King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard
Published by: HarperTeen on February 7th, 2017
Series: Red Queen Book 3
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.
(Not true. I do have words. I’m writing a review.) How can one sum up the all around awesomeness that was King’s Cage? There was a point where I wondered if I would ever make it to this point. I read Red Queen back in June, and I liked it, probably more than I would have had I read it now. Glass Sword was then placed on my TBR for many, many months, but I never really felt the urgent need to get around to it. I found the “major plot twist” at the end of Red Queen to be quite predictable, and I didn’t really care about Maven anyway (WOW I’VE CHANGED), so I was in no rush to pick up the next book. This week, I finally decided to give it a try, although I was nervous, because I had seen a lot of negative reviews going around. And I am so excited that I did.
Glass Sword is the kind of novel in a series that isn’t really anyone’s favorite, but needed to be done. You write a book like Glass Sword so you can write a book like King’s Cage. And wow, what a book it was. I finished it last night, and I’m still reeling.
King’s Cage takes place right after the events of Glass Sword, and Mare has kneeled for Maven, the Silver king who we’re all meant to hate but not so secretly love. Although I wouldn’t say that ‘meant to hate’ is the best choice of words, because despite his deep flaws and all around villanous nature, it’s hard not to love Maven. Or maybe that’s just me, because I have always been a major villain lover. And Maven is definitely a villain.
Throughout the first 300 pages or so, Mare is kept as Maven’s prisoner, although she is pampered with a pretty room and even prettier clothes. He is trying to win her over, even though we all know that you can’t win a girl over by force. Maven forces her to condemn the Scarlet Guard in public, and she goes on to pose as an ally, a symbol of Reds and Silvers coming together.
what makes a monster?
This question is asked multiple times in the novel. In Glass Sword, we saw Mare struggle to go from innocent to a monster, and in King’s Cage, we see that Maven isn’t a monster, not really. He’s a boy king who has been molded and manipulated by his mother his entire life. The only thing he ever had that wasn’t a product of her doing was his love for Mare, and I think that’s why he wanted to keep her so close to him.
“You ask how much of it was me,” he whispers. “Some. Enough.”
Queen Elara was the main force behind Maven’s actions in Glass Sword, but he still admits that some of it was him. And I think that’s why I love the characters in these books so much. They don’t fall under a specific label. Mare is not your typical heroine, nor is Maven your villain. They are deeply flawed characters, with wants that are not necessarily good or bad. Victoria Aveyard is a master of character development, and I was watching in awe as I read on.
cal, cameron, evangeline, and representation.
In this book, we got something that we didn’t get before, and that was multiple perspectives. We got to hear from Cameron and Evangeline, and with that, we got to learn more about them. My favorite chapters were Mare’s, of course, but Evangeline was a close second. Once again, we found out that she is not the stereotypical scorned mean girl archetype we see so often in YA novels. Evangeline is so much more than that. We see that she is also a manipulated product of her parents, she cares deeply for her brother Ptolemus (who I will always hate because he killed Shade)–and that the person she loves is not Maven, but Elane. I was SO, SO happy to see Evangeline as a lesbian, because it added so much more to the story, and explained so much about her character and how she will do anything to protect the people she loves. And speaking of LGBT representation, we also found out that Maven is bisexual!!!!!!! I don’t think I have ever read a book with a bisexual main character, especially not a male character. I also really like how the fact that Evangeline was gay didn’t stir up any controversy within her family. Her parents, however manipulative they may be, had no problem with who their daughter was, and completely supported Evangeline and Elane, as they should.
I’m not going to say much about Cameron, because while I do really enjoy her as a character, I would have much rather had chapters in the perspective of Farley or Maven. I really, really hope that we get Maven centric chapters in the next book, since it is the final one in the series, and I am still hoping for some redemption.
Then there’s Cal. The “good” guy, Mare’s faithful prince who came and saved the day. I know that Cal means well. But that doesn’t stop me from disliking him. Victoria Aveyard hinted at it a little in this book, how he was treating Mare like she was a fragile doll, almost patronizing her. For a while, I was really scared that this was it, Mare and Cal were going to end up together, but with that ending, I’m pretty sure the ship is done. (Thank God.) I didn’t see it coming, but at the same time, I did. Cal was always going to choose his crown over Mare, no matter how much he claimed to love her. But I am still choosing to believe that Maven clearly loves Mare more than his crown, and hopefully that will be enough in the next book, and they will end up together.
“I thought I knew what heartbreak was. I thought that was what Maven did to me. When he stood and left me kneeling. When he told me everything I ever thought him to be was a lie. But then, I believed I loved him.
I know now, I didn’t know what love was. Or what even the echo of heartbreak felt like.
To stand in front of a person who is your whole world and be told you are not enough. You are not the choice. You are a shadow to the person who is your sun.”
what comes next?
So, the war is still happening. I realize I barely talked about the war in this review, but that’s because it kind of took a step back in this book, and to be honest, I prefer that. Don’t get me wrong, Victoria Aveyard can write action scenes like nobody’s business, but I feel like Glass Sword was almost too centered on the war. (And also Mare pitying herself way too damn much. I didn’t like Mare very much in the first two books, but I love her now.) King’s Cage had everything mixed in perfectly: politics, war, family, romance, but the prime focus was clearly character development, more specifically Mare and Maven (and Evangeline!!), and that’s the way I like it.
“Long live Tiberius the seventh.”
Cal is the king!!!!! Mare and Cal are OVER!!! What will happen next? Who’s side is he on? Clearly not the Scarlet Guard’s, since they have been labeled as a terrorist group by the crown. Where does this leave Maven? Will he join Mare? Will he find her? WILL THEY END UP TOGETHER? (Please, Victoria Aveyard, let them end up together.) Where do the newbloods come from? Why are Silvers suddenly cursed, not gifted? What’s going to happen to Evangeline? (Please, Victoria Aveyard, bring her back to Elane. Give her the peace she needs, and let her be her own person, not some king’s puppet.) I feel like Farley is going to die. I really, really hope she doesn’t die.
I’m starting to think that this is it for Maven and Mare, that my ship has sank. This doesn’t feel like Warner and Juliette in Shatter Me, or even Alina and the Darkling in the Grisha. But then again, I could be mistaken. (Please, Victoria Aveyard, let me be mistaken!) I really, really hope that they end up together, but if they don’t, Mare shouldn’t be with anyone. Not Cal, not Kilorn (lol, I forgot they used to be a thing), not anyone. She is strong and fierce, and she will not be anyone’s prisoner or puppet.
All in all, King’s Cage was an amazing read, and I highly recommend it to everyone. If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought in the comments, because I love hearing from you all! I’ll be back with a new blog post shortly, and I’ll see you guys soon!
PS: Victoria Aveyard included the now famous Hillary Clinton quote in her dedication in the beginning (you know, “never doubt that you are valuable and powerful, etc”) and now I love her even more than I did before.