King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #3)

King’s Cage is book three in the epic Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. Last week, I published my summary and review of the second book. So if you haven’t read that one yet, be sure to check it out before diving into the third book.

Here’s a list of the books, in order:

King’s Cage summary (spoilers!)

King’s Cage begins with Mare Barrow as King Maven’s prisoner. She’s essentially his personal pet. Her abilities are suppressed by Silent Stone, the one element capable of rendering a Silver or newblood’s power useless. Long exposure to Silent Stone makes Mare lethargic, sickly, and without the opportunity to exercise her power, it’s essentially like she’s being tortured all day, every day. A constant state of cruel mental duress.

Wake up. Immediately regret it. Receive breakfast. Lose appetite. Have food taken away. Immediately regret it. Throw water. Immediately regret it. Strip bed linens. Maybe rip up the sheets, sometimes while shouting. Immediately regret it. Attempt to read a book. Stare out window. Stare out window. Stare out window. Receive lunch. Repeat. I’m a very busy girl.

King’s Cage

The death of her brother Shade is still very much fresh in her mind, and this becomes another form of torture for her. Following her capture, the story is spun that Mare is the leader of the Scarlet Guard. Many believe the lie, though there are some in Maven’s court who doubt the narrative, doubt him. Maven is a terrifying king, even without his whisper mother Elara alive, and this forms cracks in his court as other Silver families seek to overthrow him and get his brother Cal on the throne.

Does Maven love Mare?

Maven’s relationship with Mare is a complex one. So it’s difficult to know whether he truly loves her. As his prisoner, she’s fed and clothed and given clean bed linens and regular showers, books, but the Silver court’s patience with her soft treatment eventually runs out. Maven reluctantly allows a particularly nasty whisper to crawl around inside her head to gather any intelligence of the Scarlet Guard, and the Silver makes her relive Shade’s death over and over again to the point of collapse.

Maven stays by her side while she’s in recovery. This confuses Mare because she doesn’t understand if Maven loves her or is even capable of caring for another person. But he starts to use her to lure newbloods to his court—and it works, her anger and disgust growing for him.

They spend more and more time together, and he tells Mare about his best friend and first love, Thomas, who died tragically by his hand. She learns about all the sick manipulations and whisper influence his mother had done to him since he was little. Elara made Maven what he is today, and that is why I think of Maven as a tragic villain. He is the product of an evil mother obsessed with the crown, and he never had the chance to live otherwise.

What about Kilorn, Farley, and Cal?

While Mare endures Maven, the Scarlet Guard is mobilizing their troops, planning their next stand against Maven. Cal—going crazy in Mare’s absence—goes rogue and dispatches a Silver who pretends to be a newblood seeking refuge in Maven’s court.

But one of the newbloods discovers Cal’s plant. She ends up having to kill herself to protect the secrets of the Scarlet Guard and Cal. Her only choices were to commit suicide or be cracked open like an egg by Samos and give up valuable information. Her death is brutal, but it gives Mare a sense of hope that she hasn’t been forgotten by Cal and the others.

Later in the book, the Silver families still loyal to Cal attempt to assassinate Maven at his ball. He is shot but immediately tended to by a healer. Many of the families escape, but Maven becomes distrustful of all—shutting everyone out except for Mare. He continues his schemes, eventually striking an alliance with the Lakelanders, who Norta has been at war with for over a century. The alliance is a marriage between him and Princess Iris.

On their wedding day, Cal and the Scarlet Guard crash the ceremony and rescue Mare. After spending months as Maven’s prisoner with zero access to her lightning abilities, Cal and the others must be patient as Mare reacclimatizes to freedom and her friends and family.

How does King’s Cage end?

An epic battle ensues at Corvium, where Mare and the others fight Maven’s legion in a torrential downpour which turns the battle scene into a giant mud pit. The good guys are on their last legs when their allies the Rift finally appear, definitively crushing the Nortan and Lakeland armies and sending them home.

The death toll is high. It includes the Lakeland king (Iris’s father). And after all of this, Cal—at his grandmother’s urging—accepts the throne, breaking Mare’s heart. The Scarlet Guard doesn’t want another Silver king, Mare wanted Cal to choose her, and even Evangeline is upset because now she has to marry Cal instead of being with her lover, Elane.

Book review: King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen series #3)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Like the earlier books in this series, I rated King’s Cage 5 stars on Goodreads. Lots of big events take place in book three, and I can’t help but feel curious as to how the series will end.

In Glass Sword, we didn’t get to spend a lot of time watching the Mare and Maven dynamic play out, but we do get to see a lot of that in King’s Cage. Though Maven is the villain, this third book provided some backstory and depth to his character that only strengthened how I feel about him, and how badly I want him to find redemption. I honestly don’t know how this series will end.

Maven’s new marriage to Iris while being obsessed with Mare, Cal’s stubborn sense of duty to his grandmother and the crown, Mare’s mission to free Reds and newbloods from oppressive Silver monarchs alongside the Scarlet Guard. Everyone wants something completely different. The question is how this will all shake loose in War Storm.

Judging by the title, it will involve lots of bloodshed on all fronts. And I can’t wait to see how the series wraps up.

Chapter 13 in Victoria Aveyard's King's Cage, written from Mare's perspective.

Like my previous posts, I’ve highlighted a few quotes that drew my attention while reading King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard. Most of them illustrate the conflict between Maven and Mare. I just hope Maven gets a happy ending. Well, as happy an ending as possible given everything he’s done—and everything that’s been done to him. Enjoy.

King’s Cage quotes

  • Deep down he knew, like we all did, that something much worse than death waited for Mare Barrow.
  • You stare so much I wonder if you can read reflections in my eyes.
  • His kiss burns worse than his brand.
  • He caught me back then, ensnaring me in a prince’s trap. Now I’m in a king’s cage. But so is he. My chains are Silent Stone. His is the crown.
  • I still remember every heartbeat we shared. The feel of him pressed up against me as we slept, alone together, trading nightmares. His hand at my neck, flesh on flesh, making me look at him as we dropped from the sky. What he smells like. What he tastes like. I love your brother, Maven. You were right. You are only a shadow, and who looks at shadows when they have flame? Who would ever choose a monster over a god?
  • Those who know what it’s like in the dark will do anything to stay in the light.

Have you read King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard? Comment below your thoughts, and we can talk about it.

Next week, I review the fourth and final novel in the Red Queen series: War Storm. See you then.

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