Read Game of Cages by Harry Connolly Online

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A SECRET HIGH-STAKES AUCTION As a wealthy few gather to bid on a predator capable of destroying all life on earth, the sorcerers of the Twenty Palace Society mobilize to stop them. Caught up in the scramble is Ray Lilly, the lowest of the low in the society—an ex–car thief and the expendable assistant of a powerful sorcerer. Ray possesses exactly one spell to his name, aloA SECRET HIGH-STAKES AUCTION As a wealthy few gather to bid on a predator capable of destroying all life on earth, the sorcerers of the Twenty Palace Society mobilize to stop them. Caught up in the scramble is Ray Lilly, the lowest of the low in the society—an ex–car thief and the expendable assistant of a powerful sorcerer. Ray possesses exactly one spell to his name, along with a strong left hook. But when he arrives in the small town in the North Cascades where the bidding is to take place, the predator has escaped and the society’s most powerful enemies are desperate to recapture it. All Ray has to do is survive until help arrives. But it may already be too late....

Title : Game of Cages
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780345508904
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 344 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Game of Cages Reviews

  • Carol.
    2018-10-23 20:49

    The next in my streak of reading books I’d rather not be reading. Remember when I said, “I don’t know why I do this to myself, I really don’t”? I still don’t know the general answer, but in this particular instance, I suspect the combination of series OCD, a suspicion that the books weren’t nearly as good as GR reviews claim, and Connelly’s strangely successful $50,000 kickstarter despite his publishing house dropping this series.Second in the “Twenty Palaces” trilogy by Harry Connolly, Game of Cages essentially recycles the first book. If that distilled assessment sounds strangely similar to my review of Caliban’s War (which recycles Leviathan Wakes), that’s because it is. Authors! Something a little different for your sophomore effort, please! Since we’re all just recycling hacks here, I’ll just click over to my other review and cut and paste a bit…This review, which may or may not reference drug use, The Yellow Submarine, foreigners that speak English in front of concealed heroes, and will generally pick apart the book until you can't possibly enjoy it, will be continued at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/1...or, if you prefer:http://carols.booklikes.com/post/6673...

  • Kathy Davie
    2018-10-24 19:00

    Second in the Twenty Palaces urban fantasy series revolving around Ray Lilly, an ex-car thief striving to just survive. My TakeConnolly yanks me in right from the start for a story that crosses horror with detective work with amateur black ops. Ray's dilemma of how to keep secrets that are spilling out right and left felt quite real---I do enjoy it when an author gives us these seemingly impossible problems and then slips in the solution. Only, in Game of Cages, the solutions are much more the type we'd stumble over from chance. That is, if we were to be in these situations…! There's something so hopeful about Ray. He's had a hard start in life. Right up until a short time ago, and, yet, he keeps putting himself out for people, trying to help them even when the change in character of the townspeople is macabre.Wait a minute...if Catherine is supposed to be an investigator, wouldn't she have more smarts than to go flashing around with her camera? She is such a bitch. Has she considered that the Society thought enough of Ray to have him accompany her? Has she thought that perhaps Ray getting soaked wasn't one of his intentions? Then she keeps being surprised when she's shot at, chased, attacked. Just what kind of investigating does she do for this particular Society that's so safe? She's so clueless… Her idea of sharing a room is pretty archaic, too.It's a warm small town with individuals who take Ray in, believe him, help him. Even when they turn against him, there's still a collective feeling of protection. It may be on the wrong side and ya just want to skedaddle on outta there...but I can't deny the sense of togetherness. Eek.It's one strange murder scene after another with dead and living victims. Normal people whose snap to the other side is more horrible because of their normality. Although I feel Connolly left us hanging between the early scenes which ignored pre-pubescents and then pulled 'em in at the end. I do admire Ray's chutzpah...ordering in a pepperoni pizza at a time like that, but then Connolly lost me on that one turncoat. I don't see what the gain was.Hmmm, one of the bad guys taunts them about the palaces they're losing…damn, Connolly is such a tease!The StoryBeing summoned to aid Catherine investigate a reported auction of a predator, Ray and Catherine are quickly thrown into the middle of it all when they creep onto a three-car accident with an empty cage, suspicious burns, and a trail that leads to dead bodies. Yet more bodies pile up as Ray and Catherine fall into traps, escapes, attacks, and betrayals. The peer who does show up from the Society is arrogant and useless, uncaring when Ray informs him that Catherine has been kidnapped. It takes Annalise's curiosity to swing the balance. The CharactersRay Lilly is an ex-car thief. Pulled into the world of the Twenty Palace Society, he stays for two reasons: they're keeping the police off his back and he lives to be called to action...even if he does ending up regretting it. His current abode is in the mother-in-law apartment over his Aunt Theresa and Uncle Karl's garage. Catherine Little has a personality for every situation and is an investigator for the Twenty Palace Society. And she does not like Ray. She likes him even less when she learns he's Annalise's wooden man. Annalise Powliss is a peer for the Society and prit' near unkillable. Talcott Arnold Pratt is the first peer on the scene. He certainly lives up to his last name!There are four groups of people bidding at the auction: Professor Elisabeta Solorov and her Fellowship; Mr. Yin with Merpati and his troupe of bodyguards; the selfish and self-centered Mr. Kripke from Silicon Valley and his biker friend (yeah, one self- is not enough for this guy!); Herr Zahn is an ancient German with some truly scary powers, Frail seems to be his assistant, and Tattoo, a man with more protective tattoos than Ray. Regina Wilbur is the woman who "owned" Armand the dog all these years. One of the many conditions her niece Stephanie changed when she arrived. Ursula is/was the keeper of the dog. Steve Cardinal is the head of the neighborhood watch and in charge of law enforcement until the sheriff shows up...if he ever shows up. Actually a pretty level-headed guy.TheLastKing.The Twenty Palace Society is a private agency whose sole agenda is to kill predators and people who use magic. Predators are "weird supernatural creatures out of the Empty Spaces". Never a good thing for the world if they show up.The CoverThe cover makes me feel as though it's the night before Halloween with the orange lightning flashing in the sky behind the old brooding "Victorian" mansion as snow swirls around Ray, looking back over his shoulder.It is a Game of Cages as Ray tries to corral the sapphire dog.

