Book Review: Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

The land won’t have you and the sea won’t claim you. You’ve fled, like us, to wood and canvas. This deck’s your firmament; these sails are your heavens. This is all the world you get This is all the world you need.

After the events of the first book, our protagonists find themselves in the lively city of Tal Verrar, once again already executing a heist. However things aren’t easy as it seems as they’ve caught the attention of The Archon of Tal Verrar, who puts a halt to their plans and decides to use the two as a tool to gain advantage over his enemies.

After reading The Lies of Locke Lamora, I was excited to read Red Seas Under Red Skies. The book starts off with an intriguing scenario between Locke and Jean. Glad to say this intrigue carries out through most of the first act of the book, in return makes it easy to follow and it sets up the book nicely.

Unfortunately the momentum couldn’t follow through as the book loses direction around the second act. Important plot points are abandoned and our characters becomes less interesting. Though Locke is still as fascinating as ever, the opposite can be said about Jean as he is more subdued this time around and is written like a glorified body guard.

There are a lot of new characters and they all have interesting personalities, however none of them have the presence of previous characters, and with very little back story it’s difficult to care for them.

The story becomes incredibly convoluted around the third act with plenty of events that happens with no clear follow ups. That said, the book’s climax was exciting to read but overall this was a disappointing follow up. The book wraps it well enough and it encourages the fans to read the third installment of the Gentlemen Bastards, one can only hope the third book won’t be as directionless as this one.

Rating: 2.7/5

Book Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Someday, Locke Lamora… someday you’re going to f*** up so magnificently, so ambitiously, so overwhelmingly that the sky will light up and the moons will spin and the gods themselves will s*** comets with glee. And I just hope I’m around to see it

I’ve heard a lot of praise heading into this book, there has been countless positive reviews and likewise on the top of many best of list. I was excited to read it and I kept expectations to a minimum. I didn’t know what to expect, but what I’ve read is a masterpiece.

Locke Lamora is an orphaned child in the City of Camorr. Without any guidance to follow he was left without a choice but to join the Thiefmaker’s guild on Shades Hill. However, having shown tremendous talent on thievery at an incredibly young age. The Thiefmaker himself could not handle Locke as he is sent to train under tutelage of The Eyeless Priest otherwise known as Father Chains. Along with other trainees, Locke and his peers grow up to be known as The Gentlemen Bastards.

There’s not much plot here as the story forms as we read through the book. We follow the story of Locke Lamora and his rise to being the smartest and most elusive thief in all of Camorr. His writing is magnetic, and we root for him. He’s written as an underdog, as a person of short stature compared to his peers, also not a very skilled fighter. But what he does have is his impressive wit and ability to plan clever schemes that most of the time work. That’s where his charisma comes in and it makes for a great protagonist.

There are also other characters here with strong personalities. Capa Barsavi is written as Camorr’s underground king and he is terrifying. Though not quite the villain of the book, however his intimidating presence makes his role very exciting. There’s also the Grey King who’s very mysterious and yet has an equally strong presence in the book. A lot of the characters are written incredibly well and they’re all very interesting.

The story is enthralling from start to finish, the first act being mainly a heist story which is cleverly written to the second and third act which becomes a revenge story that draws you in. The story pacing is perfect, as character backstory alternates with present day story and it flows well as the backstory provides insights to the upcoming chapters.

The only complaint and it’s incredibly minor, some of the dialogues are written with a certain accent and sometimes it makes it hard to comprehend what the characters are talking about. Though you will get used it, it may be problem for some and would cause them to lose interest in the story or the book itself.

Overall The Lies of Locke Lamora, is an epic fantasy worthy of it’s achievements. Scott Lynch has created a world filled with suspense, excitement and intrigue not to mention clever humor and extremely likable characters. The protagonists are charismatic and the antagonists are villainous but both sides have an interesting story to tell and it’s a story worth reading. Easily one of the best books I’ve read.

Rating: 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.