Tag Archives: Vic James

Tarnished City

The problem with reading series as they come out, for me, is that I forget what’s gone on in the previous book.

When I sat down to read Vic James’ Tarnished City, sequel to The Gilded Cage, I had to put it on hold until I could dig out the first book to refresh myself in what happened.

In Tarnished City, we pick right back up with Abi Hadley and her brother Luke. Unskilled (non-magical) people in a work ruled by the Equals (who have magic), Abi and her whole family, except Luke, were serving their mandatory slave days in an Equal household when everything blew up (literally). Luke, in a slavetown, got caught up with some radicals looking to end the slave days and the tyrannical rule of the Equals.

Now, Luke has been given to Lord Crovan, a sadistic Equal known for punishing the Unskilled in cruel ways. Abi is on the run, herself and the family being removed from the Equal house and taken to a slavetown for the remainder of their days. Abi sets out with Luke’s rescue in mind, but finds herself caught up with some of Luke’s old friends, and she finds that revolution and rescue may end up being the same thing.

The Gilded Cage ends leaving you wondering what various characters are up to. Throughout Tarnished City, not only do we not get answers, but we’re left wondering about even more characters. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s intrigue that keeps you guessing and keeps you engaged in the story.

I’m still not completely sold on the writing style, the language still reads a little childish for me, but obviously that didn’t stop me from reading the second book, and it won’t stop me from reading the third.

But, for someone maybe looking to dip a toe into fantasy and/or dystopian worlds, it’s not a bad series to start on. And if nothing else, once you start, you’re bound to want to finish, just so you know who’s playing for what.

Gilded Cage

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.