Review: The Wicked King - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.
The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Series:

The Folk of the Air

Book 2

Book Type:

Fantasy

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The Wicked King
By Holly Black

Review: The Wicked King

“Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.”

Rife with danger, deception and relentless tension, Holly Black delivers a nail-biting, all-consuming, perfect sequel with THE WICKED KING.

The story takes place five months after THE CRUEL PRINCE. Jude is seneschal to Cardan, who rules at her command. The plan is to keep her younger sibling from the throne and the treacherous machinations of the Faerie.

But ruling Faerie in secret has become a strain for Jude. Cardan is ever the facetious, wicked king, her familial problems persist, and all while she works to siphon power through somewhat fragile alliances. Her ambitions are tempered by the real weight of being spymaster and regent, yet there is no choice but to survive in this deadly game of spies and kings.

Madoc says it best when he reminds Jude that power is much easier to seize than to hold. This acts as a thematic thrum throughout the entire narrative as we see how Jude’s often impulsive choices have real, caustic consequences.

To make matters more complicated, her relationship with Cardan reaches new levels of toxicity. Tension between them ratchets as their attraction for each other boils over. Jude can’t control her intensifying feelings, which vacillate between deep hate and something altogether else she’s leery to admit.

“I hate you,” I say, the words coming out like a caress. I say it again, over and over. A litany. An enchantment. A ward against what I really feel. “I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.”

Much of the story is dedicated to a rising threat to Faerie, and Jude’s inability to compel those in power to believer her. Her impulsively wrought plan begins to fray, as many of the story’s players—including Madoc—covertly work to wrench power.

Jude’s humanity is both her saving grace and biggest vulnerability, but she must learn to reign in her recklessness and heed the lessons she’s learned the hard way… especially if she’s to dally with the irrevocably insidious faeries.

Holly Black’s extraordinary prowess at forging a vivid, highly realized world and fascinating, multifaceted characters is on fully display in this second installment. I love that she consistently explores those morally complex narratives, demonstrating the true shades of gray in human—and Faerie—nature. No one is all good, everyone makes mistakes, there is darkness in us all, but also the possibility for redemption.

Amidst all the political upheaval and tension, however, it’s the complex relationships that truly shine. Jude’s relationship with Cardan takes new turns and I’m anxious to see to what ends. Her relationships with her sisters strain further—one doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of what’s at stake, while the other rouses questions on her true alliances. But it’s the driving dynamic between Madoc and Jude that truly intrigues me. He’s both proud and enraged at her betrayal, and yet he’ll stop at nothing in his ruthless quest for power. Their relationship is as complicated as it gets—he’s both father and murderer, advisor and competitor.

With relentless pacing and a cleverly wrought, morally complex story line, THE WICKED KING is a rare gem of a sequel, arguably more intoxicating and compelling than the first.

“Pain makes you strong, Madoc once told me, making me lift a sword again and again. Get used to the weight.”

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