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Hawk
by Steven Brust
Tor Book, $24.99, 320 pp
Published October 2014

Here, at long last, is the next installment of Brust’s magnificent series about Vladimir Taltos, onetime assassin, now a wanderer who wishes to return home.

Vlad has a price on his head so high that Jereg assassins are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to collect. The city of Adrilankha is a dangerous place for him to show face. But Vlad is sick and tired of hiding and being on the run. He wants to see his friends and family without having to skulk, to eat once again at Valabar’s; he is angry enough come back to Adrilankha to play the Jereg game – and change it.  

The Hawk of the title is none other than Vlad’s unusual acquaintance, Daymar; although Vlad himself is in hawk mode as he surveys the players and selects his prey. With Daymar’s help, Vlad sets up an elaborate trap, using himself as bait to lure the most powerful of the Jereg bosses to a time and place of his choosing, in order to make a Deal with them.

Vlad may have the high ground at first, but Dealing means going to ground, dusting off his old skills, and then standing before his enemies with no back-up.  This is Vlad at his most resourceful. As you are scratching your head and wondering, “How will he ever get out of this alive?”  or, “Whoa! I did not see that coming!” the story turns to reveal another angle of Vlad’s desperate, devious plot.  But even hawks have predators….

Brust crafts an elegant double- and triple-cross scenario that enthralls. Reading Hawk is like seeing Ocean’s Eleven (the one with George Clooney et al) for the first time, or The Maltese Falcon. It is at once wonderfully gratifying – especially, I thought, Vlad’s reunion with Kragar – and agonizingly suspenseful: what will happen next?!?!?! ~~ Chris R. Paige

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