A Dance of Mirrors picks up two years from where A Dance of Blades left off. While the Trifect and thief guilds are still holding to the peace treaty, Haern putting down anyone who threatens said treaty is the main thing preventing war from resuming. Then a second vigilante called The Wraith appears in the city of Angelport and begins a brutal murder spree inspired by The Watcher. With these murders provoking the local elves and threatening a war, Haern considers it his responsibility to stop the copycat.
With his mysterious, cloaked and threatening persona, Hearn takes on a classic vigilante role. He is very much like a fantasy world version of Zorro or Batman. Hearn is still a haunted character with the question of “Am I doing the right thing?” plaguing him throughout the story. Mentally, Hearn is still a very young man and it shows through his conflicting thoughts and emotions. Physically, Hearn continues to impress as a complete and total badass. Despite being a normal human with no magic in this fantasy world, he continues to keep up. Against people enhanced by magic, Hearn continues to survive on skill alone.
David Dalglish’s writing of action sequences continues to impress, whether Hearn, Zusa, or any other character is involved. While the protagonists are powerful, they are by no means invincible. Especially with the setting being a new city where they do not have their usual contacts and resources. And despite A Dance of Mirrors taking place in a different city, Angelport is no less corrupt than Veldaren. The corruption spreads its roots through the city in a different fashion, as Hearn quickly learns, but is still ever-present.
While A Dance of Mirrors is a good story, it is a somewhat specific type of fantasy. Whereas A Dance of Blades was more of a continuation, A Dance of Mirrors is its own story. On the upside, this means it holds its own as a standalone book. On the downside, there really is no overarching plot here. There is not a single, main antagonist whose dastardly plan must be stopped. But halfway through the Shadowdance series, you realize that is not the point. This is not a “save the world” story, it is a coming-of-age story. Hearn’s story. The boy raised as a tool who becomes his own man as he steps out of his father’s shadow. And I look forward to seeing where it goes next.