Customer Reviews


152 Reviews
5 star:
 (68)
4 star:
 (45)
3 star:
 (15)
2 star:
 (19)
1 star:
 (5)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


72 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gritty dark fantasy
A Dance of Cloaks is the fourth book I've read by David Dalglish. While I liked his other books a lot, I felt with them that there was something missing to make them 5-star books. That's not the case with A Dance of Cloaks. In this book, he's come into his own and A Dance of Cloaks is an exciting read. I've always said that Dalglish writes some of the best fight...
Published on September 28, 2010 by Kyrie

versus
53 of 68 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lackluster and violent
So... some background. I'd been away from fantasy for awhile, until I picked up Name of the Wind. It was fantastic, and I devoured it. Then I picked up Lies of Locke Lamora, and I was pretty unimpressed by the first few chapters, but then it grew on me and I loved it. I read its sequel Red Seas under Red Skies next, and loved it just about as much.

When I...
Published on March 22, 2011 by McBeardsalot


‹ Previous | 1 216 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

72 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gritty dark fantasy, September 28, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
A Dance of Cloaks is the fourth book I've read by David Dalglish. While I liked his other books a lot, I felt with them that there was something missing to make them 5-star books. That's not the case with A Dance of Cloaks. In this book, he's come into his own and A Dance of Cloaks is an exciting read. I've always said that Dalglish writes some of the best fight scenes I've ever read, and that doesn't change in this book. Added to the mix is plenty of intrigue and a large cast of characters, including some old favorites. The theme of redemption is still laced throughout the book.

If you've read and liked Dalglish's Half-Orc series, you've really got to read this - you'll learn a good bit about the politics of the world and also find out how Haern got his start as well as the Eschatons. A Dance of Cloaks stands fully on its own, though -- don't worry if you haven't read Dalglish's other books; you don't need to in order to dive right in. If you enjoy fantasy, I can't recommend this book enough.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wild Ride Through a Dark World, August 29, 2010
In A Dance of Cloaks David Dalglish has created a dark world where life is easily lost and swords and daggers rule. I don't normally read fantasy, but decided to broaden my horizons with this book. I'm glad I did. I don't want to post any spoilers, so I'll simply say the main plot was between a father and son. Thren Felhorn would stop at nothing to bend his son to his will and make him into a heartless assassin and the next ruler of the thieves guilds. Sub-plots involved a variety of other characters vying for money or power. There are also two very different religions struggling to win the people to their respective beliefs.

The action scenes--and there are many--are so well-written that I could easily imagine myself observing as if from a nearby vantage point. But not too nearby--the vivid battle and torture descriptions are not for the squeamish.

The main characters are portrayed with depth and feeling and each is given a story that we follow throughout the book. I especially liked that the women were strong characters and some of them could fight as well as or better than the men.

All the action and conflict lead to a climactic event when Thren Felhorn, ruler of the thieves, attempts to wipe out the opposition and finally take control of everything. Some of the characters live and some die violently, but loose ends are tied up in a dramatic battle that overtakes the city.

Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


53 of 68 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lackluster and violent, March 22, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
So... some background. I'd been away from fantasy for awhile, until I picked up Name of the Wind. It was fantastic, and I devoured it. Then I picked up Lies of Locke Lamora, and I was pretty unimpressed by the first few chapters, but then it grew on me and I loved it. I read its sequel Red Seas under Red Skies next, and loved it just about as much.

When I picked up Dance of Cloaks, I felt the same way about it at first as I did about Lies of Locke Lamora, and I really hoped it would grow on me too. Unfortunately it just never really rang true with me. The plot is difficult to follow for the first few chapters, since every couple of pages tends to introduce a new character. These characters tend to have a great deal of similarity... they're all more or less violent, vengeful, and skilled at some form of combat. Once you have the characters and plotlines sorted out, it's difficult to sympathize with any of them, even (what I believe to be) the main character. The ending was sudden, and I felt like very little had actually been accomplished.

