Game of Cages: A Twenty Palaces Novel
by Harry Connolly
Cover Artist: Christian McGrath
Review by Steve Sawicki
Del Rey Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345508904
Date: 31 August 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
This is the second book in Harry Connolly's Twenty Palaces series. The first book,Child of Fire, introduced us to Ray lily and the Twenty Palaces Society, a band of sorcerers dedicated to keeping the world safe from interdimensional predators called forth by bad people for their own gain.
This time Ray is sent to the small town of Washaway where bidders gather at an estate where a predator is about to be auctioned off. Ray is picked up by an investigator and taken to Washaway to kill the predator--and, anyone else who gets in his way. When they arrive they find they are too late: the auction's been held but the winner never made it off the estate property. The tire of the vehicle transporting the predator has been shot, the vehicle crashed, and the predator escaped. Ray and the investigator plod on to try to figure out what is going on and end up walking into a world of dysfunctional hurt as the bidders chase after the predator, when they're not trying to kill each other or Ray, and the body count in the town starts to sky rocket.
This is a pretty interesting premise although I have some problems with the execution, mostly in the area of character attitude. It seems like all of the individuals associated with the Twenty Palaces Society are angry elitists. From the moment that Ray is picked up he is the object of scorn and ridicule. Frankly one wonders why he sticks around. But even larger than Ray's motivation is the question of how the society itself has managed to stay around. I'm not talking mild dislike but the kind of disdain that you normally run across once or twice in a life time. Here, it's the purview of every member in the book. None of these people are likable or even understandable in terms of emotion. Ray has done nothing to deserve their ridicule but he gets it anyway.
I generally liked the book although every time I ran into a section where Twenty Palace Society members had to interact it was like having teeth drilled. Well, okay, to be honest, having teeth drilled is not all that bad. It would be one thing if Connolly explained the behavior in some way but he does not. It just happens and one can only conclude that these people are genuinely unlikeable and in their positions only because of the power they have. Ray is okay but suffers from association.