  • Ranting Dragon
    2018-11-04 20:52

    http://www.rantingdragon.com/game-of-...Game of Cages, the second installment in the Twenty Palaces series by Harry Connolly, returns to the story of ex-convict Ray Lilly months after the events detailed in book one, Child of Fire (see our review here). When a group of wealthy individuals gather to bid on a predator capable of destroying all life on earth, the sorcerers of the Twenty Palaces Society mobilize, and, as assistant to one of the sorcerers, Ray is caught in the scramble. Sent to investigate the auction with only one spell to his name, he finds that the predator has escaped and the society’s most powerful enemies are desperate to recapture it.Home Improvement: Author EditionMy one main quibble with book one of the series was the sometimes stilted prose of Connolly’s writing. However, I came across no instances of the same within Game of Cages. Instead, I found a tone and style which suits the story content very well, and an impeccable sense of tension and suspense. Connolly’s writing has grown and matured, and it is quite exciting to witness.Wrestling With Morals—An Ambiguity Exclusive!Much like in the first novel, Ray faces a number of decisions where his morals come into play. But unlike the first novel, he finds he questions himself a lot more. He knows what’s right and what he should do, but he also knows what he needs to do to ensure his further survival—and the two aren’t always one and the same. One of the things I truly love about Ray Lilly is that he makes mistakes. He’s not a paragon of a protagonist, one who miraculously makes the right decisions every time. No, he’s definitely a learn-as-you-go type, though much of that is forced upon him by the Society—which remains ever-mysterious through most of the novel.Worldbuilding: The Expansion PackWithin Game of Cages, Connolly deepens Ray’s world. His originality is brought forth time and time again, from the alien predators to the magic, from the various parties encountered to the political structures of the Society, and beyond. Connolly’s world is a fresh and new one in the urban fantasy genre, and keeps me coming back for more. His creativity with the various predators is engaging, and the magic system is such that it seems to the reader to become simpler and more complex simultaneously. It’s a truly engaging style of writing Connolly has found, and he settles into his pacing in Game of Cages.Why should you read this book?If you’re like me, you absolutely need to know more about Ray Lilly and the Twenty Palaces Society after finishing Child of Fire. I’m happy to say that Game of Cages delivers, and does it very well. The ambiguity feels so very realistic in terms of morality, further developing Ray’s character to depths we haven’t seen before. The worldbuilding isn’t too extensive, but there is enough original material introduced to capture a reader’s attention—capture, and hold it. So, if you’ve read Child of Fire, go out, buy this book, read it, love it. If you haven’t read the first novel, then go do the same thing with Child of Fire. This is not a series any urban fantasy enthusiast should miss out on.

  • Chris
    2018-10-29 19:40

    3.5 stars. Good continuation of this series in which Ray starts out assisting an investigator for Twenty Palaces who's trying to get information about a predator being auctioned off. Things fall apart really fast...

  • WillowBe
    2018-10-20 19:54

    Hmmm- well, kind of the same feeling as when I read the Jill Hunter of Lili Saint Crow. I like the charactar, root for him and want to survive.But then I feel kind of queasy about all the death, and destruction and the PTSD it inflicts on the protag, that I wonder- maybe I should be reading some light romantic lit instead. I love his vulnerability, his mistakes that come out of sheer ignorance. I really liked how he reacts like a normal person. He is afraid most of the time, gets mad at things I'd be angry about, has limits as to what he will do- I like seeing him wrestle with his baser nature to act in ways that are socially acceptable. That he KNOWS he is tired of being alone, and unconnected and he wants to belong. That is major for a man to admit about himself. Is frequently unsure of himself and feels out of his depth. Admits he is ignorant, but tries to do the right thing. I guess you could say that all protags have this moral code, but Ray just seems really REAL. He has a lot shame issues that he is trying to overcome. It's kind of like he has imposter syndrome- oh wait, he kind of IS an imposter. I don't know. A lot of charactars have shame issues, but I guess since most of them are women; it just doesn't register as much. Felix Castor has a lot of self-blame and self disgust, but I always feel he is too hard on himself. With Ray, I thought it was probably justified in the past, but not relevant today. The diffference is that Ray seems to be reaching to pull himself up and out of his past, while Felix seems to be drowning deeper and deeper in karmic depths and disastrous mischances. He is more immersed in danger, while Ray seems to be getting the skills he needs to stay out of it. So I guess it's what kind of ride do you want to read about at the time? Ray's voice is so authentic, and I hope the author is able to keep that in future series. I mean, how many blue collar paranormal heroes do we get? Though I see the Big Secret on the horizon- he had no idea he is actually a descendant of X which explains his super powers!- Not sure I am enamored of that take on the charactar, if it comes to pass.

