Ah, the Red Queen series. I was a massive fan of the first book. I read it within two days and couldn’t stop gushing about it for a while. In fact, I loved it so much that I immediately bought the second book Glass Sword. And well, let’s say that was like falling from cloud nine. The book was boring, inconsistent and did not live up to the first one. However, because of the cliff hanger at the end of the second book, I wanted to read the third one. King’s Cage is the third installment in the series, but is it worth the hype?
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 think this book is a huge improvement compared to Glass Sword. While it is by far not perfect (and we’ll get to that later), I found that the book had very interesting moments. Especially the dynamic between Mare, our protagonist for those who are new to this series, and Maven, the twisted boy king, is interesting to see. Maven is obsessed with Mare and while that keeps her a prisoner, it also keeps her alive. The dialogue between the two characters is great because they are both broken. They are both trying to get inside each other’s heads. To be fair, the first half of the book was most interesting. The moment Maven is no longer around, the story becomes less interesting.
This time around we don’t just get to see the story from Mare’s point of view. There are two other POVs, namely Cameron, who shares her insight into what is happening at the Scarlet Guard’s base and Evangeline, Mare’s nemesis. While I have to say that I found Cameron’s POV rather dull, I truly enjoyed Evangeline’s. Before this novel, the character was just our protagonist’s rival. She was mean and cruel and we didn’t know why. I feel like her character finally develops and becomes three-dimensional, which I missed earlier. She has definitely become my favourite character of this series.
“Those who know what it’s like in the dark will do anything to stay in the light.” – King’s Cage
What could have been better?
While I enjoyed large parts of this novel, there were other parts that did not impress me as much. I feel like a lot of the writing is meant to sound ‘quote-able’ which results in long descriptions that aren’t necessary. There is a lot of telling involved and not much showing. I feel like this book could be a lot shorter than 500+ pages and still tell the same story. A lot of the scenes do not necessarily move the plot forward. Instead, there is a whole lot of complaining coming from Mare, which is understandable, but certain sentiments or desires do not need to be shared a million times. It does not make Mare very likeable and it’s exhausting spending time with a character you don’t really like.
Less talk, more action
I felt to me as if the action scenes were rather short. There was a moment of excitement, and then it was over, followed by three chapters of slow plotting. When I almost reached the end of the novel, I kept wondering when there would be an interesting event again. It happened, but it was over so suddenly. I think that if less time was invested into building up to the climax and more time invested into the actual action, the book would have been more interesting for me.
Is it worth reading?
Well, first of all I would not recommend reading this book unless you’ve read the first two books in the series. Done? Fabulous. It depends how much you enjoyed the series as a whole. I feel like the series would have been better off as a trilogy instead of four novels. King’s Cage is not a bad book, but it is not the best in its genre either. I think it had and still has potential to be much better. So if you aren’t a fan of the first two books, then I doubt King’s Cage will change your mind. If you loved the first (and second) book, then there is enough in the latest one to keep you satisfied. Hopefully for me fourth times a charm.