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Gunnie Rose #3

The Russian Cage

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#1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Charlaine Harris is at her best in this alternate history of the United States where magic is an acknowledged but despised power in this third installment of the Gunnie Rose series.

Picking up right where A Longer Fall left off, this thrilling third installment follows Lizbeth Rose as she takes on one of her most dangerous missions rescuing her estranged partner, Prince Eli, from the Holy Russian Empire. Once in San Diego, Lizbeth is going to have to rely upon her sister Felicia, and her growing Grigori powers to navigate her way through this strange new world of royalty and deception in order to get Eli freed from jail where he’s being held for murder.

Russian Cage continues to ramp up the momentum with more of everything Harris’ readers adore her for with romance, intrigue, and a deep dive into the mysterious Holy Russian Empire.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published February 23, 2021

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About the author

Charlaine Harris

304 books35.2k followers
Charlaine Harris has been a published novelist for over thirty-five years. A native of the Mississippi Delta, she grew up in the middle of a cotton field. Charlaine lives in Texas now, and all of her children and grandchildren are within easy driving distance.

Though her early output consisted largely of ghost stories, by the time she hit college (Rhodes, in Memphis) Charlaine was writing poetry and plays. After holding down some low-level jobs, her husband Hal gave her the opportunity to stay home and write. The resulting two stand-alones were published by Houghton Mifflin. After a child-producing sabbatical, Charlaine latched on to the trend of series, and soon had her own traditional mystery books about a Georgia librarian, Aurora Teagarden. Her first Teagarden, Real Murders, garnered an Agatha nomination.

Soon Charlaine was looking for another challenge, and the result was the much darker Lily Bard series. The books, set in Shakespeare, Arkansas, feature a heroine who has survived a terrible attack and is learning to live with its consequences.

When Charlaine began to realize that neither of those series was ever going to set the literary world on fire, she regrouped and decided to write the book she’d always wanted to write. Not a traditional mystery, nor yet pure science fiction or romance, Dead Until Dark broke genre boundaries to appeal to a wide audience of people who simply enjoy a good adventure. Each subsequent book about Sookie Stackhouse, telepathic Louisiana barmaid and friend to vampires, werewolves, and various other odd creatures, was very successful in many languages.

The Harper Connelly books were written concurrently with the Sookie novels.

Following the end of Sookie's recorded adventures, Charlaine wrote the "Midnight, Texas" books, which have become a television series, also. The Aurora Teagarden books have been adapted by Hallmark Movie & Mystery.

Charlaine is a member of many professional organizations, an Episcopalian, and currently the lucky houseparent to two rescue dogs. She lives on a cliff overlooking the Brazos River.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 689 reviews
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
July 26, 2021
Charlaine Harris’s alternative history/urban fantasy GUNNIE ROSE series shifts to a new setting in this third book in the series, The Russian Cage, one that was foreshadowed by the ending of the prior book, A Longer Fall. Lizbeth Rose, who makes her living as a hired gun or “gunnie,” receives an intentionally cryptic letter from her younger half-sister, Felicia. For the past year, Felicia has been living in what once was California, Oregon and Washington but is now the Holy Russian Empire, ruled over by a young, married Tsar Alexei — certainly a better fate for him than his actual historical fate of being assassinated at age thirteen by Soviet revolutionaries. He’s surviving his hemophilia with the help of magical blood transfusions from Grigori Rasputin’s descendants, which include Felicia (in fact, Lizbeth is also a grandchild of Rasputin, though she hides that fact from the Russians, telling them that she and Felicia share a mother rather than their Russian father).

Reading between the lines of Felicia’s letter, Lisbeth realizes that her on-and-off-again lover Eli, a Russian noble as well as a gifted magician or “grigori,” has been tossed into prison for political reasons. Felicia thinks that Lizbeth can do something to bust Eli out of jail, and Lizbeth can’t wait to try. Apparently finding out that Eli’s in trouble makes Lizbeth realize that her feelings for Eli are stronger than she’s previously been willing to admit, even to herself.

