Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cage of Souls” as Want to Read:
Cage of Souls
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Cage of Souls

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  2,891 ratings  ·  300 reviews
The Sun is bloated, diseased, dying perhaps. Beneath its baneful light, Shadrapar, last of all cities, harbours fewer than 100,000 human souls. Built on the ruins of countless civilisations, surviving on the debris of its long-dead progenitors, Shadrapar is a museum, a midden, an asylum, a prison on a world that is ever more alien to humanity.

Bearing witness to the despera
Hardcover, 602 pages
Published April 4th 2019 by Head of Zeus
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cage of Souls, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
CBRetriever Not yet. It's available on and However the author is a UK resident, so his books usually come out there first.…moreNot yet. It's available on and However the author is a UK resident, so his books usually come out there first.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,891 ratings  ·  300 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Cage of Souls
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

This book is hard to describe, much less define. Incredibly dense, every page packed with ideas, imagination, and extraordinarily literate prose. I'm continually impressed with how different the narrative voice is in every piece Tchaikovsky writes.

Written in the style of a literary memoir, Cage of Souls narrates the tale of Stefan Advani. Advani styles himself an academic, and his survival of a harsh prison, a dangerous jungle, and an unforgiving city is achieved more through the genero
André Oliveira

Right in the middle.

oh my god, finally! Is this a bad book? I wouldn't say so.

This book was one of my anticipated books of 2019 and I am disappointed.
After reading Children of Time (one of my favourites) and Dogs of War, I was really looking forward to read this book. I even pre-ordered it.

Let's talk about the plot and the overall story (no spoilers, obviously).
The idea for this story is so interesting: The sun is dying and humans are living in the last known city, Shadrapar. We start the b
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This author's take on the dying Earth makes for a beautifully written and wildly inventive story that owes much to what has gone before including the Viriconium books, the works of Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe and even a touch of Michael Moorcock.

Stefan Advani is a scholar with a rich history in the city of Shadrapur, the last city. The Sun is dying and the Earth has grown strange with forgotten technology, inscrutable super-intelligences and rampant evolution. We pick up Stefan's story after he's bee
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Aug 2020: read for the second time. This time I listened to the audiobook which I enjoyed a lot. I am as fascinated by this terrific story as I was the first time. And since my memory is simply horrible, I didn't remember who's to live and who's to die. Therefore the final showdown was as nail biting as the first time. (at least one good thing about a bad memory)


I hereby declare Adrian Tchaikovsky as (one of?) my favourite contemporary SF author.

Jul 01, 2019 rated it liked it
This one was a weird read for me because it's standalone fantasy and often I find I enjoy series more. However, I picked this up as it's by Tchaikovsky who is one of my favourite authors, and I am very glad to have read it even though this particular book isn't my favourite by him. This story actually reminded me a little bit, at different times, of a fantasy of manners story, and also of the Tower of Babel series by Josiah Bancroft. I have to admit that I liked the Babel series more than this, ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Awesome. Basically an epic Dungeons and Dragons scenario about climate change in the extreme far future? I would also describe it as China Mieville but without the big wanky words.
Renee Godding
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 stars

This was great! Wonderful worldbuilding, interesting and distinct protagonist and a plot that kept me engaged from start to finish. I highly recommend the audiobook for this one: the narrator does a phenomenal job of voicing the characters in a way that brings their personalities to life even more, making for an even greater experience than this already was.
I’ll be sure to pick up more of Tchaikovsky’s work in the near future.
Brilliant! How in the world did this not win the Hugo and Nebula last year?! It has everything you could possibly want in a novel, even great literary merit. I think I've found a new writer whose entire oeuvre I'm going to read.

This story takes place in a dark and distant future in which the Earth is so messed up that only a single city remains, surrounded by fecund jungle teeming with new (and often intelligent) life forms. The story is told a bit in the style of a Dickens novel by a scholar w
✰ Aileen ✰
I don't know what to say except that this book is amazing. ...more
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Adrian Tchaikovsky's Cage of Souls reminded me strongly of a 19th century exploration and adventure story from its opening pages. What was actually within its pages was a bleak and rather horrifying far future on earth, where humans live in the city of Shadrapur. It's a very long time from now, and Shadrapur is built upon countless other cities. The humans of Shadrapur have lost so much knowledge over the ages; many cannot read, and are confounded by what technology they do have; also, Shadrapur ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Cage of souls is a dark and hypnotic sci-fi story with a strong eco message. It is set on a future and failing Earth, which is suffering as the sun is dying. The world building is fantastic, depicting an ecology outside of the last remaining city that has evolved in terrifying and threatening ways. The city itself is populated by people who remain within its walls, having given up on the natural world and are too preoccupied with status, materialism and exhausting the last of the Earth's resourc ...more
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I consider this a very apt book just as the temperature of the earth increases year on year and that I read most of this during the 'Sahara Bubble', which scorched many parts of Europe this past week. I am grateful for the UK's weather system as it was subjected to just one day of 30 degree heat this past Saturday whilst parts of France reached a terrifying 45. Cage of Souls is set an unspecified amount of time in the earths future when most of the population has been wiped out. The cause is nev ...more
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a SF novel, with some fantasy flavor. Set in a far-future Earth, compacted to a single city Shadrapur and we follow the memoir of Stefan Advani, who describes in 19th century adventure fashion his past and present. I read is as a part of monthly reading for August 2020 at SFF Hot from Printers: New Releases group.

First of all, a have to admit, I like works by Adrian Tchaikovsky, so my review is biased, but in two ways simultaneously: I liked this novel less than Children of Time or Dogs
Olivier Delaye
Jan 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Ok so I am finally done with this book, and of two minds about it. First of all, the fact that it took me so long to read it can only mean one thing: I was not into it enough to stay focused and rabidly turn the pages. However, the fact that I pushed through and wanted to know how the story would end bears undeniable testament to Tchaikovsky’s skills as an author. Indeed, despite my wanting to DNF it, Cage of Souls never let me go and kept piquing my curiosity chapter after chapter. Now, to be c ...more
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
There are usually two ways of moving the plot forward: either the focus is on the story and the events that happen or you let the characters lead the way and hook the reader on their personal journey. This book did neither. A bunch of random stuff happens, but it's all a disjointed mess with only a thin narrative thread between it all. There was no clear goal or destination at any point in the book. There was also very little from a character point of view. Even though the story is told through ...more
Di Maitland
‘I have made my mark on history in a series of Stefan-shaped holes and lived to write this account. At the same time, this not the account of a reliable witness, only the speculations of a man who was not there.'

4.5*s. This book was so rich and luscious that it positively oozed out of the pages. Weird and funny and creative and compelling, I’ve never read anything like it and can only hope that I do again.

Earth is in it’s final years and the remnants of humanity resides in one, final city: Shadr
Antti Värtö
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tchaikovsky doesn't disappoint. Cage of Souls is a story about a scholar who is sent to a prison in the middle of jungle, and not just any jungle: this is a place filled with monsters. The prison guards are ruthless and their bosses even more so: punishment for even minor infractions is often death and there is no one to reprimand the guards for excessive violence. And did I mention the monsters? They sometimes get inside the prison, as well.

Sounds like a brutal and horrific tale, right? But in
Jun 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I always get excited when I hear about a new Tchaikovsky novel. This one no different.

It starts off with the protagnosist being shipped to an island prison. Sort of gave me a scifi Papillon type feel.

The world building is unique, the story telling a type of scifi literary memoir feel. My issue was the pacing, we jump a few time periods before and present but I felt like nothing exciting happened directly to Stefan. He really just observed the main plot lines, although was involved at times to a
Jeremy Eaton
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Still not sure entirely what it is that I just read, but giving whatever it is less than 5 stars feels wrong. Aptly titled book.

Annihilation, Hyperion, and King Rat (Clavell) all in one
Patrick Mcnelis
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was very pleased with this book. My second foray into Tchaikovsky's works and it was an incredible one. If you liked Gene Wolfe's New Sun series, you may very well like this as it is written in a very similar style. The story takes place in the far off future on an earth that has evolved in many strange ways thanks to the abuse it sustained at the hands of humans. What's left of the human race is relegated to a tiny patch of the planet, surrounded by toxic land and seas and monstrously mutated ...more
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read
After powering through Children of Time I preordered Cage of Souls looking for an equally gripping tale to fill the gap while I waited for Children of Ruin to be released slightly later on. Well, that time came and went as I slowly plodded through the first half of this book. It was a very slow burn for me. There was nothing pushing me to pick up the book to continue reading for quite some time (2 months to be exact). However, the second half read with a very different pace and I eat it up withi ...more
Sadly a DNF (And I've decided not to rate books I don't finish from now on). I didn't like the narration but the premise was super cool. Annoyed because I've loved everything else I've read by this author but this one just didn't click. ...more
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I'm sorry Mr. Tchaikovsky. I feel bad giving this such a low rating, because I absolutely loved Children of Time, but I really struggled to finish this book. And, my main reason for the struggle is because I felt the plot is unfocused and meandering.

The basic premise of the book is actually very interesting. Shadrapar is probably the last city on Earth inhabited by humans in the very far future. The citizens of Shadrapar live in a dreary and bleak condition, as resources are limited due to seve
Faris Abdala
I read a book about writing sci fi once. It said that a story should be told from a character who has the most interesting life. This book does just the opposite.

The worldbuilding is very inventive. There are a lot of interesting things that would be really great had it been explored more. Unfortunately, a lot of the interesting points are left unexplored and only serves as a background information.

The main character constantly miss big events and told the story as he heard it from other charact
Craig M
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
To be honest this one went from a five star read to a four star, to a five star then back again.

There were parts I absolutely loved, but it didn’t quite reach a five star read level for me overall. I loved the first half of the book a lot more than the second half. I think this was because there was a lot more mystery as to where it was all going in the first half of the book.

Really it was not what I was expecting at all going into it but still a very good read.

A very good book that I would c
Andras Szalai
Jan 24, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: already-have-it
Would you look at that gorgeous cover?

I admit I have been putting off reading Cage of Souls for about a year. Children of Time is my favorite scifi from the last decade (and my first ever Tchaikovsky), and it was sooo good I was simply afraid that his other books could not live up to it. Well, this one couldn’t, but that’s ok. This defintely wasn’t my last Tchaikovsky.

Cage of Souls takes place in a very-very distant future. Civilizations have risen and fallen throughout the millennia, the Earth
The Grim Reader
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow! A break from horror saw me dive into Cage of Souls by the excellent Adrian Tchaikovsky and I am so damn glad that I did. What can I say about this book? It's epic, emotional, philosophical, introspective, exciting. And, as well as the before-mentioned things, it has a fantastic cast of characters. Cage of Souls includes everything a great novel should. I'm worried about what to read next. This has just snagged the top spot for my favourite read of 2020.

Don't be put off by the huge page cou
Johan Haneveld
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Whoah, I just discovered a new author to put on my list of favourites. This will not come as a suprise to a lot of SF/fantasy-fans as Adrian Tchaikovsky is writing for a long time now, in fantasy as well as in sciencefiction. I have read many favorable reviews, e.g. of his 'Children of time'. When I read the description of 'Cage of souls' I knew I had to try at least this one out. It's about a dying earth where the last remnants of humanity cling to existence in a single city, and it has a swamp ...more
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this one. It is so vast in fantasy and so epic in storytelling, that almost reached the heights of a brilliant masterpiece.

The end of the world and a dying sun is unimaginable from the safety of a chair or a bed, of a fridge full of food and the safety of a home and family. And yet when you turn the pages of this book, you feel the self-centredness of humanity and our capability to survive somehow in the most extreme of settings. From the pits of the underground, through the
Nia Sinjorina
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Whilst I am an avid reader of Scifi & Fantasy, I set high expectations for those authors that I allow to consume my time: command of the language and its concise use; ability to construct person and place within my mind; deep and consistent background; gripping pace and plot; something to say.

Suffice to say that a lot of authors, in these or most other genres, tend to rise to one or two, but not all of these expectations: I adore Neal Stephenson but he can go on; Peter Hamilton is a favourite bu
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Saints of Salvation (Salvation Sequence #3)
  • Light of Impossible Stars (Embers of War, #3)
  • War of the Maps
  • The Last Astronaut
  • Salvation Lost (Salvation Sequence #2)
  • The Book of Koli (Rampart Trilogy, #1)
  • A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1)
  • Fleet of Knives (Embers of War, #2)
  • Semiosis (Semiosis Duology, #1)
  • The Human (Rise of the Jain #3)
  • Bone Silence (Revenger, #3)
  • The Light Brigade
  • Beneath the World, a Sea
  • The Lights Go Out in Lychford (Lychford, #4)
  • The Fall of Koli (Rampart Trilogy #3)
  • Sisters of the Vast Black
  • The Deathless (Deathless, #1)
  • Interference (Semiosis Duology, #2)
See similar books…
ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY was born in Lincolnshire and studied zoology and psychology at Reading, before practising law in Leeds. He is a keen live role-player and occasional amateur actor and is trained in stage-fighting. His literary influences include Gene Wolfe, Mervyn Peake, China Miéville, Mary Gently, Steven Erikson, Naomi Novak, Scott Lynch and Alan Campbell.

Related Articles

Why not focus on some serious family drama? Not yours, of course, but a fictional family whose story you can follow through the generations of...
62 likes · 28 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“We must be careful what we become when we seek to change things. An old principle of physics: if you push, you yourself are pushed in turn.” 1 likes
“I was also unsure that once a man has raised the mob (for there is really only one mob, waiting in potentia to be raised) whether anyone can keep it from the barbaric acts of violence it strains for.” 1 likes
More quotes…