Monday, September 7, 2020

Review: A Dance with Fate by Juliet Marillier

A Dance with Fate by Juliet Marillier
Series: Warrior Bards, Book 2
Publisher: Ace
Genre: Fantasy 
A Dance with Fate cover
ISBN: 9780451492807
Release Date: September 1, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

A young woman who is both a bard--and a warrior--seeks to repay her debts and settle scores in this thrilling historical fantasy series.

The young warrior and bard Liobhan has lost her brother to the Otherworld. Even more determined to gain a place as an elite fighter, she returns to Swan Island to continue her training. But Liobhan is devastated when her comrade Dau is injured and loses his sight in their final display bout. Blamed by Dau's family for the accident, she agrees to go to Dau's home as a bond servant for the span of one year.

There, she soon learns that Oakhill is a place of dark secrets. The vicious Crow Folk still threaten both worlds. And Dau, battling the demon of despair, is not an easy man to help.

When Liobhan and Dau start to expose the rot at the center of Oakhill, they place themselves in deadly danger. For their enemy wields great power and will stop at nothing to get his way. It will take all the skills of a Swan Island warrior and a touch of the uncanny to give them a hope of survival…

Return to the world of Juliet Marillier’s Warrior Bards, where the uncanny can be found by those who know where to look and where the bonds of love and friendship are the greatest weapon against the darkest of hearts. A Dance with Fate is full of struggle and sorrow, but balanced with hope and triumph. It’s a bridge book and has the ups and downs of being the middle story, but it’s balanced by Ms. Marillier’s addictive prose. I made the mistake of starting this book late in the day and I was up reading until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer, then immediately went back to finish the next morning.

Three seasons have passed since the events of The Harp of Kings and Liobhan and Dau are in their final display bout on Swan Island when things go horribly wrong. An accident leaves Dau blinded and forced to a return to Oakhill, a place of nightmares where he was tortured by his evil brothers for most of his childhood. As recompense for her part in the accident, Liobhan goes as well to serve a bonded servant for one year. It’s immediately clear that all is not right at Oakhill. Dau’s eldest brother is truly evil and there are mysteries Liobhan and Dau must uncover as they fight to stay alive. The fight is harder for Dau, a warrior struggling to cope with his new life without sight. Dau broke my heart in this book. The memories at Oakhill have vicious teeth and he bleeds from old wounds and new. I wanted to see Dau come back to himself, but it’s difficult. Liobhan doesn’t give up on him, though. While there are those who would seek to hurt her, Liobhan is good at making friends and allies wherever she goes. She’s quick, smart, skilled, and fierce, which I just love about her. She has a generous heart to match her mind and spirit and it was easy to get lost in her story. She and Dau go through a lot (to be more detailed would spoil the story) but I was rooting for them every step of the way. It would be remiss of me to not mention that the connection between Liobhan and Dau that was apparent in the previous book grows over the course of this story. The love story that is developing between them is understated but still intriguing.

Meanwhile, in the Otherworld we have Brocc, Liobhan’s half-fey adopted brother. Brocc is wrestling with missing his family while finding his place as husband to Eirne, the half-fey queen. Brocc is looking into the Crow Folk, the mysterious, violent creatures who have been attacking people both in the Otherworld and human realm. Brocc’s compassion and understanding are what I love best about him and it is those traits that clue him into the fact that there’s more to the Crow Folk than meet the eye. How this plays out, I cannot wait to see. But as much as I like Brocc, his chapters were the weakest for me in A Dance with Fate. When he’s away from Eirne, Brocc shines. But with her, he’s muted and sometimes forced to tamp down on the more human part of him. With events ending as they did, I desperately hope Ms. Marillier gives him a satisfying ending.

Liobhan, Dau, and Brocc face challenges unlike any before in A Dance with Fate, but they are growing confident in themselves and what they stand for. I cannot wait to see what they do in the next Warrior Bards book!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.