Kazimyrah knows what her duty is to the queen of Venda. Her dedication to this mission goes beyond her role as a member of the Rahtan, the elite guard, and reflects her personal debt for a reckless mistake. However, a misstep in a dark alley gets her kidnapped and chained to her target, and she’ll have to rely on him to get out of this mishap in one piece.
Jase Ballenger curses his father’s sudden death, which accelerated his ascension to leadership of his clan. Many would love to see the young Patrei fail, so they can swoop in and claim the powerful territory, so he should be on the look out for anything. When he gets grabbed by labour gang slavers and chained to the feisty young Rahtan who threatened to slit his throat, Jase feels life couldn’t get any worse. A daring escape gives him hope of getting home in time for his father’s funeral, but how should he handle his new constant companion?
Dance of Thieves is the first novel in a new series set in the world of Mary E Pearson’s The Remnant Chronicles. I had read the first book many years ago and loved it, but somehow I had never gotten the opportunity to finish the series (work and other pesky things like that got in the way of reading entirely for pleasure), so I was thrilled to find a new story available for review. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember much of the world, but Pearson allows Dance of Thieves to stand enough on its own that it can be enjoyed by both fans of her previous work and newcomers to her writing.
Kazimyrah has been charged with a mission to infiltrate the Ballenger stronghold and track down a traitorous general who nearly cost the queen and the people of Venda everything. With fellow warriors Wren and Synove by her side she needs to use everyone of her skills as a former thief to get into Tor’s Watch, track down her mark, and get him back to Venda to face the Queen’s Justice. Getting captured by labour gangs and chained to the new leader of the Ballengers was never part of her plan, and finding comfort in Jase Ballenger’s arms during the long nights as they trek back to civilization definitely defies reason. Even worse is Kazi’s realization that Jase’s motivations are as understandable as her own; they just don’t always mesh with her orders. How can she betray a man who fights for freedom, family, and recognition as a sovereign nation, and who has slowly wormed his way into her heart?
The heart of Dance of Thieves is the growing relationship between Jase and Kazi, not just as a couple but as two individuals who respect and admire the other’s motivations. They face significant obstacles since their goals prevent them from ever being fully truthful with the other until the very end. However, I liked both of them immensely. Both protagonists are loyal to a fault, protective, and painfully fair when they evaluate each other, and they regret the things they have to conceal, like normal human beings. I believed the conflicts that Jase and Kazi faced to their relationship, primarily duty to the Rahtan/Queen vs duty to family, and I cared about how difficult it would be for them to transform their fragile alliance to stay alive in the wilderness into a lasting relationship with no major secrets.
I also enjoyed how Pearson portrayed Kazi’s relationship with Wren and Synove, the other two Rahtan in her age bracket. All three girls carried trauma, and they supported each other and helped protect their group from more hurt. I appreciated that while Synove is portrayed as a flirt who enjoys liaisons with different men Kazi and Wren didn’t judge her for that choice; they just chalked it up to Synove’s personality and moved on unless it affected their ability to complete a mission.
My only quibble with Dance of Thieves is that the resolution felt anti-climatic. Suddenly, the main barrier between Jase and Kazi’s future disappeared, and they were free to be together. Pearson hinted at some problems down the road, but they aren’t shown in the last few pages. After so much drama and intrigue up until this point I was left a little disappointed (I think I was cynically expecting no resolution in this book and wanted them to struggle for a few more novels). At the same time this may hint at the other two books providing Wren and Synove-centric stories, which I strongly support.
Dance of Thieves provided me with a historical fantasy setting with a nice dose of intrigue, adventure, and ballsy female characters to entertain me for a spell. Ultimately, it didn’t have quite the bite I wanted, but it’s an enjoyable read that will give many fantasy readers, both young and old, something to devour during their downtime.
4 Sweetly Romantic Riddles out of 5