A four-day train ride later, she’s in the HRE’s capital of San Diego, getting the lay of the land from Felicia, Eli’s mother Veronika, and his friend Felix (who we met in A Longer Fall). Felicia’s life is more complicated — and dangerous — than Lizbeth had imagined, giving her qualms of guilt for sending Felicia to the HRE. There’s a conspiracy to take Tsar Alexei down, and Eli and the tsar’s other supporters are in the crosshairs. Eli’s family isn’t a whole lot of help: his older stepbrothers are antagonistic to him, and his mother and sisters are mostly helpless (1940s-era Russian society isn’t particularly encouraging of noblewomen being tough and resourceful, unless you’re a grigori). And no one seems to have any idea what crime Eli has been charged with. But Eli’s friend Felix, though oddly antagonistic toward Lizbeth, seems anxious to help get Eli out of jail, and Felix has some particularly interesting magical powers, as well as the beginnings of a plan.

Eli’s family and friends are intriguing characters, more complex than I initially would have guessed, and Charlaine Harris does a competent job of creating a believable Russian society in exile in western America, beset by political conspiracies and plots to unseat a tsar who is viewed as weak. The tsar’s wife Caroline, a Scandinavian princess, proves surprisingly useful to Lizbeth and Felix in their efforts to bring the royals’ attention to Eli’s plight.

There are a couple of notable breakdowns in plot logic, one involving Eli’s prison guard, a woman named Hubble who is supposedly a “null,” impervious to magical spells … except it ends up that she’s not, for no particularly good reason, and that seems to be simply an oversight by Harris. The other relates to a direction given by the tsar to Eli at the end, which simply didn’t make much sense from a plot perspective. It felt more like the author simply needed an excuse to move Eli in a certain direction, and perhaps that was the best reason she could come up with.

The plot of The Russian Cage takes some time to really get rolling, but the details, as they unfold, are intricate and interesting enough to keep the reader engaged, and the bloodstained climax toward the end is gripping. The dénouement in the last few chapters is far tamer, but it does provide a reasonably satisfying wind-up to the story of Lizbeth and Eli … at least for now.

The Russian Cage is a fun adventure, less weighed down by the slavery and social issues that darkened A Longer Fall, not to mention the constant references to eating and sex that bogged down the pacing of that book. The GUNNIE ROSE series is worth reading if you have an interest in Old West-flavored urban fantasy, which sounds like a contradiction in terms, but isn’t entirely. You do need to start with the first book, An Easy Death, and read the series in order.

Review first posted on FantasyLiterature.com. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC!
Profile Image for PamG.
880 reviews538 followers
December 6, 2020
THE RUSSIAN CAGE by Charlaine Harris brings intrigue, romance, danger, suspense and much more to a well-written and entertaining novel that is a mix of historical fiction, urban fantasy western and alternate history. It is the third book in the Gunnie (Lizbeth) Rose series and is largely set in San Diego which is now part of the Holy Russian Empire (HRE).

This novel picks up soon after book two ends with Lizbeth reading a letter from her half-sister Felicia. There are hints that Lizbeth’s estranged partner, Eli Savarov, needs her help. Lizbeth packs her guns and knives and takes a train to what was once California. Will Lizbeth be able to save Eli? How is Felicia doing in school in a world so different to her native land? How can a gunnie from Texoma (used to be Texas and Oklahoma) fit in when she gets to the HRE? Who can she trust to help her? How will she get along with Eli’s mother and sisters? How is a gunnie supposed to help Eli when she can’t carry her guns in the HRE?

Charlaine Harris is one of my favorite authors and she did not let me down with this addition to the series. The characters are compelling, led by strong and capable protagonist, Lizbeth. Her lack of patience and unfamiliarity with Russian court protocol made her feel more real. Her motivations are believable and well-drawn and the secondary characters were well-rounded and enhanced the story. The reoccurring characters gained in depth in this book and helped sustain the complexity of this story line.

The plot twists were believable but a few were unexpected. The story moved at an appropriate pace and the scenes were well described and gave me a clear sense of place. With this fantastic world-building and the cultural elements, it helped this reader feel as though she were a part of the action. I also liked that there was both some humor and new challenges for Lizbeth to overcome personally.

Overall, this novel brings thrills, action, family drama, political intrigue, magic, loyalty, power and much more making it a definite page-turner. Is it the last or will there be a book four?

