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on Jan. 29, 2011 :
I thouroughly enjoyed this 4th istallment of this series.
Again it brought me back to my early day's in the world of AD&D. I would (and have) recommend this book (and series) to anyone who enjoys fantasy fiction.
Looking forward to reading the 5th book now ;)
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Dec. 28, 2010 :
I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this book, other than it was getting a lot of attention on a few discussion boards I’m a part of. I’m SO glad I purchased this novel, my first of what will be a large collection by David Dalglish.
David captured my attention from the first page and held it to the very last. The characters were enthralling, the action fast and furious (and a bit bloody) and the plot a fascinating conflict between father and son, father and the Trifect, father and most other people in the book. The book is well constructed and brilliantly written.
If this one isn’t as well written as the Half-Orc series, then sign me up now. I LOVED this book and can’t wait to sink my teeth and claws into additional works. Thanks David!
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Dec. 07, 2010 :
** spoiler alert ** I picked this up when the author offered a free promotional coupon code on a Kindle discussion forum when it was first released.
I'd put this more at a 3.5 than a straight 3. My thoughts are somewhat jumbled at this point; I stayed up past 1 am last night (this morning?) finishing this book. I guess that says something good about this book because my usual bedtime is 10 pm, but I kept thinking that I'd read just one more chapter. One more chapter turned into two more chapters...five more chapters...then I just had to find out the ending.
This is a dark book, which is definitely not my normal reading fare. I like my books happy. I don't think anyone would call this book happy. Almost every character in this book is a thief and/or murderer, and yet many of them are also sympathetic characters. Dalglish doesn't shy away from killing the likable characters either. Still, there's a ray of hope at the end, and I want to learn more about Haern.
So, I liked it. It was a nice change of pace from what I've been reading lately. Instead of forcing myself to finish it, I was sucked in and couldn't stop reading until the end. That being said, the writing style in the prologue almost made me quit reading before I even really started. Here are a couple examples of what I mean...
For the past two weeks the simple building had been his safehouse, but now Thren Felhorn doubted its safety as he limped through the door. He clutched his right arm to his muscular body and fought to halt its trembling. Blood ran from his shoulder to his arm, cut by a blade poisoned with a potent toxin.
The sentence structure is a little awkward to read, and though I'm not anti-adjective, I feel like there were a couple too many in these few sentences. To me, this would have been a smoother read if it had been more like:
For the past two weeks, this building had been his safehouse. Thren Felhorn limped through the door, the illusion of safety shattered. (This is still kind of awkward, but I'm not a writer. Basically, 1) I don't need to be told his arm is muscular and 2) if Thren Felhorn is *doubting* the safety of the safehouse after he's obviously been injured rather than *knowing* it's no longer safe, he doesn't sound very smart. To me, doubting at this point is like thinking, hmmm, maybe this isn't as safe as I thought.) His shoulder bled freely from a cut he'd received from a poisoned blade. He clutched his right arm to his body and fought to halt its trembling. (Again, this is still kind of awkward and my example can certainly be improved, but it is less awkward for me to read than the way it was written.)
Here's another example just a couple paragraphs down:
Most likely Leon Connington had wanted him alive so he could sit in his padded chair and watch while his "gentle touchers" bled him drop by bloody drop. The fat man's treacherous words from their meeting ignited a fire in his gut that refused to fade.
"We will not cower to rats that live off our shit," Leon had said while brushing his thin mustache. "Do you really think you stand a chance against the wealth of the Trifect? We could buy your soul from the gods."
Here, it's the sentence order more than the adjective use that didn't work for me. You don't need to describe the words as treacherous if you put the words first:
Most likely Leon Connington had wanted him alive so he could sit in his padded chair and watch while his "gentle touchers" bled him drop by bloody drop. Thren thought back on what Leon had said during their meeting. "We will not cower to rats that live off our shit," Leon had said while brushing his thin mustache. "Do you really think you stand a chance against the wealth of the Trifect? We could buy your soul from the gods." The fat man's words ignited a fire in his gut that refused to fade.
The rest of the book doesn't read like that though, just the prologue, so although I rolled my eyes a few times while reading the prologue, the writing style was much more invisible as I continued to read the rest of the book. It's a minor complaint really, but I can see how someone else who has the same issues as I do might stop reading before getting into the good stuff. So, if that describes you, but this otherwise sounds like a book you might enjoy, I encourage you to keep reading. It gets better.
Super tiny nitpick: I was a little confused a couple of times because throughout the book, the author mentions the Spider Guild's gray cloaks and when character's see a character's gray cloak they know it means Spider Guild. But...the Ash Guild also has gray cloaks (ex. from Ch. 15 "Several other men in the grays of the Ash Guild jumped from their seats around a table")? So how did people know the difference between Spider Guild grays and Ash Guild grays?
Technical notes: Not sure about other formats, but for the Smashwords .epub, the paragraph indents got lost at the beginning of chapter 20 and then came back a few chapters later. Not sure what happened exactly, and though slightly distracting, the formatting throughout the rest of the book was very attractive. It wasn't enough to ruin my enjoyment of the book.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Oct. 12, 2010 :
The opening of A Dance of Cloaks, immediately engaged me, and I thought wow! I'm in for a terrific story. I began to have doubts, however, after what to me was a confusing sequence of events shortly thereafter, but I pressed on, determined to at least get to the middle before deciding whether to quit reading or finish it. I'm glad I did. More and more I was re-captivated by the story and Aaron's plight as a boy wanting to be more than a lethal weapon of his ruthless father. One of my favorite parts was where Aaron meets Pelarak. That scene was so good, so beautifully done, I reread it just for the pleasure of it. In fact, the entire book is immensely readable, but it's not without flaws. There were a few instances where I was challenged to suspend disbelief (such as a scene where an elderly woman and 11-year-old girl snuck up on Aaron, a trained thief and killer who was trying to avoid being discovered, and another in which a guy was kicked from behind and tried to stab his attacker with a sword behind him). Fortunately, those sorts of issues were infrequent and didn't ruin my ability to enjoy the story, but I did feel they dragged what might have been a 5-star story down to 4 stars. Still, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend A Dance of Cloaks to any (non-squeamish) fantasy fan.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Aug. 17, 2010 :
This is a real coming of age novel for fantasy writer David Dalglish. He abandons his trademark Orcs and dark magic for a gritty tale of human struggle, a story rife with emotional conflict and centring on the enmeshment of a father and son.
Thren may be the master of all assassins, but his son, Aaron, is not the dutiful heir he has prepared all these years. Under the influence of a wise tutor, Aaron starts to decide his own path, a path that will bring him into conflict with his father.
This is essentially a Hamlet story, the individuation of Aaron, who even adopts the name of his tutor as a further mark of his separation from Thren.
Dalglish weaves a complex story of intrigue from multiple points of view. There are many great, fully flesh-out characters and some stunning new inventions -- such as the faceless women banished by the priests of Karak for basically being too feminine.
There is an intelligent religious dimension mirroring the historical conflicts between Protestants and Catholics, a depth of politics and geography that draws the reader into a complete new world, and, chief of all (and where Dalglish always excels) compelling relationships that tread a thin line between hope and despair. My absolute favourite character (which is probably a bit worrying) is Gileas the Worm. When you read the book it'll add a whole new meaning to Shakespeare's "What's in a name?"
A welcome addition to the genre from one of the most exciting authors of the last few years.
(reviewed the day of purchase)