Due to FTC regulations, any book reviewed on this site was sent for free by the author/publisher to The Pagan & The Pen Book Reviews. We are not paid to give reviews by Author or Publisher. Once review has been made, said books are deleted.

Jun 20, 2010

Rogue Dancer by K.M. Tolan


Title:  Rogue Dancer 
Author:  K. M. Tolan   
Buy Link
Publisher:  Champagne Books
Genre: Science-Fiction/Military/Political/Romance
Length: 297 pgs.
Reviewed by: C. LaForce

About The Book: Arms outstretched for balance, Mikial sank down into a crouch, glowering at the one new thing entering her morning routine. An assassin. The hairs along her forearms raised with a surge of bioelectric energy, beads of insulating sweat glistening her palms.

The Datha possessed broad shoulders and a firm jaw line. He regarded her with bright amber eyes similar to her own. His braids reminded her of spun straw. Standing there in a black dress uniform with his pressed side skirts, she considered him quite attractive save for the pistol he aimed up at her. His not immediately opening fire on her suggested there might be some maneuvering room available. Perhaps some Kinset pride to leverage, she considered, scowling at the sword badge over his right pocket. "I am a combat veteran and the best you can do is shoot me like some rabid animal? Is that all the honor Kinset's Datha can muster these days?"

His expression flaunted the usual brand of professional impassivity she had been receiving since her incarceration. To her relief, he flung the weapon toward the door. "Had my intentions been other than honorable, you would already be dead. Not that it matters. I placed within the top rank of my graduating class. The end result will be the same, but it will come with both honor and respect for your past service."

Mikial leapt to the floor across from him, her lips drawing back. "And what is so worth my life? Your Holding's Taqurl pride?"

Hatred oozed out from behind the edges of the Datha's stone face. "No Servant will ever rule us!" He launched himself at her.

And you expect me to sidestep into some eloquent combat stance, don't you?  She obliged him, favoring her left foot only for the instant it took to see him adjust accordingly. Mikial switched balance and flung herself bodily into his face. The crude maneuver threw him on his back with her splayed across him. Twisting around, Mikial seized his head with drawn claws and discharged a fatal jolt of electricity through her palms. She rolled off his shuddering body and glared down at it, her lips curling back. "I wasn't in the top rank. I was First!"

The Review:

The teaser for this book hooked me. I picked it up and started reading. I did not research the author, or the book itself, as I probably should have. I simply sat down and read the whole novel, pretty much without stopping, except to feed the family and other impossible-to-ignore requirements. It was a wonderful science-fiction adventure, brim-full of politics, military action, and romance. I was so sorry to see it end, that upon reaching the conclusion, I immediately dove into the internet looking for more. I was thrilled to find another book in the series, as well as a third book by the author, both of which look very promising. I have bought, and shall happily start reading, all of Mr. Tolan’s books … probably as soon as I am done writing this review.

“Rogue Dancer” is actually the second book of its series. The first book is “Blade Dancer”, a 2009 Eppie Award finalist, and it looks like a grand adventure by itself. I usually feel cheated when I find that I’ve carelessly read serial books out of order, but not this time. “Rogue Dancer” stands on its own solidly. Bits of the past were folded into this story in a way that was seamless, and not at all distracting. I read the recent history as it was meant; as a foundation to the people and world. I didn’t get the impression that I was being fed a quick and dirty recap of the last episode. I honestly did not realize I was reading a sequel.

Mikial is a female leader in a military caste on a world where the citizens are literally born to fit a specialty. Meaning, they are genetically predisposed to fill certain roles – healing, communication, technical, and military. In their past, a non-talented servant caste was created, and abused, which is the primary cause of continued internal strife. This conflict was the basis of a recent civil war, part of the story from the first book, which was further inflamed by interference from space-faring, meddlesome humans. These tensions continue in “Rogue Dancer”. After surviving a difficult biological transformation that occurs in certain individuals who are destined to be leaders of their race, Mikial is again dealing with political upheavals that threaten her people with chaos. Facing prejudice and selfish treachery, she must fight to unite the nations of her world, as well as protect them all from extra-terrestrial dangers. Her political and diplomatic abilities are further tested by the introduction of a second alien race that has its own issues with human invaders. Mikial is the focus of this book, but she is surrounded by a multitude of very likable – or detestable, in the case of the enemy types – well-rounded supporting characters. I find myself wanting to know more of the hinted at side-stories and the histories of other personalities, and I do not believe these two books will be enough for me!
Mr. Tolan has done a wonderful job with the world he created for this series. It was steeped in a sense of deep history and detailed culture and I am amazed that he managed to fit so much into an average length novel. He painted vivid scenery and described, without seeming to describe, a mental eye-full of alien technology, and the old and new structures and cities visited in the story. Mr. Tolan also knows military. I’m an Army veteran and can honestly say that I’ve served with some of his characters, minus, of course, the space travel and their alien nature. Mikial’s race is handled deftly. The author brings them to exotic life. He makes the reader understand who they are, why they fight, what they think, how they love, and why they dance, all without interfering with his telling of the story. The culture has its own racial and caste complexity, as well as distinct gender roles, and again, we get all this detail without being taken away from the plot. Beautifully done!

I look forward to reading the two books, “Blade Dancer” and “Rogue Dancer”, in the order intended. I do not actually need to re-read the second book, but I will gladly do so as it is worth re-visiting a time or three. If there are more tales to be told about these people and of this world, I’ll read them too (Big hint Mr. Tolan! Please?). I also look forward to reading “Waiting Weapon”, a third book I found on the author’s website. Mr. Kerry Tolan is a talented storyteller, and I cannot wait to see what he creates next. 
Pagan Elements: None

Cover (Rated 1-10): 9 – I like the colors and overall artwork. The cover is eye-catching and it fits the genre and this story. The font is great too. The woman’s pose is awkward. The character is supposed to be a strong, alien, warrior and dancer, but my arm hurts in sympathy for the position of her shoulder. 


Disclaimer: Due to FTC regulations, any book reviewed on this site was sent for free by the author to The Pagan & The Pen. We are not paid to give reviews by Author or Publisher. Once review has been made, said books are deleted.


Angelica Hart and Zi said...

The book sounds beyond awesome. It is a keeper that will soon be on our Sony e-reader.

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