- Series: The Prince Amir Mystery Series (Book 1)
- Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Night Shade Books; paperback / softback edition (October 1, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1597800902
- ISBN-13: 978-1597800907
- Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,931,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Princes of the Golden Cage (The Prince Amir Mystery Series) Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 2007
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In the later Ottoman Empire, instead of killing all princes but the imperial heir (an earlier custom), lesser princes were kept in luxurious captivity, more or less as backups. Middling prince Amir has become a scholar, which makes him suspect when his brothers begin dying of apparently supernatural causes. Aided by highest-ranking brother Erik, Amir must unravel multiple plots to avoid murder or painful execution. Mallet has realized a fascinating, historically derived world whose characters, especially Amir and Erik, are skillful variations of Ottoman archetypes. The plot is simple, but the pacing is excellent. Good commuter and down-time reading. Murray, Frieda
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Sadly, someone in this male harem is practicing evil magic and killing off the brothers one by one. Can scholarly Amir figure out who it is or is he destined to be next?
I found this story an entertaining read, but it had some weak points. Amir's personality sometimes annoyed me. At times his approach felt passive, and he cared too much for his own self-preservation that I found him less intriguing than Erik. Also he never really transitions out of caring only for himself in a satisfactory manner.This was exacerbated by the weak 'love at first sight' quality to the romance which made the character seem a bit juvenile. I also wasn't overly excited about the 'mystery.' It is hard to care if princes are murdered if Amir isn't overly excited about investigating it. More time was spent courting the princess and running around the palace trying to sight see. I did like Erik/Rafi and was more curious about them than the main character.I also liked the setting.
Still, I don't want to scare you away. The book was fast-paced and entertaining read. I sort of wonder what the author could do if the story had less of a young adult quality. Amir and Erik are intriguing. I have bought the next one to find out what happens next.
In the kingdom of Telfar, the sultan's many sons are kept in opulent imprisonment in a very gilded cage. They are allowed anything, from military training, books, even women, everything that is, but freedom. Even leaving the Cage, as it is called, can bring death. So the princes form plots, and alliances among themselves, wondering who will be the next Sultan and who will be dead.
The story is told from the point of view of Amir, a young princeling who has turned his hours to studying. Along with learning swordplay, Amir keeps a very healthy sense of paranoia about him, knowing that it's not unheard of for a prince to have an unfortunate accident or two. And Amir knows that he's a prime target. His rooms are located between two of his brothers, one who is mad and screams, and another who is mad and mumbles a lot. While Amir does his best to care for them both, he's not completely altrustic -- they make good watchdogs, creating quite a ruckus when someone unknown comes into their section of the Cage.
Lately, there's been quite a few new people showing up at Amir's door. Despite all of his care to stay unknown and safe, he is approached by the Grand Vizier to do some investigating. Seems that every time there's a full moon, a prince has turned up dead, killed by some unknown assailant. Whispers of magic are starting, and Amir thinks that it's all bosh -- there's no such thing as magic, at least according to his self-taught, scientific mind. But he can't exactly say no to the Vizier either, and so we follow Amir as he starts to explore the Cage a bit more, and discover his many, many brothers as well...
Especially Erik, a blond, blue-eyed brother in this desert kingdom, who not is only skilled and ambitious, but also downright friendly. Maybe just a bit too friendly, actually...
To be honest, I was prepared to see something rather trite and dull, another tired retread of a fantasy theme. But I was surprised at just how complex and funny this novel was. While I could recognize quite a few of the elements that were taken from the history of our own world -- the Cage system was used in the Ottoman Empire to keep fratricadal wars from breaking out, or forcing a new Sultan to have all of his brothers strangled -- there were enough twists and turns and plot to keep my interest engaged.
While there's not a lot of character development here beyond Amir and Erik, there is a lot of action. Plenty of slipping about in hidden passages, dueling that usually results in a prince or two being dead, and very visual descriptions keep the story moving at a decent clip, and while the action does get a bit rushed in places, it's not bad either.
What does make this interesting is that there are women involved as well. There's Livia, Erik's mother, who appears once a year to visit, and quite a plotter she is too, along with her servant Salima and the arrival of her niece, Eva, a princess who is destined to marry the next Sultan. As is usual with women in these sorts of books, all of them are clever and brave, with fast wits and plenty of sauciness to them. What works here is that the author is wise enough to let them have a bit of the action, and it does make the encounters that they have with the two princes both funny and a bit poignant.
How the real murderer and the mysterious deaths are solved is a bit contrived towards the end, but in the end, it works out well. A sequel, The King's Daughters is listed on Amazon, but indefinately delayed, and I suspect that I will be reading it eventually.
All in all, a good read, a wee bit predictable, but enough surprises to keep it from being an average read. Fine for an evening's entertainment, coming in at three and a half stars, rounded up to four stars overall. Recommended.
Even though Amir tries not to draw much attention to himself, he is known to be a scholar and seemingly magical endeavors. Because of his interest in sciences that others don't understand, Amir also becomes a suspect in the murders. As he begins to form a friendship with his brother Erik, Amir soon learns that Erik has his own secrets.
The Princes of the Golden Cage is a fantastic mystery. And as the mystery dominates the story, I'd consider it more of a mystery than fantasy story. Though there are definitely elements of the fantastic with the magic-related deaths and supernatural monsters. With a good mystery, you need strong and vivid characters, which this story does not lack either. Prince Amir is relatable and likeable. And while other characters may also be likeable, Mallet does a great job keeping everyone seem a little suspicious. The final, climactic revelation is a superb whodunit with quite a few interesting surprises!
Fans of both mystery and fantasy will enjoy this exciting novel.