If you like alternate history, action adventure, thrillers and fantasy, then this series is for you. I recommend reading the books I order. The first novel explains the alternative history aspect that is not fully explained in books two and three. Additionally, both earlier books show the growth of relationships for some of the secondary characters as well as for Lizbeth and Eli.

Thanks to Gallery Books – Saga Press and Charlaine Harris for a digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for February 23, 2021. This review was originally posted at Mystery and Suspense Magazine.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,322 reviews2,142 followers
February 22, 2021
This is the third book in this interesting and intriguing series, and it is every bit as enjoyable as the previous two.

In The Russian Cage Lizbeth discovers that Eli has been imprisoned and she races to California, which in this alternate history is the Holy Russian Empire, to rescue him. She finds herself to be a stranger in a strange land but fortunately has friends to help her, including her younger sister, Felicia.

There is a lot of very entertaining world building for this part of the country which is ruled by the Tsar and has lots of modern attributes which are unfamiliar to Lizbeth. Customs are different too and, as in book 2, she sometimes finds she even has to wear a dress.

This is a very easy, fun read with lots of action, great characters and a good story. I hope the author is going to continue with the series.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Mel (Epic Reading).
917 reviews283 followers
May 31, 2021
More or less exactly what I expect from Charlaine Harris and this series. A bit more positive than the previous books; but that was okay. It felt like time some events and scenarios went Lisbeth’s way in her travels. Well besides her just surviving. The body count is not as high here as I recall from the last two books either.

Random Thoughts
Theres a little bit too much frivolity and fuss over how non-girly Lisbeth is. It felt overdone and unnecessary. Although it was fun to have all her fancy attire (dresses and the like) described. Clothing was very important in Russian Cage because of appearances at court/palace/whatever they were calling the Russian nobles housing.

I enjoyed all the new characters we met; and really enjoyed getting to know the little sis better. Being in the Holy Russian Empire territory/state was interesting as the rules are so different and our gunnie gal is definitely way out of her element. I’d have liked a bit more in-depth discussion on the politics and laws perhaps; but it was written at the level I expected given Harris tends to have lighter reads. The flow and overall pacing was on par with the previous two novels in the series and most True Blood books.

A decent read and definitely a good break from dense novels. What I would personally deem a ‘beach’ or summer read as I don’t usually read contemporary romance. Just enough romance in this to suffice my limited need for it; but enough violence to distract and create the fun. Although a lot more knives than usual; which is okay too (lol).

Firefly Comparison
This makes me sound like I desire the violence but really this series is set as a futuristic western; so gunflighting is mandatory. Think Firefly without being in space. I could totally see our lead gal as the Zoe type. Eli however is Simon with magic (not just medical capacity). The more I think on this comparison to Firefly the more it makes sense. We lack a Mal type or Anara type character; but the little sis is cute and quirky (River plus Kaylee-esque). Yep that’s how I will describe these books from here forward.

Reading Order
Last note, it’s worth starting this series from book 1 so you have character progression but it is not required. Harris does decent reminder/info chapters woven into the new plot well (without being info dumps). So you could jump in anywhere you wanted.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,997 reviews1,638 followers
March 17, 2021
This is third in a series that builds characters and plots over time. So you definitely want to read them in order.

Having read in order, you know more or less what you are getting with this one. So I'll mainly just say that Harris delivers on those expectations. I loved getting to know Eli's family and San Diego as Russia-in-exile held together well, I think. I liked how the politics couldn't transplant wholesale and that Tsar Alexei was painted with some depth, even if he is way more clueless than he should be as a ruler.

We spend a lot of this novel with Eli locked up, so Lizbeth is mostly on her own (though not without allies). My favorite was the relationship with her half-sister, Felicia and exploration of what it means to have family you care about and want to protect. Having Eli off-page for those sections helped highlight the emotional content of those relationships in all the right ways, I think, so I liked seeing that.

And I loved even more how things fell out once we get Eli free. I mean, it's non-stop action for a lot of it, but when things settle, they settle in exactly the right ways.

There are some squirrely bits and the plot meanders a bit so I can't get to a full five stars. But I'll round up to get there on the strength of seeing Lizbeth and Eli reunited in the best ways. And I'll pick up the next, should there be one (this would make a fine conclusion to the series).

