Vlad's Left HandEdit
Once when Vlad went to an Oracle, he was told that one day his left hand would try to kill him. Vlad took this to be a reference to the Left Hand of the Jhereg, but what if this is true in a more literal sense?
It might explain how Vlad really lost the pinky on his left hand. Perhaps he cut it off himself to save his own life?
Of course, this may simply be a reference to the events of Dzur.
This may be a reference to the events surrounding Vlad's capture after his assassination of the king of Greenaere in Phoenix. When the Greenaere guards are attempting to apprehend Vlad, he tries draw and throw a dagger with his left hand, but is unable to force his hand to comply. In the short term, his balky left hand puts him at risk of a spear thrust; in the long term it leads to his imprisonment and potential execution. Notably, this failure comes at a time when Vlad is conflicted about performing assassinations.
One of the biggest mysteries in Vlad's life is exactly what happened to his mother. We know very little about her, and Vlad's father's story apparently kept changing. It may be a very normal case of dying of the plagues, or in the riots of 221, or it might be more of a shocker. Here are some possibilities:
- Vlad's mother is dead, but she returns to confront Vlad as a ghost.
- Assuming that Noish-pa met his grandson's mother at some point and that his memories of her were not tampered with, Vlad might be able to know what his mother looks like, via his grandfather's ability to use psychic contact to show his grandson his memories.
- Evidence: Devera calls him "Uncle Vlad".
- Counterevidence: Would Verra really get intimate with a loser like Vlad's father? And if she did, would she let him die of the plague later? Plus Vlad would be "Uncle Vlad" regardless since Dolivar was Aliera's brother.
- Counter-Counter Evidence: Verra got intimate with a loser like Adron e'Kieron, so Vlad's father isn't that much of a stretch. And she didn't step in and stop Adron from obliterating himself, either.
- Counter-Counter-Counter Evidence: "Uncle" is also a term to indicate a male friend of a child's parents, so "Uncle Vlad" is probably not evidence for a familial relationship. And as for Adron being a loser, well, given that he was Dragon Heir to the Empire, a masterful general and topnotch Elder Sorceror, it would be difficult to find someone who was less of a loser than he. A minor Easterner restaurant owner who despises himself and his own roots is not anywhere even approaching the same class. Verra would just as easily take up with a Teckla.
- Counter-(Well, you get the idea)-Evidence: Verra is well known for using "mere mortals" to achieve her own ends. It would be just like her to make sure that Vlad was born, just so that she could control him (and thus Godslayer) later. It also works in that the Gods dispose of souls, and putting Dolivar's soul into an Easterner body might be something that advances their goals (or, it must be admitted in this case, only Verra's goals). This would also dovetail nicely into the idea that Barlen could be Brigitta's father (See Speculation:Brigitta) and Vlad is Verra's "counter" to Miklós (and therefore to Cawti). Yes, this is getting rather far-fetched... But it sure is fun to ponder.
- Vlad's mother might be Arra, or possibly another witch of Morrolan's Circle of witches. This notion will use the name "Arra" throughout, but it should be kept in mind that most of the ideas presented in support could work nearly as well with some other witch from that Circle. There are some interesting things that would feed this possibility, some of which are congruent with the theory that Verra is Vlad's mother, but made more plausible by revolving around an Easterner:
- As a Goddess who controls the fates of souls, Verra might wish to reincarnate the soul of Dolivar into the body of a rapidly-maturing (from the point of view of Dragaerans and Gods) Easterner, and would thus want to call on a female Easterner who is also obedient to her to bear this child.
- As a priestess of Verra, Arra might well be willing to serve the Goddess by agreeing to couple with another Easterner and bear the child dedicated to the Goddess' purposes.
- As a priestess of Verra and a high-powered witch, Arra would probably have the skills necessary to enchant an Easterner into falling in love with her for the purposes of marriage and procreation. In addition, once said procreation had been completed to the satisfaction of her patron goddess, Arra would also probably have the skills to confuse and befuddle the memory of the sire of said child so that she could return to being a priestess.
- It is rather odd that Vlad, who is Morrolan's chief of security, is completely unaware of the existence of Morrolan's Circle of witches until told about this by Teldra far from Castle Black. However, if either his mother or Verra had erased his memories of the Circle so as to avoid a potentially distracting confrontation, his lack of knowledge of the circle makes more sense.
