I tore through Aveyard’s third (but not final) book in the Red Queen series. These books have some addictive qualities: they’re easy to read, and they’re really, really hard to put down. Just one more chapter and I swear I’ll call it a night – two hours later at 3 am, you say the same thing. King’s Cage might be the best of the three. If you haven’t read the first two, be forewarned: spoilers abound. HarperTeen | 2017 | Hardcover | 528 pp
In Aveyard’s world, people are divided between those with silver blood who have varying paranormal powers, all of the nobility, and all of the power, and those with red blood who are normal humans and live as slaves to the Silvers. In Red Queen, Mare Barrow rises as a lowly Red to a Silver stature. She has red blood, but the ability to wield lightning. Used as a political pawn to help squash a rebellion, she risks all and sides with her Red brethren. In Glass Sword, Mare works with the exiled prince and the rebel Scarlet Guard to train newbloods, Reds with power like Mare. Allying with several different factions and countries, they aim to bring down Maven, the traitorous King of Norta. At the end, Mare trades her life for those of her friends.
King’s Cage picks up with Mare in captivity. She had agreed not to fight, to do anything Maven wanted, if he let her friends go. Maven agreed and kept his end of the bargain. The deal was too sweet for him because of his obsession with Mare.
Although Mare is extremely powerful and deadly with her shocking ability, she is subdued with silent stone (a substance used to drain a Silver or newblood of their power) and round-the-clock Arven guards (Arvens have the ability to ‘quiet’ a Silver’s power). The result is deterioration. Maven keeps Mare in a luxurious room, keeps her fed and dressed in finery, and parades her around the fortress and on TV as royalty. But the stones and the Arvens are eating away at her, destroying her from the inside out.
Maven is aware of her condition but he doesn’t have a choice. He’s obsessed with her. You could call it his version of love and he hates that he can’t just kill her and be done with it. We learn that Maven’s mother had been inside his head, trying to cut out his emotions affecting his feelings toward Mare and Cal, but it only made things worse. The cruel and demented person he has become is because of his mother. Although she is gone, her mind manipulation has remained.
Maven uses Mare as a propaganda piece. With Mare as a forced spokesperson, he tells the world that the Scarlet Guard are killing newbloods and that any newbloods should report to him for safekeeping. He is going to try to recruit his own army of newbloods. Many believe him. But many more oppose him, even Silvers from within his own court.
When a brazen rescue attempt is made, Mare finds help from the least likely of sources.
King’s Cage is structured differently using multiple narrators: Mare, Cameron, and Evangeline. While Mare is stuck in her prison, we’re able to see what’s going on with the Scarlet Guard through Cameron – but I would have preferred Cal. Cameron was introduced in Glass Sword. She is a newblood with powers like the Arvens, but much deadlier – she doesn’t just silence power, she silences life. She didn’t want to join the Scarlet Guard but was forced to by Mare and so there is a bit of resentment. All Cameron wants to do is save her twin brother from certain death, but no one is giving her the freedom to accomplish this task. All Cameron sees is captivity no matter which side she is on.
Although I would have rather seen through Cal’s eyes, I see why we are given different viewpoints. It breaks up the monotony of watching Mare deal with royal prison life and it gives us the inside scoop on what is going on with the uprising. Fair enough.
I was extremely excited to get a glimpse into Evangeline’s royal world of menacing scowls and jilted bride-dom. We get to see where she is coming from, the path she wants to take, and her familial controlling forces. Her actions weren’t surprising to me – you could see that she was up to something. Most importantly, you could feel the divide between her and Maven, her betrothed. She didn’t want to stand beside Maven any more than Mare did. Her true love is unexpected, and lovely.
While the second book in the series felt very close to X-Men (I’ve even seen some reviews comparing it to Pokemon), King’s Cage felt wholly different – completely set apart and original. The exploration into a crowned madman’s mind, obsession, jealousy, and epic battle scenes will keep readers burning through pages. Best of all, it isn’t about Mare anymore – and she isn’t set apart. There are other newbloods like her.
Electricons – the new word of the day!
A fourth book in the series is expected to be out next year, so know that King’s Cage will not end the saga. But it doesn’t end with a massive cliffhanger like Glass Sword – although, some relationships are left in the air.