Book Review: A Dance of Chaos by David Dalglish

“Watcher, alone you conquered this city. Thren, alone you built the Spider Guild into an empire. Alone, I will outshine you all. This will be the crown upon my legacy, forged with your bones and painted with your blood.”

-A Dance of Chaos, David Dalglish

This is it, the 6th and final book in David Dalglish’s Shadowdance Series. Muzien have controlled all of Veldaren, most of the thief guilds have pledged their allegiance to the Sun Guild. Unfortunately for Muzien, there are those who still deny the Guild and will stop at nothing to see it crumble.

Well what can one expect when reading the end of a series? high octane action, gripping drama, explosions, wars, epic battles? Fortunately for A Dance of Chaos it has everything to create a fitting finale. It is as the title says it is, it’s chaotic but in a good way. The action never stops and the story keeps developing.

You get what you have been getting the past few books which are imaginatively written fight sequences. From duels of swords to magical RPGesque battle sequences. All of it were great and it is really one of the strongest selling point of this whole series.

All of major characters from the past books have a part to play, specially one that was sorely missed from A Dance of Ghost, Deathmask and The Ash Guild. Ever since his d├ębut in A Dance of Blades, Deathmask has been one of if not the coolest character in the series. This time he’s got a lot to do and when he fights, he does not disappoint. Major character development were also done with Thren and Hearn. As both are fighting very similar inner battles as Muzien wants Thren to cement his legacy and Thren wanting Hearn to cement his.

More characters such as Alyssa, Zusa and our favourite a-hole Victor were also given a substantial amount of work as some of them have their own plot though not as engaging as Hearn’s it was still intriguing to say the least. Nathaniel has been developed substantially as Karak continues to work his way into his mind having a huge impact in the story but the most impressively written character is Muzien. Muzien showed how great of a leader he is in A Dance of Ghost, here he shows how great of a fighter he is. You can tell that Dalglish invested a lot of time with this guy to make him the ultimate bad guy and to Dalglish’s credit it paid of. Muzien was believable in every aspect that he possess. You believed that this elf, conquered the city, that he might be a god amongst men.

As much as this is a great finale, there are some elements here that felt random. Such as a zombie army as well as an Orc army that came literally out of nowhere. Though little details as those did not take me out as they still produced a page turner of a book.

All in all, A Dance of Chaos is a satisfying finale for the series and it’s highly recommended to those who are familiar with the series. If you’re not then start from the very start as it’s an epic and rewarding journey.

Rating: 4.5/5

Book Review: A Dance of Ghost by David Dalglish

“I will leave you with a graveyard of fire and death before I let you pretend to be it’s god”

-A Dance of Ghost, David Dalglish

David Dalglish is back with the 5th book in The Shadowdance Series. Unsurprisingly, for the umpteenth time, Veldaren, is once again under siege. The Thief Guilds are dead, with the exception of the Ash Guild, and only one Guild rules all over the city, The Sun Guild, led by Muzien The Darkhand. This time, neither Thren Felhorn and The Watcher are there to suppress the occupation but rather the duo are out on a road trip in hopes to learn more about Karak’s Dark Paladins. With only Alyssa Gemcroft, Lord Victor Kane and The King to deal with the Darkhand’s occupation, how will they handle Muzien’s plans for the city?

Being the 5th book in the series, A Dance of Ghost serves as the calm before the storm. Not that it’s a still and quiet book but rather compared to previous books. It has a solemn feel to it. Muzien’s take over of Veldaren is calculated and done in such a masterful way compared to previous take over. It has moments of bloodshed however there are no soldiers and thieves running amok and less fire on the streets of Veldaren. David Dalglish created an intimidating and unforgettable villain in the form of Muzien. He is calm, and mostly unmoved by any threats that comes his way. Even Thren Felhorn is shadowed by Muzien’s presence.

