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by Donna McMahon

Vancouver in the twenty-second century is a city of stark contrasts, divided between its prospering Guild citizens and the starving descendants of American refugees who fled ecological catastrophe and political chaos decades ago.Newcomer Klale Renhardt is struggling to survive on the half drowned, ungoverned island of Downtown, where every type of trade is controlled by tongs or gangs. When she finds a job through Toni, the tough, beautiful American bartender at the famous KlonDyke nightclub, Klale finally allows herself to feel safe--until she hears that Toni may have been a torturer for the tongs.Even more disturbing is Toni's strange connection with Blade, the giant, bio-altered slave of Downtown's most feared blackmailer. Klale fears the rage that simmers behind the giant's eyes, but when she attracts the vengeful attention of a hidden enemy, Blade may be the only person who can save her. Blade's psyche has been so profoundly twisted by neural implants that he doesn't even realize he's human. If Klale can't find a way to help him discover his own soul, she may not survive either her murderous enemy or the looming tong war.
Download Dance of Knives epub
ISBN: 0312874316
ISBN13: 978-0312874315
Category: Fantasy
Subcategory: Science Fiction
Author: Donna McMahon
Language: English
Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (May 4, 2001)
Pages: 416 pages
ePUB size: 1104 kb
FB2 size: 1397 kb
Rating: 4.4
Votes: 772
Other Formats: azw lit doc rtf

I read Dance of Knives and sequel Second Childhood back to back and I still want more. Story line and characters are alive and I feel as though I was there with them. Best two stories I have read in a long time. I hope the next book will see Simon and Klale build on there relationship. The story did not dwell on the apocalyptic aspect, the characters were already firmly entrenched in their daily survival so there was no build up, you were immediately drawn into their lives; the main characters were the focal point of whole story. Highly recommend this author.
I'm glad I waited until the weekend to dive into this one -- a really good novel will cause me to disappear for a few days. I'm selective about where I pull my disappearing acts, and the near-futuristic dystopian Vancouver setting was plausible and well-crafted, with fully-realized characters -- a somewhat grim tale but not gratuitously yucky. A first novel, but much better than most of the dreck I've been wading through by established science-fiction authors lately.
I'm a Russian Occupant
In 2108, twenty something Klale Renhardt flees the Fishers Guild seeking fame and fortune in Vancouver because she cannot stand the rigorous rules of her group. In Vancouver, she heads to the island Downtown so she can avoid staying at one her former guild's hostels.
However, her first night in town is not a serene scenario as the street punks accost her and the Harbor Patrol nearly busts her. Looking for a place to stay, Klale enters the KlonDyke Bar where she immediately becomes involved in a brawl. This leads to her befriending the bartender Toni and obtaining a job there. Soon she meets the dangerous genetically enhanced freak Blade, who has already interceded in one of Klale's early run-ins. As the three becomes friends, the action becomes hot with them in the middle.
DANCE OF KNIVES is an exciting science fiction thriller that works so well because the audience observes twenty-second century Vancouver through the amazed eyes of Klale. This technique allows the reader a chance to feel the changes, some very nasty, caused by technology, economics, and major climatic impact. Blade is a weird but exciting character and Toni with her past helps bring to life her two compatriots. However, what makes this novel so good is Klale, one of the better protagonists to grace a genre book in a long time. Donna McMahon has written a powerful tale that belies the fact that this is her debut novel.

Harriet Klausner
Contrary to what another reviewer has said, I don't think Toni created "tools" in her past life; she studied existing tools at the University (rescued from the world at large, I gathered) and couldn't handle even that. She escaped into the worst kind of prostitution because she couldn't bear to be associated with it in any way.

As for how Klale could decide she loved Blade, love is mysterious in any case. She saw through Blade to Simon, that's all. And he changed her.

If I have a criticism, it's just that even a post-apocalyptic society can't allow "tools" to exist; not in the presence of education, law enforcement, and all the trappings of local democracy. Choi would be a criminal of the worst sort to these people, and they would have dug him out and dealt with him.

That said, the book is nearly perfect. I hope to see more from this author.
Dances with Knives is an imaginative look at a post-chaos Vancouver in the early part of the 22nd century. Klale, a young member of the Fisher Guild of Prince Rupert, comes to the island of Downtown, a coastal version of the lawless 19th century Wild West towns, to make a life for herself away from the Guild. She falls into a job as the infamous KlonDyke, a lesbian/gay bar, and becomes involved in the lives of Toni, the mysterious bartender, and Blade, the behaviourally, neurologically and surgically altered human "tool" of one of the local tong leaders. Chaos is coming again to Downtown, as the main cities along the Pacific coast of North America try to link together by means of a railroad. This idea is strongly opposed by the 3 tongs that rule Downtown, but other residents, including the owner of the KlonDyke, see the railroad and the changes it will bring as a means to (quite literally, in some cases) get Downtown out of the gutter.
The book is interesting and the author has paid great attention to building this future world, especially the socio-political framework behind the story. The blurb on the book jacket is a bit misleading, though. Klale is only the titular lead character " it is very much Toni's book. Klale is, instead, a strong secondary character. This book is falls into the sci-fi category, so reference to future technology is a given. But figuring out what their tech toys were (extrapolating from our own) and how they worked, took a little time.
There were a couple of weaknesses in the storyline.
First, Toni, in a previous life, played a part in creating "tools" like Blade, or "wives" (read sex-slaves) like one particular one-scene character. Despite her remorse and attempts to help Blade, and despite the drug addiction that drove her to take that job to feed her habit, the fact remains that she victimised people for money. The author gives glimpses of the hard life Toni led prior to and after working as a Trainer, and describes some of the physical harm she experienced along the way, too, but it doesn't come close to balancing out the things she did. To the end of the book, this reader found it hard to forgive her for them. You can understand the motivations driving the drug addict who kills a stranger for the money in her purse, but would you excuse him because of them? Toni's actions were more akin to the Nazi experiments on people in their concentration camps, and are equally intolerable.
Second, Klale falls in love without Blade, without rhyme or reason. Literally overnight, she discovers that she loves him. But there is nothing that the reader can discern in Blade, from Klale's perspective, to bring this about. He is by turns violent or emotionless, though remnants of the child he had been before becoming a "tool" occasionally show through. The author gives the reader access to Blade's interior life, making him a person to us, but Klale is not granted the same privilege. So this sub-plot seems devised simply to get Blade to do specific things so the main plot can advance, or to serve the author's desire to include a little romance in her story, and it strikes a very discordant note.
All in all, I would recommend the book, because the world created by the author has great atmosphere and the story elicits strong emotions. But the discrepancies noted above do leave the reader a little unsatisfied by the story's end.