My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Another enjoyable installment in the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. I found it a little bit wordy in places but the character development and world building are incredible and it builds to a truly epic conclusion that had me on the edge of my seat.
I can’t wait for the fourth and final book in the series.
Warning: This review may contain spoilers for earlier books in the series
The Blurb (from GoodReads)
In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And 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 continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.
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.
This is a series that seems to divide opinion and it’s one I came to quite late, only reading the first two books towards the end of last year. There are a lot of similarities to other popular YA sci fi/fantasy series but I absolutely loved Red Queen and while Glass Sword may not have been quite as good, it made King’s Cage one of my most anticipated reads of 2017.
The story begins almost exactly where Glass Sword ended with Mare the prisoner of Maven and the rebels regrouping and trying to figure out their next move. I have to confess I’d kind of forgotten what happened in the previous book but the author subtly worked reminders into the first few chapters so I was up to speed in no time.
For me the first half of the book was probably the best part of the story. There are some truly epic scenes and lots of action towards the end of the book, but it was the first half with its focus on the relationship between Mare and Maven that truly fascinated me.
As a prisoner Mare is powerless (literally), weak, ill and at the mercy of Maven and his court. In the previous book she was starting to become arrogant, cold, selfish and in some ways as bad as those she was fighting which while interesting to read made her difficult to like. Losing her power and having a lot of time on her hands results in her questioning the rightness of everything she’s done and teaches her a little humility, making her that much more likeable and relateable. It’s not a sudden switch but a gradual and realistic development. It feels like she grows up in a lot of ways and while she remains determined and fiery she becomes a lot calmer and better at hiding her emotions. Something she needs to do if she’s to survive Maven.
Maven is possibly one of the best villains I’ve come across. I don’t really understand Mare’s attraction to him but he is fascinating to read and steals every scene he’s in. I can’t work out if he’s insane, an evil genius or a lost and confused little boy. There’s definitely something very vulnerable about him at times which does make it difficult to hate him no matter what he does and he does some truly despicable things.
The interactions between him and Mare make for some truly gripping reading as it’s impossible to tell what he’ll do or how he’ll react and Mare just has to push him all of the time, seeking out weaknesses she can exploit. Added to which there is a lot of political maneuvering going on within the court as others try to usurp Maven and alliances with other territories become unstable. It’s fascinating to read as Maven is left fighting wars on several fronts and we discover he really is his mother’s creation and has her ability to manipulate those around him.
Like the previous books the story is told primarily from Mare’s perspective but in King’s Cage Aveyard also brings in some new narrators with chapters from Cameron’s and Evangeline’s point of view. I thought these added a lot to the story and I particularly loved Cameron’s voice. She’s the stroppy, disrespectful teenager with probably the greatest (most destructive) power of everyone but her chapters added some much needed light relief and gave a different perspective on Mare and the rebels. I actually kind of wish more had been from her pov.
Evangeline I’m still not keen on but at least her chapters gave me a better understanding of why she is the way she is and maybe generated the teeny tiniest bit of sympathy towards her. Honestly her parents are terrifying.
King’s Cage is much bigger in length and scale than the previous two books and this had both benefits and drawbacks. We get to learn a whole lot more about the world outside the kingdom we know and there are quite a few new and interesting characters introduced. However I did feel that the story was a little on the long side and overly wordy. Certain sections dragged a little and I found myself losing concentration. The world building by Aveyard is incredible and there are some truly epic scenes but I think it would have benefited from being a little tighter and faster paced.
Overall, I would definitely say I enjoyed it and will be looking forward to the next book. I just hope it picks up the pace.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book. As always all views are my own.