On the positive side, it's not a mentally difficult read. The world and social structure it creates are both fascinating and detailed. It also doesn't have the pretentiousness of a great many of the books that I've read. I genuinely believe that there's a lot of potential here, but it just didn't quite hit the right note for me.

In short, is it a match for Name of the Wind or Lies of Locke Lamora? Not quite, in my mind. Is it better than most similar books out there? Yes indeed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


32 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another masterpiece..., October 27, 2010
Rating: 5 out of 5

It's nice when you find an author whose work you adore. When this happens, you gleefully anticipate each coming release, and dive into every volume without the "I hope this doesn't suck" feeling that can come about when opening a virtual unknown.

Luckily for me, I've found a couple new favorites over the last few months. At the top of that list is David Dalglish, he of the half-orc series I've been raving about on this site (and others) since I first opened "Weight of Blood". Now from mister Dalglish, comes "A Dance of Cloaks", a prequel of sorts to his best-selling series. (Which, by the way, you need not read in order to enjoy this tome. It works perfectly as a stand-alone.)

This novel is in many ways a wondrous oddity - as most of the author's books are. It is set in a fantasy world, and yet the story it tells is real world appropriate. In fact, I would hasten to call this a fantasy novel at all. A more befitting description would go as follows:

"A Dance of Cloaks is what would you get if Mario Puzo #1) knew how to write, and #2) constructed The Godfather to take place in a land of swords, spears, and magic rather than New York and Sicily."

The plot follows a standard gangland trope: young child, son of powerful mafia (in this case, thief guild) boss is groomed to take over a position he's not sure he wants; inner turmoil, scheming, and conflict ensue. In this case, the son is Aaron Felhorn, whose father, Thren, is the legendary (and brutal) leader of the Spider Guild.

Again, as with gangland tales, there is a war going between the different Thief Guilds and the Trifect (this world's version of the corporate elite). The war is fought the way urban gang wars always are - through subterfuge, theft, and plain, old-fashioned assassination. The fighting has stretched out for years, draining the resources of all involved. And now Thren, being the brutally efficient power-mongerer that he is, has come up with a sweeping plan to end this conflict once and for all and win himself (and his eventual successor) a legacy that will be whispered about for centuries.

There are many plot twists in this book, as to be expected, and a ton of characters, each with plans and schemes of their own. It forms a convoluted mess of intrigue and double-dealings, all of which are satisfying in the end. It's difficult to write from so many viewpoints, remain true to their makeup, and keep the reader invested, but Dalglish pulls it off big time here. Each character has a distinct voice, and their actions make sense to their construction.

However, with all that said, this book is much, much more than a straight-ahead tale of gangs and duplicitous characters. The emotional depth is amazing, and for this we have two characters to thank - little Aaron, and his teacher, an old man named Robert Haern.

The interplay between these two is so well done. Haern is a man who's trained many men, including the king, himself. He is brought in by Thren to inspire the greatness that being the heir of the Spider Guild leader requires. His instructional method is minimalistic and intellectual, and he immediately draws in the quiet and reclusive Aaron, who is the type of son who will do anything just to please his father. Their interplay is so convincing that, even though they have a very short time together in the beginning and Aaron becomes immediately attached to this strange old man, it is completely believable. Haern is the first person that treats the younger Felhorn as an equal, after all, and the only one that listens. Think back to your own childhoods. When was the first time you felt a strong connection to a parental figure? Most likely, it will be a circumstance much like one I just described.

Thren gets more than he bargained for, though, because Haern shows Aaron how to think - and any time a youngster learns the power of their own mind, they're going to go off and try to find their way on their own. Thren wants his son cold, hard, and merciless. What the old teacher gives him is a child who makes his own opinions and develops his own sense of right and wrong.

This is where the story moves from intriguing to heartbreaking. There are two main points here - one unique to Aaron, the other not. The first point is the loss of childhood. Aaron is forced to grow up way too quick, made to observe and take part in vicious acts that no thirteen-year-old (or younger: he commits the murder of a member of his own family at age 8) should ever have to. In doing this, he is stripped of his innocence and made to become a man before his time. He ends up handling it quite well, but there is a subversive sadness that flows beneath the words, telling us how unfortunate it is that this bright and solitary child has had the weight of such horrors thrust upon his shoulders.

