Synopsis: A stand-alone fantasy set in the world of Steven Brust's bestselling "Vlad Taltos" novels. Once upon a time . . . far to the East of the Dragaeran Empire, four brothers ruled in Fenario: King Laszlo, a good man — though perhaps a little mad; Prince Andor, a clever man — though perhaps a little shallow; Prince Vilmos, a strong man — though perhaps a little stupid; and Prince Miklos, the youngest brother, perhaps a little — no, a lot-stubborn. Once upon a time . . . there were four brothers; a goddess; a wizard; an enigmatic talking stallion; a very hungry dragon; and, a crumbling, broken-down palace with hungry jhereg circling overhead. My Thoughts and Reactions: It felt like I was reading a faerie tale, a fable or some other sort of morality play. The Interludes between chapters sometimes worked and sometimes just distracted me. I felt one-step removed from the characters. The story led me along and attempted to hammer home its point or moral, but I felt it missed the mark slightly. Action sequences were limited to a dragon hunt that lasted one chapter and the nearly irrational behavior of King Laszlo and his obsession with the Palace. Characters developed and matured, but nothing was tied up neatly with a bow at the end. I surmise I finished this so quickly because of prevalent dialogue, although somewhat lacking in wit most of the time.