- One of the few references Vlad makes to his mother mentions that his father would refer to her as "that witch"... A telling clue, perhaps?
- If Vlad's mother left his father (or whatever) and she was a witch, that may help explain his father's attitude towards witchcraft, fencing, and other "Eastern" things.
- Vlad's mother is Kiera, which could explain her fondness for him (as well as Sethra's). Hey you asked for shockers. We still don't know if this is possible of course...
- Vlad's mother is Verra, but his father was not really his father. Instead, Vlad is actually the son of Noish-pa, and the man Vlad thought was his father was actually his older brother. No real evidence for this, except that Vlad seems to take after Noish-pa much more than his nominal father.
- Vlad's mother is the Fenarian servant named Juliska seen in Brokedown Palace. It is possible that Juliska, and her assistant Máté are Vlad's mother and father... And that the cook Ambrus the Fat is Noish-pa. Only evidence in support of this theory is that these characters all serve food for a living (as Vlad's family does) and that many fen believe that Vlad's parents appear at some point in Brokedown Palace, making these characters possible candidates. Ambrus the Fat is also noted to be a large man (like Noish-Pa) and may have simply slimmed down some after leaving Fenario. (Also, Noish-Pa has a familiar named Ambrus, allowing for the possibility he may have taken on a pseudonym himself for some reason, but wanted to hold onto a link to his former life by naming his familiar with his real name.)
- See also Speculation:Noish-pa.
What was the deal with Vlad's father? Given that he spent his entire life trying to live like a Dragaeran, to the extent that even on his deathbed, he spurned magic that could have saved his life, just because it was "Eastern".
We really don't have a clear idea of when Noish-pa and Vlad's father moved to Adrilankha. It seems to be within Noish-pa's lifetime, since he talks about having lived in Fenario, but was it within the lifetime of Vlad's father? Their emigration was clearly BEFORE Vlad was born, since the family was involved in the Revolt of 221 in Adrilankha, which were right around (or slightly before) the time Vlad was born.
The result of all this is that we don't know if Vlad's father's hatred of the East comes from a direct experience of some kind while he was in the east, or if it was something he picked up while growing up in Adrilankha.
- See also Speculation:Baronet Taltos.
On The End of Vlad's MarriageEdit
The process which eventually results in the separation of Vlad and Cawti seems to start abruptly in Teckla. If you look closely, you'll see it starts almost from the moment they fall in love. This section examines those little moments and speculates about what went on behind the scenes.
We first encounter the Movement in Teckla (which is placed only briefly after Jhereg). Cawti is fully wrapped up in it, which comes as news to Vlad. He has no idea how she got from being the apparently apolitical woman we see in Jhereg to what she is in Teckla.
But there are clues if we look closely. Shortly after Vlad and Cawti meet in Yendi, Cawti refers to 'our people.' She and Vlad have a very brief discussion of what she means by that phrase, and then the plot moves on. The reader comes away from that scene with the impression that Vlad didn't care much for Cawti's way of thinking on the topic and that Cawti detected that.
These little moments aren't much of a reed to build on. But from them I built a speculation which Brust has confirmed as largely correct.
A couple, hot in the flush of first passion, is not going to focus on things they deeply disagree with. Cawti mentions 'our people' to Vlad a couple of times, gets a negative response, and sets the topic aside for a while. Vlad, the observant fellow that he is, lets it pass completely out of his mind.
Cawti silently continues with the Movement in her spare time, from Yendi through Jhereg. She becomes more and more deeply convinced the Movement is correct. But knowing the difficulty of the gap between she and Vlad, she does not bring it up. This gap - what she thinks vs. what Vlad sees her as - grows wider with every day. Finally, the first murder in Teckla radicalizes her enough that she commits fully to the Movement. The gap is now a chasm.
Now she's stuck. She despises what she was before, and what Vlad still is. She knows she's right, with the full arrogance of the newly converted. But she has forgotten that it was a long journey from how she used to think to what she believes now. So whenever she talks to Vlad about it, that arrogance is in full view. She knows she's right, it's perfectly obvious she right, why can't he see it? Her opinion of her former occupation is not far from the surface, either. It further antagonizes their discussions.
Ultimately it ends where we see it several books later. Anger on both sides leads to failed communication, and ultimately to separation. It's not clear if they ever formally divorce, but their communication has moved from simple misunderstanding to deliberate secrecy about the most important of matters, definitely to a degree beyond the bounds of right. (We're avoiding spoilers for Orca and later here, but you probably know what is meant.) The breach is almost certainly unhealable, but it shouldn't permit the degree of alienation that has occurred. Plainly there will be more seen on this topic (the end of Orca makes this plain) but it's not at all clear when or how it will happen. The end of Issola removes a logistical barrier to further developments, but that's only one of the barriers involved. This reader looks forward with interest to the later Vlad books.
- -- Steve Simmons
The Fate of VladEdit
Vlad's genetic scan allows him to be designated as the Jhereg Heir-To-The-Throne? Not a bad idea. Although it wouldn't completely stop the councel's attempts on his life, it would slow them down a bit ( and make such attempts more, shall we say... interesting? ). Over all, it wouldn't matter that much for the present, as his being an easterner means that he would be centuries dead before the Jhereg House even gets close their turn at the wheel, once he dies of old age ( or other ), the previous Heir re-takes the title. For the duration, Vlad would be allowed a (somewhat) protected existence in society again. Much like a full-circle elevated existence of his status as a Baron before, without any long-term risk for Dragaerian society
There are no end of hints that something big is intended for Vlad. Sethra Lavode says in so many words that Vlad is being trained for some specific task, perhaps becoming one of the Lavodes. Verra intends "to continue making [him] useful" (Issola p79). But the exact nature of that task is only hinted at, and that mostly by the things that are asked of him in later books by Sethra and Verra.
Brust has said that there will be 19 Vlad books - one for each step of the cycle, Taltos about Vlad himself, and the as-yet unwritten The Last Contract (title subject to change, of course).
One possibility is that Vlad may become a god (or at least, a demon - someone with the powers of a god but who can be coerced). The defining feature of godhood is the ability to manifest in more than one place at once, something Vlad appears to do in Issola. Look top of page 141 in the hardback. Begin with the line "I took a step forward--" and read every third line until you reach a line that ends in a period. Return to the top of 141, begin with the line following "I took a step forward" and read every third line as before. Read this way, the sequence clearly shows Vlad taking three pathways simultaneously. It's neatly put together so the casual reader thinks its another Brustian homage to Zelazny's shadow walks, so it's easy enough to miss.
Scott Schultz speculates that Vlad's breeding, reincarnation and birth may be the product of a deliberate plan on the part of god or gods unknown:
- Reviewing Issola in light of the current amorphia discussion, a couple of statements caught my eye that were made by Sethra in regards to reincarnation.
- Firstly, page 39, in reference to the Gods and their disposition of souls that arrive at The Halls of Judgement:
- "As they review the dead, some they have no use for... Others have skills that might someday be useful, and those are held in the Paths of the Dead against that use, or reincarnated into circumstance where their skills can develop."
- Secondly, page 41, in reference to Destiny and past lives:
- "Think back to your own past, Vlad: I know what Aliera told you about your past lives, so consider her words now... Consider those you know of who were once your family, and those who mattered to you in a time too faded in the mist for you to imagine, much less remember. Kieron... remains in the Paths of the Dead... I, who had some importance in the tribe, am here... trying to see that nothing upsets the balance. I think we were all, even then, marked out by the gods. I can't say I like it much, or that you should, but there it is."
- What Sethra is suggesting here is that it's not an accident that the leaders of the tribe that became House Dragon and, in Dolivar's case, spawned House Jhereg, are still around and acting as movers and shakers of present day events. Whereas Aliera views Dolivar's reincarnation as an Easterner to be sort of a case of mystical irony, Sethra's statements about the true purpose of the Paths suggests a different interpretation.
- If Sethra is right, that the Gods chose Kieron, Dolivar and Aliera-Who-Was as important pawns even before the formation of the Empire, then the event of Vlad's birth becomes less an accident than a matter of planning. There's no good reason why a Dragaeran soul should have reincarnated into an Eastern body. An "odd interaction of reincarnation and genetics" doesn't really explain anything; it's just a judgement of observed facts.
- Whether it was held in the Paths for the right time or allowed to reincarnate a few times until it was needed, the implication is that Dolivar's soul was kept and deliberately reincarnated into an Easterner when the need arose.
