Today’s Book: “Dzur” by Steven Brust.
The Plot: Vlad Taltos, a general-purpose assassin/witch/organized criminal, investigates some organized crime doings which are putting his ex-wife Cawti in danger.
Autistic Character(s): Daymar, a Hawklord and powerful psychic who helps Vlad.
Yes, Daymar is back! I have previously written reviews involving Daymar for the books Dragon and Hawk (and the short story The Desecrator), so you should probably go and read those ones first before cutting back to this one.
I didn’t exactly intend to spend another whole review on Daymar, because honestly, his role in this book is pretty similar to his role in the other two. Vlad needs something, Daymar shows up to help him, Vlad is annoyed by him as a person but makes use of his help.
Despite Daymar’s limited role in Dzur, though, I ended up liking it more than his role in Hawk. There are a couple of nuances to Daymar’s lines here that I don’t recall seeing in the other two books. For instance, he seems aware of Vlad’s annoyance with him, and able to take advantage of that annoyance to make jokes at Vlad’s expense (much as Vlad is constantly making jokes at Daymar’s):
He nodded. “A psychic location means finding the story, and where on the story a particular mind is.”
I considered. “Do you know, I think I understood some of that.”
“I’m sorry. I’ll try again.”
“No, no. Go on.”
“I know, Vlad. That was a joke.”
“Oh. I didn’t think you did that.”
He’s also shown more actively trying to process Vlad’s emotions, and successfully pressing for more information about them where needed:
“Vlad, are you angry?”
“No, I’m overwhelmed with joy and love for all humanity, but I’m working very hard to conceal it.”
“That was sarcasm, right?”
“Okay. Are you angry with me?”
I sighed. “Yes, but I shouldn’t be. I should just be angry in general. I’ll work on that. In the meantime-“
And despite his general annoyance with Daymar, Vlad is also more consciously grateful for his assistance than in Hawk, offering to buy him a drink for his troubles.
So this book is definitely better at depicting Daymar than Hawk was, but there are two sides to that improvement, because, as it happens, I’m reading the books all out of order for no real reason and Dzur was actually published eight years before Hawk. For an author I generally enjoy, it’s a little bit sad that Brust seems to have gotten worse about this over time instead of better.
Daymar is also only present in a couple of chapters, so even if you are a big Daymar fan, it’s not necessarily worthwhile to get the book just for him.
The Verdict: Marginal
Disclosure: I have never interacted with Steven Brust. I read his book because I got it as a birthday present.
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