A note about Chaste: There's no sex, though it's clear that Eli and Lizbeth are (sexually) intimate. There's a scene of sexual abuse that gets explicit, but Lizbeth interrupts before things turn actually sexual. So when I tag this chaste, it's with the understanding that I don't mean "has no sexual content at all". There's no steam. And nothing titillating. But it's a stretch of my chaste tag.
Profile Image for Steven.
1,089 reviews393 followers
February 23, 2021
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

I was hesitant to pick up this series as Westerns aren't really my jam, but I requested this one off of Netgalley thinking it was a new series from Charlaine Harris and didn't realize it was third in the Western-esque Gunnie Rose series. So, after approval, I saw that it was book three and went to find books one and two.

I'm really glad I picked these up and I should have trusted Charlaine Harris. Yeah, the series is a little Wild Wild West adjacent, but it's got magic and mystery as well.

This installment finds Lizbeth going west to the Holy Russian Empire (formerly known as California) to rescue an ally from the prior books. It put her WAY outside her comfort zone, and was a refreshing change of pace from Western settings of the first two books.

Plenty of character growth, some romance, and a lot of magical explosions, this one was a riotous amount of fun.

Definitely recommended, but only after reading the first two.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,795 reviews484 followers
February 22, 2021
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I really enjoyed this book! I read the first two installments in the Gunnie Rose series about a year ago and I couldn't wait to get to read more of this fun series. I couldn't resist reading this book just as soon as it found its way into my greedy hands. I will admit that my expectations were pretty high for this book and I am happy to report that I was not disappointed in the least.

When Lizbeth learns that Eli is being held in jail, she knows that she needs to see what she can do to help him. Before you know it, she is in the Holy Russian Empire working to help in any way that she can. This will not be an easy rescue and she faces one obstacle after another. Things get complicated pretty quickly and there is more than enough excitement to keep things entertaining.

I had a lot of fun watching Lizbeth navigate a new environment while working towards her goal of setting Eli free. I love how unique each part of the country is in this alternate universe. There were some familiar characters back for this installment and we got to meet a lot of new ones as well. I especially enjoyed getting to know Eli's family and see them work together under pressure.

This is the third book in the Gunnie Rose series which I do think is best if read in order since events from previous books seem to come into play quite frequently. The relationship between Eli and Lizbeth undergoes some pretty big developments in this installment and I am eager to see how things will play out moving forward. This was a really exciting book that I found to be hard to put down so I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Gallery / Saga Press via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book! I read the first two books in the Gunnie Rose series during the past year and was pretty excited to join Lizbeth on her next adventure. When Lizbeth learns that Eli is in prison, she knows that she has to see what she can do to help. Soon she is in the Holy Russian Empire working to help in any way she can. There were some familiar faces and some new ones as well. I enjoyed trying to figure out exactly what was going on along with Lizbeth and enjoyed all of the excitement along the way. This really was a fun quick read!
Profile Image for Jane.
957 reviews63 followers
March 29, 2021
4 stars

You can read all of my reviews at Nerd Girl Loves Books.

This is a great finish to this book series......or is it?? I just discovered that the author is writing a fourth Gunnie Rose book (release date 2022) - no idea what the plot will be because the main storyline of this series wrapped up in this book, but there are definitely enough loose ends to continue the series another several books, which I would love.

This book starts off where the last one ends, and Lizbeth finds herself taking a train to San Diego to break her love, Prince Eli, out of Grigori jail. She's all alone, so will need to rely on her half-sister Felicia and her own growing powers. Once there, she meets Eli's family who are devastated about Eli's incarceration, and not exactly thrilled with Lizbeth's appearance. As she digs into the treacherous waters of the Holy Russian Empire, Lizbeth finds herself fighting for her life, but what's new.

I really enjoy Lizbeth and her snarky "I don't give a f*&k who you are, I'm going to speak truth" attitude toward everything from royalty protocols to wearing a dress. It often gets her into some trouble, but nothing she can't handle. It's nice to read about a strong, independent woman who doesn't need anyone or anything, but who is still soft enough to get butterflies about her crush.

