I’m here ahead of schedule! After the few weeks I’ve had I can’t tell you how good this feels. There’s a weight that’s dissolving off my chest. I can breathe again. I’m just so relieved.
So, let’s talk about A Dance of Cloaks.
This is the first of a six book series. I wish I could use that as an excuse for not enjoying it, but I can’t. Sometimes, the first book of a large series suffers because it’s busy setting up characters, plots, and settings for the remainder of the series. A Dance of Cloaks does all of this, but it definitely does some better than others.
I will say that the world-building, while generic, was thorough. I understood how the world functioned and what it looked like. But, it wasn’t very interesting. Generic fantasy city with medieval-esque technology. There wasn’t anything that really made Veldaren stand out in my memory.
The plotting was probably the strongest element of this book, which is what kept me reading. There are a lot of moving parts, with a multitude of characters all with their own goals. These intertwine nicely, and kept me just interested enough to see how it played out.
But, and this is a big but, the characters were flat. There are three major female protagonists, and really, they’re interchangeable. Kayla, a dagger throwing snitch for hire, has no personality qualities that separate her from Veliana, a cutthroat thief that’s the right hand woman for a local guildmaster. And, until the end of the book, Alyssa, daughter and heir of the Gemcroft estate, doesn’t really stand out either. How could this be? These three people are different in description, birth, and life choices, and yet nothing about their voices and interactions are different than the others.
It was boring.
All the while, the actual main character, Aaron, has no personality of his own. Which is acceptable because he’s a 13 year old who’s been groomed to be his father’s heir. He’s set to inherit the Spider Guild, the most powerful thieves guild in Veldaren. He’s had no childhood, very little affection, and has been cold and brutal since he murdered his own brother at 8 years old.
As the story goes on, Aaron’s infatuation with Kayla inspires him to create a new persona, Haern. Haern can have feelings. Haern can pray. Haern has individual thoughts not imprinted on him by his father. Haern can love.
Except, Haern still has no discernible personality traits that separate him from Aaron, other than the occasional flare up of rage.
The only characters that stood out were Thren (Aaron’s father), Senke (Thren’s right hand man), and Zusa. Zusa is a Faceless, which is a banished priestess that must forever cover herself in robes for her crimes against her god. There’s an interesting warring dynamic between the gods in this series that is promising, but doesn’t come to fruition in this first installment.
Anyway, all these characters have goals and ambitions, none of them terribly clear, and by the end of the book some of them achieve them. Others fail miserably, vowing to get their vengeance. And still others are dead by the end. The ending promises more to come, which a first book in the series should do. And I suppose, had I been remotely interested in the characters, I would have found the promise of more satisfactory.
As it was, I was just happy to close the book and turn it in. I have other things that need reading. Maybe, if I find myself with a lull, and someone convinces me that the subsequent books get better, I might pick up the second book. Maybe.
I feel I should be clear. I didn’t hate this book. But I didn’t like it. I have zero feelings about the book, and that’s bad. It’s a grey space in my head. No anger. No excitement. Nothing.
Let that be the endorsement I give, a mental shrug.
In other news, the second issue of The Audient Void is out now! Purchase your copy here. We’re having a release party on the 22nd, in case any of you readers are in the Salem area. Find more details at the link.
Also, I finally got around to hanging my degrees in the office!
I felt good today. Some easy steps to success this week may really help me. I brought the goals way down, and I joined a new local writing group on Facebook. I engaged some NaNos on our chapter page, and had really great interactions. I’ll be signing up for this year’s NaNo after I finish this post. And I finished reading this boring book.
Small steps that really helped me feel good about today. Here’s looking forward to the rest of the week!
See you all soon, Blogland!