This is a review of “A Dance of Cloaks” the first book in David Dalglish’s “Shadowdancer” series.
His father is the greatest assassin of all times and the one man that everyone fears, and with an iron grip on the underworld of the city of Veldaren. Aaron is set to take over this criminal empire. Trained by his father, he is exactly what an assassin should be – cold, efficient, ruthless. But when he risks his life to protect a priest’s daughter from his own father, Aaron is given a glimpse of a world beyond poison, daggers and death.
While the story takes place mostly in the city of Veldaren, it is an obviously large and expansive world that is slowly being revealed to the reader. Chapter by chapter small hints and tidbits of information come together to reveal a large and rich world run by merchant princes and thief guilds while the real royals struggle to keep both in check.
We are introduced to a lot of characters and situations throughout the book. Aaron and Thren, and Aaron’s slow road to starting to rebel against his father. Alyssa and the faceless women; the first finding out that she doesn’t know as much about the world as she thought that she did, and the latter having plans that remain a mystery. The two priesthoods and paladins fighting for their respective god, the Trifect merchants, the prince and of course the people surrounding these characters. The battle of wills between the Trifect, the thief guilds and the royal family is the focus of this tale.
The entire story reads like the first chapter of a bigger book. It is obvious pretty quickly that this is only the first book in a series. The pacing is slow despite everything only taking place over a couple of months as the most. The sheer amount of characters introduced as the story goes on makes that doubly obvious, and because of this it can be a bit difficult to get a real sense of the characters. They all have personality and growth, but not as much as one would expect of a book with 450 some pages. This isn’t a bad thing, but it is something to keep in mind when reading the book.
The story does seem to suffer occasionally from a bit of tell-don’t-show, but it is noticeable only sometimes. There is also a surprising lack of Aaron/Haern in the story, the character that is supposed to be the main character of all the characters presented. His parts seem fewer and shorter than any of the others, but this is, again, just a minor peeve.
With faults as small as these there is no way that I wouldn’t recommend this book.
This is definitely a series that I will continue to follow.