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Jeannie Lin – The Sword Dancer

Book Cover

Capturing a thief, hunting down memories.

Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 275
Type: Fiction
Age: Adult
ISBN: 978-0-373-29742-9
First Published: 21st May 2013
Date Reviewed: 30th April 2013
Rating: 4/5

Finally in a position to discover what happened to her family, Li Feng makes use of performance troops to develop her skills further. In the process she ends up with a group of thieves and therefore finds herself followed and caught by thief-catcher Han. Li Feng escapes and Han catches her again, but this won’t be a simple game of cat and mouse when love is involved.

The Sword Dancer is in part a wuxia novel; the book rests firmly in the suspense/action subcategory, giving the book an extra plot thread and meaning that the heroine is pretty strong both physically and mentally.

Li Feng had already been through a myriad of experiences before this particular crime and Han’s interest. Her background, the lost family, has led to a lot of her desire to learn how to protect herself as well as to be cautious and never exploited. This can be related to her non-belief in her relationship with Han, a more descriptive reason for how they work as a couple. Li Feng gives in against her nature only when it’s appropriate, never changing her mind simply because she likes Han. Han has his background too, but there is a little more in the book about Li Feng’s and the difference makes for a fine balance, allowing Lin to look into social and domestic issues without any distractions. The issues never take over the plot, nor the plot the issues. Everything fits together well. As for Han? He has had an easier life, certainly, but his feelings of inferiority have marked him as a person and his desire to do well could be said to form some of the basis for the book.

And so the only way Li Feng’s strength is hindered is by her constant belief that a relationship with Han is impossible. Whilst it makes sense – a law-abider and criminal being together would be difficult – as it’s inevitable the book is going to end happily, it does feel redundant, even if it’s understandable. Nevertheless the romantic scenes are well written, the crimes just as much a focus, and Lin has plotted her book to perfection. In addition, it cannot be said that Li Feng’s reluctance isn’t a good contrast to her strength, or that the reluctance doesn’t fit well with her trials as a person without a family.

Instead of having lots of dialogue or simply detailing a scene, Lin breaks up conversations with information about a character’s background, politics, or a character’s thoughts, rather than having the characters reveal it themselves. What you learn about the characters tends to come from the pen rather than their voices; it’s the sort of writing that might divide opinion. However Lin has spent a lot of the time developing everything – the story, the romance, the characters – and the elements are fascinating. Even plot points that seem convenient are not a negative here because of the way Lin deals with her setting. It is more a case that you feel the book would have not suffered if descriptions of backgrounds had been removed.

The book is a winner when it comes to accessibility. Chinese words are included without the constant translations (those that can make usage superfluous) that can be found in other books, and Lin has chosen a theme and made it her own. The scale of the crimes are perfect for the book – not too big, not too small, and detailed well. There is enough happiness and well-intentioned corruption to keep you reading.

If you’re looking for history, chemistry, and adventure, you’ll find it here by the bucketful, though some descriptions may prove to be less successful.

I received this book for review from the author.

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May 31, 2013, 12:11 pm

Sounds like an exotic and exciting read. A good read as we hope and pray for some warmer weather soon :-P


May 31, 2013, 2:30 pm

This sounds interesting! I haven’t read a book like this in awhile…sounds like a good beach read. And I’m going soon too! Hmm…..


June 1, 2013, 12:50 am

I love books with strong female characters and a good romance. This one has a beautiful cover, too.


June 4, 2013, 8:00 pm

Sounds really good: I have hardly read books with chinese characters, I don’t know the reason (they have not came to me, I suppose), but this one seems interesting.
It’s a pitty there are unnecessary descriptions, but sometimes I like them to feel more involved in the plot and the setting (other times they just make the story slower).
I’m glad you enjoyed.



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