  • Jeremy
    2018-10-27 01:51

    Another fantastic novel written by Harry Connolly. This book somehow managed to be extremely riveting, even though it only takes place within a few days and in a small town. Game of Cages somehow managed to take all of the shock factor and amount of deaths from the previous book, and amplified it by 100. So much happens in the last half of this book that it makes up for the slowness of the first half. Understandably, it was building up to the ending, and what an ending. After finishing reading a certain chapter in which Harry literally fights with everything he has to survive, you're somehow left feeling utterly exhausted. Connolly's exceptional writing excels in this section of the book. When a couple of pages are devoted to one long stream-of-conscious paragraph, he really manages to suck you into Ray Lily's predicament. You understand what's going on in his head, what he's feeling, and at that moment, you understand it all. Quite possibly my favorite book in this entire series.

  •  Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
    2018-10-26 00:47

    Confusing at times, but fantastic. Very gritty and even darker than the first book. Not for the faint of heart, indeed. Ray is my hero, even at his thuggiest! I have no qualms against giving this book 4.5/5.0 stars. Reviewed for Bitten by Books: http://bittenbybooks.com.

  • Flail Around
    2018-11-10 19:44

    In my review of the first book in this series, Child of Fire, I said: "I really enjoyed this book! Even though you are left with a few unanswered questions about the main character's past, the action is such that it sweeps you away. Good writing voice, excellent visuals of the world. A good solid, fast read." Ugh. Really? That's all I wrote? /sighWell, that was singularly unhelpful as a refresher for this review.The "problem" is that I could say the exact same things about book two. The author doesn't let you down. The quality of writing is great. The narrative voice is along the same vein as the first. Ray Lily is the same interesting, conflicted character. The plot moved at a break-neck pace from the beginning to end and putting the book down was hard, just like the first book. I love this world, what we see of it. I love Ray Lily and I wonder if, despite his criminal past, redemption will bite him on the ass and end up costing him more than just being a criminal. I like Annalise and wonder what her backround is; what has made her so hard and quick to kill? What are her motivations? Is the strange honor code to which Ray holds himself affecting her own personal code? Will Ray wear her down and maybe find a cause for them to really fight for?While I still have questions about some backstory, I trust the author to dole it out when it will have the most impact. So far, Harry Connolly has yet to steer me wrong. I can't stress enough that I love this style of writing. You open the book and the story pulls you in and then. . . you hit the ground running. The plot sweeps you away so quickly that even the questions you have about backstory and the relationship between Ray and Annalise is never quite as important as what's clicking along in the plot. The whole world is chock full of possiblity. Unfortuneately, the next book, Circle of Enemies, and the prequel, Twenty Palaces, are the last installments in this series. You can read about the series cancellationhere.I'm sad for the author. This is a great series. I hope that he can resurrect it at a later date. Still, I'll be keeping my eye out for anything else this author might publish. I'm interested to see what else he might have in store for me. And, of course, I still have book 3 and the prequel to read.

  • Fangs for the Fantasy
    2018-10-29 18:50

    In this book, Ray Lilly is picked up at his working class job by Catherine because the twenty palaces society has work for him to do. She is not impressed to drive an hour out of her way to pick a wooden man. A big auction is happening for a predator in the tiny town of Washaway and Ray and Catherine are tasked with finding out the details of what is going on.As to be expected, the situation quickly escalates and Ray becomes a one man rescuer once again. Someone has to save the town from the sapphire dog who has made pets of most of the town's residents causing them to kill each other so that it can feed on them. The sapphire dog creates feelings of love and adoration in its victim when you look at it and marks you as belonging to it when it licks you. Because of the power the sapphire dog wields a primary - a powerful sorcerer, who has actually been on the hit list of the twenty palace society for quite some time will stop at nothing to possess the sapphire dog and has used magic to make it impossible for anyone to leave town or call for help.We do briefly see a return of Annalise towards the end of the book. Ray is relieved to see her because he knows that he is in over his head and yet once again, Annalise is not around for the final showdown. Though all he has is his ghost knife and known of her power, Ray is able to defeat the primary that Annalise lost to. Uh huh. I don't understand the point of repeatedly suggesting that Annalise is this all powerful being, only to have Ray save her again. If you don't actually follow through with a display of power, telling us about her power is pointless. It feels at this point more like Annalise is Ray's wooden man than the other way around. This theme is somewhat relieved by Catherine who when kidnapped does manage to rescue herself before Ray can do his prince charming to the rescue routine; however, once again when the action happens, Catherine is nowhere to be seen. Ray sends her away because she is a mother of two small children. Read More

