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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Dance Of Cloaks by David Dalglish (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Read an excerpt HERE
Order A Dance Of Cloaks HERE
Read an Article by the Author HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: David Dalglish is the author of the popular Half Orc fantasy series which includes The Weight of Blood, The Cost of Betrayal, The Death of Promises and The Shadows of Grace. He was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He graduated from Missouri Southern State University in 2006 with a degree in Mathematics and used to work with Special Education students. He lives with his family in Missouri; this book was his first standalone book.

BOOK BLURB: Thren Felhorn is the greatest assassin of his time. Marshalling the thieves' guilds under his control, he declares war against the Trifect, an allegiance of wealthy and powerful nobles.

Aaron Felhorn has been groomed since his childhood to be Thren's heir. Sent to kill the daughter of a priest, Aaron instead risks his own life to protect her from the wrath of his guild. In doing so, he glimpses a world beyond poison, daggers, and the iron control of his father.

Guilds twist and turn, trading allegiances for survival. The Trifect weakens, its reputation broken, its money dwindling... The players take sides as the war nears its end, and Thren puts in motion a plan to execute hundreds. Only Aaron can stop the massacre and protect those he loves...
Assassin or protector; every choice has its consequences!

CLASSIFICATION: Featuring a world wherein there are multiple factions at work, this book is a dark, character-driven,
gritty fantasy novel in the vein of George R.R. Martin, Brent Weeks and Peter V. Brett.

FORMAT/INFO: A Dance of Cloaks is 217 pages divided over twenty nine numbered chapters with a prologue & epilogue. Narration is in the third person via several different point-of-views, both major characters and supporting ones as well, including the main protagonist Aaron Felhom, Thren Felhom, Alyssa Gemcroft, Kayla, Veliana, Maynard Gemcroft, and many other minor players. A Dance of Cloaks was supposed to be a stand alone novel however the author soon realized that the entire story could not be told in a single volume and hence is the first book in the Shadowdance trilogy.

This book is set in Dezrel, the same world as that of the Half-Orc Series and enough background information is provided for readers.
The plot of the book is set before the events of the Half-Orc series. The book ends on a clean note but clearly indicates there is more to follow!

August 19, 2010 marked the North American publication of A Dance of Cloaks via paperback and ebook format. Cover art is provided by Peter Ortiz.

ANALYSIS: I read this book last year however due to certain personal reasons could not get the review published. While I was reading it, I was certainly struck by its fast pace, constant plot switches and mainly the unpredictability it brought to the table. A bit of history before one reads this book, the tale is set in the world of Dezrel, the same one of the Half-Orc series however any new reader can jump into this book and have no problem with it [I did the same]. It focuses on the character of Aaron Felhom who is in line to be the heir to Thren Felhom, the leader of the Spider Guild and a thoroughly deadly individual.

This book originally a standalone was supposed to show how Aaron became the person whom some readers have already met in Book 2 of the Half Orc series. Secondly the author was heavily impressed by George R.R. Martin’s "A Game of Thrones" and therefore was inspired to create a world wherein nothing is ultimately safe and the reader will be forced to turn the page to find out what happens next. It is safe to surmise that David has indeed accomplished what he set out to do.

Firstly there are four primary story threads ongoing in this tale, the first one focuses on Thren and his relentless march to wipeout the Tri-fect and secure a kingdom for himself, the second one focuses on Aaron, Thren’s heir and who is rather forced to learn how to become an effective ruler, the third thread focuses on Maynard Gemcroft, who is worried about his daughter Alyssa and about the precarious nature of his house and lastly Alyssa who is willful and faces danger through her choices. There are a few more characters and I feel to spell it all out would ruin the charm of this book. For most characters, nothing goes out as planned and the atmosphere prevalent is one wherein the reader will be forced to think about each character’s motives and plans.

The author does a fine job of constantly switching the tale focus and keeping the reader hooked with various twists and new POV characters. I was very surprised by this book as I simply went in without any assumptions, and yet I was completely blown away by the writing and overall plot. The prose is very good and draws the reader in and then keeps them hooked. The world setting is not explored much beyond the city of Veldaren but then you hardly notice as the action and intrigue never lets up. The world is much deeper than imagined and we do get glimpses and conversations of other things rummaging on the background but readers who have read the Half-Orc series might be able to glean more from them.

Negative points if any were almost negligible, not that this book is a masterpiece and will be counted as the next “A Game of Thrones”. What it is though; a fine book from an upcoming writer who read the aforementioned book and crafted a worthy tale set in his world. There are a few tropes which have been utilized here but again they have been presented in such a way that you do not cringe. Some readers might be a bit thrown off by the number of POV introduced especially during and just before the climax, also a couple of characters make an appearance after being introduced in the earlier half, but then again its not difficult to read and find out what they are up to. Another thing the author is guilty of; is that of finding the tale is longer than he imagined it to be, but considering his inspiration, this can be easily forgiven.

CONCLUSION: A Dance of Cloaks is a gritty book with intriguing characters and has a plot which will keep you hooked till the end. David Dalglish will definitely be gaining new fans with the release of this book and if he can continue his form with the next two releases in the Shadowdance trilogy, I can foresee him ascending new heights and being counted as one of fantasy’s rising stars.


David Dalglish said...

Thanks so much for the review! I'm glad I kept you entertained, Mihir.

Ty said...

This one's definitely on my TBR list, if I can ever whittle that list down! Congrats on the review, DD.

The Reader said...

@ David D.

It was a very good read, looking forward with much anticipation to A Dance Of Blades!


Moses Siregar III said...

Great review, Mihir! It's great to see David's books getting the attention they deserve.

The Reader said...

I'm glad you like the review Moses :)hopefully we'll get to see more of the Shadowdance trilogy soon.


Robin Sullivan said...

Nice review - I'm also glad to see David's books getting more attention - he's been growing in sales and is another indie to keep your eye on

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Anonymous said...

This review really makes me wonder if we held the same book. To each his own. I couldn't get through the first chapters. The sentence structure was just so trite and juvenile, the phrasing so redundant. Maybe it improves, but I didn't have the patience.

The Reader said...

@ Robin

Thanks, I have high hopes for the next books.

PS: TY for the clarification regarding the 6th book.

@ Anon.

Its sad to hear that this book didn't do it for you. Its like you said "To each his own"

Maybe you can give it a try again in the future and see if it still reads the same to you.


Anonymous said...

Agree with previous Anon. Downloaded the sample and couldn't get past the juvenile writing style. Not sure how you can compare to GRRM. I'm a big fantasy fan but disappointed we don't hold our writers to higher standards.

The Reader said...

Hi 2nd Anon.

The author was very much inspired by GRRM's work and had written this book after reading AGOT. I very much state that its not the next AGOT, it's a good book, which I liked for reasons of characterizations, plot twists and overall pace.

I'm sorry to hear that the book wasn't to your liking. Again I think its about different strokes...

Anonymous said...

The person who complained about the comparison to GRRM should reread the context, which was simply about him creating a world where nobody was really safe rather than anything else.

A major plus point to this author is that he doesn't seem to suffer from the same ADHD that causes GRRM to kill off any character when they do something interesting or are in danger of being liked by the reader.


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