Review: King’s Cage (#3) by Victoria Aveyard

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven continues weaving his web in an attempt to maintain control over his country – and his prisoner. As Mare remains trapped in the palace, the remnants of the Red Rebellion continue organizing and expanding. As they prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows, Cal – the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart – will stop at nothing to bring her back. In this breathless new novel from the bestselling author of the RED QUEEN series, blood will turn on blood and allegiances will be tested on every side. If the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

I’m so happy to say that we have passed the 2nd book mark and this series has definitely picked up again. We join this book immediately after Glass Sword, where Mare is trapped back in the palace she knows well as Maven’s prisoner. I felt like this part could have been slow and boring, but I actually quite enjoyed it. It gave way to character development and I liked having the opportunity to get to know Mare and her pain felt tangible.

Where the previous two books felt like a build up, this one is the start of the game. And the game is a political chessboard of kings and queens. I love how political this book is getting with the houses and the royalty – but it still comes across as quite accessible for readers who might not be used to political fantasy (*cough* me *cough*).

Now I’m in a king’s cage. But so is he. 

I also really love these characters. All of the characters in this book have so many layers. I have been shocked so many times by their decisions. Nobody is good or evil, everyone has times where they are either one or the other, which I loved. It makes the characters feel so real and have a lot of depth, and also kept me on my toes as a reader. I could never predict how anybody would act, because everything could so easily go so many different ways, which I kind of love.

I was also shocked to find we have more points of view in this book, including Evangaline. We have Cameron’s chapters interspersed throughout, which gave much needed insight to what was happening with the Scarlet Guard while Mare was entrapped in Maven’s palace. Then, later in the book, there are a few chapters from Evangaline’s point of view. I was hesitant throughout about these chapters, but I feel like they did add a lot to the story and I actually found it easy to sympathise with the other characters shown in these POV.

My chains are Silent Stone. His is the crown.

Overall, I did enjoy this one more than Glass Sword and feel like the story has developed in pace and character. I love the banter between the friends in the Scarlet Guard and Mare’s family, who I like more which each book. I’m looking forward to diving into War Storm very soon!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Glass Sword (#2) by Victoria Aveyard

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Goodreads | Waterstones

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different. Mare’s blood is red – the colour of common folk – but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court wants to control.
Pursued by the vengeful Silver king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join the rebellion. But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.
Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

I decided to carry on with this series straight away, and also read Glass Sword in audio format. As I’m not driving much at the moment, I’m only listening to audiobooks when I run, walk and occasionally do venture out in my car. However, I’m still challenging myself to read an audiobook per month, and I’m also trying to gradually make my way through this series! I just about managed to read the whole of Glass Sword in February, although these books keep getting longer, so I only hope I can do the same for King’s Cage in March.

The main thing I took away from this book was that it felt so slow. I’m not sure if it’s just the fact I read it over a longer period of time, but I just don’t feel like much happened. Red Queen was packed with action compared to this one, and Mare’s situation was constantly changing. However, with Glass Sword, I felt like most of the plot could be summarised very quickly and in very few sentences.

No one is born evil, just like no one is born alone. 

The slower plot did allow for more character development, however, which I enjoyed and felt was needed after Red Queen. Although I felt like I knew Mare quite well in the first book, I just didn’t know enough about the side characters to invest in them. But in Glass Sword, we definitely get to spend more time around everybody, which I really enjoyed. The only thing I have to point out is boy, does Mare get annoying in places. Especially towards the end, she is so full of self pity. I could always see where she was coming from and sympathised with her, but it did feel repetitive to read about in places.

Even though the plot was a little slow, we did have a few action packed scenes which were amazingly written, especially towards the end. Aveyard also knows how to write a harrowing scene, which left me feeling empty and hollow in places. The only slight disappointment I had was guessing the ending purely because of the name of the third book in the series…

It is worth pointing out that the plot of Glass Sword allows for a lot more exploration of the world, which I found myself really enjoying.

 They become that way, through choice and circumstance.

Overall, there was a lot to like about this book, but it had a little bit of sequel/second book syndrome for me. But hopefully that means King’s Cage is going to pick up once more and be more on par with Red Queen! I may also start reading these partly in physical format to see if that makes me feel any differently about the last two in the series.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Red Queen (#1) by Victoria Aveyard

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Goodreads | Waterstones

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.
The poverty-stricken Reds are commoners, living in the shadow of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from the Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Then Mare finds herself working at the Silver palace, in the midst of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control. 

I hardly ever re-read books, but this one I knew I needed to. I read this book the first time when only this one was out, and it’s taken me a while to gather copies of the rest of the series. Now I finally own all of them, I decided to re-read the first one almost five years later. I read this (mostly) on audiobook as a test of whether I could run and listen to an audiobook at the same time, and I really enjoyed re-reading it!

I interestingly feel similarly to how I did the first time I read this book, and I quickly found I couldn’t remember much about it at all. I’m glad I couldn’t, because it gave me such an element of surprise all over again. Plot twists come out of nowhere in this book and I was constantly being surprised by them. Red Queen is very intense and has an interesting premise of a world split between ‘Reds’ (the poorer people, who do not have powers) and ‘Silvers’ (the people who hold the power, rich, have special powers). Mare Barrow, our protagonist is, somehow, a Red with special powers.

I see a world on the edge of a blade. 

I really liked the concept of Red Queen. It is an elaborate game of power, of courts, of royalty. Of those with power and those forced to be a slave to them. It is a story of betrayal and family. It is intense without being daunting or overwhelming, a fantasy that is relatable and easy to read. The premise provides opportunities for some interesting and deep discussions of class divide, and I really liked how they were interwoven throughout this story. The writing was still beautiful the second time around, and I found myself able to picture the world clearly. The world-building was detailed, and allowed me to be drawn into the story and life in the palace.

As with the first time I read this book, the characters let it down for me. I find Mare makes for a good protagonist and I enjoyed reading her story and felt sympathetic towards her and her family. But again, I struggled to understand the love triangle, as the characters just felt kind of distant. I just didn’t feel close to either of the Prince’s, and I found myself rolling my eyes a little at the mention of Mare being attracted towards either of them.

Without balance, it will fall.

I’m looking forward to finally carrying on with this series and hopefully finding out more about the characters introduced to us in Red Queen. I can’t wait to see where this goes, and I feel like this story could just be the beginning…

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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