  • Dianne
    2018-10-18 01:48

    This is the follow up to Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel and as Harry Connoly says in the first line his acknowledgments (in part) --- "This was not an easy book to write" . Well, this was not an easy book to read. More horror than anything else; this fast paced, bloody novel was off and running from the very start. To add to the horror of this book, it takes place at Christmas time. I actually sighed with near relief when I was done.There is so much death and dismemberment in almost each chapter that you never really have time to drag in a full breath before the next murder or mass murder happens. Blood, guts, death by magic, and a philosophical edge all lend to this book in which Ray is helping an investigator (Catherine) investigate an auction where a predator is supposedly being auctioned off. Naturally the predator escapes and all Hell breaks loose.And if you expect to see Annalise throughout the whole book you will be in for a disappointment. Ray actually saves the whole day almost by himself.Ray has really grown as a character and although I'm loathe to jump right into the next novel, I have to find out what happened to him and Annalise. The next uo is Circle of Enemies: A Twenty Palaces Novel and I really need to read the prequel Twenty Palaces, A Prequel

  • Kala
    2018-11-07 00:33

    I really liked the first book in the series; feeling that it had a lot of potential. The second one picks up a little while after, when the aftermath of the first had died down but not disappeared altogether.The beginning was strong: new mission, new partner, a bit of rescue from the humdrum. Unfortunately the premise is similar despite the attempt to change it up. Instead of knowing a predator is loose in a small town, this time Ray and Catherine are just in the area to investigate. Of course that doesn't last long as the predator gets free and starts wreaking havoc.It seemed to me while reading, that there was a lot of running from place to place, just missing the predator, and not that much story. There were tantalizing hints of the different orders within the Twenty Palace Society, rogues, and flashes of curious backstory. Because of this, the book seemed a bit thin.Ray Lilly is still a great protagonist, with character growth, internal conflicts and difficult choices to make. You get a real sense of him trying to best he can and the author does a great job of showing not telling. I would just like to see him in more interesting circumstances.

  • Gabe S
    2018-11-03 18:33

    Yup, more of the same.Started out well; a new partner, a little more information on the mysterious 'Twenty Palaces' seemed to be forthcoming but apart from a trickle of never re-addressed tidbits, it ended up being the same-old same-old.Story once again restricted to a single town, all powerful sorcerers coming in and disappearing in a puff of unexplained smoke, no real purpose for him being there but Ray Lily ends up having to take on the big bad all by himself for no other real reason then he felt like he should but even then, the final way he dealt with the 'predator' was completely at odds with how we've been told the whole book he SHOULD take care of 'predators' and by the end of the book we're no wiser about anything in the world he lives in and we're back to square one but hey, at least Ray has another sorry excuse for an adventure under his belt.Hard to understand why anyone would care.A few stupidly tiny but tantalizing hints of new information - the only reason I may masochistically order and read book three which, I have the sinking suspicion I'll feel just the same about.

  • Liz
    2018-11-05 21:57

    After trudging my way through two books of this, I can see why the series was cancelled. Explaining that, however, is harder. There's just...no real excitement in these books. The narrative is good, the plot is good, world building isn't bad, but whatever it is that grabs hold of you and makes you need to finish a book and then need to read the next one is just utterly missing here. It's not a lack of romance - personally I think romance crap brings down a book, it's not a lack of understanding the Twenty Palaces - I think the slow reveal is just right, it's not even the persistent use of the magic knife - if you have a single weapon, you use it. I can't honestly pinpoint exactly what it is that dragged this series down, but whatever it was, it was bad. It left the whole thing feeling heavy and depressing, like a weight hanging around your neck. It was repellent, actually, and I didn't even bother with the third book. I just didn't care. Nothing in the story made me care much about anything, the characters, the mystery, the resolution, it was just...whatever. Meh.I won't be recommending this to anyone and I'd advise you to give this a miss. There are far better, far more interesting books in this genre to spend your time on.

  • JK
    2018-11-08 20:34

    The formula was exactly the same in this book as the last, but it was still interesting.

  • Elisa
    2018-10-29 01:35

    Good stuff. You still don't get a ton of background, but the story moves quickly and was quite entertaining. Hoping our hero gets something out of his amazing talent for survival in the next book. Seriously, who are these Twenty Palace folks to be so above everything? Total users and silent types! I don't think they know nearly as much as they think they do. Anyway, these books are filled with a lot of death and destruction, but I do like our hero who fumbles through the problems he is facing. The story moves along quickly and he has creative solutions along with a healthy dose of conscience, whether he listens to it or not.

  • Gedvondur
    2018-10-28 22:39

    In my estimation, Three Stars is a *good* book, well worth the read.In the second volume of the Twenty Palaces series, Connolly pitches Ray out more or less on his own and we get to see more of what drives Ray and yet more information on how the universe works. Fast-paced like the first book and still grim and bloody, Game of Cages is a worthy successor to the first book, Child of Fire.

  • Jesse
    2018-11-05 19:41

    Another fun, fast paced book. I'm a little worried that the main character is becoming a one trick pony (almost everything can be solved via ghost knife, it appears), but that wasn't so intrusive as to take away my enjoyment of the book.

  • James
    2018-10-24 23:42

    Full review here:http://jamesgenrebooks.blogspot.com/2...I feel like I missed something.

  • bogo_lode
    2018-11-03 20:31

    Solid but lacked something of the spark of the first one.

