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Book review: If you're not already a fan of the 'Remnant' series, don't start with 'Dance of Thieves


August 07, 2018

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"DANCE OF THIEVES," by Mary E. Pearson, Henry Holt and Company, 512 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)

Set in the young adult fantasy world of Mary E. Pearson’s best-selling "Remnant" series, “Dance of Thieves” tells the story of Kazimyrah, a former thief and current member of the queen’s guard, and Jase, the young leader of an outlaw family ruling at the edge of the queen’s realm.

Having not read the "Remnant Chronicles" myself, I came into “Dance of Thieves” looking at it as its own book, independent from any others. Unfortunately, it was not a story that stood well on its own.

Kazi and a few of her fellow members of the queen’s guard come to Jase’s outlier territory, where the queen and those who enforce her laws are not popular. In a move that feels contrived, Jase and Kazi are both captured by slave hunters. Although they manage to escape, they remained chained together at the ankle. Trapped together and forced to understand each other's opposing points of view, they, not surprisingly, fall in love.

Despite the fact that the reader knows Kazi and Jase's secrets will come to a head, the story drags on while they avoid revealing them to each other. In the meantime, the reader is forced to watch them hold parties, do their shopping and rebuild homes for refugees, thinking maybe something in all this will end up being important to the plot, only to ultimately discover none of it really is.

It is fun to get to know Jase's large family of many brothers and sisters and see their dynamics together — it's part of what melts Kazi's heart toward him. The romance between Jase and Kazi is also heart-melting, though it loses a lot of its tension when they succumb to their hate-to-love arc so early on in the story.

For those who have read the "Remnant Chronicles," there are appearances from characters like Lia and Rafe that you’ll enjoy. These readers will also know more about the history and background of the world than I did. For me, the world in “Dance of Thieves” felt confusing and underdeveloped.

In the end, the story does finally pick up, even signing off with a gut-wrenching teaser for a sequel. But the sagging middle might make it hard for a reader to get there.

Basically, if you haven’t read the "Remnant Chronicles," I would recommend doing so before turning to “Dance of Thieves.” It’s a book that seems to be written for those who are already fans of Pearson and doesn’t manage to hold its own.

Content advisory: "Dance of Thieves" contains detailed violence, some profanity and veiled references to sex.

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