Look, Charlaine Harris books aren't Shakespeare, but that's ok. We all need our bubble gum, guilty pleasure, light and fluffy reads to break up all of the other dark stuff we normally read. I look forward to more books in this series, but I hope she ends them before they become silly and cliche like the last couple Sookie books. Go out on top, girl!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and Gallery/Saga Press books. All opinions in this review are my own.
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
3,008 reviews377 followers
February 25, 2021
This was a good solid read and I loved the ending but for some reason, I didn't love this one as much as I have the others, it felt different and even though the language has always been a bit rough, this felt over done and harder to get through but, I still love Eli and Lizbeth so it was worth the read.
Profile Image for Monica.
538 reviews176 followers
January 30, 2023
Another great novel by Harris! You really can’t go wrong with her books - always entertaining!

I enjoyed this one a lot more than #2 Gunnie Rose story. Well paced with lots of action through the whole tale. Looking forward to book #4!
January 13, 2021
Charlaine Harris knows how to write a cozy and I’m on book three of the latest in the Gunnie Rose series. Once again there’s a lot of filler with descriptions of mundane activities and random thoughts from the protagonist but Harris also added some great action in this installment.

Picking up soon after the events of book two, A Longer Fall, Lizbeth Rose travels from her home in Texoma (formerly Texas & Oklahoma) to the Holy Russian Empire (formerly California) after receiving a coded letter from her sister Felicia to rescue her estranged husband, Prince Eli who has been jailed for an unknown reason.
Once she arrives, Lizbeth has to navigate politics, her mother-in-law, and royalty to exonerate Eli and clear the family name... while dodging a few bullets and explosions!

Thanks to Gallery - Saga Press and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The Russian Cage is scheduled for release on February 23, 2021.

For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Emma.
2,507 reviews855 followers
August 2, 2021
The first two in the series, although getting the same rating, seemed like a better read somehow. I really enjoyed the gun toting’ vibe. This one is set in Eli’s hometown and we get to meet all his family members. Enjoyable story with a believable magic setting.
Profile Image for Mallory.
1,246 reviews126 followers
September 25, 2022
This is the third book in the Gunnie Rose series, and this is definitely a series that should be read in order. I really love this alternative history/magic/western series and this book did not disappoint. Lizbeth receives a letter from her half sister in the seat of the Holy Russian Empire and when she deciphers it she realizes that her love interest Eli has been thrown in prison. She heads straight there with her main goal to save him. The adventures awaiting her were fun to read and I won’t wan to spoil anything. Lizbeth is one of my favorite characters - so direct and honest and clear in everything she does. Can’t wait for book 4, even if that one seems focused on Felicia instead of Lizbeth.
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,744 reviews167 followers
March 5, 2021
"Easy death, Lizbeth."

This one was my favorite in the series. I love that Lizbeth finally gets to travel to HRE - Holy Russion Empire. And she finally got to be the one to arrive for Eli - instead of the other way around. There are grigori around all over there. She gets to see the school, meet some people we've heard about and have some great battles. This one introduces more interesting magic users - once I hadn't remembering hearing about yet.

All in all, it felt like a conclusion to the series and I really liked it.
Profile Image for Esther.
429 reviews106 followers
March 15, 2021
I received this book from Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review.

It probably wasn’t the best idea to start this series on book #3 but it didn’t feel as if I was missing anything vital and the author managed to summarize relevant previous events within the storyline.

The story is set in an alternative North America. The main protagonist is Lisbeth, a gunnie (armed security provider) from Texoma (Texas & Oklahoma) who finds herself in what used to be California but is now The Holy Russian Empire ruled the Tzar of Russia who managed to escape the Revolution alive.

The relevance of the title was not obvious. On a superficial level, I assumed it referred to the prison in which Eli spends most of the narrative. On a more metaphorical level, it seemed to express Lisbeth’s frustration at being limited by the strict etiquette and courtly politics required in the Russian enclave.

Lisbeth is strong and no-nonsense, and although she was often unfamiliar with the etiquette required she was quick to learn and proceeded in a sensible matter such that she succeeded without putting herself into unnecessary danger or turning the situation into a farce.

The characters, relationships and situations are believable even at their most fantastical but there was a lot of travelling around and waiting which slowed the pace and made the story less exciting than I would have liked.

In addition, I was surprised by the pragmatic killing of certain people. Their deaths were required for the safety of the main protagonists but I was still shocked by the matter-of-fact way these actions were presented on the page.

