In the third installment of a blood-soaked political fantasy series (A Dance of Cloaks, 2013; A Dance of Blades, 2013), the carnage moves from the capital city of Veldaren to bustling, corrupt Angelport.
Haern, the King’s Watcher, has threatened the thieves’ guilds and the nobles of the Trifect into an uneasy peace in Veldaren. But in Angelport, another vigilante called the Wraith is slaughtering prominent citizens—and marking the bodies with the Watcher’s former symbol of an open eye. Haern, Lady Alyssa of the Trifect, and her bodyguard, Zusa, investigate, becoming embroiled in a three-way struggle among Lord Ingram, Angelport’s putative ruler; the Merchant Lords, who seek control of the nearby forest, the sole source of a powerfully addictive herb; and the elves, who regard the forest as sacred. The series was actually self-published before it was picked up by a major publisher, freshly edited and re-released. For those interested in the craft of writing, the author’s notes about how each book in the series changed during this process are illuminating. This novel’s former title was A Dance of Death, and it remains apt: The body count is considerable, nearly drowning the plot’s political intrigue in blood. The author is clearly trying to make a point about the wages of vigilante justice and the difficulty in determining the validity of one’s cause when so many must die to further it. It’s an interesting point, but one must hope that Dalglish considers the point sufficiently established after three books.
Retains the attention for now, but it would be great if the author explored other issues in subsequent volumes.