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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars


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on 14 September 2015
This is an excellent series by Harry Connolly which I've only discovered recently and then had the absolute pleasure to read all four, back to back.

A superb urban magic novel with brilliant believable characters, fascinating magic system and enough adventures to keep you completely entertained through the whole book.

Give them a try - they're brilliant!
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on 4 September 2010
It must be incredibly difficult for an author to maintain the momentum built up in a first novel so that it will carry over into the second. Game of Cages is not only as good as the first book in this series, Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel, in some ways it may even surpass that great debut.

Raymond Lilly is back in the real world working in retail. Retail? Ray? Yep, but not for long. An investigator for the Twenty Palace Society comes by the store where Ray is working and convinces his boss that Raymond's mother needs him immediately. What Catherine Little really wants is for Ray to accompany her to an auction where a predator is to be sold to the highest bidder. Once Ray gets in the car with Catherine it's non-stop action for these two people who are trying to keep a predator from being let loose on the world. Unfortunately, when Catherine and Ray reach their destination they find that the predator has escaped from the group that bought it and they have to try to find it and destroy it even before they know what this predator can do.

Harry Connolly took quite a few risks with this book and turned a plot that is not exactly brand new into a story I honestly had a hard time putting down. First he has used a 45 year old woman with a husband and two daughters as the other character working with Raymond. By giving me a character I didn't expect it put me a little on edge about how she would react. Would she be a help or a hindrance, what could she contribute to the story? Second risk: there is a huge body count in this book. And that leads directly to the third risk of having Ray act in ways which are normally viewed as wrong. Raymond and Catherine are pretty much on their own trying to cope with the magic and track down this predator until the Society sends a peer to kill it.

So why 4 stars instead of 5? First, a device Connolly uses to help readers keep up with a lot of characters is having Raymond give people nicknames: Well-Spoken, Tattoo, Stork Neck, the Fellows and I needed that to keep people straight in my mind. Next, the action all takes place in a very small geographic location so there wasn't much variation in locale. Fourth, Annalise was a long time in making an appearance in this story and I would have liked to see her sooner because she is such a dynamic part of this team. And last, I still didn't learn quite as much about the Twenty Palace Society as I would have liked.

Would I recommend this book to someone who enjoys reading action loaded books about magic? You bet I would! There is even an excerpt from book three in the back of this one. Harry Connolly states in the Acknowledgements that this was not an easy book to write. After reading it I can certainly sympathize with him on that, but it was very successfully done and a fine second book for the series.
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The long awaited follow up to "Child of Fire".
Ray Lilly is a "Wooden Man", basically an expendable foot soldier working for the mysterious Twenty Palaces, an brutal organisation looking to contain the use of magic and those who abuse and dabble in it.
Here we have Ray joining with a Twenty Palace investigator to track the sale of a lethal predator. On arrival they discover that things have already gone horrible wrong and the body count is starting to pile up. Set in a very limited geography, a large house and then the nearby town, Ray and Catherine try to contain things until a Palaces "Peer" can get there to resolve things. Annalise (Peer from the previous novel does also make an appearance, but not until quite late) but as you might expect, Ray ends up being the main focus.
Enjoyable, but in my opinion not quite up to the standards of the firs tone. Partly because the author almost over eggs the pudding, there is so much going on that it gets confusing at times, partly because the author repeats much of the first book in his approach but fails to answer key questions or explaining much more about the Twenty Palaces. Harry Connolly can't keep on teasing us and needs to share a little! It's about time we learn more about the Twenty Palaces and Ray has a surprisingly deep affection for both Annalise and seems invigorated by work for the Palaces, neither of which is really explained.
I shall obviously buy the next one but am looking for the author to actually hoof this series forward and not give us the third version of the same thing. He has painted a very interesting world for us and he needs to let us play in it a little bit.
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on 20 January 2012
This is the second book in Harry Connolly's 20 palaces series.

Raymond is yanked from his mall job by Catherine an investigator for the 20 Palaces society. A dangerous predator is being auctioned off to the highest bidder and ray is the closest asset the society has. Together they race to investigate to find the auction has gone terribly wrong and the creature is loose. Ray and Catherine are on their own against a dangerous predator and all those interested in procuring it. Without rays's boss Alanise its a stretch for ray to deal with either threat.

It is essentially another monster hunt like the first book, but the nature of the creature is revealled quite early and the majority of the story is a search and destroy scenario with Raymond racing against time to deal with the predator before others can capture it. There is much more violence and gore with less suspense as the reveal is quite early on. As such the action quotient is higher and the horror aspect has less impact. There is however a great deal of magical activity and firepower used compared to the first book - as the ante has been well and truly upped.

The body count is extreme and unrelenting leaving the reader somewhat stunned and desensitised by the end of the book. The author does a pretty good job of reminding us that its people dying using various devices to remind us those being killed are victims not monsters. However the majority of the dead remain nameless despite the impact of the few named victims. The tendency to give bad guys appellations like stork-neck is initially helpful but later can become a distraction.

The predator in this case is no doubt extremely dangerous - as evidinced by the impressive body count but without feeling terribly threatening. This is partly due to the aspect the creature has :- partly down to the monster being only half the story as raymond faces off against against magically adept humans.

The book reveals a little more about the nature of spells/magic but little about the 20 palaces. No doubt to keep us dangling for morsels dealt out in future books. My major criticism is that the Ray/Catherine dynamic is nowhere near as compelling as the Anallise/Ray team from the first book. This is clearly down to the plot as it would be an untenable story if Annalise was there from the beginning.

Its a very good read, though differently paced from the first book. I will be immediately reading the third book in the series.
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on 3 September 2011
I liked <em>Child of Fire</em> so much so that I almost immediately downloaded the sequel, <em>Game of Cages</em>. Ray's on his own for this one. Well, almost alone - he's been sent with a researcher, Catherine, to check out an auction for very wealthy individuals for what can only be one of those creatures from another world (yes, the ones that like to eat us) and report back. That's all they're supposed to do.

Of course, that's not what happens. With Ray's usual run of luck, they find themselves trying to track it down in a sleepy town without getting all the locals killed or driven crazy. Or themselves.

Like <em>Child of Fire</em>, it's got great pace and I quickly wanted to know what happens to these two. The twists are pretty good and the little details are very convincing. I particularly like Ray's "ghost" knife (wishing I had one!).

By all means go, read some sample chapters and you'll be hooked, too.
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on 13 May 2013
It's a well written book with a good initial plot and interesting magical systems. However the action sequences are overly complex and confusing. Furthermore the plot never really fulfills it's Initial promise. The reliance of the hero on his limited resources defeating all comers becomes tired and irritating. The background to the organisation is never exposed and its motives never fully explained. So in my humble opinion it's neither worth the money or the time to invest in this book.
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on 30 October 2011
I love this book and all of Harry Connolly's 20 palaces novels. This is gritty modern magic at it's best and I look forward to more of these super page turners.

This book will not let you down and will sweep you into a violent and increasingly entralling world of magic, power and page turning thrills. It picks you up on page one and does not let you go until the end!
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on 8 March 2013
The Twenty Palaces series is really good.
Harry Connolly manages to write a fast paced and thouroughly entertaining story. I read it cover to cover in one sitting (yes that was a late night) and I can't wait to pick up the next one.
For all you Jim Butcher fans this is definately a series to read.
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on 23 May 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as much as I did the first. A great Urban Fantasy setting without the need to include romance.
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