on 22 January 2011
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). 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.
on 23 February 2015
A few years ago, David Dalglish self-published a book called "A Dance of Cloaks", the first in his "Shadowdance" series. After finding an audience and, subsequently, a publisher, it was released in a revised edition which the author himself feels to be an improvement.
Thren Felhorn is the leader of the Spider Guild and is a name feared by everyone in Veldaren. For good reason, for Thren has united the Guilds, those groups populated by the thieves and murderers of the city. Thren’s long term aim is to lead the Guilds in a war against the Trifect – the three richest families who control the majority of the city’s legal activities.
Having killed his first man and his older brother aged eight, Aaron Felhorn is Thren’s heir and is proving to be as good as his father, even escaping attempts on his own life. Until, that is, he is sent to kill the daughter of a priest. Something about the way she prays makes him think that not everyone his father hates and not all his father does is right, suddenly Thren has internal squabbles to worry about, as well as making plans for the Trifect at their bi-annual meeting, the Kensgold.
Dalglish has put an awful lot into this book and it shows in the number of twists and turns that occur during the story. There are several Guilds and many of the Trifect have their own families and those they have wronged during their business dealings who are looking for revenge as much as the Guilds and aren’t above a little kidnapping and murder to get it.
The novel is very character driven, as the speciality of the Guilds is thievery and murder and they do it all first hand, not with magic. But Dalglish writes them so well that even as they kill, you find yourself agreeing with their aims, even if their methods might not be entirely comfortable. On the other hand, the Trifect come across as being quite despicable. Madelyn Keenan in particular came across as a version of Marie Antoinette, demanding the comforts of home as the streets fill with rioters, so much so that the killers seem like the most reasonable of the factions.
The size of the cast means that to follow them all effectively the pace of the novel needs to be kept very high to fit them all in. Dalglish achieves this admirably and whilst some characters get a larger share of the story than others, these are the ones who end up with the larger share of the spoils when the book comes to an end. There were very few characters that I felt Dalglish had treated harshly in terms of the attention he devotes to his characters.
Personally, there were a couple of aspects of the story I would have liked to have seen a little more of. Aaron’s change from loyal son to a killer to rebellious teenager happened a little too quickly and I would have liked a little more about how this came about. There were also brief references to competing religions with the priests of Ashhur and Karak getting mentions but with no obvious reasons as to why the religions are incompatible and what each stands for.
It may be that my own faith makes me feel that these elements were lacking and other readers may not need any more than is here. However, more on these would have impacted on the pacing of the story and even with my own preferences, losing that would have done far more damage to the novel than what I felt was missing.
This was an excellently paced, character driven fantasy novel. There was a lot of bloodshed on the streets of Veldaren and whilst this may be a little much for some readers, I do like dark, bloody fantasy of the type that Dalglish has written here and he’s written it very well. The best thing he has done has whetted the appetite not just for reading this book again but for continuing with the series.
This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
on 30 May 2014
This is a fast paced action ( and a wee bit gore) packed tale. The characters intertwine cleverly. The twists and turns had me enthralled.
Soon as finished this I immediately ordered book 2..
I can't wait to read it
on 30 April 2014
I am no literary genius, however I do know a well written book when I get one. I have seen this book likened to Name of the Wind and some of Robin Hobbs work. That simply cannot be the case. Both of those books, whether you like the stories or not (I very much do) are so deeply described and structured. Compare them to this book, which I found to be a jumble of badly constructed characters that are left wanting. You feel like you know very little about them, which isn't the type of story I like to read.
Further to that though, the story just doesn't connect. It all seems like very little thought goes into what the characters do and say. This is a fantasy story so don't misunderstand when I say, it feels unbelievable. Not about the magic, or the world, but what the characters do. There are some badly described ghost women for example, that seem impervious to any assault, yet when a few extra soldiers come to attack them they run (float? I don't know, it wasn't explained. I don't know what they really are) off.
