Monday, September 3, 2007

THE PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE - Final Review

Reading THE PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE came at a good time for me. I was in the mood for something lighter. Every once in a while, I like reading what I think of as literary bonbons. Something not too intense. PRINCES fit the bill. It provided a suspenseful good time, yet Nathalie Mallet did not pile on too much tension. The balance was just right and the plot did not drag anywhere. Sometimes, I think authors can overdo it in either direction. You reach a point where you think, "Oh, please!" and you just want to throw the book across the room. That did not happen with PRINCES.

Through the process of elimination, I was able to figure out who the villain was ahead of time. But, to Mallet's credit, I didn't figure it out too far ahead of time. The position of a certain name in a registry made me think "Hmm," but I didn't put it all together until a certain other character was definitely eliminated. Plus, there were many other surprises in the ending that I did not see coming, but which made sense after-the-fact.

PRINCES is a delightful little mystery story that takes place in an intriguing and exotic setting. It is somewhat light on fantasy, except for fantastic creatures. I don't think I saw the actual working of a spell anywhere in the book (although you do see the results of such spells). The ending of the conflict is just the sort of ending that I am a sucker for. Overconfidence in villains and self-comeuppance -- gotta love it.

I did have some quibbles. The punctuation could have been more tightly copyedited, especially where question marks are concerned. When a question ends with a period or a comma, I usually think, "Huh?" and I go back to reread to be sure it was a question. Also, there were a few too many instances of "Ohhh!", "OUFF", "Yewww!" and other phonetically rendered vocalizations for my taste.

Mallet did a good job making me like Prince Amir, Erik, Darius and even poor Jafer. The princess was not really around long enough for me to form a strong impression of her. I also liked Erik's servant. Erik's complete faith in him made for a nice mini-mystery in a setting where servants are usually not to be trusted.

Mallet did a fabulous job in weaving together intricate bits of information and bringing them all together in the ending. I always have admiration for writers who can pull this off. This is the sort of book that I like to reread in order to see if I can spot clues as I go along. I did wish that a certain other prince didn't have to die. It would have provided for interesting conflict over the succession of the throne, but it also probably would have dragged the ending out too much.

If you like a lot of drama, angst and gritty writing, then THE PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE is probably not for you. But if you're in the mood for a light mystery-fantasy that is a fast read, then you will probably enjoy it.

Links!
THE PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE (Canada, UK)
Nathalie Mallet's Website and Blog
My other posts on this title

8 comments:

Chris, The Book Swede said...

I'm glad you liked it :) That said, I tend to be fond of the gritty end of the fantasy spectrum, but I still loved this.

One of my favourite fantasy books of the year, and definitely the best debut so far (for me). Yet to read Acacia, though!

Chris
The Book Swede

Tia Nevitt said...

I wouldn't call Acacia gritty, but it is certainly grittier than this novel. I'll be interested in reading your review when you do read it.

Nathalie Mallet said...

Hi guy,

I’m happy you liked the book. Thanks for the great review, Tia. Talk about exposure—wow! And, Chris, I must say I do enjoy being one of your “favorite fantasy and best debut”. Now if only there wasn’t that "so far" in the sentence. Kidding, I’m totally flattered.
Sorry about the lack of grit, though. I think that’s probably because I’m too much of a goofball to write gritty stories…not at this point in my life anyway. But who knows what I will write once I am old and bitter. ;)

Katie said...

Sounds good. I've added to my list but it's so hard to find time to read everything.

Tia Nevitt said...

Natalie, thanks for stopping by! Let's hope you never get bitter!

Katie, this book has the advantage in being short!

Anonymous said...

I did have some quibbles. The punctuation could have been more tightly copyedited, especially where question marks are concerned. When a question ends with a period or a comma, I usually think, "Huh?" and I go back to reread to be sure it was a question.

Yes, that was one of my quibbles. The other was that there were a lot of run-on sentences, sometimes strung too closely together.

I did enjoy the story, though, and gave it a good review.

But how did you figure out who did it? That's one of my failings; I can never figure that out, and I know clues have been left along the way. (Guess my brain just isn't wired in the right way, lol.) Unless, of course, it's so blatantly obvious that even a doofus like me can figure it out.

I'm enjoying your blog very much. :-)

~Nancy Beck (taking the lazy way out by not logging in)
http://writerlystuff.blogspot.com

Tia Nevitt said...

It was a process of elimination. I will say that the guy who did it remained off my suspect list for quite a while. And I didn't put it together until just before it was all revealed.

I'll check out your blog!

Kimber An said...

You figured out the villian in advance? I was glued to every page and I didn't!