This is my second book by Steven Brust, and, unfortunately, I had a lot of the same complaints that I had with the first one. Which was also, now that I think of it, a situation in which Brust wrote a story around someone else's work (in this case Joss Whedon's Firefly/Serenity world and characters, and in the other book, the Bible).
I just don't think that his style is for me. Which is a shame, because I think the stories are good. I just get annoyed while I'm reading them. His style is too choppy. Too many staccato sentences, too many interruptions and cut off sentences, too much dialogue and not enough exposition. Too many POVs, too many scene changes, too much left for the reader to fill in whenever there are gaps, and there are too many gaps. I want to know what a character is doing, and who, not just that something is being done by someone. For example:
"Sorry, ma'am. I'm in kind of a hurry. And you're not going to be able to reach your security people anyway. So, if you'll just let me . . . ugh. Which one of these . . . ? Okay, that's the direct link to the Cortex, so one of these must be, ah, I see. I don't know if I have the right connection here. Okay, this ought to—there. Yes. A guy named Mister Universe showed me how to do this. Weird name, huh? Not half as weird as the guy is. We met in flight school. Worst pilot you ever . . . okay, that should do it. Just give me half a second to make sure the cross-load worked. Yep. Okay. You can have your desk again. Thanks."
It was like reading a story that's been cut up into sentence fragments on little pieces of paper, put into a box, and then drawn out one by one. And almost every single time there's a scene change, we're in for a good chunk of time not knowing whose POV we're reading until there's a hint or clue, or occasionally, someone else comes in the scene and gives it away. That's not enjoyable to me. I want to be drawn into the story and have it feel effortless to read. I want to just be with these characters again, and not be irritated by them. I know Zoe says "Sir" a lot, but this book is only 168 pages long, and there are 206 sirs in it. I know, because I counted.
Or worse than being irritated by them is not understanding them at all, and had I not watched Firefly and Serenity before reading this book, I really don't think I would have. There just wasn't enough there. And combine that with the interruptions and everything else, and I just don't see how a person without full Firefly/Serenity experience would get much out of this book.
But, all that being said, I DO think that Brust did a good job matching the world and the characters, and the story itself was good. I just wish that his writing didn't make it hard for me to enjoy it.