Give it a go, it might be your cup of Tea. It perhaps might attract a certain type of audience. It clearly has, and fair enough to you. But if you have read the likes of Robin Hobb, Mark Lawrence (particularly him), Brandon Sanderson, Pattrick Rothfuss, and the fantastic Joe Abercrombie; then I would not waste your time with this book.
on 13 November 2013
I just felt like I couldn't actually root for anyone in this book, people died or were killed without a second glance, everyone had pretty dire motives, not enough depth to the characters to make you feel that there were even flawed anti-heroes, and even when you got a little background to a character next minute they'd been killed. Everything rushed along at a breakneck speed, no measured pace or build up, it felt like I was reading book two or like when you missed three episodes in a thriller and all the scene setting and character building had already been done. Characters felt shallow and lightweight and most were pretty horrid, I wasn't hoping that anyone survived, narrative jumped almost inexplicably from random person to random person.... Not a fan!
on 29 August 2014
I bought every booked published by this author who does write incredibly well. As with all eBooks in my possession there are typos and misspellings which ought not to be there. Also I'm a fast reader and think some books could have been put together. At times it felt like buying episodes rather than a chunky book. However I will buy more books as they are published because the author is talented and tells a good tale. A good read.
on 19 July 2015
David Dalglish’s “A Dance of Cloaks” is the opening of another series that explores the dark underworld of a fantasy city and attempts to make heroes of the usual bad guys. While on the one hand this gives license for the characters to perform all manner of atrocities, it also looks at the internal conflict they face and the dreams of redemption harboured by some. It’s the story of Aaron Felhorn, a young man with an impressive set of skills and a conscience not really suited to the life his crimelord father wants for him.
The book’s prologue sets a bloody tone, with the viciousness of father and son showing through from the start, and at times it’s easy to forget how young Aaron is. The action builds and the pages turn quickly as Aaron takes on older, more experienced opponents and these fight scenes are well written, helping to make this an enjoyable novel. With a few tweaks here and there, this could be a cracking opening book for the series. It’s a good read, but in a market saturated with books of thieves and assassins, there’s just not enough about this one to set it above the others.
on 29 July 2014
A great start, to what has turned out to be a fantastic series. These were the first Daglish books I have read, and so it may be the case some characters referenced I did not pick up, though I am now enjoying reading his many other titles, but this does not matter as the book starts of setting a very detailed scene that only develops and entices you deeper and deeper into the underworld of the city.
I highly recommend this book if you are like me and enjoy fantasy fiction, if you enjoy any of Michael J. Sullivan, Anthony Ryan, Brandon Sanderson or Robert Jordan, then you need to make sure you pick up this book as well, as you will find yourself immersed in a whole new world, and you will find you wont stop until you have the whole collection of series.
on 27 April 2016
Absolute rubbish! As a lifelong reader of sci fi/fantasy/horror books, ranging from Tolkien/Lovecraft/Hope Hodgson etc to the likes of more modern authors such as Anthony Ryan, Brandon Sanderson, Peter Brett and Joe Abercrombie, I can honestly say that this is one of the worst books I have ever read. It was very poorly written, there was very little background on any of the characters, to the extent that I couldn't empathise with any of them, except possibly the boy. What's more, some of the names even seemed to have been nicked from other books - it's even got orcs for God's sake...
If you really must read it, if only out of curiosity, then don't buy it new, buy it secondhand for a penny. I certainly won't be buying any more of these books...
on 12 February 2014
I absolutely love this book, from the second I started reading it I couldn't stop. The story line is gripping and the book is filled with action. I had never read books by this author before but I would definitely consider reading others now. My friends new years resolution is to read more so I have lent him my copy of the book- its that good. I don't lend books out normally, he damages it he orders me a new one. This is one of my favourite books and I keep my favourites in the condition they are in when they leave the shop. I cannot stress enough how good this book really is. I guess you'll just have to read it and trust me- you wont regret it. If you love the Game of Thrones books or any book by Brandon Sanderson I reckon you'll love these.