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Fantasy Friday – A Game of Cages

A Game of Cages by Harry Connolly

Review By Bowden P. (Trey)


Ray Lilly is back, this time investigating an auction of a predator in a remote small town. The hope is that the auction can be stopped, and, well, if everything went according to plan, it would be a much shorter novel wouldn’t it?

The tone in Game of Cages is different than Child of Fire. Washaway, the small town, is much more sympathetic than Hammer Bay, which makes what happens to it and its population that much more  horrible as the predator gets loose near and then in it. We also get a look at the other players in the occult underground besides the Twenty Palaces. They range from Triads, to very nasty sorcerer and his helper, to snobby and very short sighted occult investigators. And, oh yes, then there is the family trying to sell off the predator. As a whole, I wouldn’t want to meet them – ever.

Readers also get some more insight into the magic of the setting, and the Twenty Palace Society. Apparently, the closer a spell is to its original writing, the more powerful it is. So a Primary user is much more powerful than a Quaternary and so on. It also looks like the Twenty Palaces may be in some trouble…

Again, Connolly hits the horror and action buttons without necessarily bringing the gore. The action moves along quickly giving the sense of very high stakes and keeps the book from dragging. The horror comes in with what the predator (called a sapphire dog “a beautiful creature that destroyed anyone who saw it.”) does. What it does is not gross or obvious and can even be hidden, but its still horrible. In contrast to this, Connolly plays up the positive aspects of small towns. Ray wouldn’t have made it at all without the help of the constable and the genuine kindness and sacrifice of others.

Did I like it? 4 and half stars worth.

Likes: Well drawn minor characters; Ray’s continuing development as a character; Seeing a bit more of Annalise that’s not a sorcerous killing machine; Seeing more of the magic and the Twenty Palaces Society.

Dislikes: The fates of those well drawn minor characters.

Suggested for: Fans of the Dresden files, Stross’ Laundry series (The Atrocity Archives, The Jennifer Morgue and The Fuller Memorandum), Kadrey’s Sandman Slim and horror fans in general.

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