- Given the short lifespan of Easterners and the possible subsequent loss of Dolivar's soul (Eastern souls don't go to the Paths), the need must be urgent (when seen relative to the lifespan of a Dragaeran or the immortality of a God). It's no accident that Vlad is good at what he does; he's had a lifetime(s) of experience previously. It's no accident that he has the favor of Verra. He was "created" by her in a very real sense. It's no accident that Godslayer came into his possession. The Gods "bred" him because they sensed the impending emergence of Godslayer and they needed someone to wield it who would learn the necessary skills quickly and carry it loyally.
- [The choice of an Eastern body might have been forced by urgency rather than actual need for an Easterner -- i.e. by the time Verra had her hunch that Dolivar was required, the notice might have been too short for the 250-year wait for a mature Dragaeran. User:Steve the Younger ]
- Note that I'm not suggesting that the Gods literally said "We need someone to carry Godslayer." It's clear that the Lords of Judgement don't see all ends, and Verra was rather horrified to find out that Vlad was carrying Spellbreaker around. When she DID find out, she must have realized what it meant and, perhaps, started to see why this particular servant of hers had been necessary to create.
- Now that Godslayer HAS emerged in the hands of a minion who is mystically "appropriate" for its intended purpose, I'd expect events to start steamrolling toward a conclusion of some kind. Note that "steamrolling" in Dragaeran terms might be a decade or ten. It will happen "soon", though, unless Godslayer is somehow able to extend Vlad's lifespan beyond the norm for an Easterner. [Or the Easterner's lifespan may be a hint of how soon it must happen.] The important thing is that Dolivar, Aliera-Who-Was, and Sethra are all wielders of Great Weapons in the service of Verra. Kieron's Greatsword is nearly as good as a Great Weapon in the way that ancient heroic swords tend to be and there's little doubt that he could take it back if he chose. Whatever purpose the Gods marked these people for, to use Sethra's words, would appear to be coming to a head.
- The question now is, "Who is the target of _The Final Contract_?" Who has Vlad been "bred" to kill and will he prove capable in the end? Assuming he survives the experience, what then?
- --Scott Schultz
- Following on to Scott's excellent observations, I think the final contract isn't a killing at all. (Though the story may start out looking that way.) It's an agreement.
- Generalizing from one example (everyone does), Vlad is very good at negotiating from a position of weakness and making it appear to be a position of strength (as both Verra and Teldra credit him with in Issola, and he later demonstrates dramatically in Dzur). I see this as possible foreshadowing to a showdown between Vlad and the gods, and/or the Empire, in which Vlad sets the terms of the negotiations and wins his eventual goal, which determines the fate of the Empire, the gods, and everyone else.
- --Steve the Younger
- Further thoughts post Tiassa:
- Okay, Vlad hasn't been taking on understanding, skills and characteristics of every House on the Cycle for nothing. He's building up to a negotiation that will bookend the one he did as Dolivar. Verra created him at this time for that reason (though, remembering Devera and the vial of Goddess blood, Verra doesn't generally know the reason she makes these interventions -- just that they'll be required.) What seems to be required is a change in the world, and the best candidate for this change is Cawti's cause. That would also fit with Dolivar's soul becoming an Easterner who resents Dragaerans. My guess is that the Last Contract will be one that satisfies Cawti and Kelly, brings a lasting arrangement between Dragaerans and Easterners, and rocks the Cycle in a significant way. And Vlad will force the issue because not doing so irritates him.
- -- Steve the Younger
This could tie into some of the theories above, but I was just re-reading Jhereg and came across this little nugget in the narrative I'd never noticed before: I wanted to scream at her not to say it, but, throughout the millennia, Aliera has always been just a little faster than me. Why is this possibly noteworthy? This is Vlad narrating... and yet he says throughout the millennia, which is obviously referencing a time period far beyond his expected natural lifespan. So perhaps he will at some point have his memories of his past incarnation(s) unlocked, or perhaps he might indeed achieve some kind of godhood or extended lifespan. Or all of the above. --ACDragonMaster (talk) 00:37, October 3, 2014 (UTC)
The following was originally copied from Alexx's Steven Brust Page, and usefully lists the events that Vlad mentions but does not give full details about.
- Vlad killed as a warning, revivified by Sethra Lavode (Jhereg, 39-40). Vlad has "never bothered the guy since".
