68 pages • 2 hours readMary E. Pearson
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Dance of Thieves (2018) is a young adult fantasy novel by Mary E. Pearson. It is the first in the Dance of Thieves duology followed by Vow of Thieves. The novel is set after the events of the Remnants Chronicles trilogy which followed Lia, the princess of Morrighan, and her journey to becoming Queen of Venda. Dance of Thieves switches between the points of view of the dual protagonists, Kazi, a Vendan former thief, and Jase, heir to the Ballenger Empire that Kazi is sent to investigate. Interspersed between the chapters are excerpts from the Ballenger family history and Vendan proverbs.
Pearson is an international and New York Times bestselling author of these two series plus the Jenna Fox Chronicles, The Mile Between, A Room on Lorelai, and Scribbler of Dreams. Morrighan, the origin story of the Remnant Chronicles universe, was released in November 2022.
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The Queen of Venda sends three of her Rahtan, elite warriors, to find the Watch Captain Beaufort Illarion, called the dragon, who betrayed the kingdom of Morrighan and helped orchestrate the Great Battle six years before. Kazi leads her fellow warriors Wren and Synové to the captain's rumored location at Hell’s Mouth, which is run by the outlaw Ballenger Empire. Eben and Natiya, two other Rahtan warriors, inform the King of Eislandia and Griz (another of the Rahtan) rides to the King of Morrighan for reinforcements. On the way to Hell's Mouth, Kazi, Wren, and Synové visit a destroyed Vendan settlement, the location of which was chosen with cooperation from the King of Eislandia.
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Jase Ballenger is the new Patrei (leader) of Hell’s Mouth after his father’s sudden death. He is unhappy about the Rahtan investigating treaty violations. When he confronts them, Kazi threatens him with a knife to his throat not realizing he’s the Patrei. After learning Jase's true position, she follows him down an alley where they are captured by labor hunters (enslavers). Kazi wakes in the back of a wagon, ankle shackled to Jase. She steals the key from the driver; Kazi was once a legendary Vendan street thief known as Ten. Before they can unlock their ankle chain, the driver discovers the escape. Kazi and Jase, still shackled together, jump off a cliff into a river and agree to a truce to survive. Jase guides them to his family’s outpost that he tells Kazi is a Vendan settlement. On the journey, they fall in love despite their differences. When they reach the outpost, their shackle is removed, and Kazi realizes Jase lied to her about their destination.
Jase rushes Kazi to his father’s burial at Tor’s Watch, his family’s fortress. To cover for his absence and avoid raising suspicion, he pretends he and Kazi were simply having a romantic interlude. Jase interrogates other labor hunters found in Hell’s Mouth before asking Kazi to write the Queen of Venda, asking her to visit and confirm the legitimacy of the Ballenger Empire. In return for the letter, Kazi forces the Ballengers to rebuild the Vendan settlement they swear they didn’t destroy.
Kazi finds Wren and Synové in Hell’s Mouth and makes Jase agree to lodge them and stop having her tailed. She searches for Illarion at Tor’s Watch while Jase meets with Garvin, Kazi’s tail, who tries to recall her previous identity. Kazi is bitten by the Ballenger’s poisonous dogs but hides it from Jase until she faints. Jase wonders what she was doing. He shows her the family’s vault, which she claims she was looking for, and which proves his family established the first kingdom on the continent.
Jase, his brothers, and the Rahtan rebuild the destroyed Vendan settlement in a better location. Kazi wonders if the King of Eislandia was trying to provoke the Ballengers with the settlement, but Jase insists he’s a buffoon. Jase’s brother Gunner summons them back to Hell’s Mouth because the Vendan queen announced her visit. On the way back, Jase and his brothers are attacked by raiders and the Rahtan save them. Jase discovers his sister Jalaine’s beau Fertig was the leader of the raiders.
Jase takes Kazi to the arena, the Ballenger’s main source of income and a market for traders from all over the world. Kazi meets the King of Eislandia and steals a piece of paper from him that reads "Devereux 27." Jase takes Kazi on a tour and when she sees Previzi drivers (black market traders), she becomes extremely upset and leaves. Garvin tells Jase that Kazi stole from the King of Eislandia and reveals her former identity as the thief Ten.
Back at Tor’s Watch, Kazi finds Illarion and several of his cohorts laughing about the Ballengers and building an arsenal of weapons to destroy the other kingdoms. Kazi and the other Rahtan plan to capture them. Jase confronts Kazi about lying, and Kazi explains her mom was kidnapped by a Previzi driver, a mercenary and labor hunter named Zane. The orphaned Kazi survived by stealing. Jase lies about recognizing Zane, who now works for him. Jase sets up a trap for Zane and finds out Zane is still involved with the labor hunters in Hell’s Mouth and a man named Devereux.
Kazi and the Rahtan slip a sleeping draught into the Ballengers’ food and capture Illarion and his cohorts. On their way out of Tor's Watch, they are confronted by the Ballengers, who switched the draught beforehand. Jase's brother offers to trade Zane, against whom Kazi wants vengeance, for Illarion. Instead, the betrayed Kazi takes Jase captive and makes him drive the prisoners’ wagon. On the journey to the Vendan outpost of Marabella, Kazi tells Jase that Illarion and his men were going to double-cross him and kill his family. Jase only wanted the weapons to protect his people.
At Marabella, Kazi delivers Illarion into captivity and tells the queen about Jase and his family. The queen pardons Jase and agrees to recognize Tor’s Watch as the first kingdom on the continent to the Alliance of Kingdoms. She sends Kazi back to the Ballengers as her ambassador. Kazi and Jase admit they love each other and start the journey back to Hell’s Mouth.
By Mary E. Pearson