I was suspicious as soon as I opened King’s Cage, because while the first two novels in the series (Red Queen and Glass Sword) had been narrated singularly from Mare’s point of view, the chapters in this novel are each marked with the name of the narrator. I know what that means: the main character’s death is imminent. Narration shifts are just an author’s trick to try to get readers used to hearing other characters’ thoughts so we are prepared, so the story can go on even after the main character is gone!
I tried to stay hopeful, of course. It is possible that Aveyard simply wants her readers to know about things happening in other parts of her fictional world that Mare would have no way of knowing. It is also possible that she is hoping to make this a long and successful series by branching out to different characters so readers can keep track of multiple side-plots as the story progresses. But it is also completely possible that Mare dies. I’ll let you find out for yourself!
Before I continue, let’s do a quick recap of the series thus far.
Red Queen: Common thief Mare Barrow is discovered to have superpowers like the country’s nobility, is forced to pretend a lost daughter of a noble family, and is convinced to join a rebellion.
Glass Sword: Mare is part of the rebellion, working to recruit other Reds (red-blooded, low-class citizens) with abilities like her to the cause before Silvers (silver-blooded, super-powered nobility) can find them first, racing against the clock and the obsessive Silver king.
King’s Cage: Mare has been captured by Maven Calore, the king of the Silvers who is young, monstrous, and twistedly in love with Mare. Throughout the story, the Scarlet Guard continues to grow, Maven seals a dangerous alliance, and some of the noble houses plot a rebellion. Of course, Mare (along with dozens of “newbloods,” or Reds with Silver abilities) is eventually rescued from her captivity in Maven’s palace — the book would be very dull indeed if all our protagonist did was waste away in a locked room for a full 500 pages.
I can’t deny that Mare does spend a lot of time in a locked room. This waiting game, as well as the book’s ending, does make it feel like this novel was a filler more than anything else.
Filler: noun, common among book-readers and movie-watchers. Meaning: a novel, episode, or film that exists primarily to lay groundwork for the action of the next novel, episode, or film of the series.
However, I felt as though even the slow scenes were interesting, if not exciting, for two basic reasons. The first is that they give readers time to tune in better with a character’s thought processes and personality. Mare, Cameron, and even Evangeline (we don’t like Evangeline; well, okay, we like her a little better now, but I’m still holding a grudge) spend time waiting in this novel, and it was interesting to me to see how they all handled it. The second reason I felt like the slow scenes didn’t detract from the novel as much as they might have is that I felt like they were written in such a way that the characters’ emotions of restlessness, frustration, and uncertainty translated very well. I’ve said it before, and I am saying it again: Aveyard does an excellent job of making you feel with the characters, not just read about them.
I do have a few complaints, though. (If you haven’t read the book yet, you might want to skip the next couple paragraphs.) In this novel, Mare meets a few other newbloods who can also create and manipulate lightning. They teach her different ways to use her ability and how to fight more efficiently. I definitely see how this is important for character growth and practical combat purposes, but there is a line in the book that says, “I use web on the ground,” and all I could picture was those old Pokémon video games that say things like, “Pikachu uses thunderbolt! It is ineffective!”
My second complaint is that even after Shade is gone, I just don’t understand how he and Farley were an item. I like Farley’s character because she’s tough and straightforward and she gets the job done, but for some reason I feel like I haven’t really seen enough of her softer side to be able to view her as a lover and a mother.
Plus Mare kept saying things about how her hair was going gray at the edges, and it just bugged me because, while it’s an interesting idea, it’s not scientifically possible. I would think Aveyard should know that a person’s hair turns gray at the roots, from whence hair actually grows, not from the tips that are already dead and stuck with whatever color they were when they grew out from the roots. But I suppose that’s a minor detail.
Finally, of course, I’m not entirely pleased that I have to wait until 2018 for the next book! I am definitely looking forward to reading it! This series has been so fun and exciting, and I’m loving the characters more and more as the series continues.
P.S. Someday I’ll get around to rereading the first book in this series (Red Queen) and writing a review about it, I promise! You can also find my review of the second novel in this series, Glass Sword, here.)