Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson
Lia, now the Queen of Venda, has named Kazi (former street thief) a member of the Rhatan, the queen’s most trusted guard. The Queen sends Kazi and other members of the Rhatan to the Cam Lanteaux to investigate reports of attacks on Vendans who are trying to settle there. Although recent treaties have made it legal to establish residence in the Cam Lanteaux, Jase Ballenger and his family (think, Corleone family - mafia) didn’t seem to get the memo. It might be more accurate to say that they got the memo but the Ballengers submit to no one’s authority but their own. See, the Ballengers have ruled this area of land since before the kingdoms were even established. Since Jase has just been named the head of the family, he has to establish himself as a strong leader. Allowing Vendans to settle on his land would not give his subjects that impression.
Kazi has clear instructions from the queen to meet with the Patrei upon arriving in Hell’s Mouth. Unfortunately, the Patrei for whom she was prepared to meet died while Kazi was traveling. The Patrei was replaced with his son, someone younger and not who Kazi expected. So, how was she supposed to know that the man she brought to his knees, slammed his head against a brick wall, and held a knife to his throat was actually this new Patrei, Jase Ballenger?? Give a girl a break! Not a good start to their negotiations. Even worse, when Kazi tracks Jase down to try and fix matters, she finds him bound and gagged and ready to be thrown into a hay wagon. After exuding the queen’s authority in an attempt to free Ballenger, she ends up being bound as well. And that’s all she remembers. Until she wakes up beside Jase in said hay wagon. These idiot labor hunters have just unknowingly kidnapped a guard of the queen’s Rhatan and the ruler of Hell’s Mouth. Things will not end well for those labor hunters but what about Jase and Kazi? Chained to each other, barefoot, and without food and water, they escape the hunters but how will these two enemies survive the 100+ mile journey on foot to the nearest settlement? It doesn’t take long for these enemies to become frenemies oozing with simmering, super-strong sexual tension. And their trek through the wilderness is only the beginning of their adventure which will include scheming and manipulation in order to fulfill their own secret missions.
There is so much to love in this book. We’re back in the world of the Remnant Chronicles!!! It’s one of my favorite high fantasy worlds (that’s really more sci-fi once you decipher the clues - take a look at these theories). Although you don’t strictly need to have read the first series to enjoy this book, there is no good reason why you shouldn’t go read it right this minute. On the other hand, however much fun it would be to reread the series in prep for this book, it isn’t necessary (aw, man). Dialogue!!! Mary E. Pearson has a gift for writing witty banter with sexual overtones between characters who readers really, really, really want to get together. Side characters!!! Like Birdie, Griz, and Pauline in the first series, this one has Griz (again!), Wren, Synove, and every awesome member of Jase’s enormous family.
I’m already looking forward to rereading Dance of Thieves before the August 9, 2019, release of book two in this duology - Vow of Thieves.