  • Shane
    2018-11-17 21:55

    I was not overly impressed with the first novel (although an enjoyable read) but with the second installment I find myself becoming increasingly engrossed in the twenty palace society.

  • Melissa
    2018-10-28 23:32

    Not as good as the first book. Not sure if I'll read the next one.

  • lafon حمزة نوفل
    2018-11-16 22:34

    I must admit to being confused while reading this. Maybe this had something to do with the fact that I didn't read the first one. A lot of the time I was even more lost than the main character. One thing I must say however is that Raymond Lily (the protaginst) is actually quite human. An odd proposition in today's paranormal genre. Another thing about this book is the level of violence. As you can see from the spoiler below it is quite graphic.(view spoiler)[The only light I had left was the daylight shining through the door and the damaged walls. The people pushing their way into the room now were little more than backlit silhouettes. At least I wouldn't have to see their faces.They were coming with knives, woodworking tools, axe handles, and empty guns. I lifted the iron pipe high and held my left arm low. I didn't have a shield; the tattoos on my forearm would have to do. I put the ghost knife between my teeth. They let out another war scream--a piercing animalistic keening--and I felt like screaming right back at them, but I kept it inside instead, channeling that raw energy to my arms and eyes.The first guy to get close tripped over Big Bill and fell to his knee in front of me, so I smashed the pipe against his shoulder, knocking him against the one behind him, then I hit the next one hard on the edge of the wrist, sending his hammer bounding off the wall just as two more came close, keeping their balance better this time, and I smashed elbow and shoulder as fast and as hard as I could, blocking a sharpened hoe with my protected arm, but now the pets were crowding in, stumbling sometimes but not enough for me to keep ahead of every swing, of every hand reaching for me, of every sound they made, because I wasn't even looking at their faces anymore, I didn't have time to guess the attack they'd make based on their eyes or body position, they were just a mass of bodies rushing at me, and I laid out with my pipe, swinging everywhere with all my strength against people I'd told Catherine I didn't want to hurt but here I was, breaking arms and collarbones, and the first time a bat struck the bony point of my hip, the pain frightened and enraged me so much that I smashed the man wielding it right on the side of his head, and then every dark shape seemed to be tinged with red as I slapped away attacks with my forearm and crushed bones with the pipe even though many of them didn't even have weapons, just hands that reached to pull me down, so I smashed those, too, watching for knives and swings for my head, and I smashed wrists and elbows and collarbones and fragile, fragile skulls as the pets kept coming for me, climbing over the ones I broke, stumbling, slipping in water and blood and tripping over fallen bodies, then I felt a sudden sharp pain in my calf and looked down to see a girl no older than thirteen stabbing a long knife into my leg, and my fury and adrenaline and hatred and rage made it so easy--so easy!--to slam that iron pipe across both her little arms and I know she screamed even though I couldn't hear it over the noise the other pets were making but God I saw her expression and the whole world should have stopped right at that moment but they kept coming and I kept fighting and I knew right then that it didn't matter whether I lived through this, in fact better if I didn't because I was becoming everything that was raw and evil in this world and I didn't deserve to be in it anymore, so I screamed, finally, letting out all my anger and hatred at predators and peers and most of all myself for what I was doing, because I was not going to stop, not ever, until I had done this damn job, and the ghost knife that fell out of my mouth began to zip around the room with the speed of a sparrow, circling me like a rock on a string, and I just kept hitting and hitting, because I wasn't tired at all, evil men never tire of doing evil. (hide spoiler)]If you read the spoiler than you can see exactly what I'm talking about. It's not the most violent passage I've ever read, or will read, but it somehow affected me more than many other scenes similar to it. Where some authors wish you to enjoy the gore they provide, I got the feeling that in Game of Cages the gore was sort of meant to be something to be ashamed of. All in all I think a 2.5 star effort , but I'll boost it up to 3.

  • Garrett Jones
    2018-10-27 22:38

    http://www.rantingdragon.com/game-of-...Game of Cages, the second installment in the Twenty Palaces series by Harry Connolly,returns to the story of ex-convict Ray Lilly months after the events detailed in book one, Child of Fire (see our review here). When a group of wealthy individuals gather to bid on a predator capable of destroying all life on earth, the sorcerers of the Twenty Palaces Society mobilize, and, as assistant to one of the sorcerers, Ray is caught in the scramble. Sent to investigate the auction with only one spell to his name, he finds that the predator has escaped and the society's most powerful enemies are desperate to recapture it.Home Improvement: Author EditionMy one main quibble with book one of the series was the sometimes stilted prose of Connolly's writing. However, I came across no instances of the same within Game of Cages. Instead, I found a tone and style which suits the story content very well, and an impeccable sense of tension and suspense. Connolly's writing has grown and matured, and it is quite exciting to witness.Wrestling With Morals—An Ambiguity Exclusive!Much like in the first novel, Ray faces a number of decisions where his morals come into play. But unlike the first novel, he finds he questions himself a lot more. He knows what's right and what he should do, but he also knows what he needs to do to ensure his further survival—and the two aren't always one and the same. One of the things I truly love about Ray Lilly is that he makes mistakes. He's not a paragon of a protagonist, one who miraculously makes the right decisions every time. No, he's definitely a learn-as-you-go type, though much of that is forced upon him by the Society—which remains ever-mysterious through most of the novel.Worldbuilding: The Expansion PackWithin Game of Cages, Connolly deepens Ray's world. His originality is brought forth time and time again, from the alien predators to the magic, from the various parties encountered to the political structures of the Society, and beyond. Connolly's world is a fresh and new one in the urban fantasy genre, and keeps me coming back for more. His creativity with the various predators is engaging, and the magic system is such that it seems to the reader to become simpler and more complex simultaneously. It's a truly engaging style of writing Connolly has found, and he settles into his pacing in Game of Cages.Why should you read this book?If you're like me, you absolutely need to know more about Ray Lilly and the Twenty Palaces Society after finishing Child of Fire. I'm happy to say that Game of Cages delivers, and does it very well. The ambiguity feels so very realistic in terms of morality, further developing Ray's character to depths we haven't seen before. The worldbuilding isn't too extensive, but there is enough original material introduced to capture a reader's attention—capture, and hold it. So, if you've read Child of Fire, go out, buy this book, read it, love it. If you haven't read the first novel, then go do the same thing with Child of Fire. This is not a series any urban fantasy enthusiast should miss out on.

