Book Review: Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson

Dance of Thieves_FINAL 9.18

Summary

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty’s resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.

Remnant Chronicles Reviews

The Kiss of Deception / The Heart of Betrayal / The Beauty of Darkness

Review

What did I expect from one of my favorite authors writing a spin-off of one of the best YA fantasy trilogies!!!! Nothing short of amazing and that’s what this book delivered. It was a thrilling and entertaining ride from page one to the last and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Kazi is such a strong protagonist to read about that it’s a delight following her around. She is a survivor, resilient, calculating and efficient while hiding a compassionate streak in her that only comes out rarely. Her harrowing backstory is revealed slowly in bits throughout the book and that explains the walls she has built around herself, her disdain for people who prey on weaker victims and also her fear of open spaces. She is tested in unexpected and brutal ways but she nevers wavers from her goal and I really admired her for that.

Jace is the newly named Patrei of the Ballenger family but before he even gets to mourn his father properly, he is thrown (alongwith Kazi) into a game of politics whose perpetrators remain unknown and consequences can be far reaching. Escaping labor hunters and travelling days together, linked by an ankle chain that doesn’t let them leave each other’s side makes for an interesting journey. It forces these two enemies to become allies for the sake of survival and ultimately develop feelings for each other, even though they would never speak about them. Their relationship is sometimes fiery, sometimes fun, full secrets and betrayals, but it’s also true. I really loved the progression of their relationship and their scenes together were some of the best in the book. They are morally gray characters who are driven by loyalty to their family and land and would use any means necessaryto protect the ones care for.

The side characters in the book are some of most fun and well fleshed out I’ve read in recent times. It was so great to see some familiar as well as new names who are now the Rahtan on a mission for the Queen of Venda and I liked that that the author makes sure everyone of them has their own story of survival and why they are the perfect ones to accomplish their task. The Ballenger family is large and boisterous and I absolutely fell in love with all of them. They are all loyal and protective and ruthless but are also quick to accept Kazi and show her all the same care and love as a family member. They have their loud disagreements but always defer to Jase for the final word and their bond was definitely the highlight of the book. And finally, getting mentions and little glimpses of my favorite Queen and King was a great pleasure and they seem to have become the just and compassionate rulers I expected them to be.

The author uses the same world building technique that she used in the Remnant Chronicles trilogy to give us a more detailed history of the beginning of the Ballenger clan – this time through the writings of the first Ballenger and also the Song of Jezelia. Even most of the conversations that Jase and Kazi have during their journey are full of stories and riddles and I thought it was wonderful way of presenting us the world as well as give us a little insight into the minds of the two. The description of Hell’s Mouth, Tor’s Watch and the arena are vivid and enchanting while the consequences of the Great Battle at the end of the previous trilogy are shown to us through a gloomy chronicle of the remains of Sentinel Valley. The final traces of the conspiracy and the last remaining members who escaped justice form the crux of the conflict of this story and I can’t wait to see what more havoc they wreak on the kingdoms.

This book again proves why Mary Pearson is a gem in YA fantasy and I wish everyone would read her books. And the way she wrapped up a lot of plotlines and almost gave us a happy ending while leaving us with a dreaded cliffhanger in the last two pages was just genius. If you love YA fantasy with a dash of romance, then you shouldn’t miss this one. It’s a very satisfying read and I’m already excited for Vow of Thieves, which unfortunately doesn’t release till another year. However, I do recommend that you read the original trilogy first, because it gives you a great sense of the world and attachment to the characters and I think it definitely enhanced my reading experience for this one. Just give this universe a try and I promise, you will have a hell of an adventure.

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