*This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we earn a small commission if you make a purchase through links on our site. This is at no additional cost to you.
Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson is a duology that takes place in the same universe as the Remnant Chronicles.
TBH I went into Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson without having read any of the Remnant Chronicles!
Though they do take place in the same world, I’d say you don’t need to read any of those books to enjoy Dance of Thieves.
This book is a young adult fantasy romance, and if you love some enemies-to-lovers in a fantasy setting, this is the book for you!
This book switches POVs between Jase and Kazi, our two protagonists, which is a fun transition between narratives.
As you read through the story from one person’s perspective, you often get to see the other’s feelings about the matter in the next chapter.
A very romance-heavy book, but all in all, a fun and easy read!
This post is going to be an in-depth summary of the plot of Dance of Thieves, so be aware that going forward, there will be spoilers!
Dance of Thieves Characters – Who’s Who?
First, let’s talk about our main cast of characters.
Jase Ballenger, at the beginning of this book, finds himself having just lost his father and having the duties and responsibilities of Patrei bestowed upon him.
The Ballenger family has a rich history of loyalty and putting family first, and Jase is no exception to this mentality.
Though Jase is not the oldest, with the title of Patrei being left to him, he is now the leader of the Ballenger clan and the territory they keep.
The Ballenger territory is not recognized by the other kingdoms, but the domain they rule over has been under their reign for longer than any of the other established kingdoms in Cam Laeux.
Jase remembers his father’s words to him “As far as you can see, this land is ours. Never forget that” that is his drive, along with keeping his family safe until he meets Kazi and his world gets a little bigger.
He is confronted with the threat to his family she represents but also his growing admiration for her…
Kazi (her full name is Kazimyrah of Brightmist) is from the kingdom of Venda and is a member of the queen’s elite known as the Rahtan.
Before she became a member of the Rahtan, she was a notorious thief nicknamed “Ten” for having never been caught, meaning she never received the penalty of having a finger cut off.
Kazi and several other members of the Rahtan are sent to Ballenger territory to investigate treaty violations and search for a missing fugitive within the Ballenger city.
Kazi and the other members of the Rahtan all come from troubled pasts, having lost friends and family members. This shapes them as characters and often is the motive behind their actions throughout the book.
Kazi begins the journey with five other Rahtan: Natiya and Eben, who separate from the rest of the group on their own mission (but keep those names in your head!), and her two besties, Wren and Synové, who go along with Kazi to Hell’s Mouth.
The three girls come across a Vendan settlement on their way to Hell’s Mouth, and are horrified to find it recently vandalized and the occupants of the settlement shaken and left with few resources to live off of.
The settlement leader reveals that the damage done here was by the Ballenger family. Uh oh!
From here, the three girls travel to Hell’s Mouth to confront the Patrei about the unjust treatment of the Vendans and the treaty violations. However, when they arrive in Hell’s Mouth, they are unaware of the change in Patrei.
Dance of Thieves Summary – When Do Kazi And Jase Meet?
Kazi first sees Jase in chapter 4 when he and his brothers leave the tavern after mourning the loss of his father.
Kazi and her fellow Rahtan are in Hell’s Mouth and investigating the prejudices against the Vendans when they see the Ballengers in person for the first time.
“A throng of young men, full of swagger—and a night of carousing, judging by their disheveled appearance—walked toward us.
The one in the middle hadn’t even bothered to button his shirt, and his chest was half exposed. He was tall, his shoulders wide, and he walked like he owned the street.”
Jase first sees Kazi from afar in chapter 5 after receiving word that there are members of the Queen’s Rahtan in his city.
He sees Kazi juggling and immediately notices her and finds her to be a “girl I might have eagerly bought a drink for last night”. As he watches her juggle the oranges, he sees her nicking from the vendor right in front of his eyes without anyone noticing.
The first time Jase and Kazi interact is in chapter 6 when Kazi dismisses Jase, unaware that he has been named the Patrei.
However, she quickly learns of his true identity and follows him down an ally. Her mission from the Queen is to get under the Ballenger’s skins and learn if they are harboring fugitives.
Jase And Kazi Are Captured
Unfortunately, Jase going down the alley alone to try to draw Kazi to follow him was a mistake!
This leads to them both being captured by labor hunters and waking up in the back of a cart that is traveling out of Hell’s Mouth to sell them into slavery.
Jase wakes up first and is immediately concerned with how slowly Kazi is breathing. Though he feels that it is her fault he is in this mess, she still tried to defend him against the labor hunter.
When Kazi awakes and realizes the situation they are in, she begins to pester the driver of the wagon. She uses her charm to make him agree to let her stop to pee if he can solve her riddle.
