Vlad Taltos was handed a silver tiassa, a sculpture made by a god, and over the years it influences his life and other lives until it finds Taltos once again. Vlad Taltos is a human living in Dragaeran society, and in order to get ahead, he has had to ally himself with powerful people. His father paid for a minor noble title so that Vlad could join the Jhereg House--a faction of Dragaeran society that is associated with corruption, greed, criminal enterprise, and illegal services. As a minor mob boss of the Jhereg faction, he has to be tough, well-armed, and quick on his feet--and when Devera, the god-descended daughter of Vlad's friend Aliera, hands him an artifact made by a god, he wastes no time bringing it to the attention of his sorceress friend, Sethra Lavode.
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Over the course of the novel, the silver tiassa sculpture plays a major part as the centerpiece of a confidence game Vlad runs on behalf of a highwayman named the Blue Fox, though in actuality the Blue Fox is trying to sabotage Vlad in revenge for a misdeed he believes Vlad committed. Later, after Vlad has parted ways with the Jhereg faction in a rather spectacularly violent manner, he goes into hiding, and the Jhereg faction uses the silver tiassa in a scheme to convince the Empress of the Dragaeran Empire to find Vlad for what the Empress believes is the good of the Empire; Vlad's wife Cawti, her friend Norathar, and the Countess of Whitecrest discover this plot before it is too late, and dispatch Vlad's would-be assassins before the scheme can succeed.
Later, Vlad is attacked by the enraged family of an Issola noblewoman whom he has befriended, and Khaavren, a Dragaeran detective of sorts and member of the Tiassa faction, investigates the crime. Khaavren starts to put the pieces together, finally linking the conspiracy of the silver tiassa with Vlad Taltos's recent attack. Ultimately, the reader learns that the silver tiassa was brought to Vlad by his wife Cawti, and Vlad gives it to a young man named Savn who has suffered a great deal of mental harm while helping Vlad against his enemies. In the end, Vlad and Khaavren speculate that the silver tiassa has a purpose of its own, and it is made clear that the silver tiassa is helping Savn to recover from his injuries.
Best part of story, including ending:
Steven Brust is always trying new literary techniques, and in Tiassa, he tells the story of the silver tiassa through several narrators--chiefly Vlad, but also certain members of the Jhereg faction, the in-universe historian Paarfi of Roundwood, and Devera, the god-descended little girl who steals the silver tiassa from a god and gives it to Vlad for safekeeping. As a result, Brust is able to show the reader how the Empire's bureaucracy is set up, how the conspiracies are arranged, and how Khaavren pieced the story together, while still telling a hilarious and sometimes action-heavy tale of intrigue. Plus, the first third of the book follows Vlad back before he and the Jhereg parted ways, and I've always enjoyed that time period in Vlad's life.
Best scene in story:
Steven Brust writes Paarfi of Roundwood's sections with a distinctive narrative style, and when Khaavren is just starting to investigate the attack on Vlad Taltos, the writing style adds a great deal of humor to a chapter that might otherwise be quite dry. There are several pretty funny scenes in Tiassa, but when Khaavren is interviewing Vlad immediately after the attack is reported and Vlad is giving politely useless answers, the conversation is hilarious and the writing style makes it even better.
Opinion about the main character:
Vlad Taltos is a lot of fun to read about. He's witty, cynical, clever, flawed--he antagonizes anyone in a position of lawful authority, almost compulsively--and disadvantaged inasmuch as humans (or "Easterners") are looked down upon by the Dragaerans who are much more common within the Empire. He knows how to delegate, and although he's violent at times, he does what he can to protect the people around him, including the people (like Savn) who rely on him.