Analysis: King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

Hi! Long time no see. Or read. For my summer reading assignment, I was blessed to have King’s Cage be on our school’s list. We had a choice of assignments and I chose to create a photo collage and with that, we were required to write an analysis. I decided to share mine here.

*Please note: This blog post was written a while ago. My thoughts, opinions, and writing skills have changed since then. Any posts written before 2020 should be assumed to not fully reflect my current thoughts, opinions, and writing capabilities unless otherwise stated. If you would like clarification on my thoughts/opinions about any specific points mentioned in this post, feel free to reach out to me.*

Hi! Long time no see. Or read. For my summer reading assignment, I was blessed to have King’s Cage be on our school’s list. We had a choice of assignments and I chose to create a photo collage and with that, we were required to write an analysis. I decided to share mine here. 

Warning: Minor SPOILERS ahead!

//He caught me back then, ensnaring me in a prince’s trap. Now I’m in a king’s cage. But so is he. My chains are Silent Stone. His is the crown.//

-King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

Analysis:

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard is a dark and thrilling novel full of betrayal, lies, twists, romance, tragedy, power, and rebellion. The third and penultimate book in the Red Queen series, the story follows the continuing journey of Mare Barrow as she tries to escape the clutches of the evil boy-king, Maven Calore.

Starting from the top right of the collage, the first picture depicts a girl in red clutching her wrist. This is meant to represent Mare. When she is imprisoned in Whitefire Palace, her captor Maven often has her dress in red. Red is an important symbol throughout the Red Queen series, as it represents the Red bloods and their fight for equality (hence, the name of the rebel group is the Scarlet Guard).“The fabric is red. As the dawn, my mind whispers. But that is wrong too. This is not the color of the Scarlet Guard. Ours is a lurid, bright, angry red, something to be seen and recognized, almost shocking to the eye. This gown is different. Worked in darker shades, crimson and scarlet, beaded with chips of gemstones, woven with intricate embroidery. It shimmers in the darkest way, catching the light overhead like a pool of red oil. Like a pool of red blood. The dress will make me–and what I am–impossible to forget” (Aveyard 64). Furthermore, the cuff around the wrist of the girl in the photo represents the manacles Mare was forced into during her time as a captive. The manacles are a major part of the story because they take away all of Mare’s lightning power, making her weak and defenseless. They are a symbol of Maven’s dominance over her. The next photo is of a crown. The crown represents the lies and power of the throne. Maven and his mother has been fighting for control of the kingdom since before he was born. The Silver court constantly plots the best way to become close to the throne. Even Cal, the exiled crown prince, is not resistant to the pull of the crown. Ultimately, it is his weakness and he chooses the position of king over Mare and the rest of the Scarlet Guard. “I thought Cal was immune to the corruptive temptation of power. How wrong I was. He was born to be a king. It’s what he was made for. It’s what he was made to want…The crown is in his heart, and hearts do not change” (Aveyard 504, 507). The next photo shows an extravagant chandelier hung from the ceiling of an elaborate palatial structure. This is meant to exude the same richness that Whitefire Palace does. Furthermore, the chandelier is also a part of the plot, when Mare tries to use one to escape. “But I’m inside the palace again in a few seconds, walking beneath a king’s ransom of chandeliers. They don’t bother me so much, not after my first and only escape attempt. In fact, they almost make me smile” (Aveyard 256). In the next row, the first picture has a gowned lady walking down a marbled hall. This is to show the aesthetic of what I imagine the inside of the palace at Archeon to look like, with riches all around whenever Mare walks through them. The author takes special care to describe the elaborateness of the building. “As we cross the hall, I take a deep breath, looking around. Marble beneath me, chandeliers above me, tall glimmering mirrors and gilded paintings of Calore ancestors marching up the walls on either side. Red and black banners, silver and gold and crystal” (Aveyard 177-178). The central photo in the collage is a birdcage. The use of this picture was inspired by the title of the book, the fact that Mare is inside the cage King Maven has created. “The tall spires of Archeon are familiar, but not a comfort. The convoy rolls back into the jaws of a cage I know all too well. Through the city, up the steep roads to the palatial compound of Caesar’s Square and Whitefire…Part of me thought winter would last forever, mirroring my imprisonment. I don’t know if I can stomach watching the seasons turn from inside my royal cell” (Aveyard 255). Next is a picture of blood dripping from a hand. This, again, is to represent all the bloodshed and war during the rebellion. While Mare is trapped in Maven’s cage, the rest of the Scarlet Guard is carrying out attacks against the King and his Silvers. “‘Scarlet Guard. It’s a massacre.’ Fear shivers in my voice. ‘For who?’ He hesitates, and I wait. Finally he draws a ragged breath. ‘Both.’” (Aveyard 208) In the next row is a picture of lightning held in the palm of two hands. This represents not only Mare’s power with lightning or those of the electricons, but those of all the newbloods. Their powers is central to the series. Lightning is a part of Mare. All her power comes from it. It makes her strong. The moment she is free from her Silent Stone and gets her lightning back after six months is a powerful moment. “The electricity rushes back, thundering from the deepest part of me. Every nerve shrieks to life…I look down to see purple and white. Naked electricity jumps between my fingers, hissing in the air. The push and pull is achingly familiar. My ability, my strength, my power has returned…It caresses my open palms, and I shiver at the feel of such power. I thought I had forgotten what this was like. But that’s impossible. I can forget almost everything else in this world, but not my lightning. Not who and what I am…The lightning goes where it wants. It explodes through me with every heartbeat. The purple-white bolts and sparks dance along my fingers, blazing in and out of my palms. I shudder in pleasure. Nothing has ever felt so wonderful. I keep looking at the electricity, enamored with every vein. It’s been so long” (Aveyard 300-301). The second to last picture is of a sort of Cat’s Cradle, craftily woven to show a face. To me, this is a good representation of Maven, both in the way he schemes to create a different face for his kingdom and in the way his mother Elara shaped who he is with her whisper powers. “Maven is a talented liar, and I don’t trust a single word he speaks. Even if he was telling the truth. Even if he is a product of his mother’s meddling, a thorned flower forced to grow a certain way” (Aveyard 171). Finally, the last picture shows a young man who is dressed in handsome prince regalia. This is not intended to be either Maven or Cal, but is open to interpretation. I simply included it to capture the essence of the princes and the way they grew up in royalty, a life full of precision and crisp edges. Furthermore, it shows that despite their differing personalities, the two characters are still brothers and more similar than they think. They are both seduced by the power of the crown. They were raised to reign. “Even though this is Maven’s palace, Maven’s world, I see Cal in it. The immaculate uniforms, drilling soldiers, flaming candles, gilded walls of portraits and house colors. An empty salon reminds me of dance lessons. If I glance at Maven from the corner of my eye, I can pretend. They’re half brothers after all. They share similar features. The dark hair, the elegant lines of a royal face” (Aveyard 161).

Overall, I gave the collage a blue hue to match the shimmery cobalt of the book cover. In the pictures themselves I aimed to add pops of red and silver, the two colors of blood in the series. I tried to choose pictures of elegance because much of the book takes place within the majestic castles and there is always an undertone of richness and aristocracy.

Merry Readings,

April

Author: april | lostinthebookstacks

hello! i'm april (she/her), an asian american reader who’s passionate about words and scallion pancakes.

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