Monthly Archives: October 2004

Agyar by Steven Brust

I just finished up Agyar, by Steven Brust. This was a nice piece of

modern day Gothic horror. Our hero, Jack Agyar, is gradually revealed

as the monster. Through a combination of elision and selective

narration, the details are only revealed slowly through the

story. Within the story, the narrative is being written by Jack on a

typewriter he finds in the house where is residing. The device allows

for a significant amount of self-reflection and musing on the nature

of writing and remembering, which none-the-less does not get in the

way of the plot.

Brust’s solid descriptions of late-winter nights in a University town in

Ohio are magnificent, and help ground the wild fantasy of conversing

with the century-old ghost of a ex-slave, who haunts the house where

Agyar has taken up residence. The ghost, Jim, acts as a foil and

confidant for Jack, allowing us to discover Jacks background through

the narrative, rather than having the information dumped on us.

Brust follows all of the coventions of a modern Vampire story, but

never bothers to explain them, trusting the reader to be aware of them

and identify them from being shown their effects. He starts by never

permitting Agyar to enter a building except when invited. He slowly

introduces other aspects of Vampire lore, while never using the word

at all.

I’m glad this book is back in print. I discovered Brust only a few

years ago, and have only a few books left to discover in his back

catalog. I remember passing “Brokedown Palace” and “Jhereg” by in the

mid-80’s. That was a mistake then, and one I’m gladly correcting now.