  • Karissa
    2018-10-30 20:40

    This is the second book in the Twenty Palaces series by Harry Connolly. It was a great read and a fast-paced follow up to the first book. In general the book is pretty contained and you wouldn't have to read the first book in the series to enjoy reading this book.Ray Lily is out of jail and eking out a living working at a grocery store and living in an apartment above his aunt's house. Things are going pretty well for him, but he misses the action that the Twenty Palaces Society brought to his life. Then Catherine drops into his life. She is an investigator for the Twenty Palace Society that was told to use him for backup if she needs it. There is a mysterious auction happening in a small town and rumors are that it involves a Predator; Catherine's job is to check it out and report back to the Society. Catherine is dismayed when she finds out that Ray isn't an Apprentice or a Peer but merely Annalise's Wooden Man. When Catherine and Ray get dragged out of the investigation and into a hunt for the Predator , Ray (his only tricks being his ghost knife and his protection tattoos) ends having to be resourceful in ways he wasn't planning on.There is a lot I liked about this book. It is actually very similar to the first book in that it takes place in an isolated small town and Ray ends up hunting another predator. The action is again very well written and relentless. This is a book that is hard to put down, it shoves you from one action scene to another and leaves you breathless. We get to learn more about Ray as a character in this book and a little more about the Twenty Palaces Society as an organization. We also learn a smidgen more about the other evils in Ray's world.So overall I enjoyed it, but I have some complaints...which are still the same complaints that I had with the first book. The action is so dense, we never really get to learn much about the characters or the world. This was a little less true for this book than the first book; but I still wish we had more face time with the characters in non-life-threatening situations. Also we get a tiny glimpse into the further structure of the Twenty Palaces Society but not much more than that...I really want to learn more about the Society and meet more people from it.Catherine was an okay character but kind of weak. I really missed Annalise and was thrilled when she showed up again towards the end of the book. Annalise is such a kick-butt character; her and Ray play off of each other really well. You gain more insight into Ray as a character in this book. At times he reminds me of Harry Dresden; he has the same dry wit and willingness to get his butt kicked to accomplish what needs doing. Ray is different in that he has a lot less resources and he is more self-deprecating.Overall, I enjoyed this installment in the series. I really, really want to learn more about this world though and with the non-stop action scenes there wasn't time for that in this book. The plot was tight and the writing incredibly readable and engaging. I just hope the next book brings us deeper into this world so we can meet more of the Twenty Palaces Society. I also hope the next book has more Annalise in it; her and Ray make an awesome fighting team. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in this series.

  • Shdnx
    2018-10-17 22:00

    I liked Game of Cages, although it was mostly suffering from the same problems as the opening title of the series, Child of Fire.This book really isn't too different from the first installment. Same world, same type of plot, similar challenges and resolutions. It was good, enjoyable, just as the Child of Fire, but... there was nothing new, and this subtracted very much from the book's overall value to me.There's very little new information about the world the series is playing in. There were some hints, throughout the book, but almost nothing was ever properly explained, and to be honest, it feels kind of lame - while I perfectly understand the author's reasons for writing it so. (In short: it wouldn't be authentic if the Twenty Palaces society just revealed everything to him. He's nothing to them, and they value secrecy above all. It wouldn't make too much sense for them to give him information he doesn't directly need, would it?)I'm still hoping, and waiting for the explanations to come. I do adore the author's bravery for writing this as such - it's kind of annoying for the reader.I wonder if this is a point where too much realism hurts entertainment...?The story features much less mystery and "what-the-hell-is-going-on" type of investigation. Instead, we get much more action. Yup, even more. No, even more than that. If I had to describe the book in three words, they would be: action, tension, struggle.This time, besides the predator (which was quite disappointing after the predator in Child of Fire - it felt dangerous, sure, but not "devour-the-entire-world" kind of dangerous) there are also evil sorcerers and a bunch of other people Ray has to deal with, again, mostly alone.I have mentioned in my review of the previous book, that Child of Fire ended abruptly, without any lead-out (like an epilogue: what happened afterwards, you know). I had somewhat hoped that the beginning of the next book (Game of Cages) would somewhat fix this, but no. We again get almost immediately thrown into the action.This time, we did get an Epilogue, and it did close the story just fine, but it still wasn't quite what I wanted. It didn't resolve all the issues that came up, so while it doesn't really end in a cliffhanger, it does leave you feeling cut off.There were numerous new characters, most importantly, Catherine. I liked her. She was also an authentic personality, and I liked how her relationship with Ray gradually changed through the book. They also occasionally worked together, which was also kind of nice.Ray didn't change too much. During the book most of the focus around him was on morale decisions. Is it right to hurt people who are, although not your enemies, are in your way, preventing you from saving "the world"? Where do you draw the line? His feelings and indecisiveness were very well pictured.All things considered, it's safe to say that if you enjoyed the first book, you'll enjoy this one too. It's not perfect, but it's entertaining nonetheless. I'm looking forward to read the third book, which appears to be something different. Let's just hope it's a change towards the right direction.

