Read on: 22/01/2017
Rating: ★★★★ 3.7/5
Release date: 26/01/2017 (UK)
Publisher: Pan Macmillian
*I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
“There’s no magic more powerful than the human spirit”
Set in an alternate modern world where a selected group of people possess powers – Skill – Guilded explores the problems of prejudice based on class. Whereas in most parts of the world that having the Skill doesn’t affect your status, in the United Kingdom those who have power rule and those who don’t have to give up ten years of their lives into slavery. Common folk are given the option of either applying to work during those ten years in slavetowns or at estates owned by Equals – the ones with power.
Abi, one of our main characters, tried to get her whole family to work at an estate instead of a slavetown, as the rumours said those in such towns often experienced ten years void of joy. Although Abi managed to get most of the family accepted at the Jardine’s estate – owned by the founders of this type of political system in the UK -, her brother was placed in Millmoor, a slavetown near Manchester, where the family was from. However, a revolution was brewing long before Luke’s arrival at Millmoor. With his family way, Luke feels lonely and his hope to rejoin his family ebbs away with time, so when he gets a proposition to join a rebellious group in Millmoor, Luke accepts it. At the Jardine’s estate, Abi finds herself falling in love for one of the sons of the most powerful Equal in UK, while slowly uncovering some of the family’s secrets, which completely changes her perception of the Equals.
Although set in modern England, it didn’t feel like it until very far into the book. There was never any mention of phones, computers, internet, or any other technology which define our generation and time. The only mentions that could tell you it is set in modern England is the existence of cars, television and technology to read chips and ID electronic cards, which were only mentioned very late into the book.
However, the two things that bothered me the most were the ridiculous amount of characters that the reader had to remember, considering this is the first book in the series, and the ridiculous names given to the Equals. Instead of overwhelming the readers with so many characters it would have been more beneficial to make the reader care more about the two main characters, which I don’t think was well achieved. I think that if the main goal was to give the Equals names which sounded posh or rare, then the author should have stuck with the ones given to royalty nowadays, such as Charles and Henry, as they already carry a certain connotation which would get the idea across without resorting to names like Silyen and Meilyr. Most names sounded like the author took them out of a high fantasy book, which, in my opinion, was a mistake.
The story is definitely interesting and does have a lot of potential to get a great sequel. The first instalment had a lot of political intrigue and, although most of the plot twists were quite predictable, there was a a handful of rather complex characters which I think is refreshing. I particularly liked Silyen, Meilyr and Luke. I also liked Bouda because she struck me as a very strong female character that knows what she wants.
Although it can be improved, I think Gilded Cage is a great start of an intriguing story with a lot of political conflict and revolutions. I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel.