the Little Red Reviewer

Vlad Taltos and GLOW shouldn’t be connected, but they kinda are

Posted on: August 31, 2019

I recently picked up a copy of Steven Brust’s Vallista,  a book that came out a few years ago in his  Vlad Taltos series. If you like dry humor, witty banter,  the long game, a series you can dip into and out of, and long running in-jokes, this is the series for you.  If you don’t like any of those things, this is probably not the series for you.

 

There’s like 15 books in this series so far. . .  i’ve read the first handful, the most recent handful, and I’m still catching up on the middle handful.  When I go to a used bookstore, I always check the B’s for a Steven Brust book that I don’t already have. If I see one of his books and I’m not sure if I have it. . .  i usually buy it anyways. I had three copies of  Dragon at one time.

Because I’m smart,  I decided to reread Hawk, which is the book that came out prior to Vallista, so that I could have recent plot points fresh in my mind.    Hawk is a super fun book – it reads very fast, there is tons of plotting and dialog, lots of contingency plans that end up not being needed and somehow end up sounding kind of funny. The entire book is a massive smirk. My favorite bit of banter was

 

“ . .  I’m working on something and he’s liable to get in the way.”

“What are you working on?”

“I’m trying to set up a store to sell baskets of none-of your-fucking-business at wholesale prices”.

 

Something I love about this series is how big the world is.  No author can cram an entire world’s worth of worldbuilding into one novel (and when they try to, the book ends up being 900 pages and miserable to read).   But you can do nearly unlimited worldbuilding when you’ve got 15 novels to play in. Brust will have his characters mention a place, or another person, or some event that they know about (but the reader doesn’t), and the place, person, or event isn’t important to that particular plot line and isn’t mentioned again in that novel. But. . .  it leaves the door open to explore it in further detail later, and that’s exactly what Brust does a lot of the time. And I don’t know why, but I fucking love it.

 

So anyway,  Hawk was a ton of fun. I finished it a couple of days ago,  and picked up Vallista.

 

Because I’m smart,  that’s the moment I remembered that one of the other things that makes this series so fun is that Brust doesn’t write the novels in chronological order.  Chronologically, Vallista takes place before Hawk (maybe right after Tiassa?). In Hawk, Vlad mentions a particular psuedo-abandoned house on a hill. He  holds a particular negotiation in that mansion, for some specific reasons. He mentions something about how the house is weird.  Also, i’m not all that concerned about the specifics of the chronology.  I find I prefer stores that aren’t told in chronological order.

The novel Vallista is the first time he goes into that weird house on the hill.  I’m only 60-some pages in, he’s stuck in the house, and all sorts of super fun and cool and weirdo Doctor Who things are happening, and I have THOUGHTS.

 

Not sure how much any of this spoils Vallista, since I’m not even 70 pages in.

 

I should mention I binge watched Glow season 3, and this was the best season yet, and I’d like to watch that season a million times but I’m not going to because body image issues. So now I’m watching The Good Place instead.

 

Vlad meets a bunch of weird people in the weird house on the hill.   One of the people he meets is a dancer. She says she works for the owner of the house as a dancer, Vlad gets the wrong idea, and she sets him straight about what being a classical dancer means.  Age-wise, she’s past her prime, and she tries to explain to him about the wear and tear that dancing has done to her body.

 

“Most of the damage,” she said, “is from jumping and landing. Some, of course, comes from the poses, but in my case it was the hard surfaces. Thousands and thousands of landings.”

. . . .

“There are things I can’t do anymore. None of the troupes will have me. It’s how things work – we dance, our bodies break down, we stop dancing”.

 

She tries to explain to Vlad her destroyed knees and hips and constant pain, and he doesn’t get it because to him, her body looks amazing.

 

Do a  google search for “Glow: Tuck in your tail”.  The wrestlers take a dance class from a teacher who teaches the dance classes for the showgirls at the casino.  One of the wrestlers, Cherry (who is criminally under appreciated) asks the dance teacher, Denise, why she isn’t a showgirl since she is such an amazing dancer, and Denise says it is because she had a baby, and that changed how her body looked and how the other showgirls and show directors looked at her. To Cherry and the other wrestlers, Denise is an amazing dancer who has an amazing body.  But Denise knows her career is over. Cherry is worried that if she chooses to have a baby, that her career will be over too, because as an actress and a wrestler, her career is her body.

Body image issues SUCK.  I just turned 40 years old.  I shouldn’t have body image issues any more right? I should have grown out of this shit 20 years ago, right?  NOPE. that episode of Glow was great until that final scene with Debbie. And the problem with that scene with Debbie was me, thinking to myself “that looks like the best solution I’ve seen so far. She’s a smart woman”.  Yep, i now totally understand trigger warnings. I don’t think they need to be slapped all over everything, but dude, i fucking get it.  I know there something wrong with me because I’m completely fine with what Debbie did, and I’m ok with that.

Everyone, me included, makes judgements about people based on how people look.  The phrase “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is hilarious, since our culture is designed around judging people by how they look.   Next you talk with a dancer, tell her how smart she is and how creative she is. Don’t be saying shit like “but your body looks amazing!”.

 

A while ago I reviewed a book about an interstellar linguist, who finds herself learning a language spoken by a tribe of blind people. Because of a genetic defect, everyone in the tribe is blind. it makes for an excellent plot device, to be honest.  Do blind people have body image issues? is that another way to escape this?

 

Oh, and totally off topic, since I love cosplaying obscure characters from specific scenes deep in fantasy series that no one has ever heard of, I’m one Edward Elric wig away from the perfect Devera cosplay:

 

“She wore loose-fitting black pants with a silver stripe and an even looser-fitting shirt that was also black but decorated with silver, all of worth more than those waifs would ever manage to steal. She had a black ribbon in her shoulder-length blond hair to keep it rigorously back out of her eyes”

 

Also just realized that GLOW has enough bits and pieces that never get enough attention, enough character and world building that the writers could write forever if they wanted, and just expand people’s characters and lives.  Sorta like the Vlad Taltos series. Maybe that’s why I like them both so much.

 

Gonna go read some more Vallista and then later watch some The Good Place.

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2 Responses to "Vlad Taltos and GLOW shouldn’t be connected, but they kinda are"

I wouldn’t even have expected to see mention of the Vlad Taltos novels and The Good Place in the same blog post…! 🙂

“obscure characters from […] fantasy series that no one has ever heard of” (*is a fan of the Vlad Taltos novels — has jokingly told housecats to say “Boss” instead of “Momma”*) Those are the most fun sometimes, aren’t they? Not that I’ve ever considered dressing up as the protagonist from a novel by one of Steven Brust’s former bandmates or anything…

Liked by 1 person

if you’re looking for that person who makes weird connections, um, i’m that person!

“Not that I’ve ever considered dressing up as the protagonist from a novel by one of Steven Brust’s former bandmates or anything…”

which makes you my hero!

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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