First hardcover appearance for Brust's established paperback fantasy series featuring the assassin Vlad Taltos, although several of his other yams are set in the same fantasy world (Five Hundred Years After, 1994, etc.). Assassin Vlad works for House Jhereg, where he runs rackets and brothels and walks to the office every morning; his companion and familiar is Loiosh, a small dragon-like jhereg with whom he shares a telepathic bond. Vlad is an Easterner, one of a few clans of humans in a world dominated by all-but-immortal ""elfs""; he commands some magic, but his chief advantage is his ability to become invisible. One of his business associates is the Dragonlord Morrolan of Castle Black; Vlad must be teleported there since the castle hangs high in the air. It seems that a certain sword of great magical power has gone missing from Morrolan's treasury; the chief suspect is another Dragonlord, Count Fornia, who, becoming aware of Vlad's involvement, immediately threatens him. Vlad takes this personally and goes along with Morrolan's intricate plot to recover the sword and teach Fornia a lesson by invading his territory--especially when Vlad learns that Morrolan has hired Sethra Lavode, the freest general alive. So Vlad finds himself serving in Morrolan's army as a foot soldier (despite his assassin's skills, he has little idea of practical soldiering) with no clear idea of what's really going on (Morrolan is deliberately closemouthed), while awaiting an opportunity to revenge himself upon Fornia, or grab the sword, or do something useful without getting himself killed in the process. Structured on several interlocking levels so as to keep the reader both fascinated and off-balance, full of wit and wisecracks, with a self-deprecating hero who manages to come out on top: a splendid caper that welcomes newcomers, while existing fans will pounce.