The adventurous sequel to The Phoenix Guards reunites Khaavren, Pel, Aerich, and Tazendra, who meet again after five hundred years, just as an uprising in Dragaera threatens the Imperial Orb and begins to change their world.
In The Phoenix Guard Brust introduced his three musketeers, and they had a similar parting of ways, but now forces are gathering to cause problems, Mario walks the world, and the friends get together again to save it.
I enjoy the adventures of Vlad Taltos, but this book and it predecessor are perhaps the most entertaining of the lot. Taltos is an outsider in the Dragaeran Society, Khaavren, Aerich, Tazendra, and Pel are within it. Their adventures are no less enjoyable than those of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan. Written with the same tongue and cheek perspective as the Taltos series, these books provide an intersting view of classical characters.
As explained in an "interview" with the book's pompous narrator, Brust writes for those who love to read, i.e. those who enjoy a good vocabulary, good grammar, good phrasing, and (indeed) a good story. This is not some "page-turner" to be engulfed at one-sitting; if you did that with a box of Godiva chocolates, you'd become ill and lose the appreciation for each one. Just so with each of the book's chapters. The plot does slow a little too much in places--often due the musings of the intruding, over-erudite narrator--but there are worthy adages, tales and metaphors therein; don't miss them.
This is a fine, fine work. The swashbuckling spirit of _The Phoenix Guards_ remains intact, but partially cloaked by ominous portents. Do not miss these two books if you enjoy a good tale (fantasy or otherwise). I'll eagerly await the third.
(Postscript: Perhaps best of all, the story ends! Take note, Messrs. J----- and G-------.)