Gilded Cage

Gilded Cage

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
5
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Britain's magically skilled aristocracy compels all commoners to serve them for ten years and now it's the Hadleys' turn. Abi Hadley is assigned to England's most ruthless noble family. The secrets she uncovers could win her freedom or break her heart. Her brother Luke is enslaved in a brutal factory town, where new friends' ideals might cost him everything. Then while the elite vie for power, a young aristocrat plots to remake the world with his dark gifts. As Britain moves from anger to defiance, all three must take sides. And the consequences of their choices will change everything, forever.
Publisher: London :, Pan Books,, 2017.
Branch Call Number: FANTASY
Characteristics: viii, 407 pages ;,20 cm.

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From Library Staff

A new fantasy dystopia series set in a world where the Equals rule everything and all commoners must serve them for ten years of their lives. Enforced servitude, cruel oppression, forbidden love and rebellion. The first in the Dark Gifts trilogy.


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yesucan
Sep 01, 2017

I found the whole premise taking me to another world, where anything is possible. I am intrigued and looking forward to the next book. I truly enjoyed every page. I liked that the chapters were title so that you are aware of the developing plot. So want to know what Silyen is up to, and why Gavar vacillates from being vicious to being weak. This read was a lot of fun and fired my imagination.

Beatricksy Jul 15, 2017

A compelling topic muddled by a strangely convoluted political tale that doesn't make much sense. An interesting romp, but with characters that read flat. It's fun and light, but the pacing is all over the place, going from lighting pace to dragging through mud, and the slavery topic is just handled awkwardly. Good cliffhanger ending for a series, but all in all I walk away feeling kinda bland. Not bored or irritated, and certainly not super impressed, just...bland. Like lukewarm water.

s
SandraLH
Apr 10, 2017

I found it bothersome that the author didn't establish the year in which the story takes place in an alternate reality London. Storyline and character development weak in the first several chapters. Closer to the end, it became more clever. However, the way some elements of modern day are brought up and mixed in with historical events left me feeling confused. The parents allowing their teen daughter to guide the major life changing decision for the whole family was not believable. Abi's character was very Pollyanna-ish. One of the aristocrats permitting an unknown 10 - year old slave girl to nanny his precious infant daughter was not believable. Found the parts of the story focusing on Luke and the Skilled Silyen the most interesting and intiguing.

l
lisaonthegoco
Mar 16, 2017

Another slice of an alternate reality, i.e. Magic used in society. Not as wonderful as my all time favorite "Lord Valentine's Castle" by Robert Silverburg but a satisfying time...except for
...and then what happened? It ends and you want to know what happened next. Hopefully, not a long wait for the next in what may be a trilogy. This has a privileged versus no privilege society flavor also.

h
HarkiQuinn
Feb 10, 2017

A beautiful dark story that imagines a universe where the magical rule all, but it misses all human connection.

Plot: James welcomes us to a world much like our own, except there is a mandatory slave period for all non-magical people. Abi and her family decide to take their 10-year slave period right after the youngest has turned ten. Of course Abi has done her research and made it so that her entire family will remain together and have a rather light sentence. This all changes when Luke, her brother, is sent to a factory town to work 10 years of hard labor. With betrayals and behind the scene politics, it's clear that not everything is what it seems.

Despite how seductive that premise sounds, I felt that Gilded Cage was missing something. I was sucked in by the idea of a mandatory slavery sentence and the hierarchy of the world. However, with all of the different perspectives that this novel cycles through, it's hard to keep track of any action or poignant scenes. This is another one of those books that never has a sense of urgency, even though the topics covered include slavery, rebellion, and political ambition. With such themes I had hoped for a lot more deep dialogue or acts of violence. Yes, there were some pretty violent deaths but nothing graphic - just the mention of someone being shot and blood spraying. There were not emotions attached to these deaths. I can admit that this novel was anything but predictable. It hits the critical scenes that you would expect, but there always an added bonus that kept you guesses about someone's alliances, motivations, or history.

Characters: Gilded Cage follows the lives of Abi and Luke's family along with the mysterious Equals. There are about six or seven perspectives that James rotates through, and it was hard to keep track of everyone. There were a lot of different settings but not enough distinctive voices to understand the characters. Time flies quickly in this novel and there wasn't any development with any of the characters. The most interesting character was the youngest, Daisy, but I didn't find her interesting for a good reason. Daisy has an odd relationship with the oldest Equal. Seriously, this relationship between a 10-year old and a 20-year old was odd and a bit concerning.

There were also a lot of background romances that were never really acknowledged so they felt unnecessary. You would think that the love between a commoner and an aristocrat would be sexy and romantic but it was just....there (and boring).

Worldbuilding: I was sucked into this world immediately despite not knowing what it was. Was it historical fantasy? Was it modern? Gilded Cage somehow worked as a contemporary magical world and the premise was exciting. I could easily imagine the posh lifestyle of the aristocrats and the smokestacks of Millmoor. One thing that I really enjoyed about this book was how the author incorporated real world events into the world of the magical. The American Revolution? Battle between the commoners and Equals. The French Revolution? Same. It was very creative and helped solidify this alternate universe Britain.

Short N Sweet: Gilded Cage has a fantastic premise but lacks a steady stream of action and character connection.

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