The second theme, and one that I found just as interesting, was the running premise of how dangerous family can be when it's rife with dysfunction. Every character - and I mean every one - has daddy issues of one sort or another. It intrigued me greatly, and demonstrated the consistency of the author. All of his books are, deep down, tales of overcoming circumstances that aren't the characters' fault, be it from abuse, rape, neglect, arrogance, or abandonment (or all of the above) by their parental figures. It helps make the circumstances real, make them matter, and draws you closer to the characters than most books. For example, Stephen King is one of my favorite writers of all time. Of all his books, the only one whose emotional weight I still feel today is Bag of Bones. When it comes to Dalglish, I now have two novels that will stick with me forever. That's an achievement, folks. A HUGE one.

A Dance of Cloaks is a wonderful book. It can be rough to read at times, and confusing at others, but in the end, you realize that all the confusion, all the clutter, had a purpose, and that purpose pays off. In fact, this is my favorite work by the author, and fully deserves its perfect score. The only other book I've given that to recently was Cost of Betrayal, again by Mr. Dalglish. Now, Cost is still the slightly better book, but being as gut-wrenching and painful as it is, it isn't something I'll read over and over. This one, however, I will be, which is why I say favorite.

Go out and buy this book, folks. Go out and make this author a huge success. His talent for storytelling is, to me, second-to-none. You won't find many better than this, and once you reach the end, you'll shudder with anticipation for the second book to come out.

Yes, it gets one huge recommendation from this reviewer.

Plot - 10
Characters - 10
Voice - 10
Execution - 10
Personal Enjoyment - 10

Overall - 50/50 (5/5)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sad reliance on battle porn, May 8, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'm not sure what the rest of Dalglish's books are like. I understand this is an after the fact novel written to explain the history of one of his primary characters in another series. Perhaps it's just a bad place to start. Having read this, I'm not willing to try anything else. Publishing this is a bad move if the rest of your work is better.

If you are looking for the literary equivalent of car chases and fight scenes with unclear delineation of antagonists and protagonists, look no further. After crawling through the entire book hoping for some glimmer of inspiration in the ending I'm being generous with two stars. What passes for a story line limps along on a crutch of battle porn. Two dimensional characters with unclear motivations, unimaginative scenery, and more time given to the psychopathic but oddly stupid leader of the underworld than the supposed hero of the story, his son. In spite of the fact Thren is supposed to have negotiated a confederacy of thieves, murderers and whoremasters, his reasons for doing so remain largely opaque. He wants to be "powerful" and "in control" of the city. Why is never explored. (the young King's bad management or the Trifect's greed could be used as a logical excuse but in either case the author manages to undercut the logic) Dalglish's clear reverence for (Thren's) fighting skills overshadows his characterization of the protagonist's (Thren's son) struggle for independence, the purity of his less bloody instincts, and the allure of those youthfully idealistic convictions on the jaded men and women drawn into his father's sphere.

The author claims a reverence for George R.R. Martin, yet clearly fails to understand how powerfully Martin's characters drive the story, and how much effort goes into understanding and fleshing out the intricate motivational details of all those characters.

Not cheap enough to be worth your time. Spend the extra dollars on something from Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Ambercrombie, Guy Gavriel Kay, George R.R. Martin or Jaqueline Carey.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bad for me but not for you?, May 6, 2014
By 
J. Hamby (Pennsylvania) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Dance of Cloaks (Shadowdance 1) (Paperback)
Doesn't that just help you, the prospective reader, out tremendously.

I label this review in the manner I did because I've been experiencing a bit of epiphany of late in terms of my fantasy reading. And it might just be an incredibly self important one.

So you have been warned.