Unfortunately Muzien is possibly the best thing on this book. Ghost makes a return but this point, all interest goes to Muzien. Ghost’s arc mostly feels like an “Ok let’s just get this over with” moment. It was an uninteresting return but it did serve a a purpose. As Delysia and Hearn’s relationship is put to the test thanks to Ghost. A big improvement in this book is the way the female characters were written, specially Delysia. She is written in a much stronger way physically and emotionally, she proved numerous times that she can handle herself in a fight. Also Zusa shows some emotions in the most shocking way possible likewise Alyssa Gemcroft still proves to be a woman of strong will and would not any man undermine her authority, in fact most of the time Lord Victor Kane is at her mercy.

Thren is still very unpredictable and also greatly improved as he transitions to a villain to a likeable anti hero. That said we’re still not forgetting the despicable things he has done in previous books. Ultimately the most disappointing aspect of the book is the lack of Deathmask and his guild. You really miss their presence as they were such a bad ass in the last book. It will make you wonder, “Where the hell are they during Muzien’s occupation of the city?”. Hopefully they will have a huge part to play on the 6th book but this time, Deathmask fans will without a doubt be disappointed.

All in all A Dance of Ghost is a mediocre book at best, that said it does set up the big finale in terms of the 6th book. It is the calm before the storm but it’s a readable calm and it will definitely make the reader look forward to the next book.

Rating: 3/5

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Book Review: A Dance of Shadows by David Dalglish

A Dance of Shadows is David Dalglish’s 4th book in his Shadowdance Series. This time around, Lord Victor Kane a man with a mysterious past enters Veldaren and promises to rid all the thief guilds and in doing so get rid of most of the crime in the city. At the same time, an assassin called The Widow has also entered Veldaren and is targeting Spider Guild members. While our hero, The Watcher, tries to deal with this so called Widow, he also has to decide whether Lord Victor Kane is good for the city or not.

Reading this, I can’t help but think that Dalglish is using a certain formula. A notorious figure enters a city, promises change or vows to dominate. In the meantime a rogue assassin is killing people. Then somewhere in the middle enter blood thirsty mercenaries. The similarities between the third book and this are there. However that does not mean it is a bad book, it is still exciting and an incredibly fun read.

Dalglish manages to juggle through character to character and keeps them interesting. Making sure that each character has motivation to do whatever it is he/she is doing. There are many returning characters and a lot of them are nicely written. Thren Felhorn plays a larger role this time around but a big, show stealer is Deathmask. Although his intentions still unclear, he is written in such a bad ass way. I have no doubt he’s a favorite amongst the series’ readers. Tarlak also plays a larger role although I still can’t get over his appearance as he is described in the book as a wizard that wears bright yellow robes. That said he’s got some nice fight scenes and great moments.

Lord Victor Kane or as he is called in the book, Victor, plays a prominent role, and it’s safe to say he is written quite well, The Widow on the other hand is a mystery waiting to be solved, the revelation however is quite shocking and would definitely take the readers by surprise. There are a lot of great moments in this book and great fight scenes are also there however there are plot hole or story arcs that felt like it was dropped mid way through leaving them incomplete.

To conclude, A Dance of Shadows is a step up from A Dance of Death, mainly for the characters are well written and not to mention highly interesting story arcs. There is never a dull moment in this book and every page an essential event is happening. The combat style this time around is very RPG-esque with a warriors on the front, Wizards on the side and healers on the back. That said, it is fun ride through and through. Recommended for the fans of the series and also new readers can get into it without reading the previous three books.

Book Review: A Dance of Death By David Dalglish

A Dance of Death is the 3rd book in David Dalglish’s Shadowdance series. The events occurs two years after the events of A Dance of Blades. This time, Hearn, along with Zusa and Alyssa travels to the city Angelport to confront a copy cat murderer who calls himself The Wraith.

Moving away from the setting of Veldaren, A Dance of Death occurs in the city of Angelport. Home of one of the Trifect, The Keenans, and also of the Merchant Lords. Once again, Dalglish manages to create a world just as dangerous as Veldaren. Although Angelport may not have the thief guilds that Veldaren houses. It does have the Merchant Lords, The Keenans and the city lord, Ingram. Surely enough, all three forces gives Angelport an uncomfortable presence that without a doubt provides our main characters with a feeling of extreme vulnerability.

