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To Cage a God

por Elizabeth May

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1313210,273 (3.5)Nenhum(a)
"To cage a god is divine. To be divine is to rule. To rule is to destroy. Using ancient secrets, Galina and Sera's mother grafted gods into their bones. Bound to brutal deities and granted forbidden power no commoner has held in millennia, the sisters have grown up to become living weapons. Raised to overthrow an empire - no matter the cost. With their mother gone and their country on the brink of war, it falls to the sisters to take the helm of rebellion and end the cruel reign of a royal family possessed by destructive gods. Because when the ruling alurea invade, they conquer with fire and blood. And when they clash, common folk burn. while Sera reunites with her estranged lover turned violent rebel leader, Galina infiltrates the palace. In this world of deception and danger, her only refuge is an isolated princess, whose whip-smart tongue and sharp gaze threaten to uncover Galina's secret. Torn between desire and duty, Galina must make a choice: work together to exposed the lies of the empire - or bring it all down." -- Jacket flap.… (mais)
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Wow, this was boring.
The idea was quite intriguing but sadly the execution was a very dull.

The story is told out of the perspective of not one or two protagonists, but out of five, which means we are not staying long enough with one character to get to know them better.
I have to say, I didn't like any of them, but then how could I as every time there might be a resemblance of growth, the chapter ends and we are somewhere else. And once we are circled back, the story has moved on and the moment of growth is gone.
The other problem with the multiple point of view approach is that there was no good arc of suspense. The constant jumping between characters just doesn't let it happen, as with the character growth, you think, "Oh, now it is getting somewhere!" , nope, let's change scenes instead of sticking to where we were at that moment.
Personally, I think if you do write from the point of view of multiple characters, that only ever really works in multi volume epic works, where you have suitable space and time for each of them plus the story arc as a whole, but trying to cramp it in roughly 400 pages ... that doesn't work.

Overall the whole story didn't seem good thought out. Yes, we have a tiny bit of background history but not very much, which makes me think that the author didn't put much effort in it herself, I mean, she kind of copped out of it by let all the documents being destroyed in her own story, so that no one really knows anything about it either. Weak writing, honestly.

Also, the love scenes ... instead of being steaming, they were rather stiff, and not the good kind. (Really? She writes romances under a different name? Ok, would have never guessed.)
Why is there only consent between the m/f pair, and only the male character has to wait for it to be given?
I mean, yeah, sure, if you want to have a clap on your back that you were so considered and brought consent into your story, good for you, but the way it was written was beyond ... errr ... clumsy.
I was also wondering, if the dragon magic can mend clothes? They were tearing them off of them when they have no spares and that at least two days in a row.

Which brings me to my last point, the language in general, which was incredible simple.
I know that some people prefer it this way, but it is not my kind of tea.
At times I was really doubting that this was supposed to be an adult fantasy, as the sentence structure was on par with pre-teen books, and the only "adultness" was the inclusion of f-words.
And with that we are coming full circle of why this was such a boring book, if the language isn't there to make it interesting then even the most interesting story idea will be boring. ( )
  Black-Lilly | Apr 29, 2024 |
Originally posted on Just Geeking by.

Content warnings:
Listed by the author:

To Cage A God depicts violence and the impacts of imperialism against the backdrop of a budding war and revolution. The ruling class in this book is ruthless, ableist, and openly practices eugenics. There is frank reference to grim eugenics practices. One character manages chronic pain and disability and is forced to keep her illness invisible because of this.

In addition, another character is bonded to a god that demands self-harm, so please be aware of this if cutting is a trigger for you.

List of additional CWs:
Violence: murder, immolation, explosions, injuries, gore, death
Self-harm: alcoholism, suicide, stabbing (self-inflicted and not), cutting
Abuse: emotional abuse, manipulative relationships (parental)
MISC: self-medication, eugenics, frank depictions of living with chronic pain, PTSD


With a cover with a rune-inscribed skeleton and a dragon peeking out between the ribs, I could hardly pass up on To Cage a God by Elizabeth May.

This multi-narrative high fantasy novel follows the story of two orphaned girls who are tied together by horrific circumstances. Ruled by the alurea, a class who have captured the immense power of the gods in their bodies, the Faithless rebel against their oppression and brutality in any way they can. But how do you fight the power of the gods? You become a god.

