Overall: 5/5 Stars
Plot and Themes: 5/5
Awesomeness Factor: 4.5/5
Review in a Nutshell: Did someone say enemies-to-friends-to-enemies-to-lovers? This book has all the delicious angst you would expect with that type of relationship at the forefront, but it also has so much more. From beautiful writing to beautifully complex characters, this is not a book, or series, you should miss.
“Once there was a girl who loved the sky almost as much as she loved her sister.”
// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Assault, Rape Mention, Sexual Harassment, Animal Abuse, War Themes, Murder //
Release Date: 9/25/2018
Page Count: 400
Before I get into the plot of this book, I want to specify: This is not a true sequel. This book doesn’t follow Asha and Torwin, but instead follows Roa after the events of The Last Namsara. Also, you can technically read this book without having read The Last Namsara, but why would you do that when The Last Namsara is so amazing? However, if you plan to read The Last Namsara, please go do that right away because there will be major spoilers for it in this review (but don’t worry- no spoilers for The Caged Queen). Also, if you are interested in reading The Last Namsara, or just want your own copy, keep reading (or just scroll down to the bottom of the page to avoid spoilers) to learn about a giveaway I’m hosting!
Okay, let’s talk plot. Roa and her sister Essie were always together. However, tragedy struck when Essie died in a terrible accident. Years later, Essie’s spirit remains in the form of a hawk, but she grows weaker every year and won’t be able to stay with Roa much longer. Roa is desperate to keep Essie with her, but when she discovers a way to bring her back to life, she must decide how far she is willing to go. To save her sister, Roa must kill the one who should have died in her place, Dax, the new king of Firgaard and Roa’s husband. Roa and Dax may have only gotten married so she could save her people, and he could have the reinforcements he needed for his revolt, but is she capable of killing her new husband, even if he is her enemy?
“What are souls, but stars waiting to be born?”
Read more for all of my thoughts on The Caged Queen, plus information on my giveaway of The Last Namsara!
Writing & Setting
Kristen Ciccarelli is an amazing author. Her writing style is so beautiful- with amazing prose and elegant stories woven between chapters to give more history and context to the fascinating world she developed. Speaking of the world- oh my god do I love it. Like I said, she includes a lot of history to flesh out the world we see, but the exposition never gets too heavy or long. The mythology of this world is equally interesting, with every aspect thoroughly developed. This fantasy world is immensely rich in culture and so enjoyable to read about. Also, did I mention the dragons? Because there’s dragons. Admittedly, they don’t play as big a role as in The Last Namsara, but Kristen Ciccarelli makes up for it by focusing on new forms of magic.
“Real love is the strongest kind of steel. It’s blade that can be melted down, its form changed with every bang of the hammer, but to break it is a task no one is capable of. Not even Death.”
Above, I mentioned the delicious angst, which is absolutely amazing, but you know what else was amazing? The political maneuvering and plotting. I love me some good plotting in my fantasy books and this has so much of it. Seriously, it’s great. Although, I will say, because of said plotting, the book can feel a little slow at times, specifically in the beginning. It can take a minute to get used to the world and the characters again, but it is so worth it. And don’t get me wrong, there is definitely some action in this book that picks up the pace. If you’ve read The Last Namsara, then you’ll know. This book’s pacing is similar. It can get a little slower, but when it picks up, it picks up. Also, can I just mention- this book constantly surprised me. I thought I knew what to expect, but there were so many little twists and reveals I never saw coming and made me desperate to keep reading.
“Her sister said it would take a year to raise an army, bring down a tyrant, and marry a king.
Roa had done it in just three months.”
No other quote can describe Roa as well as this one. I aspire to be at Roa’s level.
The Iskari series really succeeds in having strong main female characters who don’t worry about being likeable, but instead are so brutally real and grounded. Asha was such a great protagonist in The Last Namsara, with her complex backstory and painfully honest insecurities covered by a harsh exterior that I was worried Roa wouldn’t be able to live up to her legacy, but I am so glad to say I was wrong. Roa is an equally strong and tough character, in some similar ways, but also in some completely unique ways that really surprised me. She’s dedicated, loyal, and loving, yet ruthless when necessary, slightly closed off to others, and determined almost to a fault. I loved seeing her growth as a character. Also, Dax. I just love Dax. I saw someone describe him as a Slytherin masquerading as a Hufflepuff, and honestly it’s so true. Although he definitely has some strong Hufflepuff traits in there as well. I would die for Dax, and it just needs to be said. On addition to our two main characters, there were plenty of side characters that were equally complex and compelling, but if I were to talk about all of them, I would go on forever. I will say- I loved the emphasis on family- specifically sister- relationships. It was so beautiful and very honest.
[ Related: Top 8 Book Releases of November 2019 ]
Who wants a free book? I’m giving away one (1) copy of The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli to a random winner!
The giveaway ends on November 26th, so enter now!!
Due to shipping reasons, this giveaway is limited to U.S. only. We are not responsible for any lost or damaged packages.
Pros- Gorgeous writing style, complex characters, unique fantasy world
Cons- I mean, there could always be more dragons
Overall- 5/5 stars.
If you haven’t read this series yet, what are you doing? Pick up The Last Namsara, then read The Caged Queen and comeback and fangirl with me because this series is so underrated and I have made it my personal mission to fix that.
If You Liked The Caged Queen, I’d Recommend:
- Before She Ignites (Fallen Isles #1) by Jodi Meadows – [ Review of Book 2 and Book 3 ]
- The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire #1) by C. J. Redwine – [ Review ]
- Ruined (Ruined #1) by Amy Tintera – [ Review ]
Have you read the Iskari series? What is one series you feel not enough people appreciate? (I think you can guess what mine is)