Lyorn Records
Tsalmoth Cover Art - A large bearlike creature below the book title

Cover of Tsalmoth

Tsalmoth is the sixteenth book in Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series, set in the fantasy world of Dragaera. It was released April 23, 2023. Following the trend of the series, it is named after one of the Great Houses.

Non-spoiler Summary[]

Takes place between the events of Yendi and Jhereg, and after the interlude sequences in Dragon.

Vlad is upset after losing 800 Imperials, and decides to try to get them back. Hijinks ensue.

Plot Summary[]

When one of young Vlad Taltos' customers dies unexpectedly while owing him 800 Imperials, what is an upstart low-level Jhereg boss to do? Complain to the Empire? Just write off the loss? Throw a huge wedding feast?

When you're young and resourceful, and looking at planning an expensive wedding for yourself and your lovely bride to be, you don't just settle for what fate has dealt you.

Unfortunately, one thing very frequently leads to another, and the circumstances surrounding Vlad's loss prove to run far deeper than he imagined, and have consequences that affect his very existence.

Will Cawti still want to go through with marrying him when all is said and done? Will his Jhereg bosses have him killed? How is the Tsalmoth Heir involved, and why is the Left Hand of the Jhereg so keen on interfering in Vlad's investigation?

Detailed Plot Summary[]

Vlad, only recently engaged to Cawti, learns that a Tsalmoth named Bereth, who was in debt to him with a remaining balance of 800 Imperials, has died, a victim of an apparently random mugging.

Unwilling to simply write off such a large sum at this point in his career, Vlad begins an investigation into the situation.

Learning that the loan was made to support a Hishi smuggling and refining operation, and also learning that Bereth had a brother, Matiess, Vlad attempt to determine if there is anything of value he might be able to claim from the estate to recoup his losses.

His initial inquiries run into a brick wall, as it appears that Bereth, while setting up the refining part of his scheme, had been carrying the valuable hishi with him, and had vanished with the mugging that took his life.

Vlad takes it upon himself to investigate the home of Bereth, in case he had some personal possessions of value that Vlad might be able to re-appropriate in lieu of payment by the estate. While conducting his search, he discovers a valuable Verra's Tear under a hidden floorboard; a semi-precious stone of significant value, which he removes and takes with him.

Knowing that his friend Morrolan e'Drien is familiar with Verra's Tears (owing to its us in his Great Weapon Blackwand, Vlad journeys to Castle Black in order to ask Morrolan if he can assess the value of the stone. Morrolan, Aliera, The Necromancer, Cawti, and several others gather to examine the stone.

Unfortunately for Vlad, the Verra's Tear has been enchanted in a way to prepare the individual carrying it to undergo a Necromatic Transformation which ends up trapping Vlad's consciousness inside the stone while it is being examined, leaving his body in an inert state.

Eventually, through the efforts of Blackwand, and The Necromancer, Vlad is restored to his body. However, the process involved transforms Vlad in a Demon.

This development has a major impact on Vlad's future, and the effects are still being felt, years later.

In further pursuit of his lost Imperials, Vlad inadvertently stumbles upon a secret conspiracy between his boss Toronnan and the Left Hand of the Jhereg, that also involves a secondary scheme to discredit the Tsalmoth Heir.

While Vlad does manage to uncover the culprits behind this plot, and even recoup a significant portion of his financial losses, he is forced to sacrifice portions of his memory in order to avoid certain unpleasant consequences of his demonic transformation.

In the end, Vlad and Cawti's wedding comes off brilliantly, and Devera is spotted as flower girl during the wedding procession.

Role of the House[]

Tsalmoth, the house, is about tenacity and determination. Vlad pursues his lost 800 Imperials with a zeal that would do any Tsalmoth proud.

Major Characters[]

Others appearing:

Great Scenes[]

  • Vlad teaching a fellow soul the value of catharsis
  • Cawti holding a knife to Morrolan's throat, explaining how things are going to be

Favorite Quotes[]

Great opening lines.

There are problems that just can't be solved by sticking something pointy into someone.

Loiosh gets incentivated.

"Loiosh is delighted at the opportuniy to help," I told Cawti. "He's all about being helpful."
Loiosh hissed.
Cawti nodded. "I get that. You know those pepper sausages we had that time? We should get some of those to keep around, in case we run into any helpful jhereg who deserve a reward."
"Bribes," said Loiosh, "Bribes work."
My jhereg was corruptible. I wonder where he could have gotten that.

Vlad on weddings and compromise:

It wasn't what we wanted, but maybe sometimes you gotta sacrifice the wedding you want in order to get the life you want afterward.

External Links[]

Vlad Taltos
Followed by:

Development History[]

January 3, 2019:  SKZB: Okay! The new book has fallen into place! I mean, I still have no clue what happens, but I have the form and the chapter theme, which is far more important, right? Right?

June 9, 2019: SKZB: "It's set early in Vlad's career (between Yendi and Jhereg)..."

As of September 18, 2020, Tsalmoth is complete in draft and being reviewed by SKZB's critique group.

As of December 1, 2022, Publishing schedule:

Tsalmoth hardcover: April 23, 2023, Tsalmoth trade paperback: March 12, 2024