For all that dystopian stories aren’t my favorite, I sure find myself reading enough of them.
Gilded Cage in the debut novel by British author Vic James.
Set in, you guessed, dystopian Britain, the country is ruled by the Equals, a select group of people who have a magical gift, called Skill. Those without, the commoners, are required to serve the Equals for 10 years.
The story follows one family that decides to serve together after the eldest daughter secures them positions with one of the founding families among the Equals. But the family is split up when the brother is sent to work in the factory town. Naturally, the eldest sister finds herself crushing on an Equal, while her brother is roped into revolutionary actions. And finally, within the Equal society, there are others who are working to overthrow the system.
The three main characters are the sister, brother, and the youngest son of the Equal family they serve. And of the three storylines, I’m most intrigued by Silyen, the Equal’s story and why he does what he does. The brother, Luke, has an interesting story, caught up with revolutionaries, but it seems quite simple and plain, revolutionaries working toward a specific and obvious end. Abi, the sister, was the story I was least interested in. At least throughout the first book, she seemed nothing more than the token love story, and a cliche one at that, falling in love with the “master,” if you will.
In the beginning we see Abi as a strong, smart, sacrificial character, giving up her full-ride to med school to serve her days with her family. However, after that initial glimpse, we see hardly anything noteworthy from her. At this point, I almost feel like a character turn-around in book two would feel out of place and unbelievable. So, needless to say, I’d be quite happy to see book two focused on Luke and Silyen, as well as Silyen’s illegitimate niece who is surrounded by nothing but questions thus far.
The story was good, the first installment of a series with potential. However it read much more like a teen novel than an adult fantasy novel, using slang including “uni” for university. The language was simple, which isn’t a bad thing, just not quite my taste. But it won’t stop me from reading a second installment, whenever it comes out, if nothing else for the conclusion to the political intrigue that underlies the entire plot.