A Dance of Blades by David Dalglish is the second book of the Shadowdance Trilogy. After completing A Dance of Cloak, I debated whether to continue with the second book in the series or start the Half-Orc series, which is also written by the same author. I then learned that the Half-Orc series takes place after the events of the Shadowdance Trilogy and so I thought it best to finish the latter first. A Dance of Blades is definitely a worthy sequel to the first and with only one more book to go, I can’t wait to read the conclusion.
With A Dance of Blades, the book focuses more on Haern, son of Thren Felhorn. He is a grown man now that practically five years have past since the bloody Kensgold. Although Haern chooses to lead a different life than what his father wanted him to lead, he nonetheless is still out and about in the night killing off thieves in hopes to bring down the guilds. He has experienced a lot during those five years but things are about to get a whole lot more hectic for him. The other main characters the book focuses on is Veliana and Alyssa. I thought the author could have made the former a lot more interesting than what she is. With Alyssa, she’s young, rich and a leader of a Trifect family. She plays the typical character I come to expect after having read so many fantasy books. Not a bad thing really but she’s definitely not someone I’ll remember after reading the book. I expect some readers will be furious to learn that Thren Felhorn takes a complete back seat here in the sequel after having been the focal point of the first. In fact, the author actually gives a brief explanation of why at the end of the book.
By now, I can say that I really like the author’s writing style. Fight scenes are done very well and more importantly, he keeps the pace well balanced. Trust me, I have read many a books that promises the allure of assassins and thieves and “non-stop action” but am only left disappointed in the end because the author focuses too much on character development or worst, spend entire chapters detailing what the characters did while traveling from one place to the next. Not that character development isn’t needed or wanted but there has to be a balance between that and action. The author here does a fairly good job. Also, the inclusion of new characters into the story is always a welcome. It seems that the author likes to introduce at least one crazed and fanatic character in at least one of his books. In the first we had Ethric, the devoted paladin. I was actually quite mad that he died rather easily and without much details. Here we have a similar character that goes out of his way to complete his mission at whatever the cost. Luckily, the author didn’t repeat the same mistake with him this time around.
A Dance of Blades is definitely a lot more action oriented than the first. Although that’s not saying much being that the first was so action packed as well. I guess a more better definition is that this book focuses a little bit more on magic use. In the first, we get a hint of magic but its actual use in battle scenes were almost non-existent. I’m glad to see the author used it here to make some fight scenes toward the end a bit more interesting. In fact, I have to admit that after having read so many fight scenes in the first book and this one that includes either a shortsword or dagger, I grew pretty bored of it. I’m hoping magic will have a bigger role in the last book just to spice things up a bit.
With how things ended here, I’m having a tough time guessing what could be in store for us in A Dance of Death which is the last book in the series. A Dance of Blades had a pretty satisfying conclusion and it seemed that the “bigger” issue was fairly solved. What could be left for the third book that would make an epic finish? Are we going to actually witness a clash between Haern and Thren?