A Dance of Blades (Shadowdance)
by David Dalglish
Cover Artist: Michael Frost and Gene Mollica
Review by Steve Sawicki
Orbit Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316242493
Date: 05 November 2013 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In the five years that have passed since the thief guilds went to war with the Trifect, Haern has continued his own war against the guilds. Now battling as the mysterious Watcher, Haern patrols nightly, taking his own form of justice where and when he can.
When an opportunity arises for him to exact a large payment, he heads out of the city only to run into an ambush that involves the son of Alyssa Gemcroft, one of the surviving Trifect members. Gemcroft, believing her son killed by the thief guilds, calls in as many mercenaries as she can afford in a final effort to put an end to things. As the city runs red with blood, Haern finds himself in the middle of it all, hunted by packs of mercenaries, and one very special assassin, along with members of all of the remaining thieves guilds. He has his wits, his skill and his anger. But it may not be enough against those odds.
David Dalglish continues the fast paced story of Haern and, in this case, brings back a few characters from the first book as well. The action is even more furious than the first book and much more is at stake. Haern is older but perhaps not all that wiser as he continues to seek retribution for his upbringing.
Dalglish spreads the angst around though so it's not just Haern who's dealing with ghosts of the past and loss. There is a delicate balance when writing about characters who are consumed by anger. The author needs to take care that all actions are not part of a single rage. Dalglish does a good job with this and fins that balance between what is inside and the way it manifests.
I enjoyed this book, perhaps a bit more than the first one, which is to say, quite a bit. It is the second book of a trilogy and so one can only imagine that a lot of the seeds that will grow into plot complications in the third offering have been planted here. If so they are not obvious which can often be a problem.
I would definitely recommend this book. The characters are interesting, the story is complex and the writing is pretty fine. If you are looking for an interesting fantasy with no few twists of plot then you have found it here.