  • Kristin
    2018-10-29 20:48

    4.5 stars.Another great entry in this series. I found the plot to be just as good, if not better than the first one. A predator who was recently sold on the auction block has escaped and it’s up to an investigator named Catherine, who was only in town to report on the auction, and Ray, who was only around to assist her, to find and stop it as the cavalry doesn’t seem to be coming. Unfortunately, all of the people who were bidding on it are after it as well, only they don’t want to stop it but want to capture it to use for their own purposes. And while it’s loose, the body count begins rising at an alarming rate.I didn’t think anyone could aggravate me as much as Annalise but I was wrong! Catherine’s an annoying elitist, though I did warm up to her a bit as the story went on. And while I loved Ray’s compassion in the first book, in Game of Cages it was out of control and made me want to slap him. He took crap from everyone and should’ve had a t-shirt on that said “Please walk all over me, I like it.” When Annalise shows up briefly, I was surprised to find that I’d actually missed her in the rest of the story. She truly is a kick-ass, take-no-prisoners person who Ray definitely needs to survive. I could just do without some of the genuflecting he does, while she’s powerful and can teach him a lot, she’s not a saint and can still be a total pain in the ass.As with those in the first book, I didn’t find the predators all that scary. Yeah, they can kill you and I wouldn’t want to face one since they are so hard to off, but seriously frightening? Not so much. The sorcerers who’ve gone off the reservation, now that’s another story. These rogue villains are truly terrifying. I’m not going to give anything at all away, but something that one of them did practically had me gagging in disgust. I think Connolly should focus on these crazies more often, hunting them down instead of predators, because that would be a freaky, cringe-inducing ride.I really love the world that Connelly has created, but I still have many questions about the Twenty Palace Society and those who make it up, especially Annalise. I really hope we find out more about it in the next outing or are at least introduced to other members. And though he showed serious signs of doing whatever it takes to survive and stop the baddies at the end, I hope Ray nuts up a bit and stops being so tough on himself. That said, he really is one of my favorite characters around. He’s so real (I’m pretty sure he’s going to barf in each book which, for some reason, I love), relatable and not the perfect main character who can solve everything with a flick of the wrist without needing to rely on anyone. Dumb luck is a better friend to him than skill and knowledge, though that’s not to say he isn’t clever and doesn’t know how to make things work in his favor, because he’s very good at observing and evaluating the situations he’s thrust into and at learning from his and others’ mistakes.This is a terrific series with a hugely likeable, yet flawed, main character. I’ll definitely be picking up the third book, Circle of Enemies very soon.

  • Mr_noyes
    2018-11-04 18:56

    The second entry in the Twenty Palaces Series clearly shows lots of improvement from Connolly. The Dialogue has a much better flow, the characters get deeper and the story takes some nice turns.Sure, as many other reviewers already mentioned, the setting seems to be the same, i.e. a small town threatened by Evil (tm). However, I do not see this as a problem. In the first novel the plot revolved more around the seedy and sometimes really nasty secrets lurking behind the facade of an all American town and the corruption of magic. In this novel, though, the small town is more a battleground.What I did like about this book is that it does not pull any punches. From the first novel on the reader is constantly reminded that the enemies the protagonist is fighting are really a nasty bunch and that each of them alone could destroy the whole world. Now the reader can see for himself just how true this is. Although at first the enemy does not seem to be that dangerous (in fact, for the first half, its potential buyers are clearly the antagonists) it soon becomes evident that looks can be deceiving. Instead of presenting us yet another lantern jaw hero or - just as worse - a constantly angsting one, we get Ray Lily. He is torn between doing the right thing and following the scorched earth policy of his superiors, vacillating between the extremes and questioning his decisions. However, contrary to some other books (*CoughDresdencough*) those fears and doubts never become obnoxious or trite. The worldbuilding is still very sparse and despite some background information still very vague. But you know what? I like it that way! After all, this is a Lovecraftian tale and what better way to convey the feeling of paranoia coming from living under constant threat and the idea of a "truth that is out there" than the constant feeling that there is a lot of things you should but simply do not know? Giving all the details about the 20 Palace Society, for instance, would make them as pedestrian as you local temp working agency, removing much of the mystique and second-guessing that is truly the heart of this series. Final note: Some might lament the fact that Annelise only joins in the last part of the book and does not do much. However, I firmly believe this is intentional and takes the story in an interesting direction: Instead of making the protagonist as some kind of minion for the Terminator going on some whacky adventure, he (and with him the reader) has to realise that the seemingly unstoppable Twenty Palace Society is not as strong as assumed. (Some reasons for this are hinted at later in the book). It gives weight to the feeling of hopelessness, where nobody is safe.

