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“Now I’m in a king’s cage. But so is he. My chains are Silent Stone. His is the crown,” Mare. —King’s Cage
Red Queen #3
by Victoria Aveyard
AR Test, LGBTQ, Strong Female Character
After completing her mission to secure an army of newbloods, Mare Barrow finds herself once again trapped in the royal palace of Norta. She’s become King Maven’s pet, forced to play a dangerous role at his side. Her forced words carry weight with the Reds, and create schisms in the Scarlet Guard and Norta as a whole.
Without Mare, the Guard has trouble accepting both the newbloods and Silvers into their ranks. Cameron Cole, a newblood herself, knows exactly what it’s like to be ostracized for her ability. After seeing Mare struggle to control her ability, Cameron fears becoming like her; yet, she’s not alone in the struggle. Farley, a new commander of the Scarlet Guard, continues to fight after losing her lover, Shade. Kilorn, Mare’s best friend, must decide whether to continue fighting or focus on protecting Mare’s family. Cal must figure out what side he will choose. Will he be able to continue to kill his Silver comrades, or will he betray the Scarlet Guard?
But just as loyalties are tested in the Scarlet Guard, so are they in Maven’s court. Evangeline Samos, now betrothed to Maven as the future queen of Norta, wants nothing more than to rule. When noble houses begin to betray Maven left and right, navigating the palace becomes more complicated. Will Evangeline get to rule Norta? Will Cameron and the Scarlet Guard prove too much for the Silvers to handle? Will Mare be able to change Maven for the better and abolish the monarchy?
As the third installment of the Red Queen Series, King’s Cage is an excellent continuation of the story because Mare is back in the thick of political intrigue. She’s right there to see the complicated and unique relationships between the Silvers, allowing the reader to see both sides of the power struggle.
The plot is a roller-coaster of twists and suspense, leading Mare, Cameron, and Evangeline through many life-changing and life-threatening moments. The three main heroines are fascinating to follow because each one is constantly on the edge of danger. For instance, Mare has gotten over her selfish and arrogant nature, but now struggles to stay at Maven’s side. Mare is forced to pretend that she betrayed the Scarlet Guard, yet she manages to stay sane enough to secretly gather intel. Cameron struggles with the fear of turning into a monster. And Evangeline must find a way to rule over Norta without becoming Maven’s bride.
The theme of betrayal is once again central to the plot, as characters and noble houses backstab each other left and right. The action scenes are the best yet with each heroine battling individually at first, but then all coming together in a big battle at the end. The buildup and suspense work well as Mare’s, Cameron’s, and Evangeline’s stories intertwine. Overall, King’s Cage is a great follow-up to a lackluster sequel. The story will conclude in the final book, War Storm, where readers will find out whether Mare will triumph over King Maven.
- During an argument, Maven kisses Mare. Mare thinks, “His kiss burns worse than his brand.”
- Maven pledges his hand to the Lakeland princess, “From this day until my last day, I pledge myself to you, Iris of House Cygnet, princess of the Lakelands.”
- One morning, Evangeline wakes up to her lover’s kisses. Elane “laughs against my neck, her touch a brush of lips and cold steel.”
- Mare is torn up about her love for Maven. “There are still pieces of me, small pieces, still in love with a fiction. A ghost inside a living boy I cannot fathom.”
- Mare is humiliated by her guards. “Kitten forces me into the scarlet gown, making me strip in front of them all.”
- Mare’s former tutor says, “I watched babies die without seeing the sun.”
- When visiting wounded Silver soldiers, Mare thinks, “Their kind aren’t meant to bleed. Not like this.” The soldiers fought in a battle against the Scarlet Guard.
- In a military transport, Mare attacks Maven. Mare “jumps forward, lunging, hands stretched out to grab him by the collar. Without thinking, I shove, pushing, smashing him back into his seat.” Later, Mare thinks, “I fantasize about cutting his throat and staining Maven’s freshly painted walls with Silver blood.”
- Mare is forced to attend a feast put on by Maven. It ends in an assassination attempt, which kills Maven’s foreign guest, Prince Alexandret. Mare sees, “Prince Alexandret, slumped dead in his seat of honor with a bullet hole between his eyes.” At the same time, Mare sees Maven wounded, “Silver blood bubbles from his neck, gushing through the fingers of the nearest Sentinel, who is trying to keep pressure on a bullet wound.”
- During an attack on the capital, Cal kills Samson. “Fire races down Samson’s throat, charring his insides. His vocal cords shred. The only screaming I hear now is in my head.”
- During a sparring match between Mare and Cal, Cal overwhelms her. Mare gets hit with Cal’s fire, and her “flesh ripples with fresh blisters, and I bite my lip to keep from screaming. Cal would stop the fight if he knew how much this hurt.”
- In a final battle between Maven’s army and the Scarlet Guard, the first casualty is a Red soldier. Mare sees the soldier fall, and then “shouts as he goes over the edge, plunging thirty feet—before sailing skyward, born of a graviton’s concentration. He lands hard on the wall, colliding with a sickening crack.” In the thick of the fight, Farley, a Scarlet Guard commander, kills some Silvers. “Farley peppers them with gunfire, dropping a few Silvers where they stand. Their bodies slide off into darkness.” The battle is described over 20 pages.
- A newblood committed suicide after being outed as a spy. Mare thinks, “I’ve seen suicide pills before. Even though I shut my eyes, I know what happens next.”
- Three of the noble houses of Norta attack Maven. Mare watches as “Laris wind weavers toss Iral silks from one side of the room to the other with sharp gusts, wielding them like living arrows while the Irals fire pistols and throw knives with deadly precision.” A few of Maven’s guards are hurt in the fight.
- When Cameron infiltrated a prison, she used her ability to kill Silvers. Her ability is to snuff out other abilities, as well as other lives. Cameron thinks, “The memory still makes me sick. I felt their hearts stop. I felt their deaths like they were happening to me.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Maven explains that his mother controlled his father. Maven says, “He was a drunk, a heartbroken imbecile, blind to so much, content to keep things as they were. Easy to control, easy to use.”
- While at a party, Mare notices, “Music dances on the air, undercut with the sweet and sickening bite of alcohol as it permeates every inch of the magnificent throne room.”
- During a televised speech, Mare is forced to say the former King and Queen “rightfully knew that a Red with an ability would be considered a freak at best, an abomination at worst, and they hid my identity to keep me safe from prejudices of both Red and Silver.”
- Bastard is used several times. For example, Cameron calls Cal a “Silver Bastard.”
- When thinking of her twin brother, Cameron wonders, “Send him home? To another hellhole?”
- Cameron thinks Mare is a “condescending twit.”
- Ass is used several times. For example, Cameron calls Cal a “veritable pain in the ass.”
- Someone calls Evangeline’s lover a “whore.”
- Samson Merandus, one of Maven’s allies, describes his ability. “As a whisper, my ability allows me to bypass the usual lies and twists of speech that most prisoners rely on.”
- During an infiltration mission into a Silver compound, Cameron takes the newblood, Harrick, along. She sees a pair of guards as Harrick uses his ability to make their “figures ripple slightly, like the surface of disturbed water.” Harrick can create illusions to manipulate people’s senses.
- Cameron’s ability allows her to stop other’s abilities. When Cal confronts her, she notices his flames still “waver before my ability, fighting to breathe, fighting to burn. I could snuff them out if I wanted to.”
- When he gets angry, Cal will let loose his fire. “The gleaming bracelet at Cal’s wrist flickers, birthing sparks that travel along his arm in a quick burst of red flame.”
- Evangeline can manipulate metal. When Mare is about to be shot, Evangeline catches the bullet mid-air. “Her fist clenches and the bullet rockets backward to where it came from, chased on by splinters of cold steel as they explode from her dress.”
- The leader of Montfort, a country far from Norta, can create blue walls out of thin air. He stops Cal and Mare’s sparring match with “another blue wall of something divides the spectators from our spar. With a wave of Davidson’s hand, it blinks out of existence.”
- During the final battle, nymphs on Maven’s side flood a city. Mare watches as “the rain shimmers, dancing on the air, joining together into larger and larger droplets. And the puddles, the inches of water in the streets and alleys—they become rivers.” No one is injured.
by Jonathan Planman