Solid and enjoyable but not quite 4 stars.
Profile Image for Steph.
695 reviews29 followers
January 16, 2021
In the 3rd installment of the Gunnie Rose series, we finally get to visit the much talked about Holy Russian Empire (HRE), previously California and Oregon, and the Tsar’s court. The story starts with Lizbeth in Segundo Mexia getting a coded message from her half sister Felicia, who is at school in the HRE. She determines Eli has been imprisoned and sets out to go to San Diego in the HRE to help free him. Along with Felicia, Felix also returns and we get to meet Eli’s family, the tsar and his family and court as well as the group of people looking to remove the tsar from power.

I was happy that the plot of this book returns the focus to political and familial intrigue as it was in book 1. The story was also well paced this time and did not have much of the slow downtime of the previous book. I found myself engaged and interested the entire time, finishing the book in a day because I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen next. I thought the author did a great job of continuing to flesh out the existing characters, most notably Felisha, while also bringing to life new characters such as Eli’s mother and sisters.

The only criticism I have toward the book would be that there was one minor plot inconsistency and one larger plot hole involving the null character. The minor point was a small issue and easily overlooked but the impact of the null character made it a much bigger problem given what we had been told about the effect of magic on a null. Neither issue was enough to impact how much I enjoyed the book.

You would be able to follow along with the book if you have not read An Easy Death or A Longer Fall, but I think readers would find it more enjoyable to know the background and history of all of the characters. The first book in the series provides the most context as to alternative history of the world and gives a lot of relevant information to book three, I would recommend reading both but at a minimum An Easy Death before The Russian Cage.

I had originally read that this was to be a trilogy and this book does wrap up enough of the storylines that it could serve as the final book. I hope however that this is not the end of Lizbeth and Eli’s story as I would love to continue on with their adventures. I would also be interested in a book from Felicia’s point of view as well.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery/Saga Press for providing me the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Terri ♥ (aka Mrs. Christian Grey).
1,395 reviews473 followers
February 26, 2022
Not sure why I waited so long to read this given I loved the last installment. I loved this one too. This might be my favorite series of CH over True Blood. Maybe…

All in all very good. Though I do wonder what CH thinks about this series given what’s happening in the real world with Russia.

Narrator was fantastic.
Profile Image for Tammy.
866 reviews144 followers
February 27, 2021
The nitty-gritty: Lizbeth is back in this imaginative alternate history fantasy, but this installment was just too slow paced for my taste.

I’m still plugging away at this series, although I have yet to enjoy a book as much as An Easy Death. Still, there are some nice moments in the Russian Cage, and I’m still loving Lizbeth’s character, so at this point I’ll probably keep going with the series, even if this latest installment didn’t blow me away.

The story picks up soon after A Longer Fall, when Lizbeth sent her younger half sister Felicia to the Holy Russian Empire (HRE) with Eli for safekeeping. But one day, Lizbeth receives a letter from Felicia that seems to be written in code. It doesn’t take her long to figure out that Felicia is trying to tell her that Eli has been arrested and is currently in jail. Lizbeth leaves the comfort of her familiar home in Texoma to travel to San Diego, California, the heart of the HRE. When she arrives, she is shocked to discover that Eli has been accused of murder, and so she devises a plan to break him out of prison, knowing that he’s been falsely accused. Joined by Eli’s brother Peter and his friend Felix, Lizbeth navigates the complex political situation with the Russian grigoris (magicians) while keeping an eye on Felicia. But there is unrest with the Russian royals and LIzbeth is about to find herself caught in the crosshairs of a grigori power struggle. 

Once again, Lizbeth was my favorite character, although I really liked Felicia as well. The story is told from Lizbeth’s first person narrative, and Harris is pretty consistent with her character throughout the series. For those who haven’t started this series, Lizbeth is a “gunnie,” or gun for hire. She’s usually hired by groups of people travelling across the barren deserts of Texoma, her trusty Winchester rifle at the ready to shoot and kill anyone who becomes a threat. She’s brash and blunt doesn’t follow societal conventions, and in this story she finds herself in a more conservative environment where women are expected to behave and dress in certain ways. This gives us a nice “fish out of water” scenario where Lizbeth isn’t very comfortable with her situation. There are some very funny moments, particularly when she needs a gun but the HRE forbids carrying weapons on the streets. Luckily Lizbeth is a very resourceful woman and guns aren’t her only option for wounding and killing, but I have to say I nearly cheered with excitement when she finally had a gun in her hand and started shooting!

