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|Cover artist||Stephen Hickman|
|Series||The Vlad Taltos novels|
|July 8, 2008|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Pages||304 (1st ed., hardback)|
|ISBN||0-7653-0147-4 (1st ed., hardback)|
|LC Class||PS3552.R84 J48 2008|
Jhegaala is the eleventh book in Steven Brust′s Vlad Taltos series, set in the fantasy world of Dragaera. It was published in 2008. Following the trend of the series, it is named after one of the Great Houses and usually features that House as an important element to its plot.
Each house uses a creature from the Dragaeran world as their symbol; the jhegaala itself is a creature that metamorphosizes many times throughout its lifespan. The mental aspect of this trait is observed in members of House Jhegaala suddenly changing walks of life at intervals. At the beginning of each chapter in the book, there is a short excerpt from a Dragaeran textbook describing the life cycle of a jhegaala or an excerpt from a Dragaeran play. One phase is described as being similar to the jhereg, explaining where its name came from, as that form is the most visible.
Vlad Taltos, after leaving Adrilankha, decides to visit Noish-pa, currently residing in the Szurke region as Vlad′s regent. While there, Vlad expresses interest in finding out about his mother. Noish-pa directs him to a town called Burz.
After arriving in Burz, Vlad takes on the name Merss and discovers he doesn′t fit in among other Easterners. Good witches have birds, mice, or cats. Vlad stays at an inn run by a man named Inchay. There he is approached by Barash Orbahn, liquor importer.
Upon inquiry into his family, the name Merss is taken as a threat. Vlad returns to the inn without receiving much information.
The next day Orbahn meets Vlad again and informs him the head of the Guild is a man named Chayoor, and it would be best if Vlad stopped searching for his family at the risk of upsetting the Guild. Digesting this information at the dock, Vlad is approached by Tereza, a prostitute, who after proper bribing tells him to seek out a coachman named Zollie at the inn Cellar Mouse. Vlad meets with Zollie, who informs him the Merss belonged to a group of witches the Count believed was trying to kill him, and that most of the family fled west. The remaining members live outside of town.
Vlad decides to visit the family, only to find that they have been murdered and their house burned down with fire that could only have been produced by a witch. He is aided in burying the family by neighbors and a Verra priest named Father Noij. Vlad is filled with uncharacteristic rage and decides he will seek revenge for the murder of his kin. The next day Vlad decides to use the Art to heal the blisters from the previous day; during the spell his mind is read and Loiosh cannot prevent it.
Vlad decides to confront the Guild leader Chayoor, who somehow knows Vlad’s true name of Taltos, and informs Vlad that the Guild holds the authority in town. Vlad then seeks an audience with the Count, who politely refuses, but Vlad decides to go anyway under the guise of being an emissary of the empire interested in paper. Upon returning to town, he learns Zollie has been murdered and witches are suspected because his lips had turned red. Vlad realizes this is not the work of a witch, only meant to appear to be.
Vlad decides to take a walk at night despite his poor night vision, and is approached by a man named Dahni who claims to work for the Count, who is interested in helping Vlad against their common enemy; who that enemy is, Vlad does not know. Vlad decides to find out about the Coven of witches in Burz by following one of them home and forcefully questioning them; he finds out limited information about the good witch, bad witch phenomenon, and the general location of the Coven headquarters in the woods.
Vlad continues his night activities by tracking down Dahni and forcefully questioning him about the Count’s offer, and Vlad agrees to meet with the Count. Vlad moves to the Cellar Mouse inn to make it harder to trace him. The next day, a message arrives from the Count that Vlad should come to his estate, but first Vlad sends Loiosh and Rocza to do surveillance on Orbhan and Tereza, who are acting suspiciously.
At the Count’s, Vlad is drugged and tortured for several days about his connection to the king of Fenario and his plans to steal the secret recipe to make paper, and then turned over to the Guild for several more days of torture before, in a moment of lucidity, informing Loiosh to notify Dahni to come and rescue him. The Count regrets Vlad’s treatment and provides sanctuary and medical treatment to the now crippled Vlad.
It is revealed that Dahni had been working for a Jhereg assassin who is after Vlad, and after questioning reveals the location of the assassin, who is hunted down and killed. Vlad moves back into the Cellar Mouse where, despite his injuries, he uses Loiosh and Rocza to gather information while he questions those who come to see him: Father Noij, some very distant kin, and Meehayi, his caretaker.
Vlad figures out who was behind the attack on his kin and sets in motion a plan to destroy the Guild and Coven by pretending he was killed by witches, causing a mob to hunt down the Coven, while simultaneously having the Count arrest the Guild. The Coven kills Chayoor in the belief that he has been trying to set them up. The feeble Vlad escapes with the help of Father Noij to Fenario. After several years, the now mostly recovered Vlad completes his revenge by returning to Burz, stealing the Count′s paper recipe, and sending it to Her Imperial Majesty Zerika the Fourth.