad story, but then I realized that's exactly the point. The story is rather quiet -- none of Vlad's action-packed antics -- but it's charming. The main narrative is broken up with small "Interlude" chapters, full of folk-tales that add to the richness of the land Brust puts his readers in. The brothers are a brilliantly dysfunctional family and it's neat to see how he evolves the character of each of them.
Bummer Points: This would not be a good first introduction to Brust. The world is complicated and it helps to have a little idea of where things are from the Vlad stories because it wouldn't be as accessible without that background knowledge.
Word Nerd Recommendation: An absolute must-read for Brust fans and those who like interesting fantasy may well enjoy it too.