Tor, May 2001, 25.95, 416 pp.
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.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner