** A spoiler free review!
After coming across these books on TikTok with the words ‘enemies to lovers’ plastered all over them, I simply couldn’t resist the urge to read them. As an avid user of this notoriously famous app, I’m always on ‘Booktok’ - videos with recommendations of countless books by readers from all over the world. It all seemed like a fun exchange with good suggestions at first, until I actually got around to reading the books I saw on there.
To be completely transparent, Booktok constantly overhypes books like there’s no tomorrow, and it’s fairly underwhelming when I get around to reading those books. What was all the hype about? Still, I continue taking those recommendations as it exposes me to reads I usually wouldn’t pick, and I like being the judge of them (to see if I really cry from the supposed tear-jerking books). The Dance of Thieves duology was one that I came across there, and was really excited to read after knowing that it also fell under the Fantasy genre. But how was it really?
An outlaw royal family’s successor has duties to fulfill, now that the job came faster than anyone expected. Before he could even have the chance to, he meets the premier guard of another kingdom’s Queen, juggling oranges. He didn’t know who she was at that time of course, up until she had a knife to his throat, the Patrei's throat, a title which she didn’t know of as well. This skilled guard, or the previously legendary street thief was sent to Venda for a mission, until she got strung up with the Patrei - Jase, in more ways than one.
I noticed that my favourite fictional characters are mostly thieves, and I recently unpacked the reason behind this specific and odd liking. Like our premier guard, Kazi, every thief has a certain set of skills, and it comes in handy and poses as a survival instinct. We often look at thieves in the most negative light, but I see something else, I see unimaginable grace, the quietest moves, an attainment with will. The patience and practice needed to get what their eyes are set on, the silent footsteps and sleek swipe of an item, much like a cat. It’s admirable really, what you’re pushed to do and acquire to survive in a world that has left you with very little.
Kazi knew what she had to endure to stand where she did, and she wasn’t going to let Jase or his title of the Patrei stop her from that mission. One of her many skills were riddles, she often used them whenever needed - to charm and to collect. Despite being put in difficult circumstances, Jase and Kazi’s survival instincts started to simmer down, as humanity came forward when one saw the other’s pain. What got me the most in these books are the little details, the things you’d do to give someone such undeniable happiness and to take away at least a slice of their fear.
Dance of Thieves and Vow of Thieves were such beautiful reads, it showed the rich family history and honour that lies within, that’s repeatedly taught as one is brought up, that’s ingrained into your brain and soul that it radiates to an outsider, making them look at it in awe. With books set in modern times, it’s hard to see the richness of history and value that lies with generations of lessons, and it’s even more rare to see another person, a person with nothing being brought into it. This book provided us readers with that and much more. Kazi and Jase’s connection is somewhat complicated, what is it really? Are they enemies? Or are they lovers? Will they both end up fulfilling their duty and mission? Let me quote another vibrant world, Game of Thrones, that perfectly encapsulates what I’m trying to say, “Love is the death of duty. But sometimes, duty is the death of love.”
The first book, Dance of Thieves is more towards our protagonists' relationship, and their viewpoints on everything. The dual point of view was very enjoyable as you saw everything from each other’s perspectives, which gave you a deeper understanding of who this character is at their core. The second and final book, Vow of Thieves, was more towards the battle that may cost them their lives, or even their hearts. What I’ve always loved about books set in the Middle Ages, is the importance of vows. The necessity to keep your word, and the honour that’s set within it is beyond imaginable. Such a simple gesture you may think, but looking at how we live our lives in this day and age, such acts are something to learn from. These books taught me the importance of a vow, no matter how difficult and painful the situation might be for yourself.
Though this book was labelled as Fantasy like I’ve mentioned before, there were little to no magical elements that were present in these books. When I hear the word ‘Fantasy’, that’s what I imagine it to be, but this shortage doesn’t dull the books in any way. There was magic, but more spiritual, magic that only one could feel. It was refreshing for me to have read it this new way as well. Their magical spirits were known in these books as ‘gifts’, much like in our world.
If it’s not obvious enough, I would highly recommend these riddle filled books to anyone who enjoys stories set in the medieval times. I know I’m loving a book while reading it when it’s all I can think about whilst doing other things, and this duology was that for me because I just couldn’t put it out of my head. This magical gateway is what you need to step away from everyday life, to enter a world written so beautifully that you wouldn’t want to leave it under any circumstances. Let me wrap up this review with one of my favourite quotes from these books: “There is magic in everything, only you must watch for it. It does not come from spells or potions or the sky, nor by delivery of the gods. It is all around you.”