I also loved the banter between Lizbeth and Eli, who have definitely had their ups and downs when it comes to their relationship. Unfortunately, Eli isn’t in the story much, since he’s in jail for most of the book. But once he gets out and he and Lizbeth are reunited, the story really came to life for me. Harris’s dialog is definitely one of the best parts of the series, and whenever Lizbeth is part of the conversation, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

That being said, my least favorite part of The Russian Cage was probably the pacing. There were bursts of exciting action here and there, but the rest of the story was a lot of Lizbeth going through the motions of her day to day activities and literally waiting for something to happen. This story was slow, and I really missed the fast-paced, action heavy scenes of An Easy Death, although we do get some good ones near the end of the book. What should have been a quick, two day read for me took over a week to finish, since I just couldn’t muster much enthusiasm to pick it up. And while I really love the unique alternate world that Charlaine Harris has created—the United States has fractured after a series of events, including a complete breakdown of the political infrastructure, and the Russians have come in and taken over the Western part of the country—there was a whole lot of nothing happening for a good chunk of the story.

But I have to say, Harris really knows how to wrap things up. The ending was very satisfying and sweet, and best of all, Lizbeth and Eli finally head back to Texoma. I enjoyed learning more about the Holy Russian Empire, but I missed the dusty, lawless streets of Texoma, and I hope we spend more time there in the next book.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,773 reviews574 followers
November 12, 2020
I see “by Charlaine Harris” and of course, when I am invited to read and review one of her ARCs, I am all over that! This time out, our daring heroine is Lizbeth Rose and she carries that same razor sharp wit and ingenuity that is signature to Ms. Harris’ characters and that easy to read, easy to fall into style is right there, too.

THE RUSSIAN CAGE had all the trademark characteristics I love about this author, except, I was unaware…I know, my bad…that this is a mid-series book, leaving me floundering throughout, not quite making that investment I was expecting. I can say the series looks to be a good one and the characters are intriguing, just start from book one!

I received a complimentary ARC edition from Gallery/Saga Press! This is my honest and voluntary review.

Series: Gunnie Rose - Book 3
Publisher : Gallery / Saga Press (February 23, 2021)
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Print length : 304 pages
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Profile Image for Simoné Eloff.
186 reviews29 followers
Want to read
September 21, 2020
9/21/2020 Available to Read Now on Netgalley!

Granted, I still need to get to the first two books, but hey *shrugs*.
Profile Image for John Warner.
778 reviews24 followers
September 3, 2021
Whether Bon Temps, La.; Lawrenceton, Wa.; Midnight, Tx; or Texoma; the talented Charlaine Harris skillfully creates worlds that the reader can easily connect with and mentally inhabit. In this third work of the Gunnie Rose series, the United States in this alternative history does not exist. The land has been divided into several regions, some, like the Holy Russian Empire and Britannia, has been assumed by other countries. Lisbeth Rose ("Gunnie Rose") is a gun-for-hire generally employed to guard cargo transported throughout the Texoma territory.

When Lisbeth receives a letter from her half-sister Felicia, now living in the Holy Russian Empire (HRE,formerly the states of Washington, Oregon, and California), with news that Lisbeth's estranged paramor Prince Eli had been jailed, she grabs her guns and travels to the HRE to find out the reason and to break him out if necessary.

Although subsequent novels in a series often pale in comparison to the original, this series only becomes better the more works are published. I believe that this work is the best of the series thus far. I would recommend that if you are entertaining reading this series that you begin at the first, An Easy Death. I believe this series still has life left in it. I hope so because I want to read about the further adventures of Gunnie Rose.
Profile Image for Mindy Lou's Book Review.
2,699 reviews657 followers
November 5, 2022
I feel like I'm a bit on repeat with my reviews of each book in the series. Each book follows our young heroine, Lizbeth. She started out at 19 in book one, in this book she is 20 going on 21. You'd think she was so much older with how mature and practical she is. She's seen a lot of death and has killed a lot of people at this point because of her job. She is called a gunnie and what she does is take on jobs protecting anything from valuable jewelry to a person.

