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Vow of Thieves: Dance of Thieves, Book 2

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Vow of Thieves: Dance of Thieves, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Explosively exciting end to romantic fantasy duology.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The arms race in Hell's Mouth can be compared to real struggles throughout human history, as well as the way the people resist when a tyrant take over the town.

Positive Messages

One of the "vows" from the title is that of protection and allegiance to family. Forgiveness and second chances for family are also important. This is also a survival tale; hope allows perseverance through extreme physical and emotional suffering.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kazi is in near-constant danger in this story as a captive. She never loses sight of her mission to save Jase's family, even when she thinks Jase is dead, even when she's sure she's dying, and even when she thinks his family will never accept her anyway. Jase becomes a better leader through is trials. And he learns whom to trust and how to forgive.

Violence

Many killed in explosions from rocket launchers and fights with swords, arrows, and knives with some decapitations. Not much gore considering the carnage. Decomposing bodies hanging in a square briefly described, along with a severed hand and stab and arrow injuries that are slow to heal. A reaction to poisonous bite is nearly fatal, with pain, fever, convulsions, and hallucinations described. Woman's kidnapping leads to threat of sexual assault by two men who wield their power over her -- two young children are threatened if she doesn't comply with their demands. Mention that a woman is thrown from a tower and 12 died in a shelter after an escape. Stories of children watching their parents killed or kidnaped in front of them and living on the streets. Admission that a son killed his father for political gain.

Sex

Committed partners kiss and undress each other, with mention of being spent after, implying sex. A few kisses between Kazi and an enemy -- this she actually cautiously encourages to get him to trust her. Some playful innuendo.

Language

"A--hole" and "dammit" most often. "Bastard" and "bitch" rarely. "Horses--t" once.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine and ale at parties and around campfires. In a private meeting with the king and Kazi (she's maybe 18 now), the king offers Kazi hard liquor. The king kisses a drunk woman at dinner and looks drunk himself later that night. A trader smokes a pipe.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Vow of Thieves is the second in a duology set in the same group of kingdoms as the Remnant Chronicles trilogy. Like the other series, these fantasy adventures are heavy on the romance. By this book, a committed couple has had sex, though only kissing and undressing are described. The violence ratchets up from the first book, Dance of Thieves. Many are killed in explosions and fights with swords, arrows, and knives with some decapitations -- but there's not much gore considering the carnage. Decomposing bodies hanging in a square are briefly described, along with a severed hand and stab and arrow injuries that are slow to heal. A reaction to poisonous bite is nearly fatal, with pain, fever, convulsions, and hallucinations described. A woman's kidnapping leads to threat of sexual assault by two men who wield their power over her -- two young children are threatened if she doesn't comply with their demands. There's a little more swearing as well, but it doesn't go beyond "horses--t," and shouting "a--hole" at horrible criminals. Expect wine and ale drinking at parties. Kazi (probably 18 years old by this book) is offered hard liquor. Kazi is in near-constant danger in Vow of Thieves as a captive. She never loses sight of her mission to save Jase's family, even when she thinks Jase is dead, even when she's sure she's dying, and even when she thinks his family will not accept her no matter what she does for them.

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What's the story?

In VOW OF THIEVES: DANCE OF THIEVES, BOOK 2, Kazi and Jase are on the long journey back to Hell's Mouth to tell Jase's family the good news: The queen has made Tor's Watch a kingdom, and Jase and Kazi have vowed to be together forever. Kazi is not sure how Jase's family will take the second piece of news, considering that she staged Jase's capture at the end of Dance of Thieves. The Ballengers think she's the enemy. When they arrive at Tor's Watch ready to explain, they never get the chance. An ambush ends in Jase riddled with arrows and fleeing on his horse and Kazi captured and taken to prison. The Ballengers are no longer in charge, and signs of a struggle for the town are everywhere. Tor's Watch is in ruins, and bodies hang in the town square. While Kazi prays that Jase is alive, she fights for her own life as a prisoner in the new regime.

Is it any good?

This duology finale excites until the last with so many obstacles for Jase and Kazi to face that they are the very definition of star-crossed lovers. By the time Kazi endures imprisonment a second time, readers will think that the couple's trauma must be nearly over. But after that, Jase still has to face the ruler he foolishly underestimated and his army of mercenaries and their massive stash of weapons. If he doesn't, his whole family hiding in the mountains could starve or be crushed. A lot is at stake.  

Author Mary E. Pearson weaves a thrilling tale, but could have trimmed it a little. Once Kazi is captured, she learns about the source of violent upheaval in Hell's Mouth pretty quickly. When Jase works it out much later in his narrated chapters, it's redundant for the reader. More could have been added about the magical elements, however. Their significance feels overshadowed in an already tightly packed story. Overall, the ending is satisfying in the way that only a really good star-crossed lovers' tale can be.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Kazi's resilience in Vow of Thieves. What are her most important tools of survival? What does she tell herself every time she faces Zane?

  • How does Jase's relationship with his family change? Which family member's transformation is the most surprising?

  • If there is another spin-off series, will you read it? Will you want to see Jase and Kazi again, or new star-crossed lovers?

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