The Wicked King by Holly Black Review

The Wicked King (The Folk Of The Air #2)the wicked king by holly black

Publisher: Little Brown & Company

Release Date: January 8, 2019

Pages: 322

Available Through The Book Depository: The Wicked King

Summary: You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself that strong.

Jude 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 biddable. 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 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.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Wicked King is a sequel that raises the stakes as intrigue and politics become a much more central role! Jude attempts to hold onto her power in Elfhame all while keeping Cardan in check! Clever twists and a greater focus on character-development makes The Wicked King a sequel you just can’t put down!

So I started this book last Thursday and was not expecting to get through 90% of it in one afternoon!

I was wary going into The Wicked King because I’d found that Jude wasn’t really the anti-heroine I was expecting, from what so many people were saying about The Cruel Prince. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure what level my expectations we’re at because what was motivating me to continue this series was mainly Cardan!

The Wicked King was honestly such a step up from The Cruel Prince, I was more surprised than anything because when I rate a book in the 3-star range, I don’t usually have much motivation to pick up the sequel right away!

So, The Wicked King takes place 5 months after book 1 with Cardan on the throne all while Jude is the power behind it, trying to keep the prince in-check.

She continues to build her strength in the background all while plotting a way to keep her control and form a plan to get Oak on the throne when he’s ready!

What I found The Wicked King did so much better was showcasing the cunning and deceptive side to Jude! In Cruel Prince, were told this, but its never really given much expansion or depth (other than us knowing she wants to be accepted by the fae & constantly telling us she wants power). However, because in The Wicked King Jude finally has what she’s been after, it makes it so much clearer and easier to see where her strategic and political thinking are coming from.

The pacing is much more gripping and fast-paced as well. Early on in The Wicked King, we learn that time has passed since Jude’s deal with Cardan and we feel that sense of urgency because Jude is trying to form as many plans along the way to ensure her power as seneschal isn’t taken away before the year is up.

What I found to be super interesting which lends itself to some amazing character development was Cardan and how he feels about his role as prince! He seems to be pretty nonchalant in the beginning all while knowing that Jude is the one giving him direction on what to do!

Yet, we see these multiple sides to him throughout the novel, not only on how he feels about being prince, but also how he feels about Jude! He continues to be my favorite character in this series.

Jude finds herself attempting to undermine enemies from multiple sides when she learns from Nicasia that someone is going to betray her, Orlagh Queen of the Undersea has a plan of her own, and the mysterious Balekin (Cardan’s older brother) who seems to be plotting something while in the Tower Of Forgetting.

We also learn that there are many in Elfhame who, in secret, don’t find Cardan to be an eligible ruler and his position as High King puts him in quite a bit of danger.

What I really loved about The Wicked King a lot more about The Cruel Prince was the dynamic that built between both Jude and Cardan. Where in The Cruel Prince their relationship didn’t seem to have any solid foundation (aside from Cardan’s bullying & Jude’s one-sided lust for power), Black navigates their relationship with more tension and maturity in this book, that I finally understood the enemies-to-lovers dynamic people were talking about!

There’s this element of trust that gets explored between the both of them throughout their journey in this sequel and I loved how it also lends itself to the development of their relationship.

Jude is a character who really surprised me in The Wicked King! I didn’t really like her all that much in book 1, but seeing Black give her more solid ground for her power and motivations made me really change my view about her.

The world-building itself flowed a lot better too! Focusing more on the general, but differing ties with Cardan as King, I found it much easier to navigate the different classes of Elfahme and what they represent in the grand scheme of the world.

From the Undersea, councils, Jude’s role as seneschal, the other royals, and fae creatures, everything seemed to be developed more smoothly and I found myself understanding each and every element to the politics and the hierarchy of the world!

Even when it comes to the land of Elhame, we learn rulers have a special tie to the land that gets introduced somewhat near the middle & end, but it made for such a great addition to the vastness of the world.

I wasn’t sure what to make of Madoc in Cruel Prince either, but I loved how his storyline really takes on a antagonistic role as he stands against Jude all while we see she still wants to prove himself to her! Their dynamic is built slowly throughout the book, but was one I found was given the perfect amount of development and mystery.

I don’t usually love books where its a good 90% angst and scheming, but wow– The Wicked King got me and I’m obsessed now! I can’t wait to see what happens in The Queen Of Nothing, but I’m also scared because I don’t know if anything after The Wicked King can really top it off!

Now I’m obviously not going to give away the ending, but those last pages really sucked me in and I could not put the book down! I love how we see even more different sides to the characters and their motivations that really come into play at the end!

The writing itself is something I already loved in The Cruel Prince because I found Black’s writing-style really delivered intrigue and an immersive quality to the story! However, in The Wicked King I found it really allowed for all the different elements of the story from the politics, setting, character motivations, deception & planning, and development to come together in a much more coherent way! Everything flowed perfectly!

Now onto some of the minor elements that made me drop a star! Though I love the writing, I did find because its very character-centric, the descriptive elements to the setting and world weren’t as present. Additionally, I wasn’t much of a fan of Taryn & Viv’s storylines, I felt they took away from Jude’s overall story (which was much more engaging) and did slow the pacing a little.

Also similar to The Cruel Prince, I still don’t buy that Taryn & Jude are twins! As I mentioned in that review, they are just too different and don’t get enough page-time together where I can really see them as twins.

Overall though, I really had fun reading this book! It surprised me in a lot of ways and I’m looking forward to book 3!

The Wicked King is an immersive and page-turning sequel to The Cruel Prince! There’s a more focused development on the characters and inner politics involving the throne of Elfhame! From Jude attempting to hold onto her power with Cardan on the throne, mysterious enemies, and intrigue at every turn, this is a great continuation to the Folk Of The Air Series!

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