Sera and Galina’s mother, Irina, the late leader of the Faithless, uncovered the ancient research that first gave the alurea their power. Through experimentation, they found that it only worked on children. Irina didn’t hesitate to experiment on her daughter Sera, however, she made a mistake, leaving Sera with a violent and angry god trapped inside her that is only placated with blood. Convincing an orphaned girl to take up her cause, Irina succeeded with Galina, filling her with the power of godfire, the very power that the Empress had used to massacre her village. The power that left scars on her body.

Now adults, the two sisters have been in hiding for many years, their mother long dead, executed by the Empress. When the new rebel leader assassinates the Emperor, their current home is attacked by a rival kingdom, sparking war again. This time, the sisters decide not to flee into hiding. When war happens, the commoners are the ones who end up suffering the most, and they are the only ones who have the power to stop the alurea once and for all.

But it means implementing a dangerous plan that puts Galina right under the Empress’ nose, where she could be exposed at any moment. Likewise, returning to their old home brings Sera face to face with the new leader of the Faithless who is intent on blowing every alurea to pieces, including Galina. He just so happens to be her ex-lover.

As both women play a game of cat and mouse with danger, the stakes couldn’t be higher as the Empress raises the stakes trying to root out the Faithless, and she doesn’t care how many commoners get hurt in the process.

I’ve seen several reviews suggesting that To Cage a God is nothing more than a retelling of Russian history. While the book definitely does take inspiration from Slavic cultures, I can’t remember seeing anything by the author to suggest that intention, nor am I familiar enough with Russian history to comment on it. What I will say is that I came here for the fantasy.

The world-building is wonderfully refreshing. It’s gloriously dark and is everything that the cover promised, wrapped up with complicated and realistic characters that spoke to me. Characters with divine powers, channelling the powers of the gods is nothing new, however, having a god trapped inside their rune-inscribed bones? That is some dark creativity that stands out to me.

It took a while for some of them to get to me, specifically Sera and Vitaly. In contrast, Galina, Anya and Katya got there pretty quickly and Vasilisa stole my heart from the first moment. I didn’t just adore her because she was a disabled character, it was her wicked streak and sarcasm that flew in the face of decorum. I was not expecting her in any way and deeply appreciated the chronic pain representation that was very accurate, and the eugenics storyline.

A rather nasty review of To Cage a God reduced it to a bunch of stereotypes, and to be frank, some reviewers need to learn the difference between stereotypes and archetypes. As with all fantasy books, this one has familiar archetypes. These characters are not stereotypical, and in particular, I found the relationships to be the opposite of stereotypical. Sera and Vitaly’s relationship troubled me at first, as it appeared to be quite toxic, and there are certainly some moments that are not healthy. However, no relationship is perfect, and it’s always nice to see that portrayed in a book.

This is a solid four and a half stars for me, and the only reason it’s not higher for me is that it’s just a wee bit dark for me. This is a very trauma-heavy book, and that’s not a bad thing; May handles it sensitively and not as a plot device (unlike other books I’ve read). It just was a bit darker than I like my fantasy, especially as someone with PTSD. Be sure to check the content warnings for this one.

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( )
  justgeekingby | Feb 4, 2024 |
Thank you to NetGalley and DAW for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Pub Date: February 20, 2024

3.5 Stars. I really enjoyed the concept and the world but the writing just didn't pull me in unfortunately. There was a lot of repetition in some places which really bogged down the story (yes, we already know x about this character as it gets mentioned multiple times/every time the character has a chapter). I think I would have enjoyed this more if I read it in junior high/early high school. That said, I will probably continue reading the series to see where it goes and how the writing evolves. ( )
  Fatula | Jan 18, 2024 |
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"To cage a god is divine. To be divine is to rule. To rule is to destroy. Using ancient secrets, Galina and Sera's mother grafted gods into their bones. Bound to brutal deities and granted forbidden power no commoner has held in millennia, the sisters have grown up to become living weapons. Raised to overthrow an empire - no matter the cost. With their mother gone and their country on the brink of war, it falls to the sisters to take the helm of rebellion and end the cruel reign of a royal family possessed by destructive gods. Because when the ruling alurea invade, they conquer with fire and blood. And when they clash, common folk burn. while Sera reunites with her estranged lover turned violent rebel leader, Galina infiltrates the palace. In this world of deception and danger, her only refuge is an isolated princess, whose whip-smart tongue and sharp gaze threaten to uncover Galina's secret. Torn between desire and duty, Galina must make a choice: work together to exposed the lies of the empire - or bring it all down." -- Jacket flap.

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