King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard
Published by: HarperTeen on February 7th, 2017
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy
Find It: Goodreads
Rating: 3 Stars
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.
I was prepared to write about how different Aveyard’s ending was in comparison to most other series I’ve read. I was ready to celebrate her brave decision to leave things so unfinished. But now that I know that King’s Cage is not a conclusion, I’m not sure I know how I feel.
I get nervous when extra PoVs are added this late in a series. Are the extra PoVs necessary to move the plot forward? Or are they a solution to providing the reader with exposure to things the protagonist can’t have access to? With King’s Cage, I feel like it’s
barely a combination of both.
The first surprising decision was to whom the first PoV was granted. Not Cal, the obvious choice. Or even Farley, someone who could easily give us insight into what the Scarlet Guard is up to while Mare is imprisoned. Instead, we’re given access to Cameron – a brattier and younger-sounding Mare. While I didn’t necessarily see the value her PoV added, I did appreciate some of her crankier moments:
I already had to deal with the whining of a walking lightning rod. I’m not going to tolerate the attitude of a mopey matchstick prince.
The extra PoV I thoroughly enjoyed however, and which saved King’s Cage from feeling like the additional PoVs were completely unnecessary, was Evangeline’s.
Getting to experience Evangeline without the taint of Mare’s perception was an revelation. Instead of an arrogant, jealous and ambitious seeker of the throne, Evangeline blossomed into the most fascinating of anti-heroines.
Be the best, the strongest, the smartest, the most deadly and the most cunning. The most worthy. And I was everything.
Surprisingly, we uncover that Evangeline is yet another character who was made: made for perfection, made to elevate her family’s status, made, specifically, to be a Queen. And while she passionately desires a title, we learn that she thirsts just as hungrily for her freedom. Despite thoroughly enjoying the peek into Evangeline’s mind, I mostly appreciated her PoV as it gave us insight into the political landscape of Norta.
Mare and Maven
When I first met him, I was seduced by his pain. He was the boy in shadow, a forgotten son. I saw myself in him. Second always to Gisa, the bright star in my parents’ works. I know now that was by design. He caught me back then, ensnaring me in a prince’s trap. Now I’m in a king’s cage. But so is he. My chains are Silent Stone. His is the crown.
Easily the most fascinating part of King’s Cage was the dynamic between Mare and Maven. As we unravelled exactly how Maven was made into the cruel boy King, we learned that the most tragic part was not that he was made into a monster.
He is a monster still, a monster always. And yet I can’t stop myself from listening. Because I could be a monster too. If given the wrong chance. If someone broke me, like he is broken.
Monsters are made. So was Maven. Who knows who he was supposed to be.
No, the most tragic part was that Maven not only accepted that he was a pawn in his mother’s game, he embraced it – personifying the villain she always envisioned him to be.
He stares up at me. “Those who know what it’s like in the dark will do anything to stay in the light.”
“Don’t act like we’re the same.”
“The same? No.” He shakes his head. “But perhaps… we’re even?”
Strangely enough, the part I enjoyed the most is also the part that was the hardest to get through. Mare’s imprisonment induced moments of seduction with Maven’s deliciously twisted game of psychological warfare. But mostly, it was just uneventful. It teetered between fulfilling my darkest desires to explore the depths of Maven’s broken mind, and exasperating my patience with how much time Mare spent alone in her room. At times, I felt myself wasting away with Mare, counting the words on the pages as she counted the seconds that passed her by.
King’s Cage was going to get a solid 4-stars. Until I realized King’s Cage was not the end of the series. I had some minor issues with the pacing in the middle, but wasn’t super off-put by it. Several characters saw significant growth, and their motives were revealed in ways I appreciated. Mare
mostly redeemed herself for being such a terrible human being in Glass Sword. And there was a TON of action, which really showcased the various abilities that exist in this world.
When I thought Aveyard was ending her series so open-ended, leaving things somewhat resolved but mostly up-in-the-air, I was ready to applaud her decision. It felt authentic and truer to life than any other decision she could have made. Life is messy, there isn’t always a definitive resolution, and people don’t always change into who you want them to be. I liked that ending. Knowing she’s going to try to tie up all the loose ends, and finish everything off with a big bow? It’s disappointing.
King’s Cage was a solid addition to the Red Queen series. The pacing issues from Glass Sword were mostly resolved. Several characters underwent tremendous growth. And a new PoV gave us insight into a character that I had written off as one-dimensional. Knowing that there’s an entire other book to come, however, I wish Aveyard had cut things out to shorten both Glass Sword and King’s Cage in order to keep this series a trilogy.