Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves, #1)
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.
Kazi's life was forever changed by this, and she is now on a mission from the Queen with her compatriots, Wren and Synove. They find themselves in an unrecognized kingdom of sorts, which is ruled by the Ballengers, of which Jase has just become the Patrei or ruler. As they approach the Ballenger lands, they come across a Vendan settlement which has been torn apart in violation of the treaties. Aside from their mission, Kazi and team are set on justice, and in the process, more happens than they ever could have expected. During a confrontation, Jase and Kazi are captured to be sold as human cargo, setting them off on a series of adventures and twists/turns.
Although I found the beginning to be slow, I was soon absolutely caught up in Kazi and Jase's story, and burning through the pages. The two main characters plus many of the side characters were well-developed and absolutely endearing. I was fully invested in their lives. Ultimately, my only complaint about this book is that it ended! The (albeit fictional) history and imagery was absolutely incredible, and I found the whole world enthralling. Add to that the slow-burning romance, and this one is an absolute winner for me!
I absolutely recommend it, even if you were on the fence with the Remnant Chronicles. This one has a very different feel and is absolutely a wonderful read for YA fantasy lovers! I will also say that this one has a pretty good conclusion with an opening for the next book, so it didn't feel too cliffhangery (though there's still a big hook for the next book). I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of this series!