A Dance of Cloaks (Shadowdance #1)

A Dance of Cloaks Book Cover A Dance of Cloaks
David Dalglish
Orbit (originally CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
October 8, 2013 (Orbit); August 16, 2010 (original)

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 birth 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.


A Dance of Cloaks caught my eye when I found a copy of the second book, A Dance of Blades, at a book fair. “Magic and assassins,” I thought, “cool; maybe it will turn out better than Brent Week’s Night Angel trilogy did.” While the assassins are called thieves throughout the book, they are more so assassins. These are not the “if he doesn’t listen, send him a message” type of thieves. They are the “if he doesn’t listen, kill him and move on” types. They seem less interested in stealing than in just murdering everyone who does not bend the knee to them.

For a fantasy world, A Dance of Cloaks is fairly typical. Readers get a map in the front of the book, there are lots of complicated names of far-off places that get mentioned once in passing and never again, a few different types of magic exist (paladins, priest wizards, regular wizards, etc.), and so forth. David Dalglish’s works are in a shared universe, so maybe some of these places are more relevant in oAther books. As a nice touch, the main character did not have magic but is still competent. Fantasy gets old when every main character is awesome mostly because they have some kind of super-magic.

There is a fair amount of action in the story and it gets pretty bloody at times. This scales from combat sequences to outright torture of some characters. Most of it is not horrifically descriptive, but it is enough that some readers may be squeamish. A lot of the characters, being either thieves or evil rich people, are detestable human beings. Not quite King Joffrey level, but still pretty bad. A lot of these characters, unfortunately, stay the same throughout the book. It is mostly the younger ones, whose hearts have not been hardened by the war between thieves and the rich folk, who are able to change and get good character development.

The end of A Dance of Cloaks was…not the best. Things really start to get revved up and then just kind of stop. Since there are five sequels this makes sense, but you do not get a full story reading this book alone. Things get pretty chaotic and rushed towards the end and suddenly boom, it’s over. That being said, it is all enjoyable enough to read the next book. A Dance of Cloaks was not necessarily spectacular, but entertaining enough to build upon itself in the sequels.

May 14, 2017

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