Gilded Cage by Vic James

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Gilded Cage by Vic James

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Olivia Tierney
Reviewed by Olivia Tierney
Summary: With an intriguing concept and great world building, Gilded Cage is a good book filled with political manoeuvrings. Unfortunately, it suffers from a plot which feels rushed at times while slow at other points
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: January 2017
Publisher: Pan
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1509821457

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There aren't any winners in our game - not until it ends. And the opponent never changes.

In 1642, following the Equals Revolution in Britain, Slavedays Compact was written into law. Ever since then those without skill have been required to complete 10 years of slavery to achieve full citizenship. The slave decade can commence whenever the commoner chooses, with full citizenship offering better jobs, chance to travel abroad and better opportunities overall. It is for this reason that the Hadley family, including three teens: Abi, Luke and Daisy, decide to begin their slavedays. Seeming to escape the brutality of the Millmoor slave town, the family prepare to travel to Kyneston, the Jardine family's estate. However on the first day of their slave decade they are split up and Luke is forced to journey to Millmoor, the worst slave town in the country, alone. But Kyneston, home to Britain's most powerful skilled aristocratic family and the heart of British politics is just as dangerous.

The novel follows how the Hadleys adapt to slavery and their character development as a result, in particular that of Abi and Luke. Vic James also narrates the story of the three Jardine brothers: Gavar the brutal hotheaded heir, Jenner who is unusually skillless and Silyen the youngest who is strangest, most powerful younger brother. But, the world of the elite is calculating and brutal with the brothers and other key members of the aristocracy working towards their own ends in their thirst for power.

The best thing about Vic James’ book is the world building followed closely by the two main characters. Gilded Cage is unlike other dystopian novels with a rich aristocratic history mirroring that of British history between the 1200’s and present day. It's an interesting twist and the tales of the rise of the Skilled, key individuals who remade the world with magic and the most powerful aristocratic family are all fascinating.

Out of the two main characters, Luke was without a doubt my favourite and I really enjoyed reading his narration. Trapped in an awful slave town all by himself, he's forced to grow up. His character development is great as he starts to stand up for what he believes in as well as those around him. His arc was different from the others and in my opinion the most interesting despite the rushed end to his story in the novel.

The varying narration of the book was also a good feature of the book and had some insight into the supporting characters thoughts and feelings (although I would have liked more chapters by these side characters to get to know them better and see the world through their eyes).

With such a great concept and idea it's a shame it didn't live up to my expectations. A lot of the events happening towards the conclusion of the novel felt rushed and the lack of build up to these events was disappointing because I wasn't as emotionally invested in the story as I could have been. It's another shame that there was little insight into the side characters and as a consequence I had great difficulty in relating to them as I wasn't emotionally invested in their story so I wasn't eager to read on during parts of their chapters.

I did really enjoy the politics in the novel with all the schemes and those at the top playing off each other to enact their well thought out plans which were left amystery to the reader. However again I don't think there was enough planning put into action and I was disheartened when those trying to revel against the system seemed to make poor decisions (especially on at the very end) just to add another dynamic to the story.

A good book, the world is fantastic and promising and may improve with the rest of the series.

Many thanks to the publishers for a copy to review!

In term of further reading if you haven't read The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness yet it's a must. A brilliant novel, it's very original and deserves to be on any young adult and dystopian fans' book shelf.

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