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.
Warnings: torture, violence, war
King’s Cage starts off close to the ending of Glass Sword – with Mare as Maven’s personal prisoner and having to live under Silent Stone at his palace. Initially, Mare questions why Maven has kept her alive and not executed her, but soon we get to know the depth of the plans Maven has in which to use her to discredit the claims of the Scarlet Guard. Meanwhile, through Cameron’s POV, we see the Scarlet Guard and its allies preparing for a war against Maven’s reign, and through Evangeline’s POV, we see the nobility’s attempts to undermine Maven’s rule.
The first half of the book is slow to develop but provides a solid characterization of Maven through Mare’s eyes. She searches for hints of the old Maven in him, while trying to figure out what parts of the current him were a result of his mother. Not that she has any feelings for him, but she wants to understand him so as to form a plan to defeat him. Maven, for his part, doesn’t want to let her go despite claiming to love her, and his feelings are what she uses to alienate him from his court, while he also uses her insecurities to tear down her relationship with Cal. All this happening, while the plot is building up for the war to come in the second half, being waged by Maven’s court and the army and houses he has left loyal to him, against The Scarlet Guard and support from their Silver and newblood allies. It is a tough war, and Cal is still pretty much indecisive; despite helping the Scarlet Guard’s efforts, he still feels guilty for taking down Silvers. Other machinations happening within the nobles provide a base for the Red revolution to someday gain their rights, but looks like that particular aspect of the fight will take place in the next book.
This book somewhat redeemed the series in my eyes after the boring Glass Sword plot – it was emotional, character-driven but did not entirely sacrifice pace and plot for it. Maven’s development was amazing to read through, and not just because he is my favourite (he is such a fascinating character, even if I hope Mare gets to smash his face in) but because he is a beautifully rendered complicated character that is not romanticized or excused but understood. The second half was a lot of war, and I felt it dragged too long to describe these lengthy battles (who would’ve thought the action parts will be slow?) from Mare’s and Cameron’s view. Their relationship also significantly improves, as Mare changes her attitude and Cameron gains some understanding (and her brother). Shade’s loss hangs like a spectre between Mare and Farley, but the latter shines in other parts. As for the new POV, Cameron regularly dragging Cal is what I lived for, as well as her being snarky over Mare being heart-eyes over him. Evangeline’s POV – a Silver’s POV – gives a first-hand understanding of Silver families and how she has felt like a piece that her father uses for political power, and the sense of betrayal she feels towards the end. I don’t like her much (she still is very much against Red equality) but I feel a little more towards her character.
Overall, it is an impactful book that lives up to be a sequel of the Red Queen.