5 stars! This review will be spoiler free!
Dance of Thieves takes place a couple years after The Remnant Chronicles (another series by Mary E. Pearson you MUST read!) and is told from two perspectives: Jase and Kazi.
Jase is the new patriarch of the Ballenger Empire as his father had just died. The Ballenger Empire is not a kingdom, but is a recognized ruling entity even though they seem to run by their own rules. As a new era is upon the realm, Jase and his family turn their resentment to the new Queen who brought it about.
In Kazi's POV, we follow a trio of Rahtan girls as they embark on a mission placed on them by the young Queen of Venda. Kazi, a legendary former master thief, leads this mission in order to scope out the transgressions this outlaw family has done. And you can imagine how Jase and Kazi will butt heads.
If this line doesn't get you to read this book, I don't know what will: "a reformed thief and the young leader of an outlaw dynasty lock wits in a battle that may cost them their lives—and their hearts."
I FREAKING LOVED THIS BOOK! If I could scream at the top of my lungs to everybody in the world that they should (first pick up the Remnant Chronicles then) pick up this book, I would. I remembered exactly why I loved Pearson's books to begin with. I love her writing style, I love her imagery, I love her settings, I love the politics, and I love the witty/snarky/sweet/swoony romance.
The beginning: At first, it took be a while to get into this story. Maybe about... 50 pages or so? I think this was because it had been so long since I've read the Remnant Chronicles, I just forgot about a lot of the old characters; HOWEVER, once I brushed up, I was ready to plunge in. This story feels entirely it's own, though it is a continuation of the first trilogy. Pearson did an amazing job of mentioning old and beloved characters here and there to keep our hearts attached to them, but she also did an amazing job of getting you attached to these new characters. BOY was I attached. I feel like I felt everything both Kazi and Jase felt and I love them so so so much.
The plot: If I'm being honest, I had no idea this book was going to go any of the directions it did. The only thing I was certain of was Kazi and Jase. Everything else... plot twist, plot turn, plot freakin' rollercoaster the whole rest of the way. I was invested in the story and characters and even side characters. Sprinkle in the political intrigue, sprinkle in some of the different cultures and histories, and then top it off with the appearance of some old characters. This is a page-turner, no doubt about it.
The Romance: I could go on and on about these two. I seriously rooted for their relationship with all my heart. I liked how honest Kazi and Jase were with each other, or at least how honest they tried to be. I like how Kazi could straight up just ask "what is going to happen to us?" A true, legitimate question running through my mind as a reader. They just complement one another in great ways. I truly enjoyed their dynamic and how they traversed each other's cultures. Though it could be argued that it started pretty fast, I want to say maybe 2 weeks, it still seems honest and believable. Because you tend to like the people that you are closest to you on a day-to-day basis and literally had no choice, but to be with one another. Not to mention big things were at stake. I still feel like throughout the book, it turned into a slow burn and really entertaining romance to read about.
The writing: This story has great examples of how to use flashbacks! Every flashback that Kazi had or Jase had had a relevance to something that was occurring in the future, not necessarily foreshadowing, but it offered premature context to decisions or actions that they took in the book like later on not super far off from when the flashback actually occurred. Pearson's writing is also, in general, very poetic to me. She has a way a transporting you into her story, making you see everything she wants you to see with your mind's eye, and having you feel everything that the characters do.
The foreshadowing: The little eggs that Pearson leaves throughout her books that lead you to make your own predictions about the story are just so good. What else can I say? They leave you extremely tense to find out what's going to happen when a big reveal comes up. I literally could not wait for everything to come to fruition. Even though big things aren't happening every single second of the page you still feel on the edge of your seat.
The ending: It was kind of cheesy if I'm being honest. But I really don't have any problems with it because it was very satisfying. Pearson chose the right moments to bring about old characters. Being able to reconnect with them and also getting the kind of ending for the new characters that I wanted with this first book was such a rewarding feeling. It was everything I wanted and needed to finally take a deep breath and think, "AH my babies yassss!!" It was also nice to finally come across a first in the series that doesn't end in a cliffhanger, BUT YOU STILL WANT MORE! I didn't need a cliffhanger at the end of this book to know that I was going to continue on with the series.
What are you waiting for? If you've already ready the Remnant Chronicles, GO READ THIS BABY NOW. If you haven't read the Remnant Chronicles, go read that trilogy NOW. So you can read Dance of Thieves. Mary E Pearson has definitely improved in her writing and story telling and you can tell as you read this book! AH LOVED IT. *fangirling squeals* Vow of Thieves, where are you?!