  • Tom
    2018-11-17 00:56

    This is the second book in the 'Twenty Palaces" series. I was late to the party and just recently discovered this series. Unfortunately after I fell in love with the first book I discovered that after the third book the series was dropped by the publisher.That is by no means a reason not to read these.While it is a second in the series, you don't have to read the first one to completely enjoy this one. I love that in a series, the books have a lose background together (so far) and if you happen to pick this one up first it won't kill you / confuse you to not have read the first one too much.The story is set in the modern world, and kicks off with a bang from the start. It's told from the viewpoint of Ray, who in the past wasn't the best of kids, and as an adult got involved in something that ended up with a lot of people dead. However, a mysterious group called Twenty Palaces somehow cleared his name, and he is now a helper called a 'Wooden Man' of a powerful magician. Their job is to find bad things with magic, and kill all who are involved.This time, Ray gets picked up by an 'investigator' vs. a 'peer' we met in the first book. They are trying to check something out when everything goes to crap, and people start dying. People that kinda deserve it, and people who don't. There is some interesting Moral Dilemma's in the character's development, and we learn more about his background and what got him where he is slowly leaked out over the progress of the novel. We have multiple people who may or may not be bad guys, a small town's festival with the potential for a blood bath from a runaway monster, and a prick of a peer who thinks he can do this all on his own and that Ray and his new friend / investigator Catherine are beneath his notice.I am very excited/sad to read the next in the series. I love this authors style of story. No love stories, you don't know to cheer or fear the main character, and his universe of magic is fairly fascinating and rather refreshing compared to tried and true spell casters & evil things that go bump in the night. I highly recommend you check this out and the others in the series.

  • Jami Zehr
    2018-11-15 02:38

    In Game of Cages, Wooden Man Ray has been called upon by the Society to look into strange happens in a small town aiding an investigator, Catherine, they are to go in, document their findings, and get out. Ray has his Ghost Knife with him, the one spell he knows how to use (somewhat), a piece of paper with scribbles on it that will cut a person’s spirit and clothing, but not their flesh. He has the ability to call it to his hand, some hand to hand combat experience in prison, the will to survive, and not much else.Game of Cages was just as exciting a noir urban fantasy story as Child of Fire. Ray is one of the most engaging characters I have read about in a long time. He has not magical abilities, except for a piece of paper, but he is street smart, thinks things through, and makes quick decisions that turn out to be the right ones. He is extremely capable, competent, and I was extremely nervous despite the series being centered on his character, that his job of Wooden Man would get him killed too soon. I was not so impressed by Catherine, although she is a competent investigator, seeking out truth by becoming a new person to every interviewee so that they wanted to tell her everything, she wasn’t nearly as badass as Annalise. And while Annalise does show up for a portion of the story, it was not nearly enough to satisfy my badass woman needs.I do love the world the Connolly has created and I, for the most part, love the characters he has created. Flawed human beings with some magical abilities, they fight the really really wrongs of the world even if it means creating some wrongs of their own. Ray is Harry Dresden without the innate magical abilities or formal detective training, he’s just a man with a Ghost Knife. He makes mistakes on a large scale, he triumphs on an even greater one. He is the best kind of character, one you root for and shake her head at, at the same time. A really interesting and engaging series, be warned, if you start this book you will have a hard time setting it down.Read more at Absurdly Nerdly

  • John Bogart
    2018-10-20 01:57

    I love this series! Game of Cages picks up awhile after Child of Fire, the first book, ends. We see Ray limping through a mundane life between missions for the Twenty Palaces Society. He's clearly scarred by the events of the first book, which I loved. This is a series where the characters make hard choices and then suffer for them. There are no easy outs or deus ex machina to save the day.The book begins with another representative of the Twenty Palaces besides Annalise. She's an investigator, not a Peer like Annalise, and she doesn't use magic. She also is aloof to Ray, though for different reasons. Like the first book, information is revealed slowly and naturally. We do get a different view of the Predators and the supernatural world from her than we did from Annalise, which is nice. Further, we meet sorcerers from outside of the Twenty Palaces. Some are fairly clueless neonates in over their heads. Others are ancient and powerful and scary -- and not all that different from the Society Peers in many ways. The book starts with an auction where a predator (think Lovecraftian alien horror) is being sold to the highest bidder. The predator is in many ways scarier and certainly more intimate in this book. I don't want to give too much away, but it's impact on an entire small town and what Ray has to do to deal with it are painful.Like Child of Fire, this is a dark book. It spirals towards tragedy and no greater power or lucky break steps in to make things alright. The climax was almost hard to read. Mind you, I absolutely loved it. In fact, I liked this book more than the first and after finishing it I was a die-hard fan forever. However, be warned that it isn't a happy ending. The predator is dealt with and the day is saved, but the collateral damage is sobering.I highly recommend this book (and the entire series) to anyone who likes horror or dark urban fantasy.