Mary E. Pearson
Published August 2018
*Review by Tiffany*
A new novel in the New York Times–bestselling Remnant Chronicles universe, in which 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.
When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty’s resentment and anger.
At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.
Full-disclosure: I have not read The Remnant Chronicles series and I just know, deep down, there are things I missed in this book. However, even knowing that, this is a book that will stand on its own and you should have no trepidation about going in to it if you haven’t read the sister-series. (I’m looking at everyone who read Six of Crows and not The Grisha Trilogy.)
I need to start with what drew me to this book in the first place, and by that I mean the actual physical beauty of it. The cover, the spine, the maps in the front and back! It is so aesthetically pleasing and just made my little bookstagram heart go all pitter-patter. Obviously, you can’t always judge a book by its cover and yadda yadda yadda, but let’s all be honest and just say, a beautifully designed cover is the first thing we all see and swoon over.
Look. Take a good long look and remember the lives lost. Real people that someone loved. Before you go about the task I have given you, see the devastation and remember what they did. What could happen again. Know what is at stake. Dragons eventually wake and crawl from their dark dens.
Right out of the gate I am going to tell you, this book is a total romance. Not a heated Outlander or ACOTAR type thing where they’re doing the deed left and right, but a slow-burn, complicated, deceitful tale of a relationship between our two protagonists. Yes, it’s a little fantasy and there are kingdoms and clans and, toward the end, an actual mission and adventure takes place. But wholly, at its core, this is the story of how Kazi and Jase waltzed their way into very unexpected feelings.
As always, I get nervous with dual POVs and find too many authors don’t know how to do them properly. I shouldn’t have to go back to the beginning of a chapter to figure out whose thoughts I am in. Luckily, I had none of those issues here and found the two POVs added a tremendous amount to the story. There were always times where they weren’t saying what they were thinking, but YOU knew what was really happening and you just sit there going, “NOOOOOOO! You daft bloke, just tell her already!” While that can get frustrating when done to maintain suspense, in this story it is done in a way that is believable and not eye-rolling, not just a ploy to make the story more interesting, and I really commend Pearson for making it work so well.
Was it possible to live two lives side-by-side? To serve two goals that were destined to collide? To weave lies with one hand and unravel them with the other?
Here’s your basic gist: Kazi is member of the queen’s Rahtan, her premier guard. Her background is a tremendously sad and telling tale of the world she grew up in. It wasn’t pretty or easy but she clawed her way out and kept all of her fingers in the process, a task not many child thieves achieve. Then we have Jase who, at the beginning of this book, is thrust in to being the leader of the Ballenger Clan when his father dies unexpectedly. Jase is fairly smart but blind to many of the things going wrong in his territory. He holds tight to the Ballenger’s need for respect and recognition from the ruling class. In summation, you have two hard-headed teenagers from completely different backgrounds who suddenly find themselves chained together…literally.
What I really enjoyed the most about Kazi and Jace, and why I didn’t mind reading a book with a plot fully-focused on this one relationship, is how Pearson took them and made a point. Everyone has a past they want to overcome, and some are worse than others, but if we let the past blind us to the present we may end up repeating mistakes over and over…and over. It’s no way to live and it shuts you off from new people and experiences.
I watched her sacrifice part of herself for their sakes, like hiding a bleeding limb behind her back and pretending she wasn’t in pain.
This book does actually have an entire other plot building up, and my hope is the follow-up focuses on it more heavily. Dance of Thieves starts with Kazi being sent on a mission to find someone. We spend the whole book getting hints and little details but we never actually learn what her mission is until perhaps the last 25 percent of the book. Then, smack, this is happening. It was a little overwhelming to spend ¾ of this book in the back-and-forth of a complicated, budding romance and then be thrust completely into this sub-plot. I’m not against it, but my brain really needed more time to switch over. No spoilers here…because I think some of these characters may be from prior books and I don’t want to give anything away. But….there are things I need answered!
My biggest takeaway (having never read her books): Mary E. Pearson is clearly a talented writer; VERY rarely do I read a YA romance-heavy book and not roll my eyes every .5 seconds. This isn’t insta-love or even enemies to lovers really, nor is it the dreaded trope of “that mean guy has such pretty eyes and even though I am a strong female, I will swoon endlessly and forget myself completely,” that I am incredibly sick of seeing. It’s a romance with schemes, battles, power struggles and conflicting feelings of loyalty. I am here for all of these things and I truly can’t wait to read the next one.
My small drawback is how minor Kazi’s mission is in the scheme of things. The book begins with her setting off on this incredibly difficult task, given to her personally by the queen, but it was so brushed over in the main plot. I would have liked just a little more fantasy and adventure throughout the story. In the end though, for someone who can be quite jaded and salty about YA romance, I enjoyed this book tremendously.
Vow of Thieves is scheduled to be release in August of 2019