"The Phoenix Guards" is a fantasy novel by Steven Brust. Brust is well known for his Vlad Taltos series, which are set in the Dragaeran empire, an extremely well constructed fantasy world featuring 17 races of Dragaerans and 1 race of Easterners (or humans). "The Phoenix Guards" is set in the same empire but about 1000 years before the birth of Vlad Taltos.

In my opinion, this novel is interesting for fans of the Taltos series for two main reasons:

1. It shows some of the earlier history of the Dragaeran empire, but from the point of view of a Dragaeran, not from the human point of view of Vlad Taltos. Not only is the main character, Khaavren, a Dragaeran (a Tiassa to be more precise), but the fictional narrator of the story, Paarfi, is a also a Dragaeran.

2. The writing style, which echoes the style of Alexandre Dumas. Imagine long, very intricately constructed sentences, and a focus on very formal, over-polite conversation. (The title of the sequel to this novel, "Five Hundred Years After", is a very obvious reference to "Twenty Years After" by Dumas.) The style is about as far removed from the laconical, witty tone of the Taltos novels.

I enjoyed reading this one more for the curiosity factor than for the actual quality of the novel. The plot is full of intrigue and action, and the characters are likeable enough, but the prose style simply becomes grating after a while. Recommended for Brust fans only.