Thursday, March 6, 2008

PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE by Nathalie Mallet

The difference between ‘Like’ and ‘Love’ for me when reading a novel is usually the speed at which I read it. If I ‘like’ a novel, I read the first half at regular speed and then speed-read the last half. If I ‘love’ a novel, I’m gripped by it from the first page to the last. PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE by Nathalie Mallet had me by the jugular to the very end.
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Within the first few pages, I was thinking, “Geez, this is just like high school!” The hero is a young man, but I have brothers and I knew their pain.
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PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE is set in a fantastical pre-Islam Arabian-type country. The Sultan has a revolving door on his harem, metaphorically speaking, and about three hundred children, as a result. Since women can’t succeed the Throne, the princesses are left with their mothers to be used as political pawns when the time is right. The princes are all a threat to the Sultan because succession doesn’t automatically go to the eldest son and because there are so many of them. To prevent the civil war created by this in past generations, all the princes are ‘caged’ in one palace. If they kill each other, well, that’s fine. One less sultan-assassin to deal with. And, yet, at least one of them’s got to survive to take the Sultan’s place when he croaks.
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The hero, Prince Amir, has survived to young adulthood by not drawing attention to himself. Since all his other brothers are greedy and power-hungry, this has not been difficult. The most powerful princes strut around with a court of butt-kissers and he can see them coming. Oh, yes, and they have a harem of cheerleaders…I mean, uh, girls all competing for the most powerful football players…um, I mean, princes’ attention too. This is a drag for poor Amir because, like any young man, he’d like a girlfriend too. Just one would be enough for him. Also unlike the various cliques of princes, Amir doesn’t believe in magic. He’s a geek…uh, I mean, he loves books and scientific experiments and all that.
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So, it’s kind of like high school, only in a much cooler universe and with flashier clothes.
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While the Princes are busy trying to off each other for the Top Job, the Sultan is busy being having grapes popped into his fat mouth while the Grand Vizier is actually running the country.
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Then, Princes start getting killed in a really weird way and by no one they can really tell. There’s screaming, a cold wall, and a shriveled up body. The Princes and servants are all freaking out because they’re just sure it’s a magical curse. Meanwhile, Amir thinks it’s some new-fangled kind of poison. As the body count goes up, he’s forced to investigate more and more, and to consider non-scientific possibilities.
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Amir picks up a 'friend' along the way. Prince Erik (his mama was a Nordic beauty) is like a booger on his finger that just can't shake off. Amir is suspicious of everyone while Eric is more easygoing. Eric has noticed Amir’s compassion towards two of their insane brothers who are kept locked in their rooms. Amir brings them food and cares for them when they have fits. In short, Eric sees the good in Amir whether he likes it or not. But, Eric has a powerful, manipulative mother and former nanny (woo-hoo, nanny!) and an overly strong attachment to his boy servant, Rami.
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Things really kick into high gear with the arrival of Princess Eva, Eric’s cousin. She’s been sent there to marry the next sultan. Since the next sultan hasn’t been selected, she’s one hot commodity to the princes. Meanwhile, the body count keeps going up. And, of course, Amir falls deeply in love with Eva who is nothing like the weak-willed, feather-brained harem girls.
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The plot twists and turns, mounting the tension with every page. I had no idea what was going to happen or who the real Bad Guy was and I was sure Eric’s boy servant was his secret little brother while Amir became convinced he was Eric’s gay lover. There’s riddles and spells and botched experiments, sword duels (love those), and Forbidden Love. It was just an awesome read anyone will love, whether you’re a young man like Amir or a long-married mama like me.
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Thanks a bunch, Ms. Mallet! So, um, when's my ARC of THE KING'S
DAUGHTER getting here? You are sending me one, right? Right? Please? Perrrrrtty please?
:o)
The rest of yas, pop over to http://www.nathaliemallet.com/ to learn more.





Coming up next week, GABRIEL'S GHOST by Linnea Sinclair.

8 comments:

Tia Nevitt said...

That was great! I read this over the summer and I need to get ahold of the ARC of the next book so I can make a fuss over the author when it comes out.

Kimber An said...

It's pretty cool. Now that I've written my review, I can go read yours. I didn't want to read it before I wrote mine, because I didn't want it to influence me.
;)

Tia Nevitt said...

I'm replying to your comment on my blog here. Yes, through the process of elimination, I did figure out who was the bad guy. But that didn't ruin it for me; the book was great fun.

Did yours have the grammar errors that mine had? I keep wondering if I ended up with an unmarked ARC.

Kimber An said...

Truthfully, Tia, I was too caught up in the story to notice the grammar.
;)
But, I'm no Grammar Guru anyway.

Yeah, I didn't figure out who the Villain was until it was revealed. I think I just get too emotionally involved.

Kimber An said...

Nathalie Mallet mistakenly posted this comment under the Christine Feehan book trailer announcement below. I took the liberty of copying and pasting it here.

Ms. Mallet said, "Thanks for that great review, Kimber, and it was sooo funny—I love it! :D Seriously, I’m really happy you enjoyed my story. And yeah—I will send you an ARC of THE KING’S DAUGHTERS as soon as they become available from Night Shade. Tia, you are getting one too. :)"

Kimber An said...

SCORE! (Kimber An high-fives Tia) It's good to be a book reviewer.

Thanks for popping in, Ms. Mallet. I'm very much looking forward to your next novel.

Nathalie Mallet said...

Of course I posted my comment at the wrong place—so typical. :/ Thanks for copying and pasting it here.

Kimber An said...

You're so welcome. This is why I have all comments emailed to me.
;)