King's Cage: Red Queen, Book 3

Book review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
King's Cage: Red Queen, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Author returns to form with nail-biting third installment.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational value

Readers will learn about genre fantasy stories that deal with uprisings and revolutions and especially about "chosen one" stories where one character is destined to lead the people to victory.

Positive messages

Strong messages about staying true to promises, asking for help, being your true self, and acknowledging that life is too short to deny yourself true love. It's important to overthrow tyranny, which may involve breaking immoral laws.

Positive role models & representations

Although imprisoned for most of the book, Mare is still courageous, even under torture, and more confident than ever in her abilities and what she must do with them. Cal becomes more secure in his role to overthrow fellow Silvers and to stand by Mare's side. Kilorn, no longer just the pathetic third in a love triangle, rises to the occasion and becomes indispensable to the cause. Cameron learns how to wield her power on her own terms. Evangeline proves more complicated than she's been portrayed in previous installments.

Violence

All of the Silver and Newblood characters have special powers that help them in battle and cause death, injury, or destruction -- such as manipulating lightning, storms, fire, water, and the like. People are killed from explosions, gunshots, and electrocution and even from telepathic coercion and torture. Mare is tortured and her mind/memories invaded. Mare and Cal are forced to hurt each other. The overall body count is high, but only a couple of characters central to the story die.

Sex

A young woman has a lover who isn't her betrothed husband. She recalls seeing her lover's naked body in the moonlight. A young king conducts a conversation while in the bath. The king forcibly kisses someone who can't consent because she's a prisoner. A woman has a baby conceived in a previous book, and others speculate about the hidden romance that led to the baby. A couple restarts their romance, starting with kisses and moving on to a sexual relationship. The love scenes are mostly off the page, but it's obvious and unambiguous that the characters are having a sexual relationship. Although it's unprotected at first, she takes a pill that's clearly meant as birth control after the fact.

Language

Insults and strong language include "bitch," "freak," "weakling," "coward," "liar," "s--t."

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Royals drink at events.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that King's Cage is the third installment in Victoria Aveyard's best-selling Red Queen fantasy series. Fans of the fantasy series will know to expect scenes of supernatural and traditional combat violence (the Silvers and Newbloods all possess special powers, while the Reds use weapons), which include battle sequences where some characters control weather, others electricity, and others fire, and some simply use guns, swords, and more. There's a great deal of personal violence in this book, but the action violence is contained mostly in the last quarter of the story. The romance ramps up in this sequel, with one love story resulting in a sexual relationship, but the author keeps the passages teen-reader-appropriate. This continues to be a "chosen one" story, in which the lead character is destined to overthrow the status quo, but there's at least one more book left in the series.

User Reviews

Educator and Parent Written byStacey M. April 18, 2017

Disgusted

Loved the first 2 books in the Red Queen series. King's Cage introduces lesbian content and overt sexual scenes that are not appropriate for any age. The s...
Adult Written byStudiousStudent August 29, 2017

I Couldn't Read it Anymore...

I read the first two books in the Red Queen series, which were alright, but don't even bother to read this one. It's full of language, sex, and other...
Teen, 15 years old Written byrose_10 February 26, 2017

Still good but not as good as the others:

I'm not sure if it is just me, but I feel like this book was more violent. While Red Queen and Glass sword are fine for younger teens, I feel like this one...
Teen, 14 years old Written byjulie2003 March 29, 2017

Best one by far

While I found Glass Sword to be slow and hard to keep up with, this book had me reading as quickly as I could. Mare's character has definitely improved, sh...

What's the story?

KING'S CAGE is Victoria Aveyard's third book in the best-selling Red Queen series following Red-born Mare Barrow, who has even greater powers than those born with Silver blood, and the king's cage is the symbol of a revolution to overthrow the oppressive Silver rulers. Starting shortly after Glass Sword ends, Mare is in King Maven's custody, having exchanged her freedom for the safety of Silver-blooded Prince Cal, the Scarlet Guard, and the Newbloods she had rounded up to fight Maven. Back at the palace, Maven has Mare interrogated by his Silver cousin who can manipulate and search her mind -- but he also dolls her up to show off like a pretty puppet. Maven forces her to make statements renouncing the Scarlet Guard and asking Newbloods to come out of hiding and serve the new King. Meanwhile, Cal, Farley, Kilorn, and Cameron try to simultaneously plan the resistance without Mare and find a way to save her from Maven.

Is it any good?

After Aveyard's disappointing second book, this installment is just what Red Queen fans need: genuine growth and character development, more romance, and more end game in sight for Mare Barrow. Even skeptics who put the series down after the lackluster Glass Sword should consider resuming it now that the author has once again found her groove, and her main character is no longer as excruciating to follow. Although the bulk of the book has Mare imprisoned in the Silver Palace, it's not just all about her. Aveyard manages to couple Mare's self-reflection with glimpses of villains who are far more complex than they originally seemed. Maven was twisted and molded by his now-dead mother, whose powers allowed her to take away and insert thoughts and feelings at her will. Evangeline is revealed to be far more ambitious (and far less interested in being any man's Queen) and even slightly in awe of Mare. And then there's Cal, who still struggles with Hamlet levels of indecision with the one exception of his overpowering feelings for Mare.

At more than 500 pages, it's unsurprising that the pacing is uneven: Some parts fly by, and others feel overlong. The introduction of Newblood Cameron as a narrator has potential, but so far it hasn't been seamless; her chapters are noticeably less compelling than the other points of view. She is, however, an interesting counterpoint to Mare, and she injects some diversity (beyond the blood colors) to the story. The women in this installment (Mare, Cameron, Farley, Evangeline, and even a brief cameo by Cal's grandmother, who's reminiscent of the clever but elderly matriarch Olenna Tyrell from Game of Thrones) outshine the men. Given that the book starts with a quote from Hillary Rodham Clinton, that's clearly on purpose, and discerning readers can see how girls will eventually rule in this world.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of fantasy-dystopian novels that take place in totalitarian or caste-based societies. Why are these stories so compelling to readers? How does King's Cage compare with similar titles?

  • Who, if anyone, is a role model in this installment? What makes that person an example of courage, teamwork, and other such qualities?

  • What do you think of the romance? Are you a believer in the central "ship," or do you think they still face formidable odds they must overcome?

  • Do you think there should be only one more book in the series, or would you be up for even more than that?

Book details

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