“My gaze is sharp, my scales are thick,
I jump, I pumice, but I’m still not quick.
I have two feet, yet cannot stand,
My head is full of rocks and sand.
I breathe out fire, but my light is dim,
I’m easy prey to chance and whim.
My chest is empty, the treasury bare,
I do not grieve, for it was never there.
I am less than nothing, and more of the same,
A white chit tossed in a high-stakes game.”
The driver is overwhelmed with curiosity, and when Kazi tells him the answer to the riddle is a fool, he gets pissed off and smacks her across the face!
At this moment, she pickpockets the keys off of him.
She begins to unchain her and Jase’s hands, though their feet are still bound.
The other captured members of the wagon begin to make noise in order to get themselves unlocked as well, which leads to Jase handing off the keys before unlocking the chain that is binding his leg to Kazi’s leg.
The driver hears the passengers, and Jase and Kazi make a break for it!
They fight off one of the labor hunters (and at this moment, Kazi pockets Jase’s signet ring that the labor hunters stole from him) and run for the river.
Jase asks Kazi if she can swim, and she lies and says yes and jumps into the river, putting her life in the hands of her enemy.
This is the ultimate forced proximity. Not only are they stuck together to try to make their way out of the wilderness alive, but they are also LITERALLY chained together.
As they travel together, they are often caught off guard by how easy it is to find a quality they like about someone they are supposed to hate. Oooooo!!
When Do Kazi And Jase Start To Like Each Other?
Our two star-crossed lovers quickly go from survival buddies to survival-buddies-with -special-kissy-times very quickly, but they first show signs around chapter 9 of admitting feelings towards the other with the line:
“…but this girl had pushed me to a reckless burning edge.”
Jase Notices Kazi’s Fear Of Sleeping In The Open
“She blinked several times like she was embarrassed that I noticed. ‘No, I’m fine,’ she said. But she wasn’t fine at all. I studied her for a minute, then said, ‘Tell me a riddle. To help me sleep.’”
Kazi tells Jase riddles until her eyes grow heavy with sleep, and finally rests. They both know that the riddles were not really for Jase but for Kazi. Because Jase can’t help but be a sweetie pie!
But why is Kazi scared of sleeping in the open, you may ask?
Well, let’s dive into her past real quick before we continue with the story at present!
As I said early, Kazi grew up on the streets of Sanctum City in Venda. She did not become a thief until her mother was taken from her.
When Kazi was only six years old, a Prezivi Driver broke into her and her mother’s home and took her mother to be sold into slavery. Kazi hid underneath the bed and stayed there for days in her own filth, too scared to come out into the open. 🙁
Jase And Kazi’s First Kiss
After a close call with Candok (basically a giant bear), a violent storm, and some really hot sand (!!!) Jase and Kazi are one step closer to their destination (and kissing 😉 )
Their first kiss can be found in chapter 15 while they are out collecting wood for the fire. Jase backs Kazi into a wall, and there is no place to look away; Kazi finally has to confront her feelings for Jase.
“He swallowed, his face only inches from mine. Long silent seconds passed, and it felt like all the world and stars and sky were closing in on us, pressing us nearer to each other. ‘Do you suppose,’ he finally whispered, ‘that this could be part of making…the best of it?’
‘I think it could be.’ His head tilted to the side, his face lowering, her lips barely brushed mine, tender, slowly, leaving time for me to turn away, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to.”
I actually appreciated how quickly they got to acting on their feelings. I feel as though it set up a greater reason for them to be enemies-to-lovers after Jase betrays Kazi.
Jase leads Kazi to believe that the destination they seek refuge from is a Vendan settlement and a Ballenger safe house.
At the same time, Kazi is holding both the fact that she is a spy for the Queen and has Jase’s signet ring hostage in her pocket.
As they travel together, they keep saving one another and looking out for each other, and stealing little glances (oooolala~).
The rest of their journey is them in their “making the best of it” situationship. That is, until they approach the Ballenger safe house and Kazi realizes that Jase lied to her!!
Jase and Kazi arrive at the Ballenger Farmhouse, and she quickly realizes that he had lied to her. They are finally separated from each other, with the chain around their ankles broken.
Jase knows he must return to his duties as Patrei, but he plans to bring Kazi with him to Tor’s Watch (essentially the Ballenger Palace).
Though Kazi is playing the part of pissed and betrayed, she is secretly delighted because her mission for spying on the Ballengers became that much easier now that she is an invited guest.
Kazi And Jase Arrive At Tor’s Watch
When they finally arrive at Tor’s Watch, Jase has to cover for the time that he has been missing, and he plays it off to the public as though he and Kazi are together. He does not want to appear weak right after stepping in to rule.
Kazi is taken aback by Jase and his relationship with his family. Kazi being an orphan, is not used to the Ballenger’s large and loving family.
While they were in the wild, Kazi did her best to learn inside information about the Ballenger’s history, and in this time, she learned much about how they built their territory and Tor’s Watch.
She also learns that Jase has many siblings. Two of them died recently due to fever.
Jase is very kissy-kissy with Kazi in public, and she plays into it, all the while observing what she can.
Their act that Jase was, in fact, not kidnapped, but in Tor’s Watch with Kazi the whole time is hard for people to believe.
Jase also says that the Queen will be coming to visit to recognize the Ballenger’s rightful place within the kingdom.
However, this farce looks like it may not hold up when Paxton, Jase’s cousin, questions the likeness of his story and the lack of a signet ring on his finger.
At this moment, Kazi pulls the ring out of her pocket and plays the whole thing.
Jase is surprised and slightly betrayed; he never realized that Kazi had pocketed the ring, and he is confused by her having kept it secret but then covering for him with Paxton. When he questions Kazi about this, she replies:
“I did give it to you, Jase. I gave it to you when it mattered.”
Wait, Who Is Paxton Ballenger in Dance of Thieves?
Paxton is a member of the Ballenger family. However, he is not a sibling with Jase, but instead a cousin.
Paxton is part of the distant Ballengers, who are unliked among the family, and have been cut off due to Paxton’s great-great-grandfather using Hell’s Mouth as collateral in gambling.
Paxton is an all-around slime ball power-seeking worm of a man, and he is a constant cause of suspicion for any conflict that arises due to his desire to take power from the Ballenger reign.
Anywho, Kazi Writes To The Queen
Okay, back to the story!
The Ballengers want the Queen to visit and negotiate the legitimacy of the land that they reign over in the kingdom. Kazi agrees to write this letter but only under the condition that Jase rebuilds the Vendan settlement that was destroyed.
The Ballengers were not the ones to cause the damage to the settlement, which concerns Jase as to who is trying to make the Ballangers look bad and cause a stir in the kingdom.
Kazi writes the letter to the Queen, but she talks in code so that the Ballengers will not notice her secret message.
Kazi has Jase and the rest of the Ballengers right where she wants them, and now she can try to find Wrem and Synové, as well as try to find Captain Illarion.
But WAIT, where are Wren and Synové?
While Jase and Kazi have been wandering around chained together and playing boyfriend-girlfriend, Wren and Synové have been hiding in the outskirts of Hell’s Mouth. Good for them!
Kazi Gets Bit (By Poisonous Dogs)!
Chapter 26 opens up with Kazi returning from snooping the tunnels of Tor’s Watch, but she gets attacked by a guard dog. At this time, she is unaware that the dogs are poisonous (which I guess is a thing? Poisonous dogs???).
Wren and Synové help her bandage her leg, and Wren asks the servants for painkillers, and they give her birchwings (remember that for later!).
Though Kazi found no signs of the Captain, the presence of the dogs shows that there is something in the tunnels that’s being guarded.
Kazi also discloses to her fellow Rahtan that she believes that the Previzi driver that works for the Ballengers is the same one who she stole a tiger from her as a child.
She fears he may recognize her and inform Jase and the rest of the Ballengers of her former life as a thief.
The girlies, after Kazi’s birchwings, take a power nap to prepare for a Ballenger PARTY. This whole section is basically a makeover montage, and the soldier girls are all “I could never wear a dress. How can I hide my weapons? Hehehehe!!!”
Then they see the dresses the Ballengers have for them, and they’re all like, “Oh, maybe I could wear a dress”. Then they come down to the dinner party, and the whole crowd is all WhO aRe ThEse GoRls? O.0
It’s fairly cliche, but fun to read!
Jase, of course, can’t keep his eyes off Kazi, and they dance (Dance of Thieves, get it? wink wink). While they dance, Jase realizes just how sweaty Kazi is and is like, what the heck is wrong with you?
This is when he discovers her nasty dog bite and quickly rushes her to the healer. He tells Kazi that the dogs are poisoned dogs (once again, what is a poisoned dog?), and he questions her snooping, but she manages to play it off.
Jase Shows Kazi The Vault
Jase feels bad because he yelled at Kazi for sneaking around, and questioned her intentions. Because of this, he takes her to see the Vault, which is what she claimed she was looking for when she was bitten.
The Ballenger Vault is where the Ballenger family was trapped and hiding out when their family was attacked.
They were trapped down there for such a long time that they had to use all their resources, even burning all their books and papers to use as fuel.
