It’s time again for another round of Canadian Dragon Tales, A Buddy Read Review starring me and the wonderful, Sha @ Book Princess Reviews.
Sha and I have had a fabulous time buddy reading different books together, although not all of them feature dragons! And we are so happy to bring you the review for this book today! A few months ago we read The Last Namsara by Kristen Cicarelli (an actual Canadian Dragon tale!) which we both adored and this past month we had the chance to read it’s companion novel!
So without further ado, we present…
Title: The Caged Queen (Iskari #2)
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Release Date: September 25 2018
Goodreads Rating: 4.11 (of 1,983 ratings)
Once there were two sisters born with a bond so strong that it forged them together forever. Roa and Essie called it the hum. It was a magic they cherished—until the day a terrible accident took Essie’s life and trapped her soul in this world.
Dax—the heir to Firgaard’s throne—was responsible for the accident. Roa swore to hate him forever. But eight years later he returned, begging for her help. He was determined to dethrone his cruel father, under whose oppressive reign Roa’s people had suffered.
Roa made him a deal: she’d give him the army he needed if he made her queen. Only as queen could she save her people from Firgaard’s rule.
Then a chance arises to right every wrong—an opportunity for Roa to rid herself of this enemy king and rescue her beloved sister. During the Relinquishing, when the spirits of the dead are said to return, Roa discovers she can reclaim her sister for good.
All she has to do is kill the king.
Sha: We finally got context on the deep hatred between the Scrublanders and the Firgaardians. The enmity was explained in detail, drawing on decades of unfair taxing and regulations. I appreciated this strength of Ciccarelli’s in Book 1 (focused on slavery) and I continue to love it in The Caged Queen: she weaves in these topical issues, giving an otherwise fantasy novel real-world weight.
Rendz: Having the expanded knowledge of the world was definitely a plus in this book. Not only did we get a better understanding of who these new people were but we get more history and more tales of myth! I loved the lore of the story and even though this book is not really a Divine Intervention plot, the stories of divine figures are very important! There was also boatloads of intensity and action! I was stresssesssed!!!! Every single time I opened this book my blood pressure soared! It was a great feeling because it meant I was super into the book!
Sha: Another love I had in this book was the return of beloved characters from The Last Namsara. We got to see newly-appointed commandant, Safire. (I would have liked to see a bit more on her struggles fitting in to her job, but it was still touched on and I *know* it’s not her book). The cuteness and fire himself, Torwin, barely had a page worth of time but his lines make me want to reread The Last Namsara immediately.
Rendz: Ugh every time Torwin stepped onto the page, I got heart eyes in my eyes! I wish we had gotten to see more of him and Asha, but what we got was truly magical! As for the other characters…hmm let’s see. I enjoyed reading from Roa’s POV. She was brash, angry and vengeful but also full of heart. I got frustrated with her at times (many times) because this girl needed some major perspective!!!! However, I still enjoyed her ferocity! As for Dax. He turned out to be more questionable than I imagined. On the Rendz Love Interest hierarchy scale…he is definitely a Boy Toy. As for Theo…….ugh. Just ugh.
Sha: I know, like, 100% am positive that Rendz will agree with me that the shining star (heh heh if you read the book you get that little pun) in this book is not the romance. Not the dragons (I know!!). It’s the absolutely beautiful and I mean BEAUTIFUL relationship between Roa and her sister. Correct me if I’m wrong, we didn’t know the entire story behind Roa’s hawk in Book 1. It was just, “Yeah, this girl likes her hawk a lot.” In The Caged Queen, that is expanded and the bond between the two is absolute heart eyes.
Rendz: Hehe *gets pun* I do, I do 100% agree. I had such a hard yet not-so-hard time between the relationships with the story. On one hand I absolutely adored the sister relationship! It was exactly what a sister-relationship is. It’s long lasting, it’s rocky, it’s magical! Having two sisters myself made me sympathize a lot with Roa and Essie! On the other hand the romantic tension was killing me. And on top of that there is Love Triangle nonsense—that honestly we didn’t really need to worry about, but still. I found it unnecessary!
Sha: This is a very unique and personal “negative” experience I’m about to share. But a few times I forgot I was reading The Caged Queen and thought I was actually reading The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. There were some character resemblances, a similar love triangle, and the journey our MC Roa goes on mimics Shazi’s. I’m NOT saying this book is a copy. Please don’t think that. The ending is completely Ciccarelli’s own. But in my head I found myself comparing the two books or flat-out mixing them together.
Rendz: I need to reread The Wrath and the Dawn to see the similarities because I am slacking! As for me, I think my biggest pet-peeve was that the politics and romance clashed for me. I felt like the politics were so intriguing to read about, but Roa’s thoughts always went back to romance. I know Sha feels differently about this, but I feel like it was a major distraction for me. Then again it could just be my own brain distracting me. Ugh, Rendz.
Sha: The ending was a bit rushed for my taste. We spent a lot of time building up the story (which I didn’t even realize was a build up) and when the real climax hit, I was three-quarters through the book. Does anyone else get a bit stressed seeing the “left to read” pages dwindle but the stack of problems facing our MC are only going up? That was me.
Rendz: Yes, I agree! The ending needed more meat. I was stressed the whole way through reading. Literally I was tearing my hair out and swearing at the characters (which in this case was a very good thing–because I was always in it to win it with this story). However, the final scenes were just not enough to fully satisfy me. I was hoping for I don’t even know what. Just more. I mean, it was sweet, but I want moreeeeeeeeeee.
Sha: 4.5 / 5 Stars
Rendz: 4 / 5 stars
Overall rating: 4.25 / 5 stars
Do we recommend?: Um YES. OBVIOUSLY YOU NEED TO READ THE LAST NAMSARA FIRST BECAUSE IT IS SUPERIOR. But this one is lots of fun and intense too!
Let us know what you think! Have you read this? Are you interested in reading it? Do you have any recommendations for us to buddy read together?