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Sword Dance

(Sword Dance #1)

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  105 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Five years ago, Damiskos’s brilliant military career was cut short, leaving him with a permanent disability and scars that are not all physical. Adrift and still grieving, he tries to find meaning in an unsatisfying job.

Work takes him to the remote seaside villa of an old friend, where, among an odd assortment of guests, he meets the eunuch sword-dancer Varazda. Enigmati
Kindle Edition, 265 pages
Published July 31st 2019 by Sexton's Cottage
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4.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  105 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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K.J. Charles
Absolutely delightful romance set in AJ Demas' alt-Mediterranean Classical world, with a house party, a retired soldier, a hot eunuch sword dancer/spy, and a conspiracy afoot. The slow burn romance goes along with a twisty plot, lots of likeable characters, a very well-realised setting, and a hilarious mickey-take of Greek philosophers. There's depth to it, in the discussions of power, gender, sex, loss, and much more, but it's never weighted down by that and the writing bubbles with life. A ple ...more
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely! Great characters, though philosophers do get a hilariously bad rap.
Looking forward to the next one.
This is a heck of a thoughtful, multilayered book about things like gender inequality, gender identity, sex, privilege and nationalism. In that sense it's a very modern book for all that it's set in a fictional ancient world.

It's also (for those of you I see shrinking back from this) a really fun book to read. Because - at the end of the day, I really care about all those rather lofty themes very, very much - but what I need from books that I love are characters that I fall in love with.

And I di
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, historical
4.5 stars

Brilliant. Lovely. There are dozens of well-deserved glowing reviews so I’m not repeat all that has been said. There were some very minor weak point but all in all it will be a truly memorable story. Highly recommended.
Another charming little read from the pen of Alice Degan. Loved the mickey-taking at the expense of the ancient Greek philosophers, and book 2 of the trilogy eagerly awaited in 2020. 4.25 stars.
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very pleased to discover this new author.

ETA: the two books by Demas remind me of Gillian Bradshaw’s books.
Joyfully Jay
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sue
A Joyfully Jay review.

4.75 stars

I loved Sword Dance. It’s not a perfect novel, but the characters are endearing and so well constructed that I didn’t care about a few imperfections. Damiskos and Varazda are something of an odd couple and for the first half of the book, they tend to spar with one another more often than not. The romance comes later and works because of exactly who these characters are and the absolute acceptance they have for one another. Varazda was gelded as a slave and, as a
LD  Durham
This is an incredible book. I am so glad I took a chance on it, because I was just introduced to a new favorite author.

A quasi-historical set in the in the countryside of an Ancient Roman or Greek style world, this story introduces us to a semi-retired soldier who is now more of a bean counter due to a tragic occurrence.

At a house party he attends in order to secure a steady source of fish-sauce for the army, he stumbles into a tense political intrigue involving three countries, philosophy stu
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Funzee Shu

*** 4.5/6 Stars ***

“Coming to know you has been the best thing to happen to me in years. (But) when I’m around you I feel … as if you cast your light on me. As if I’m a little bit better— a better man, a better person— because of you.” – Damiskos.

“I have room in my life for you, Dami. Of course I do. You’d be a part of my life I never expected to have…” – Varazda.

The story is about a used to be such a brilliant military officer that must ended his career due to the injury. During his to visit
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was actually a pretty good book and the way it left off was kind of a cliffhanger, which I hate, but it definitely left me wanting to see what happens next. The main problem I had with the book was at times it was…..slow. So sometimes it was hard to keep my attention. However, once you start getting into it, it's a tale of espionage, betrayals, murder, and idiots who are trying to start war to make the 'world' more pure and perfect.
Damiskos went to his old friend's Villa, on a job for his
Sword Dance is a beautiful, well-written and thoughtful start to a new trilogy by AJ Demas.

Sword Dance is an introspective novel covering a whole world of themes, from politics to philosophy, religion to nationalism, sexual and gender identities, and so much more, with the characters each having unique and thoughtful approaches to at times tough topics. The book is centered around an ever-growing mystery, with lots of moving parts and carefully inter-woven plots that just built anticipation all
Diane Dannenfeldt
I absolutely loved it. I hope that future books shows more of them together. Damiskos’s is a broken soldier who just wants some peace. Varazda is the eunuch that grabs Dami’s attention. Okay I had some questions that were never answered. Varazda had no balls, which produces sperm, yet he has a daughter. Another question is he does not like women but yet he has a daughter. How? Again no balls means no sperm means no baby. I wanted that explored but maybe in the next book. Okay moving on from that ...more
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Scattered Thoughts And Rogue Words Review

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

For the full reivew, visit on 8/5

From that review;The first story in a planned trilogy, Sword Dance (Sword Dance #1) by A.J. Demas is an engrossing novel that just happens to encompass the beginnings of a relationship between a eunuch and a retired ex warrior, political intrigue and rebellion, religious intolerance, racial purity factions, and even  same sex love condemnation and slavery differing perspec
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this! It's sweet and romantic and funny, not to mention incredibly satisfying. Can't wait for the next in the series!
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019
This was really great! Loved the setting, and the characters were so well done. The plot was super intriguing. I liked this so much, I'm so excited to read more.
Dieter Moitzi
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-book-reviews
I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.
This review has been originally posted at Gay Book Reviews - check it out!

