- This page is about the book Issola. For the House of the Issola, see Issola. For the animal, see Issola (animal).
- See also Meta:Issola (book).
The novel begins with the Lady Teldra tracking down Vlad Taltos, who is still wandering the wilderness, avoiding the Organization. He has recently returned Savn to his parents, but doesn't elaborate on the story. Teldra informs Vlad that Morrolan and Aliera have gone missing, and that Sethra Lavode thinks that because of Spellbreaker, Vlad is a good choice to lead a rescue mission. After they travel to Dzur Mountain, Sethra herself explains this to Vlad (over a nice cup of klava) and further explains that it is most likely that the two have been taken by Jenoine. Eventually Vlad is convinced to make the attempt.
He and Teldra step through Morrolan's Window, following Spellbreaker's connection to Blackwand, and discover Morrolan and Aliera chained and captive, and with no sorcery present to help release them. They appear to be on a different planet and perhaps also in a different plane of existence. While four of them try to come to grips with their situation, the Jenoine make their appearance, and Teldra disappears with them to negotiate. She returns with the news that the Jenoine would like for Vlad to kill Verra with a powerful Morganti dagger, and they supply the dagger.
Using a travelling device given to him by the Jenoine, Vlad and Teldra go to see Verra in her Halls, leaving his intentions unknown. He and Teldra have a conversation with Verra, and he manages to either not make her too upset, or make her just upset enough, that she sends the two back with a plan on how to free Morrolan and Aliera. Vlad manages to free them both using witchcraft, but after a brief showdown with a single Jenoine, it is Vlad and Teldra who find themselves prisoners.
Vlad and Teldra continue to talk to each other, exchanging information and etiquette tips, and when Vlad is ready, he frees himself from the chains using the same witchcraft as before. Now free to explore, Vlad and Teldra discover that there is more to their place of captivity than originally meets the eye. They go for a nice little walk, and see some pretty interesting sights, like, just for instance, a controlled flowing river of amorphia. Vlad takes/makes a souvenir (a small purple stone), just in case.
Morrolan and Aliera return on their own rescue mission, and although they fail to escape, Vlad's eyes or his mind break out of their metaphorical prison, and he now sees what was hidden before. Among other things, stacks of weapons and a large chunk of rock that just happens to be trellanstone.
Unsure what else to do, the foursome summon Verra, an act that seems a bit foolish, to her at least. A tussle with a few Jenoine follows, in which Vlad makes use of his purple stone and with a bit of luck everyone escapes.
Now back at Dzur Mountain, Vlad recovers from an injury, and all concerned attempt to understand what exactly the Jenoine are up to. In time, they figure it out. The Jenoine are accessing raw amorphia from the Lesser Sea of Chaos with the intention of making an attack on the Orb.
An epic battle follows by the Lesser Sea, involving Gods, Great Weapons, and Jenoine. In the midst of this is the comparatively powerless Teldra, who in an act of desperation having seen her lord Morrolan fall dead, attempts an attack. She grabs the Morganti dagger from Vlad, and stabs a Jenoine with it, but the unharmed Jenoine instantly returns the favor and she is herself killed by the same weapon. Vlad attempts to save her soul, but much to his surprise, shock, and a bit of horror, manages instead to unite Spellbreaker, the Morganti dagger, and Teldra's soul (and his own) into a new (but not new) Great Weapon, Godslayer. With the powerful weapon, he slays the Jenoine. Other Jenoine present are slain by various gods, Aliera asks her father Adron e'Kieron to break the Jenoine's link to the Lesser Sea of Chaos, and the battle is won.
Role of the House
Teldra shows Vlad that (to his surprise) his "people skills" are Issola-like. At the end, it appears that her soul may influence him to become more public-spirited.
(all copyrights Steven Brust, quotes for review and enjoyment only)
"The issola is a beautiful white bird. I’d seen several during my recent travels. One usually saw them standing, graceful and lovely in the early morning or late evening, in swamps or the shallow banks of rivers. They stand as if their only reason for being were to look lovely and graceful. And then the issola would be holding a fish in its beak, and you’d never see it strike. And then the fish would be gone in a single swallow, and the issola would be standing on one leg, looking lovely and graceful."
"Perhaps I should begin at the beginning."
"Arbitrary. But still, not a bad choice."
Tukko has just left the room
"Just how old is he?" I asked.
"Younger than I am," said Sethra.
I nodded. "I just asked to give you another chance to be enigmatic."
Sethra is explaining her theory
"... No, I fear what we are facing is rather more powerful than a God."
"Good," I said. "I wouldn't want it to be too easy."
Vlad and Teldra go up to Morrolan's tower
"We shouldn't be able to just walk up and do this. We ought to have to fight our way past some sort of legendary half-man half-monster that has guarded this place since the beginning of time, and cannot be harmed by any weapon, nor moved by any words, nor evaded by any motion."
"I see," said Teldra. "Why?"
"I don't know. A warm-up for the rough stuff."
"Do irony and grey laughter help ease your fears?"
She nodded. "Was that a rude question on my part?"
"I'm not sure. I'll get back to you on that."
Always be prepared
So I didn't have a plan. I did, as I stood there, start to get the seeds of what might, sometime, become a vague step generally in the direction of an intention. I may be stating that too strongly.
"Verra! It's me, Vlad! You've had your joke, now open the bloody damn door!"
Verra and Vlad pleasantly conversing
"But we're not worried about the trap, because we have a secret weapon prepared for them." (Vlad said.)
"What secret weapon is that?"
"I was hoping you'd tell me."
"Your courage, wits, and skill at improvisation, little one. That is our secret weapon."
"And, my dear Easterner. Do not make the mistake of thinking that I jest; I am quite serious."
"There is no doubt in my mind that you can do it."
"Do you doubt me, Taltos Vladimir?"
"Perpetually, Demon Goddess."
Vlad begins preparations to break Aliera and Morrolan free of their chains
I grunted. "I don't know how much fun it will be for you"
"Do it," she said.
"It might be painful."
"Do it," Morrolan said.
"It might be dangerous."
"Do it," said Aliera.
"You may not survive."
"Do it," said Morrolan.
"It might mean the end of civilization as we know it."
Aliera gave me a disgusted look.
I shrugged. "Just wondering how far you'd go."
Vlad's life in a nutshell
Now that I think about it, most of my life has consisted of taking the opening that desperation required and opportunity presented.
Vlad and Loiosh learn linguistics from Lady Teldra
"You said, ‘Thank you’; I said, ‘You're welcome.’"
"But did you make that translation in your head, or was it automatic?"
"Ah. I see." I thought about that. "Okay, you're right. It was automatic."
"That's the beginning of thinking in the language."
"Like whenever I make a comment, Boss, and you say-"
"Shut up, Loiosh.
"Patience my ass, I'm going to go out and kill something."
Suddenly I wasn't having fun anymore. "I'd rather not touch the blade, if it's all the same to you," I said.
He seemed amused; maybe it was his turn to have fun. Hes said,
"Well, I'm certainly not going to let you hold her."
"Don't worry; she doesn't bite."
I stared at the dark, dull grey blade, then back at Morrolan.
"Do it, Vlad."
I took a deep breath, hesitated, then laid my palm on the blade quickly...
"I'll just amuse myself by trading sarcastic remarks with Loiosh."
"No doubt, you will."
"By Verra's tits," I said, forgetting then remembering that the pair of them weren't all that far away…
"What do you think, Loiosh? Am I the very soul of tact, discretion, manners, and courtliness?"
"Am I a three-legged tiassa?"
Morrolan plans for a summer retreat
Morrolan said, "I'd give my summer palace to know."
"You don't have a summer palace," I said.
"True, but I'd like one."
"I was afraid Daddy would cause trouble sooner or later."
No matter how powerful the Jenoine, a Morganti dagger between the shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style. ---
I miss the days when I used to be nostalgic.
I smelled onions and garlic and broiling kethna. There were no assassins waiting to kill me, at least yet.
We stood now on a small rock ledge, overlooking the Lesser Sea of Amorphia, where the greatest city of the Empire used to be until Aliera's daddy had a hissy-cow at the Emperor. I must make a point of telling Sethra not to underrate the power of the hissy-cow.