Probably the weakest of the Taltos books on its own–the plot is neither straightforward swashbuckling fun nor heady, convoluted mystery and intrigue, and in trying to write about war, Brust swings and misses on his normal ability of balancing entertaining story-telling with thoughtful meditation on “big themes of human life”–yet perhaps the first one that stands as an essential to the series as a whole. The doubled storylines point us both back and forth in time, and ensure that we as readers are forced into thinking about how all the books tie together, into understanding all the Taltos books as a large, grand narrative. In other words, while the book-as-adventure suffers, we get real insights into Brust’s storytelling process, we hear Vlad tell the story and really begin to understand him as Brust’s amanuensis (or maybe it’s the other way around).
In short, Dragon is the weakest of the books so far, and the last one I’d recommend for someone wanting to read a great fantasy adventure. But for fans of the series as a whole, it’s an absolutely necessary addition, as it’s the book that makes us really begin to understand and make sense of the overall technique of the series.