Simplicity and consistency make up much of the charm of this novel. Take a nice, little plot idea—doesn’t have to be the craziest plot idea ever used—, set it in unusual surroundings, place some likely characters, deliver it in a coherent, skilled writing style with the odd pinch of philosophical discourse, and you’ll get a decent and solid novel like this
Rounded up.
Demas returns to her fictional Antiquity, this time with the first book in a trilogy, and it's just as good as her previous books, with rich, believable characters and wonderful dialogue. The story is entirely from the point of view of Damiskos, an invalid Pseuchaian soldier,  and starts out as a kind of ancient "Greek" house party, with a group of unexpected guests with an agenda of their own. Also at this house party is a nervous Boukossian and his Zashian eunuch slave Varazda (or
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A well crafted, psychologically astute, and compelling novel of love and political intolerance

This well-crafted novel features two compelling main characters that drive the story forward and anchor us in the book's fictional world. The characters, a highly respected former military officer, Domiskos, and a sword dancer and former slave, Varazda, are thoroughly realized in terms of their unique psychologies and histories. Even though the story is told from Domiskos' point of view, whose outlook h
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Did you ever read a book too quickly because you liked the characters so much and wanted to be sure that nothing terrible happened to them? That was my experience with Sword Dance. I immediately fell in love with both Damiskos and Varazda, and rushed through their story anxiously. I wanted someone to appreciate Damiskos' good heart and ability to lead despite his physical limitations, and I wanted someone to see Varazda as more than a eunuch and (former) slave. I knew they would have a HFN but w ...more
Avid Reader
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book after reading k j charles’ review - and it was as good as she said. The main characters were well rounded, the writing flowed and I loved the slow burn relationship between Damiskos and Varazda. The emotions felt real.The plot line was carefully delivered and issues of slavery and power imbalance are considered from a number of angles. The only reason I haven’t given 5 stars (which have to be squeezed out of me at the best of times), is that the setting is too close to ancient ...more
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I grabbed Sword Dance on a whim after seeing it advertised on Facebook. I’ve always had a desperate weak spot for the Ancient Mediterranean World and an alt-history version of it with romance and intrigue thrown in called to me. Sometimes my whims lead me in terrible directions, but with Sword Dance, my intuition didn’t fail me. I loved basically every word of this book. It was sweet, intriguing, well-paced, and also surprisingly funny.
The main characters were unique and well-written, never fal
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book!! I had a hard time starting my review because my feelings were just "aghowiefjwoeijfwoeifj!!!" It's high stakes but deeply personal. Varazda and Demisokos dancing around each other, both finding the other confusing and attracting, and then being thrown together by dangerous circumstances to have to pretend to be lovers? *chef's kiss* perfection.

Full review (including content notes) -->
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A new world...

This book enthralled me so much, I stayed up reading it and after 3.5 hours of sleep, woke up and read more. It captured me in its web of a beautiful yet dangerous region, where men still stood for honour and integrity, spies were not who they seemed, and shouts of ‘Republic’ rang false against the storm of integrity and master sword wrilders. I cannot wait for the next installment!!
Riina Y.T.
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Came across this by chance! The cover caught my attention (isn’t it gorgeous??) and I’m glad I gave it a try because with this I found an incredibly talented author I will definitely follow!

I devoured this book!!!!

Fun world building, brilliant writing and an incredible romance 😍

Highly recommended!
A. L. Lester
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really love A. J. Demas's not-quite-Classical-Europe world. Her protagonists are always beautifully drawn with realistic complexity that makes them easy to like; and if you don't like them, you understand them. As usual, there is lots and lots of plot alongside the romance. First of a trilogy!
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It takes a hell of a book for me to go from “sure, let’s give this a shot” to “I will buy all of your other books and any future ones sight unseen and also yes I would love to join your newsletter.”

...this is a hell of a book.
This book was an absolute delight — quite possibly my favorite by this author thus far. I’m so glad this is the first in a new series, as I’m not at all ready to say goodbye to these characters. If the sequel was already out, I’d dive into it immediately. Is it 2020 yet?
Peche Esse
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OMG. Why isn’t this an international best seller??? Astonishingly good. Read it.
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A.J. Demas writes about love and imaginary politics in a fictional ancient world. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and cute daughter.

A.J. also publishes fantasy and historical fiction with a metaphysical twist as Alice Degan.