Gilded Cage, while fluff-heavy, is a solid book. It delivers exactly what it promises, that is, a guide to influencing mortal society from a vampiric perspective. It has a few broad pieces of advice - mainly that subtlety is key, that it's best to have your finger in several pies, and that the use of Disciplines is a blunt-force option and a last resort - and reinforces them in its more in-depth looks at how a smart neonate can exploit and thrive within different areas of society. The main four looked at are: the business world, in particular major corporations; the upper-crust of society; the branches of government, local and federal; and 'the streets', the domain of blue-collar workers, street gangs and the destitute. Each of these gets a chapter to itself, while a fifth chapter examines several less central ones such as academia, the media, and organized religion. Finally chapter six (barely longer than an appendix) provides advice for working the socio-political structure of a city into storytelling and character creation, as well as a section on how to flesh out Backgrounds and logically tie them together rather than leaving them as just vague and abstract numbers on a sheet.
Where the book really shines is its wide utility. It is useful to both players and storytellers, essentially giving the same advice to both - it reminds us that anything the neonates can do, the elders can often do better. Its tone, which is in-universe though not deeply so, speaks equally to a player and storyteller reader in such a way that it is cogent, useful information, but also manages captures the feel for how Kindred generally view mortals and mortal society from a political angle. As well as a broad look at how each level of urban society can be harnessed, specific examples are provided which paint how its advice would practically work within a chronicle.
The book isn't perfect, of course. It definitely has a bias - though not an overwhelming one - towards American-set, Camarilla, neonate-led chronicles. The Sabbat does get a look-in, though the Anarchs don't to any significant degree. This is not too much of a problem since its tone and mood are geared towards these sorts of chronicles, and most of the advice given is fairly general. This applies also to geographic setting - while it is American in tone, much of the content is equally applicable to most of the Western world. In games set outside of Europe or North America it might be less useful, though not useless by any means.
Being just under 15 years old, the book is understandably somewhat out of date, particularly when it comes to technology and the Internet; if Gilded Cage were published today it would likely devote a whole chapter to these. More recent V20 sourcebooks have done so however, and it's really the only area the book is lacking in from today's viewpoint - though of course it came out in 2001, so this really isn't a mark against the book itself. If you are planning to run or play in a political, city-based Vampire chronicle, this book is well worth the money.
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