Because of this, they write their stories and the ages that they were when they wrote them on the wall of the Vault.
The Vault is covered in writings from different ages, and in the book, at the end of each chapter, we are given a different wall entry.
This section of the book further establishes the Ballengers are driven by family values and keeping their family safe. It also shows why Jase is always telling the rich history of his family because this is how they keep their story alive.
Rebuilding Of The Vendan Settlement
Jase, Mason, Samuel, Tiago, along with Wren, Synové, and Kazi, travel to the destroyed Vendan Settlement to convince them to place their trust in the Ballengers and let them re-build their settlement.
They succeed in convincing them and move all the members of the settlement to a new and better location and begin building.
While they are away from Tor’s Watch, Jase and Kazi once again fall into the easiness of the relationship when they are removed from their responsibilities and duties.
“I think I don’t care anymore as long as you’re in my arms.”
Jase sees the value in the people of Vendan, and he prolongs their stay by building more and more to the settlement, partly for the benefit of the Vendans and partly to prolong his time with Kazi.
(Also, at this time, Kazi and Jase catch Synové and Mason having a sneaky link 😉 )
Jase not only builds more homes than the previous settlement had, but he also secures a proper teacher for the children of the settlement, and he plants orange trees because of Kazi’s love of oranges.
Dance of Thieves Chapter 35 – Fight On The Journey Home
As they travel home, the Ballengers are attacked, and it is clear that whoever attacked them was aware of their location.
This is the first time that the Ballengers see the Rahtan girls in their element as soldiers, and it becomes clear that they are very capable of protecting themselves.
Kazi is almost killed in this attack, but she fights off her attacker and kills him. It is revealed that the man Kazi killed is Fertig-Jalaine’s (Jase’s younger sister) beau.
They dispose of the bodies. They now know that their theory of there being conspirators against them is true, and they have a trail to follow.
However, they also know that Jalaine is running her mouth putting the family in danger. When Jase returns, he truly rips Jalaine a new one and takes away her job of working in the arena.
Eben And Natyia (Chapter 36)
After returning to Tor’s Watch, Kazi and her friends are called to the kitchen to try food prepared by the new chef that Jase hired.
Well turns out he straight-up hired Eben and Natyia! Jase literally brought the last two of the Rahtan into his home.
We also find out that Eben and Natyia are now actually married (maybe if I read the Remnant Chronicles I would care? But I was just like, okay…whatever…).
Jase Lies About Dark Cottage
Kazi spots a dark figure who matches the description of the Captain leaving Dark Cottage, and she asks Jase about the man she sees, and he tells her that he is simply a groundsman. Kazi can tell that Jase seems to be lying but leaves it alone for now.
Jase And Kazi Visit The Arena
The Arena is where the Ballengers receive most of their profit. Jase takes Kazi with him as he attends business there. While there, Kazi runs into Paxton once again, and he seems to threaten her.
She also is introduced to King Monte of Eislandia, and Kazi is curious about the connections and relationship between Paxton and the King. Before Kazi leaves the arena, she pickpockets a piece of paper off the King, and it reads:
She does not know what this means, and we do not learn the full meaning of this paper or what the King is up to, but I believe it will be important in the sequel to this book!
What Kazi also doesn’t realize is that Garvin, the former Previzi driver who recognized Kazi, was watching her lift from the King. He remembers how he knows her, and he tells Jase about her past.
Jase shows Kazi the warehouse that the Previzi drivers operate out of, and when Kazi learns that this is their home base, she feels intense hatred for Jase and punches him, and runs away.
Jase at this point, is still unaware of Kazi’s mother and is very confused by her reaction.
When Jase finally finds Kazi back at Tor’s Watch, he confronts her.
Also, although Eben and Natyia advised Kazi to make up with Jase for the sake of their mission, Kazi loses her cool and in a moment of passion, tells Jase about the Previzi driver who kidnapped her mother and the truth of her childhood.
She distinctly remembers the appearance of the driver and is able to describe him down to the mole he had on his wrist.
He tells Kazi that there is no Previzi driver who fits that description but after he leaves Kazi, he find Mason and asks for him to look into the drivers who are operating out of the arena and make sure that there is no man who matches what Kazi said.
However, Mason says that there is someone who matches that description, a man named Zane.
Dance of Thieves Chapter 48 – Jase Admits His Love For Kazi
“I love you. I love you with every breath, with every thought that’s inside me. I’ve loved you from the first time I kissed you on that ledge. Even before that.”
Kazi kisses Jase back, and she tells herself that she is only doing it to listen to Eben and Natyia’s advice to smooth things over to complete her mission. BUT Kazi truly does love Jase back, even though she will not admit it to herself yet.