As much as we are familiar with Hearn and Zusa being such a dominant force from the previous book. The positions are switched as they are in a vulnerable position in the city of Angelport. With the cover showing Zusa lying still in the hands of Hearn, implying that she might be dead. There are moments in this book where you expect her to die. Those moments really does add a tremendous amount of tension in the book as you read through.

The action, as usual is superb and the dialogue, absolutely exceptional. The characters however, might be confusing at times as names are dropped here and there, it could be hard to keep up from time to time. The introduction of the elves was also a great addition reminding us that this is a fantasy book. A dark and gritty one at that. Also the character development of Hearn, Zusa and Alyssa was written very well along with the chemistry between Hearn and Zusa.

An important aspect of the book is The Wraith, which basically acts as Hearn’s rival. Of course, written in such an intriguing way, the fight between the two is a very riveting read which may leave you exhausted. Although there are a lot to like about this book. Having read the previous books, there are moments here that almost mimics some events from the previous books. Such as riots withing the city and the hiring of a fearsome mercenary to kill our main characters halfway through the story. To some, this may be bothersome as you have read this in both A Dance of Cloaks and A Dance of Blades but it may not be a bother to others.

To conclude A Dance of Death is another great addition to the Shadowdance Series. However, this might feel like a filler to other as it did for me, it does provides a thrilling and enjoyable story. With a whole new setting, a set of truly fascinating new characters, not to mention the always incredible fight scenes and an engrossing climax. A Dance of Death is a highly recommended read for the fans of the previous books or fan of the dark fantasy genre.

Book Review: A Dance of Blades By David Dalglish

A Dance of Blades is the sequel to Dalglish’s A Dance of Cloaks. It occurs five years after the events of A Dance of Cloaks. This time, rather than the book focusing on the villainous Thren,this time it focuses more on his son Aaron and his development in being Hearn The Watcher.

After finishing the first book, A Dance of Cloaks, I had high expectations for A Dance of Blades. That said I was not disappointed, but rather this book exceeded any expectations I had. A Dance of Blades, lives up to it’s name for the book is very much a continuous fight scene. It is one intense fight after another. It is a page turner of a book and it is one that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Apart from the exceptionally written fight scenes, there are a lot of things in this book to love. New characters are introduced and they are as interesting as the protagonist. Each having a strong motive for their actions and equally dangerous as the other. Returning characters are also well developed from the last book and they are still as interesting as they were. However, none of these characters are safe for as interesting or well loved as they are. The book gives you a fearing sensation that anyone could die at any given time. It really does make you worry for any favorite you have chosen.

To conclude, A Dance of Blades is an outstanding sequel, with Dalglish not holding anything back he gives you that feeling that anything can happen. With high octane fight scenes, amazing character developments, unpredictable plot and not to mention profoundly despicable villains. A Dance of Blades is a dark, dangerous, bloody and truly an unforgettable tale of survival that will leave you wounded and craving for more.

Book Review: A Dance of Cloaks By David Dalglish

Dance of Cloaks is the first book in David Dalglish’s Shadowdance series. It takes place in the dark underworld of Veldaren where thieves assassins rule the streets.

Reading Dance of Cloaks, I felt like this is another crack at a Game of Thrones feel. With the point of view jumping from character to character, having a young king rule the city and also countless deaths here and there. Although that may be the case here, I can confidently say all of it was very well written. In which I believe is one of the strong points of this book.

The setting allows you to feel each and every detail of the story, from the city of Veldaren itself to every blood splattered death that occurs. It is a graphic and gritty journey and it is one you want to keep going.

With unpredictable twists and turns you will be afraid for the character you are rooting for, except of course for Hearn as you definitely know he will live due to his involvement in Half Orcs, but apart from that no character is secure. Not only this, but even if you had picked a favorite character, he/she may turn to be the most despicable person in the book. Of course none of these will confuse you for once again the writing is superb.

To conclude, if you love a dark gritty fantasy that involves well written characters, story arcs and fight scenes. A Dance of Cloaks is a great book to read, with two books already published and one on the way. It will only be a matter of time till this series gets the recognition it truly deserves.