Game of Cages

Having thoroughly enjoyed Child of Fire (Canada, USA, Europe), the first installment in the Twenty Palaces series, I was looking forward to see where Harry Connolly would take the likeable Ray Lilly next.

Much like its predecessor, Game of Cages is another action-packed urban fantasy novel that makes for a fun reading experience.

Here's the blurb:

As a wealthy few gather to bid on a predator capable of destroying all life on earth, the sorcerers of the Twenty Palace Society mobilize to stop them. Caught up in the scramble is Ray Lilly, the lowest of the low in the society—an ex–car thief and the expendable assistant of a powerful sorcerer. Ray possesses exactly one spell to his name, along with a strong left hook. But when he arrives in the small town in the North Cascades where the bidding is to take place, the predator has escaped and the society’s most powerful enemies are desperate to recapture it. All Ray has to do is survive until help arrives. But it may already be too late.

Once again, the action takes place in the state of Washington, in the town of North Cascades. And once more, I feel that Connolly did a wonderful job with his portrayal of small-town concerns and politics.

Game of Cages is another very entertaining read, no question about it. The narrative grabs hold and sucks you in, and you can't wait to discover what happens next. Having said that, the book nevertheless suffers from the same shortcoming which afflicted its predecessor. As the first volume in a new series, it was understandable that Child of Fire would serve as an introduction to what would follow. And yet, Game of Cages was an opportunity for the author to elevate his game and raise the stakes to a certain extent. Unfortunately, as was the case in the opening chapter of this series, Connolly introduces a number of what appears to be fascinating concepts. But other than these brief and tantalizing glimpses, we learn basically nothing about the secretive Twenty Palace Society.

That's getting to be a problem, for I can't see myself reading another tale in which Ray Lilly is left to fend for himself and somehow clean up the mess that was supposed to be handled by the Twenty Palace Society. Hopefully Harry Connolly isn't a one-trick pony. It's one thing to keep your cards close and not reveal your hand, but there is obviously an engrossing history behind the Twenty Palace Society. Yet after reading two novels, I still know nothing about them, nor can I perceive any overall story arc to this series at this point. I have a feeling that the third volume just might make or break the Twenty Palaces sequence.

With a first-person narrative, the characterization focuses on Ray Lilly. Once again, I found it hard not to like this ex-con armed with a single spell. This time he is forced to team up with Catherine, an investigator sent by the Twenty Palace Society. Her character allows us to learn a bit more about how the Twenty Palaces operate, but little more than that. The auction bidders and their entourage also hint at a bigger picture that will hopefully be revealed sooner than later.

Game of Cages is an entertaining blend of urban fantasy, mystery, and action. The pace is crisp, making this one another page-turner. The only missing ingredient would have to be a little more depth to add another dimension to this series. Still, Harry Connolly should appeal to fans of both Jim Butcher and Simon R. Green.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

1 commentaires:

machinery said...

so the hero has 1 trick, and somehow he saves the day, while everyone else, are dumbfounded ?
no thanks.
you know t he tv show eureeka, where the "dumb" sheriff saves the day all the time, and yet the certified geniuses disregard him ?
i don't like that kind of underplay, certainly not in a book.