Genre(s) | Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopia
Goodreads Rating | 4.13
Humpo Rating | 5 / 5
Not a god’s chosen, but a god’s cursed.
King’s Cage is the breathtaking third installment of the Red Queen series that leaves a blaze in the popular Young Adult genre, and I am not referring to Cal’s fire abilities.
Mare is Maven’s prisoner, powerless without her lightning, and she spends her imprisonment replaying every excruciating detail that lead to this moment, as well as the potential horrors to come. The boy-King of Norta seems intent on walking the path that Queen Elara intended for him, as her surgical manipulation of her son’s mind becomes more and more apparent given his political decision-making concerning the Scarlet Guard, the Lakelander War, Newbloods and Mare. Meanwhile, Cal, Cameron, Kilorn, Farley and the rest of the Scarlet Guard continue in Mare’s absence, recruiting as many Newbloods as they can before King Maven gets his hands on them, as well as organizing, training and expanding as they prepare for war. The Scarlet Guard can no longer keep hidden in the shadows as Maven makes moves on the chessboard that no longer involves just his kingdom. They have to make alliances and sacrifices as they take their seat at the top table where they are on equal footing with Norta, Lakelands, Piedmont and Montfort in terms of importance and threat- depending on perspective.
With two fiery brothers both after Mare’s heart, thrilling battles involving Reds, Silvers and Newbloods, and also the political maneuverings of all the important powers, King’s Cage is quite simply an electrifying read, where blood turns on blood, ability on ability, and there may be no one left to put out the fire- leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.
The three perspectives were from three pivotal female characters: Mare, Cameron and Evangeline. I was a little surprised that Aveyard went with Cameron as a POV character as I thought that Farley may have gotten it as she is important within the Scarlet Guard, however due to the lukewarm reaction to the Steel Scars story in Cruel Crown, it may have tipped the balance to give it to another character. Despite my early reservations about Cameron’s POV, I changed my mind quickly given the more personal and emotional account she gives about her insecurities concerning her ability. While Mare is agonizing over her mistakes and Maven’s scheming to maintain control amidst some restless Silver High Houses, the negotiations with the Lakelanders and the thorn in his side- Scarlet Guard.
Mare’s imprisonment is dealt with exceptionally well by Aveyard. She includes enough action and inaction, dialogue and silence, which creates a realistic sense of a prolonged period of time that could have easily been rushed by an author, and as such lose the intended effect. The personal scrutiny and mental torture of herself as she deliberates about the boy she used to love, but is now her tormentor, is worded to perfection. Aveyard teases just enough information to make us, as readers, believe that Mare has doubts about Maven and that she still has a soft spot for the warped king. Mare’s imprisonment not only demonstrated the damage that it did to her, but it also provided a window into the happenings within the walls of Whitefire Palace, and as an extension, Maven’s mind too. We are also introduced to a plethora of intriguing characters, such as Samson and Lakelander Princess Iris, and the abilities of the High Houses and the Lakelanders are more firmly established and understood.
Meanwhile, through Cameron’s perspective, the Scarlet Guard’s activities are presented and analysed. Despite Cameron’s selfish filter- she wants to save her brother- the Guard’s meetings and action sequences are fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed every single one of the chapters concerning the Guard. Tales involving Cameron, Cal, Farley and Kilorn (less so in this book) have me racing through the pages as fast as if Cal’s embers were burning through them. Scenes at Corvium were brilliant, at every stage, especially the latter ones.
King’s Cage is one of the best books I have read for a while, and is potentially my favourite novel in the Young Adult/ Fantasy genre. Romance, emotion and war are the three main aspects that feature in this fantasy epic, and boy are they well developed and brilliantly explored. Each chapter is flawless. There doesn’t seem to a wasted line, or word for that matter! I am now itching to get my hands on the next and most likely final installment in this wonderful series.
RISE, RED AS THE DAWN!
The Humpo Show | Richard