The world she lives in is kind of like the Wild West but in an alternate universe. There is magic in this world and some of it is pretty scary. It's such a unique series and Lizbeth is the biggest draw for me. She's an excellent gunnie and I really just enjoy a female who is cunning and dangerous. She's also very honorable. It's just a weird mix that keeps me fascinated.

Each book concludes the current story, but also starts off where it left off in the previous book, so you do want to read in order. Honestly, there is so much more I can say about this but I don't really want to give everything away. The more I read, the more I'm loving the series. I'm invested and want to see where this will continue.
Profile Image for Dora Okeyo.
Author 26 books177 followers
September 19, 2020
One thing is certain; this is a page turner.
From the moment Lisbeth receives a letter from her sister and decodes the meaning of it, she's on a train and her mission is to save Eli or rather get him out of prison, how, she doesn't know yet!
It's a very interesting read, thrilling and the characters some lovely others drunk in their power, and Lisbeth, has no patience for small talk or niceties.
Anyone coming into this story line, would enjoy the pace and adventure herein. So, it makes a good read for both Harris' fans and new readers.
Thanks for the eARC Netgalley.
Profile Image for Keith .
351 reviews7 followers
April 1, 2021
A new Charlaine Harris book often feels like slipping on an old, well worn, pair of shoes. She's stumbled before but the Gunnie Rose books have been enjoyable. I really like alternate America in the early and middle years. The Alvin Maker series by Orson Card come to mind. This series (with no relationship to Card's work) happens sometime later, perhaps the late 1910s or 1920s. Rose and others are armed with model 1911 automatic pistols. I had erroneously thought because of the dialog and settings we were talking revolvers but it appears not.
Although sliding back into Gunnie Rose's world was pretty easy and comfortable. . . the story was too. Too easy. Too comfortable. Like it was on rails going around the track. I enjoyed it but there wasn't any true adversity. Everything just worked out. Towards the end the narrative started pushing out false foreshadowing. I hit one, then another and I literally stopped reading for the rest of that day because I was expecting something horrible to happen.
I don't know if this is the end of the series. I think this is a rich world for Rose and Eli to explore and have adventures in. I wouldn't mind reading more, I like these characters. But if this is The End, then it ended well.
A copy of this book was supplied by the publisher.
Profile Image for Belles.
420 reviews27 followers
February 27, 2021
This one was tedious. I hope the next book in the series is more exciting.
Profile Image for tonya_with_an_o.
547 reviews16 followers
January 18, 2021
I listened to both of the previous books in this series on audiobook, and I did miss that immersive experience with The Russian Cage. I still thought this latest installment was great, though. We pick up right where we left off, and I love that continuity. Lizbeth travels to the HRE to try and get Eli out of jail. I had been very curious about the Holy Russian Empire prior to this book, and was thrilled that nearly the whole book took place in the former California. As always, Charlaine Harris has a gift with dialogue and humor that especially sparkles here. I can't wait to continue with this series.
4 stars

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Thank you to Gallery/Saga Press and Netgalley.
Profile Image for Shelley.
5,216 reviews462 followers
February 16, 2021
*Source* Publisher
*Genre* Alternative History / Fantasy
*Rating* 4.0


The Russian Cage, by author Charlaine Harris, is the third installment in the authors Gunnie Rose series. This series mixes historical fiction, urban fantasy, western and alternate history. In this world, the former US has broken down, and has been separated into five other countries. Each has its unique identity – New America, Holy Russian Empire, Texoma, Dixie, and Britannia. The story picks up soon after A Long Fall with Lizbeth Rose receiving a letter from her half-sister Felicia who was sent with Eli to the Holy Russian Empire because of her blood and the fact that she's a grigori like Eli.

*Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews*

Profile Image for Timothy Boyd.
6,649 reviews35 followers
May 24, 2021
Excellent ending to the trilogy. Great fast paved action filled book. I really enjoyed this This writer's style and this character. I hope to see more of this series in the future. Very recommended
Profile Image for Melanie.
615 reviews6 followers
September 15, 2020
Fun addition to the series. This book further develops the backstories of the characters and has some fascinating information about the alternate history of this world. I like the characters more and more with each book in the series.

Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for the ARC.
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