- Vlad sees a Dzur hero attack Sethra Lavode (Jhereg, 62-63). Dzur would have been the logical assumption, but it didn't happen then. Perhaps he uses witchcraft to see with someone else's mind or MEMORY. Hawk?
- "Cawti holding a knife to Morrolan's throat and explaining how it was going to be, while I sat paralyzed and helpless" (Teckla, 13). No obvious connection. Tsalmoth, maybe?
- Vlad learns "you can never go home" (Teckla, 99). (This is listed as one of the effects of the Battle of Baritt's Tomb, but doesn't seem to apply to anything that happens in Dragon. This could possibly be a very obscure reference to the presence of Eastern cavalry during the battle--and the fact that they were fighting on the other side of the conflict from Vlad?) However, this seems to a be a very literal reading. I think it is more symbolic almost mythic phrasing by Vlad. "He can never go home" mentally after seeing warfare up close. Maybe.
- Vlad and Loiosh go East (Orca, 201). No obvious connection. Tsalmoth, Jhegaala, maybe Lyorn? Or maybe _Fenario_, since we're leaving the land of Faerie... (Editors Note: This is consistent with the events depicted in Jhegaala (book).)
- Vlad gets in "a little trouble with the Empire" once (Jhereg, 20). Might be referring to the Tagichatn matter in 240 PI, but more likely refers to the untold tale immediately below.
- Vlad is incarcerated for "a few weeks" "as part of the affair that gained me my exalted position in the Jhereg and had first brought my friend Aliera to the attention of the Empress" (Phoenix, 54). (This could also be the Tagichatn affair, for that matter, though how Aliera figures into it (seeing as she was still trapped in a stick of wood at the time) is less clear.) (Editors Note: This could also be referring to the events seen in Yendi (book), though we do not know directly that Vlad was ever incarcerated due to these events.)
- Vlad has been in prison once more that we don't know about (Phoenix, 104, 152-153).
- Vlad "had lain helpless while Morrolan battled a demon that had taken his own sword from him" (Phoenix 111). Hawk, perhaps? (on the "investigating things man was Not Meant To Know lines...)
- See also Speculation:Tri'nagore.
- Verra considers Morrolan's window an Imperial Secret (A Dream of Passion, p24). One wonders at the context in which *this* little tidbit became known to Vlad... Also Hawk, for similar reasons. (This one should be considered "non-canon" due to the status of ADOP.)
- Vlad "parlayed with spirits from my ancestral home for the release of the Necromancer's soul" (Phoenix, 111).
- Vlad "battled with my own likeness" (Phoenix, 111).
Jhegaala?(Another possibility is that this is simply a euphemism for Vlad's tendency to practice fencing against his own shadow.) (This is mentioned in a list of things that he has done inside of Morrolan's tower, an unlikely place for Vlad to practice)
- "the time I spent half a day under a pile of refuse because it was the only place to hide" (Orca, 24). Tsalmoth?
- "the time I took a job selling fish in the market" (Orca, 24).
- "Once I ended up impersonating a corporal in the Imperial Guard and had to arrest someone for creating a disturbance in a public place" (Orca, 24).
- See also Speculation:Future Books.
- Vlad loses his left pinky (in a fight? To a heavy weight? From chewing on his fingernails?) (Athyra, 6, 30, 45). (Editors Note: This was seen to occur in Jhegaala (book).)
- Vlad meets a philosopher, then kills her (Athyra, 38-39). Chreotha?
- Vlad is held captive somewhere (not by the Empire), involving "far too much potato soup" (Issola, 90). Chreotha? (This could also be a reference to his incarceration on Greenaere, although Potato soup is not mentioned there.) (Editors Note: This is also consistent with events seen in Jhegaala (book). 2nd Ed: It was, Boss? There was no potato soup. Unless that was a euphemism for either the eternal horrible stench or horrible infusions force-fed to him by the witches. 1st Ed: Vlad explicitly mentions less-than-pleasant soup being fed to him during his recuperation by Aybrahmis and Meehyi. Note that Vlad never states it's his captors that fed him Potato soup, just that his incarceration involved potato soup.)
- Vlad sees Morrolan fight a nasty duel with Vrudric e'Lanya in Castle Black (Issola, 137).
- Vlad has an unpleasant run-in with someone who (unexpectedly) *can* jump an eleven-foot crevasse (Issola, 120).