First edition cover
|Series||The Vlad Taltos novels|
|Publisher||Saint Martin's Press|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|Pages||256 pp (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-312-85927-9 (first edition, hardback)|
|LC Class||PS3552.R84 I87 2001|
Issola is the ninth book in Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series, set in the fantasy world of Dragaera. It was published in 2001. Following the trend of the series, it is named after one of the Great Houses and features that House as an important element to its plot.
Still on the run from the Jhereg Organization, Vlad receives a surprise visit by Lady Teldra. At an inn, Teldra tells Vlad that Morrolan and his cousin Aliera have gone missing, and requests his help. They teleport to Dzur Mountain and speak with Sethra Lavode, a powerful enchantress. Vlad learns that the disappearance probably has something to do with the Jenoine. Sethra tells Vlad about how the Jenoine came to Dragaera and magically changed it for their own mysterious ends, and how the Dragaerans, Serioli, and gods managed to oust them from the world. The Jenoine have been trying to return ever since, and this could be the first step in the next major offensive.
Vlad and Teldra teleport to Morrolan's home, Castle Black, and meet the Necromancer. They use the connection between Vlad's magical chain, Spellbreaker, and Morrolan's Great Weapon, Blackwand, to trace Morrolan's location. Vlad and Teldra then use the magic windows in Morrolan's study to transport there. They discover Morrolan and Aliera chained to the wall of a large, barren room on another plane of existence. Sorcery is not possible there, and the air is hard to breathe. Several Jenoine arrive, but Teldra speaks their language and attempts to engage them in diplomacy. They give her a Morganti dagger and promise to release the four of them if Vlad will assassinate Verra, his own Demon Goddess.
Vlad and Teldra transport to Verra's halls and speak with the Demon Goddess. Vlad behaves flippantly during the conversation, but has no intention of attempting to kill his goddess. Teldra smooths over the conversation with her impeccable courtesy, but the pair return to the barren room having accomplished little. Though they have nowhere to go, Vlad frees Morrolan and Aliera from their bonds using his witchcraft. Soon after, a Jenoine arrives and a fight breaks out. Vlad is knocked unconscious and awakes chained to the wall along with Teldra, while Aliera and Morrolan have escaped.
Vlad and Teldra idly chat about the nature and necessity of courtesy. Once Vlad has recuperated, he frees them with his witchcraft again. Vlad continues to note that the Jenoine's treatment of them, and their behavior in general, seem to make no sense. Vlad investigates the room and uses Spellbreaker to dispel an illusion concealing an exit. Outside, they find a natural landscape and a stream. Vlad discovers that the stream consists of amorphia, liquid chaos used to power sorcery, rather than water. He is thunderstruck by such a creation. Using half-remembered magic, he solidifies a small portion of amorphia into the usable form of a stone without destroying himself.
Vlad and Teldra return to the room and wait until Morrolan and Aliera arrive on their own rescue mission. An unsuccessful escape attempt follows, and afterwards Vlad realizes that his vision has changed somehow: he now sees additional objects in the room that others cannot. Morrolan uses the power of Blackwand to share Vlad's vision with the rest of the group. They identify a large chunk of rock in the middle of the room as trellanstone, the substance from which the Orb was made, and makes sorcery possible. The Jenoine are using immense power through the trellanstone to keep the amorphia stream flowing. Terrified by this discovery, Vlad uses his witchcraft to summon Verra, an extravagant insult. Verra quickly learns the scope of the situation, however, and leads an assault on the Jenoine. Vlad uses his amorphia stone to channel Elder Sorcery. This distracts the Jenoine long enough for the four to escape.
Vlad awakes in Dzur mountain with his left arm numb and lifeless. Sethra, Verra, Morrolan, and Aliera puzzle out how the Jenoine acquired so much amorphia. The Imperial Orb is already linked to the Great Sea of Amorphia, so the Jenoine must be tapping the Lesser Sea, which was created during Adron's Disaster, a mishap with Elder Sorcery instigated by Aliera's father. Sethra organizes an impromptu raid on the Lesser Sea to cut off the Jenoine's link. She insists that Vlad accompany them in spite of his dead arm and lack of magical skill, believing that Spellbreaker might again prove useful.
Vlad and Teldra accompany Sethra's group of some of the most powerful Dragaerans in the Empire, along with Verra and assortment of gods, to the Lesser Sea. They cut off the Jenoine's link and engage four of them in combat. Vastly outnumbered by Dragaera's most powerful beings, the Jenoine prove more than a match. Vlad and Teldra stay out of the fighting until Morrolan is killed. Teldra suddenly grabs Vlad's Morganti dagger and stabs a Jenoine. The dagger has little effect on the Jenoine, who then uses it to stab Teldra in turn, destroying her soul. Grief-stricken, Vlad attempts to pull the dagger from Teldra's body, but in doing so allows Spellbreaker to contact the weapon. Using unknown power, Vlad intuitively recovers the remnants of Teldra's soul and joins it with the dagger and Spellbreaker to form a new Great Weapon. Vlad uses the dagger to pierce a Jenoine's defenses and kill it, causing a rout in the Jenoine's ranks.
Back at Dzur Mountain, Morrolan is revivified. Vlad speaks to Sethra about his new weapon, Godslayer, though Vlad prefers to think of it as Lady Teldra. Vlad feels her soul within the blade and finally understands how she manages to always seem so genuine: she genuinely likes people. He feels her love for him through the weapon, and believes that it might have a positive effect on his personality. The Necromancer offers to teleport Vlad to a destination of his choosing. Vlad realizes that he has much less to fear from the Organization now. He decides to return to Adrilankha and visit Valabar's, his favorite restaurant.
The House of the Issola
House Issola is one of the noble Houses of the Dragaeran Empire. Issola tend to possess both physical and social grace. They have natural personal skills that make them suited for professions requiring interaction with others. Issola tend to serve as diplomats, seneschals of powerful nobles, and entertainers. In spite of their friendly natures, Issola do not hesitate to manipulate social situations to their advantage. Issola are usually very attractive, with pale brown hair and eyes, and wear green and white as the colors of their House.
The House is named after the issola, a wading bird similar to the heron. The issola hunts by standing gracefully in shallow water and striking at fish with blinding speed. It represents grace and guile. The Cycle Poem observes, "Issola strikes from courtly bow".