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Blog Tour: The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli

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Synopsis:

Roa and her sister Essie shared an unbreakable bond. A bond so strong that, when Essie was killed, her soul remained in this world. Roa swore she would never forgive the boy responsible for Essie’s death but, when Dax came begging for help, Roa made a deal.

She would provide an army for his uprising if he agreed to make her Queen and end the sanctions which kept the Scrublanders in poverty.

Dax didn’t keep his side of the bargain. Not only has he not made the slightest improvement for the Scrublanders, he is seeing other girls. He hasn’t honoured any of the bonds he made with Roa. There is no reason to think he will turn out any differently to his manipulative, cruel father.

There is an old myth. A myth about the Skyweaver, who sends the souls of the dead into the sky where they belong. If Roa can get her hands on the Skyweaver’s knife she can reclaim her sister’s soul.

All she would have to do is kill Dax, the boy king.

A powerful sequel about love, betrayal and the bond between two sisters.

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Review:

Please note: This review assumes you are familiar with The Last Namsara and its storyline. If you haven’t read The Last Namsara, please be warned that there are spoilers. Check out my review of The Last Namsara here.

 The Last Namsara was one of my favourite books of 2017. It was a brilliant and lyrical fantasy which told the story of a young woman who overturned a corrupt king and freed the dragons who had been hunted almost to extinction. The Caged Queen is told in the same style. Short fairytales are interwoven into the main story. These build up a storyline about an object so powerful it could return the soul of a loved one to a body.

We follow the same group of characters, but the narrative is told from a different perspective. This time, the story centres on Roa, the Scrublander warrior who was key to the rebellion. Roa gave up everything to marry the Firgaardian King, including the boy she truly loved. It was a move which she hoped would liberate her people. I love how the same characters look totally different from a different set of eyes. The history between the two cultures exacerbates this – what appeared heroic to a Firgaardian might appear oppressive to a Scrublander.

It was lovely to learn more about the history of these two cultures. About the rebellion which lead to the divide and the fact that neither culture is perfect. The Scrublanders may have chosen exile over tyranny but over time they forgot their key principle – that there is no such thing as an enemy. The themes explored in this storyline are highly relevant to the modern world. The two cultures have long lived apart. Corrupt Firgaardian rules have taken advantage of this to claim the Scrublanders are something different. Something other. This that could promote discussion of historical divisions and the reasons they continue.

The other theme which has been explored in both books is manipulation. Dax comes from a line of men who have historically exploited others. His father married and then killed a woman from the Scrublands. Dax doesn’t respect Roa as a human being. He sees her as a potential bedmate who is not living up to her duty. It is important to see manipulative behaviour in YA – both in the context of partnerships and in a broader context (manipulation within families, for example, and manipulative rulers.) Manipulative people are often the most charming and the ones in command of their conversation and behaviour. It is important for young readers to see this behaviour in fiction if they are to recognise and avoid it in life.

Another great hit for Kristen Ciccarelli. The Caged Queen confirms this series as one of the great YA fantasies. Watch this author – she’s an extraordinary talent.

 

Thanks to Victor Gollancz LTD for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of The Caged Queen. Opinions my own.

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