Jase finds Zane and tortures him, but he will not admit that he deals in slavery. He does finally admits that he only did it once, and he will not admit who he sold her to. Zane is clearly afraid of whoever he made this deal with.
Jase decides that even though it will cost him much of his revenue, he will not continue to work with the Previzi drivers in the arena unless there are strict rules which they have to follow to ensure the safety of others, like Kazi and her mother.
He, however, makes the decision not to tell Kazi about Zane just yet. This is not his best idea ever (the you-know-what does hit the fan very soon because of this choice).
Kazi Drugs The Ballengers
Kazi and the other Rahtan decide that Naytia and Eben will prepare dinner for the family and that they will lace it with birchwings that Kazi stole.
They will use this time to explore Dark Cottage and find the Captain and complete their mission. At dinner, this plan goes accordingly, and once the Ballengers are out, Kazi, Wren, and Snoyvé quickly move into Dark Cottage.
Here they find not only the Captain, but they discover that the Ballengers have not only been harboring fugitives, but they have been funding them.
The Captain, along with the Chemist, has been working to develop weapons and a fever cure.
This fever cure actually turns out to be fake, and they were just telling the Ballengers that so that they could keep working on the weapons and stringing them along for money.
They take the Captain and the other fugitives captive and begin to leave Tor’s Watch. When they emerge from Dark Cottage, they are surprised to find the Ballengers all awake and holding them up from leaving with the prisoners they have taken.
Jase switched out the birchwings when he learned of Kazi’s past as a thief, and they all played along to play the Rahtan. The Ballengers and the Rahtan are at a standstill when Jase puts himself between the two, and Kazi holds a knife to him.
Gunner tries to distract Kazi by revealing Zane to her, and Kazi is furious that Jase not only lied about Zane but that he clearly knows the Ballengers and works with them. This distraction does not work on Kazi, though, her being a girl on a mission!
She ends up taking Jase and the fugitives with her and leaves Tor’s Watch with the men that the Queen sent her to find along with the Patrei.
Once they are in Sanctum City and with the Queen, Kazi tells her everything about the mission that she was sent on. She tells her of Jase and their time together, and the Queen listens.
This whole time Jase has been in the prison. He’s been getting pretty pissed about his situation, and he desires to be returned back to his family.
The Queen finally sees Jase. He wants to plead his case, but she insists that she goes first and tells him that she has been told by Kazi that Jase is a good listener.
The Queen tells Jase that she has been informed that the Ballengers have never signed the alliance treaty. Also, the King of Eislandia has not acted in good faith, and she recognizes that Jase acted justly by rebuilding the Vendan settlement.
Though she is upset about him hiding the Captain, she realizes that he is not manipulative and, after hearing Kazi’s story, believes that Jase did not intend poorly.
The Queen asks Jase to tell her the Ballenger history that he told Kazi and Jase does. After Jase is finished, the Queen agrees to help Jase get the Ballanger territory formally recognized by the other kingdoms.
However, she feels that she cannot fully trust him and says she thinks she needs to send him back home with an ambassador to keep an eye on him. And who does she think is perfect for the job? DUH, it’s Kazi!
Kazi and Jase, for once, communicate, and they work out all their BS with Zane and Kazi being there to basically trick Jase, and now they are in love blah blah blah.
Yes, it’s cute, but it’s a little too perfectly wrapped up with a bow for me.
They travel back to Tor’s Watch, and the book ends with an unnamed POV. Someone sees a messenger bird fall from the sky and finds this message attached!
“Jase, Kazi, anyone,
Come! Please! Samuel is dead.
They’re banging the door.
I have to-”
They pick up the bird, remove the arrow from it and send it back into the sky. And that’s the end! WHAAAAAAAAT!!
Dance of Thieves – Review + My Honest Thoughts
My overall thoughts on this book were that the romance is fun and the plot is a little bizarre.
I will say that I think you can read this book without reading the Remant Chronicles, cause I mean I did it, and I didn’t realize that it was connected to that series until after I finished the book.
The Captain is a pretty boring villain. I just didn’t find myself caring if he got caught or not.
I enjoyed this book for the enemies-to-lovers trope and the cute quotes between Kazi and Jase. I think if you read this for the romance, you won’t be too disappointed by the lack of fantastical elements and the slightly weak plot.
I do wish that the fantasy was more prominent in this book. There is almost no magic, and the magic that is in the book is so poorly used and explained.
BUT I already bought the sequel, so I will be reading it. I’m excited to see how I feel about the second book in this duology!
Other Articles From PaisleyReads: Why Is A Court Of Frost And Starlight So Short?