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Game of Cages (Twenty Palaces #2)

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  3,093 Ratings  ·  133 Reviews


As a wealthy few gather to bid on a predator capable of destroying all life on earth, the sorcerers of the Twenty Palace Society mobilize to stop them. Caught up in the scramble is Ray Lilly, the lowest of the low in the society—an ex–car thief and the expendable assistant of a powerful sorcerer. Ray possesses exactly one spell to his name, alon

Paperback, 344 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Del Rey Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Storm Front by Jim ButcherDead Beat by Jim ButcherChanges by Jim ButcherHounded by Kevin HearneTurn Coat by Jim Butcher
Urban Fantasy non romance/action
50th out of 180 books — 249 voters
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Urban Fantasy With Male Lead Characters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Oct 28, 2013 Carol. rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: fans of Harry Connolly, masochists
The next in my streak of reading books I’d rather not be reading. Remember when I said, “I don’t know why I do this to myself, I really don’t”? I still don’t know the general answer, but in this particular instance, I suspect the combination of series OCD, a suspicion that the books weren’t nearly as good as GR reviews claim, and Connelly’s strangely successful $50,000 kickstarter despite his publishing house dropping this series.

Second in the “Twenty Palaces” trilogy by Harry Connolly, Game of
Ranting Dragon
Nov 07, 2011 Ranting Dragon rated it really liked it
Shelves: garrett

Game of Cages, the second installment in the Twenty Palaces series by Harry Connolly, returns to the story of ex-convict Ray Lilly months after the events detailed in book one, Child of Fire (see our review here). When a group of wealthy individuals gather to bid on a predator capable of destroying all life on earth, the sorcerers of the Twenty Palaces Society mobilize, and, as assistant to one of the sorcerers, Ray is caught in the scramble. Sent to inves
Hmmm- well, kind of the same feeling as when I read the Jill Hunter of Lili Saint Crow. I like the charactar, root for him and want to survive.But then I feel kind of queasy about all the death, and destruction and the PTSD it inflicts on the protag, that I wonder- maybe I should be reading some light romantic lit instead.

I love his vulnerability, his mistakes that come out of sheer ignorance. I really liked how he reacts like a normal person. He is afraid most of the time, gets mad at things I
Kathy Davie
Jun 12, 2012 Kathy Davie rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, fantasy, urban
Second in the Twenty Palaces urban fantasy series revolving around Ray Lilly, an ex-car thief striving to just survive.

My Take
Connolly yanks me in right from the start for a story that crosses horror with detective work with amateur black ops. Ray's dilemma of how to keep secrets that are spilling out right and left felt quite real---I do enjoy it when an author gives us these seemingly impossible problems and then slips in the solution. Only, in Game of Cages, the solutions are much more the t
Jun 19, 2012 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: An urban fantasy fan who loves death
Another fantastic novel written by Harry Connolly. This book somehow managed to be extremely riveting, even though it only takes place within a few days and in a small town. Game of Cages somehow managed to take all of the shock factor and amount of deaths from the previous book, and amplified it by 100. So much happens in the last half of this book that it makes up for the slowness of the first half. Understandably, it was building up to the ending, and what an ending. After finishing reading a ...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
Confusing at times, but fantastic. Very gritty and even darker than the first book. Not for the faint of heart, indeed. Ray is my hero, even at his thuggiest! I have no qualms against giving this book 4.5/5.0 stars. Reviewed for Bitten by Books:
Fangs for the Fantasy
Jul 23, 2012 Fangs for the Fantasy rated it did not like it
In this book, Ray Lilly is picked up at his working class job by Catherine because the twenty palaces society has work for him to do. She is not impressed to drive an hour out of her way to pick a wooden man. A big auction is happening for a predator in the tiny town of Washaway and Ray and Catherine are tasked with finding out the details of what is going on.

As to be expected, the situation quickly escalates and Ray becomes a one man rescuer once again. Someone has to save the town from the sap
Flail Around
Dec 07, 2011 Flail Around rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, uf, d-owns
In my review of the first book in this series, Child of Fire, I said: "I really enjoyed this book! Even though you are left with a few unanswered questions about the main character's past, the action is such that it sweeps you away. Good writing voice, excellent visuals of the world. A good solid, fast read."

Ugh. Really? That's all I wrote? /sigh

Well, that was singularly unhelpful as a refresher for this review.

The "problem" is that I could say the exact same things about book two. The author d
Sep 06, 2012 Kala rated it it was ok
I really liked the first book in the series; feeling that it had a lot of potential. The second one picks up a little while after, when the aftermath of the first had died down but not disappeared altogether.

The beginning was strong: new mission, new partner, a bit of rescue from the humdrum. Unfortunately the premise is similar despite the attempt to change it up. Instead of knowing a predator is loose in a small town, this time Ray and Catherine are just in the area to investigate. Of course t
Mar 21, 2012 Dianne rated it really liked it
This is the follow up to Child of Fire: A Twenty Palaces Novel and as Harry Connoly says in the first line his acknowledgments (in part) --- "This was not an easy book to write" . Well, this was not an easy book to read. More horror than anything else; this fast paced, bloody novel was off and running from the very start. To add to the horror of this book, it takes place at Christmas time. I actually sighed with near relief when I was done.

There is so much death and dismemberment in almost each
After trudging my way through two books of this, I can see why the series was cancelled. Explaining that, however, is harder. There's real excitement in these books. The narrative is good, the plot is good, world building isn't bad, but whatever it is that grabs hold of you and makes you need to finish a book and then need to read the next one is just utterly missing here. It's not a lack of romance - personally I think romance crap brings down a book, it's not a lack of understanding ...more
Gabe S
Nov 24, 2013 Gabe S rated it it was ok
Yup, more of the same.

Started out well; a new partner, a little more information on the mysterious 'Twenty Palaces' seemed to be forthcoming but apart from a trickle of never re-addressed tidbits, it ended up being the same-old same-old.

Story once again restricted to a single town, all powerful sorcerers coming in and disappearing in a puff of unexplained smoke, no real purpose for him being there but Ray Lily ends up having to take on the big bad all by himself for no other real reason then he
Jul 09, 2015 Vroom rated it it was ok
Big step down from #0.5, and a let-down from 1.0. Sort of seeing why the series never went anywhere because there have been two two books where the story has been "bad monster, people die. more people die. even more people die. look, people dying. die, people die. monster monster die people die....quick victory"

It's wearying, drudgery, and a shame because this world had such potential. What it's lacking in these volumes is growth and development. I know there's always a sense of "avoid special s
Nov 28, 2014 Slingshot rated it it was ok
I really liked the first book in the series; feeling that it had a lot of potential. The second one picks up a little while after, when the aftermath of the first had died down but not disappeared altogether.

The beginning was strong: new mission, new partner, a bit of rescue from the humdrum. Unfortunately the premise is similar despite the attempt to change it up. Instead of knowing a predator is loose in a small town, this time Ray and Catherine are just in the area to investigate. Of course t
Patrick O'Duffy
Apr 04, 2015 Patrick O'Duffy rated it it was ok
Harry Connolly's first book, Child of Fire, had its weaknesses but got my attention with its interestingly off-kilter take on the supernatural - ugly, brutal and ultimately alien.

Game of Cages explores those ideas further and gives them more depth, but unfortunately it also extends the weaknesses of the first novel, to the point where this book collapses under its flaws. Once again the pacing drags in the middle, there's a confusion of secondary characters that are impossible to keep track of (
Jan 21, 2014 Mr_noyes rated it it was amazing
The second entry in the Twenty Palaces Series clearly shows lots of improvement from Connolly. The Dialogue has a much better flow, the characters get deeper and the story takes some nice turns.

Sure, as many other reviewers already mentioned, the setting seems to be the same, i.e. a small town threatened by Evil (tm). However, I do not see this as a problem. In the first novel the plot revolved more around the seedy and sometimes really nasty secrets lurking behind the facade of an all American
Ian Cockerill
May 09, 2014 Ian Cockerill rated it really liked it
I like this. Grim, dark, genuine horror with a likable, conflicted main character who isn't over powerful. Did I mention dark? There are bodies aplenty, some belonging to characters you'll get to like before they go.
The system of magic is interesting, if it weren't for the current vogue for urban fantasy it would probably be described as science fiction with some people exhibiting talents and communing with alternate universes. The slow reveal of background is coming along nicely and I'm looking
Jay Green
Nov 14, 2015 Jay Green rated it it was amazing
The quality of the writing is absolutely top notch, but I should qualify my review by saying that its not necessarily the kind of writing you will enjoy. This series has a superficial resemblance to urban fantasy, but it would be more appropriate to call it horror. This book will tear you up inside, unless you are made of very hard stuff. The author knows how to transfix you with a slowly unfolding sense of desperation, before finally punching you in the gut hard. The writing does a fantastic se ...more
Eleanor With Cats
It took me a really really long time to get into this one, and in some ways the Twenty Palaces universe is really depressing, because it's so dark. I just love Ray Lilly's character voice. I keep coming back to hear, or read, stories told in it.

It's notable the good guys have two major (and very different) female characters, both of whom are Ray's boss at various times. After that you get down to Steve Cardinal, a helping character, and then everyone else is a minor character in some way, even t
Nov 24, 2010 JK rated it liked it
The formula was exactly the same in this book as the last, but it was still interesting.
Jul 17, 2015 Tarl rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the continued unravelling of the world around the protagonist in this book. Connolly knows just the right way to release a small amount of information to keep the reader wanting to understand more, and to keep them interested in the story and protagonist. It's actually really refreshing in the paranormal genre and I really do want to learn more about the societies that exist in the world Connolly has created.

Game of Cages is a wonderful sequel to the first book in the series. No
John Bogart
Dec 24, 2014 John Bogart rated it it was amazing
Shelves: modern-fantasy
I love this series!

Game of Cages picks up awhile after Child of Fire, the first book, ends. We see Ray limping through a mundane life between missions for the Twenty Palaces Society. He's clearly scarred by the events of the first book, which I loved. This is a series where the characters make hard choices and then suffer for them. There are no easy outs or deus ex machina to save the day.

The book begins with another representative of the Twenty Palaces besides Annalise. She's an investigator,
Naga Di Kandang
Mar 02, 2014 Naga Di Kandang rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this quite a lot. It's a follow-up in some ways, more than a direct sequel, to Child of Fire. Ray is teamed with an "Investigator" for the Twenty Palaces Society, and we gain quite a lot more insight into the structure of the Society and -- importantly -- its competitors.

Magic and predators continue to be spooky/scary as hell, and Ray gets to show off more of his skills and determination without the constant presence of Annalise. The internal narration is very human.

Recommended, and it
Jana Brown
This book rates somewhere between a two and a three for me. I really wanted to like it a lot and I still think Ray makes an interesting every man character who is caught up in something bigger than he is. Unfortunately the plotting and build up doesn't work for me. The beginning set up of a predator on the loose and a town full of folks trapped by it is interesting. I still like the gritty Call of Cthulu feel, though this book felt more brutal than the first one. However, the further Ray gets in ...more
K. Lincoln
Sep 16, 2010 K. Lincoln rated it really liked it
Ray Lilly is picked up from his blue collar job by Catherine, an investigator for the Twenty Palaces Society, a ruthless group of humans who will stop at nothing to keep other people from using magic.

Ray is a Wooden Man, a magically protected servant of a sorceror who, after the first book, Child of Fire, was sure he was going to end up in jail due to the crimes he had to commit in the name of "protection."

But the Twenty Palaces society is not done with him yet. Catherine takes him to the small
Alex Mendiola
Sep 15, 2010 Alex Mendiola rated it it was amazing
The Twenty Palaces series continues in Game of Cages. I was drawn into the harrowing life of Ray Lilly in the first novel of Child of Fire. As I've said before, strong choices make the best drama and this series has plenty of strong choices. Connolly builds a world largely unaware of the existence of real magic and the tragic consequences of its use. He walks the fine line between shock and disgust in his fiction. The theme of both books deals with crimes most in polite society would rather not ...more
Apr 29, 2012 Kristin rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars.

Another great entry in this series. I found the plot to be just as good, if not better than the first one. A predator who was recently sold on the auction block has escaped and it’s up to an investigator named Catherine, who was only in town to report on the auction, and Ray, who was only around to assist her, to find and stop it as the cavalry doesn’t seem to be coming. Unfortunately, all of the people who were bidding on it are after it as well, only they don’t want to stop it but wa
Jami Zehr
Oct 11, 2012 Jami Zehr rated it really liked it
In Game of Cages, Wooden Man Ray has been called upon by the Society to look into strange happens in a small town aiding an investigator, Catherine, they are to go in, document their findings, and get out. Ray has his Ghost Knife with him, the one spell he knows how to use (somewhat), a piece of paper with scribbles on it that will cut a person’s spirit and clothing, but not their flesh. He has the ability to call it to his hand, some hand to hand combat experience in prison, the will to survive ...more
Jul 20, 2012 Tom rated it it was amazing
This is the second book in the 'Twenty Palaces" series. I was late to the party and just recently discovered this series. Unfortunately after I fell in love with the first book I discovered that after the third book the series was dropped by the publisher.

That is by no means a reason not to read these.

While it is a second in the series, you don't have to read the first one to completely enjoy this one. I love that in a series, the books have a lose background together (so far) and if you happen
Oct 21, 2011 Shdnx rated it liked it
I liked Game of Cages, although it was mostly suffering from the same problems as the opening title of the series, Child of Fire.
This book really isn't too different from the first installment. Same world, same type of plot, similar challenges and resolutions. It was good, enjoyable, just as the Child of Fire, but... there was nothing new, and this subtracted very much from the book's overall value to me.

There's very little new information about the world the series is playing in. There were som
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