My problem with this work in general is that it reads like a video game adventure. Not just in the structure but in the approach to how fantasy storytelling works. I had the sense that much of what happened was a check off list of what the author likes or thinks the audience likes in terms of "moments".

This might work better if the characters were better written and the connecting elements of the narration were stronger.

For me they are not. Instead I found the tone too slight, a bit too much of tell not show and even as the author tries to write an ambiguously moral tale, it is too clear and too heavy handed in who the reader is suppose to root for and admire.

Which brings me to my self important realization. This being that as a reader, particularly of fantasy, I'm entering into a new younger generation of writers. I grew up, came or reader age reading authors my grandparents and parents age. Writers who started out reading. Who grew up watching television in a time when it wasn't an all day form of entertainment. When there were three networks basically.

A generation of writers who relied more on the internal scape of their imagination simply because they did not have a choice.

I don't mean that younger writers are worse. I just think that the approach to story telling has changed. The changes in television and film, in all media has changed the foundations of what the new writers bring to the reading table. The likes of Patrick Rothfuss and Daniel Abraham as generational peers prove to me that this can be a good thing.

In this case though I find an overly glib jittery tone and approach to storytelling that is annoying at worse and just not a compelling read at best.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I managed to finish it..., May 23, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It started out well enough, though the number of characters and how they intertwined seemed pointless and overly complex. I noticed the Ice and Fire styling about midway through, and felt my heart sink - I knew it was going to end with most of the characters I'd come to like dying quick, pointless deaths.

If you like dark fantasy, you'll probably like this: It's full of blood, betrayal, and grit, and the ending is not a happy one for anyone. I prefer a lighter flavor of fantasy, so suffice to say I was disappointed. My kindle betrayed me!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Almost...., June 10, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought A Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish and, although there are some good parts (as stated in other reviews the fight scenes have impressive attention to detail), I was not satisfied.

I am a big fan of George R. R. Martin, and I saw some parallels (names, plot set up) between Dalglish's A Dance of Cloaks and Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Also, throughout the story it became apparent to me that Dalglish did not know when to use "whom" over "who," or at least his editor did not. Normally, neither of those alone would be enough to make me write a scathing review, but those were the small stones that caused an avalanche. Continuing the avalanche analogy, for an avalanche to happen, the ground layer of rocks, the pivotal force that is supposed to drive the story forward, must be unsteady. So it was in A Dance of Cloaks.

The characters, often very close to seeming autonomous never quite reached that point. To me, they always seemed highly archetypal, simply lacking development. Also, while there were many characters, I didn't feel that there were many personalities. About half way through the book I found myself losing interest. The only character I truly cared what happened to was Aaron/Haern and that was what kept me going to finish the book.

Truthfully, I wish I had not bought the book, I think it worthy of being rented at a library, read, returned and then forgotten.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, May 29, 2013
By 
Seth Hayik (Douglassville, PA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As a fan of books with lots of action, this seemed like it would be close to a Brandon Sanderson type of book. So, this book should have been right in my area of interest, but I just couldn't care about it. I didn't like the protagonist, and the only characters I thought were interesting were killed off. The overall story of the book was kind of interesting, but again, it just didn't pull me in. Overall it was an OK read, but for some reason it didn't get me interested enough to want to read any more.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic fantasy very well written, December 14, 2013
By 
Jennifer (MO, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Right from the start I was hooked and pulling for Aaron as his story begins with risking his life for what he believes in.
David has the uncanny ability to bring his readers deep inside the world of thieves, assassins and the underworld with such beautiful accuracy. He clearly understands the intricate inner workings and brings his characters to life vividly and with such depth, I'm left hungry for more. I enjoyed each and every page. The entire book is very well written with a perfect plot pace. For fantasy readers, you won't want to set this one down. This is a fairly easy read with no complicated systems or languages to understand before you can enjoy the book. A free copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest unbiased review.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 216 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

A Dance of Cloaks (Shadowdance 1)
A Dance of Cloaks (Shadowdance 1) by David Dalglish (Paperback - October 8, 2013)
$16.00
Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.