Wednesday, November 13, 2019

King's Cage - Victoria Aveyard

This is the third book in the Red Queen series.  We do not recommend reading the summary or review below unless you have read Red Queen (#1) and Glass Sword (#2).   

Summary: I stare at the boy on the throne.  He maintains his mask well.  Brow furrowed, still fingers, straight back.  But his gaze wavers.  Something in his eyes has gone far away.  He's terrified.  For a second it makes me happy.  Then I remember -- monsters are most dangerous when they're afraid.

WHEN THE LIGHTNING GIRL'S SPARK IS GONE, WHO WILL LIGHT THE WAY FOR THE REBELLION?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved,a boy made of lies and betrayal.  Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother's web in an attempt to maintain control over his country -- and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continues organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiles prince with his own claim on Mare's heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

In this breathless third installment in Victoria Aveyard's bestselling series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire -- leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down. (Summary from book - Image from amazon.com)

My Review:  Hey all!  If you're reading this I'm going to assume you've read the two previous books and speak/type accordingly.  King's Cage picks up abruptly where Glass Sword leaves off, with Mare held captive by an obsessed king, having sacrificed her freedom to save the lives of her friends.  Mare is kept in near isolation, powers quelled by Silent Stone, and occasionally forced to play a part in Maven's political machinations.  Meanwhile, the rebellion lives on and lines between Red and Silver continue to blur.

In my reviews of the last two books, I have speculated that this series was set in a post-apocalyptic North America and when I opened the third book, lo and behold, there was a map that confirmed my suspicions. The history of the area wasn't at all pivotal in the story, but the map became invaluable as the unrest reached beyond the borders of Norta and into neighboring kingdoms.  I didn't have to constantly refer to the map, but it was useful to flip to when characters start slinging unfamiliar city names around. 

The last two books were told solely from Mare's perspective, but in King's Cage the author introduces additional perspectives from already familiar characters - Cameron and Evangeline.  These three combined perspectives allowed the author to show what was happening on all sides of the fight.  Certain parts of the book had very little interpersonal dialogue and I was amazed at the author's ability to narrate a specific character's thoughts, emotions, and observations in a way that was thoroughly evocative, engaging, and vividly detailed.  I could have easily been bored in the hands of another author, but I wasn't.  Not for a second.

Let's talk about Maven, shall we?  For much of this series and a good chunk of this book, I have felt secretly sorry for Maven -- the unfortunate puppet of a decidedly wicked queen.  I thought that once the queen was gone, perhaps he'd behave differently or even reveal that he was only acting a part and was working on the 'good' side all along.  There were moments in the book that I was certain this was the case, but sitting here, another book finished, I'm not so sure...and I'm not too happy.  I'll leave it at that.

King's Cage has a lot going on -- action-packed escapes, new characters with fascinating abilities, surprising alliances, devious mind games, unexpected betrayals -- and I was pretty riveted throughout.  It's all very twisty and delicious. That having been said, it also has very little resolution, as everything hung in the balance at the beginning and still more hangs in the balance at the close. Occasionally, I felt like the story was intentionally spinning its wheels a bit to keep the action going and the page count up in preparation for the final book.  I like it when books do that....so long as I don't notice they are doing it.  Does that make sense?

Overall, I enjoyed the book and plan to read the next one, War Storm, in the coming weeks.  I believe it's the final one and I have high hopes it will bring everything together.

A note on the audiobook:  I alternated between listening to the audiobook while running and reading a hard copy in spare moments.  There were three different narrators for the three different perspectives.  I didn't like all of them (one sounded far too old for a teenage character), but I did like the predominate one and felt she did a spectacular job of reading with emotion and nuance.

My Rating: 3.75

For the sensitive reader:  Some more adult themes did make it into this book, which is part of the reason I've rated it a little lower.  The violence was on par with the rest of the books in the series, but there were some swear words (including one F-bomb), a few scenes where heterosexual sex is implied but not described, and a homosexual relationship between secondary characters (with a 'morning-after' type scene).

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