Belated February Brust: Yendi (Part 1)

I think if you fined me a nickel every time I spelled “Steven Brust” as “Stephen Brust” I’d probably be a poor, poor woman.  Cripes.

Yendi is the book that starts out with the onion metaphor.

Kragar says that life is like an onion, but he doesn’t mean the same thing by it that I do.

He talks about peeling it, and how you can go deeper and deeper, until finally you get to the center and nothing is there. I suppose there’s truth in that, but in the years when my father ran a restaurant, I never peeled an onion, I chopped them; Kragar’s analogy doesn’t do much for me.

When I say that life is like an onion, I mean this: if you don’t do anything with it, it goes rotten. So far, that’s no different from other vegetables. But when an onion goes bad, it can do it from either the inside, or the outside. So sometimes you get one that looks good, but the core is rotten. Other times, you can see bad spot on it, but if you cut that out, the rest is fine. Tastes sharp, but that’s what you paid for, isn’t it?

I can’t help but wonder whether Brust sees Vlad as rotten in the core or with a bad spot. Probably the former, or Vlad wouldn’t be so sympathetic. Vlad, on the other hand, probably sees himself as the second, at least in this book.  There’s Vlad’s character arc for you across the series right there–figuring out that it’s just a bad spot, and then cutting it out.

Oh, yeah.  It’s also the book where Vlad takes over Laris’s territory, falls in love with Cawti, and pisses off the Jhereg for the first time.

I didn’t manage to spot Our Favorite Yendi, Pel, overtly in the pages of the book, but I have to wonder if he’s behind it all.  Or at least in part.  Indirectly.  He’s still around in Vlad’s time, as far as I can tell.

C1.  A party at Castle Black.  Brust nicely lays down the “You need a wife” theme; Vlad’s tired of visiting brothels.  Vlad is sneered at by the Sorceress in Green, who isn’t an Athyra (she’s the Yendi, if you remember).

C2.  Vlad lays out the timeline of his start in the Jhereg and how he got his territory.  The math of working for the Jhereg is strangely interesting, implying that something has to be unreasonably profitable for the Jhereg to want to take it on.  There’s a freelance Dragaeran named Ishtvan (an Eastern name).

C3.  Meeting at a restaurant.  The wine Kaavren/Khaav’n is mentioned, as is the fact that the restaurant (The Terrace) has been there since before the Interregnum.  Meal:  pepper sausages, green rice covered with cheese sauce.  Parsley fried in butter, lemon juice, rednut liquor.

More later…

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