After reading and loving The Cruel Prince, Holly Black’s sequel, The Wicked King,was immediately added to my TBR and I was thrilled to be lucky enough to win a copy from Hot Key Books through Readers First back in January. Now that I’ve finally got around to finish reading it here’s five things (as spoiler-free as possible!) I loved about The Wicked King.
1. We need to talk about Cardan… future-hero or long-time villain?
Back in The Cruel Prince, I found Cardan to be a very self-absorbed character which I wasn’t that interested in…but now, in The Wicked King, I’m completely fascinated by him. And what’s more, I can’t work out whether he really is a long-time villain and is just as cruel and wicked as the titles of Holly’s stories suggests OR whether Cardan’s nastiness is all just a ruse before he swoops in to save the day. The way he plays back and forth with Jude was mirrored with the way I felt about his character. I’m secretly hoping that he’s some kind of flawed-hero who will come good in the end. I guess we’ll have to wait until The Queen of Nothing to find out!
2. Who’s that Jude?
I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by Jude and her growth of character in this sequel. In the first book I wasn’t terribly keen on her and I can’t actually put my finger on why. But it seems that her role as the seneschal of King Cardan has given her a new dimension. She is much more ruthless and calculating whilst at the same time battling against her feeling of being out of place in Elfhame. I like the way Holly Black explores that sense of not-belonging in the role/world you find yourself in and how she has Jude with this in the story.
“Once upon a time, there was a human girl stolen away by faeries, and because of that, she swore to destroy them.”
3. Diving into the Undersea
Sounds strange, but in a previous life I definitely believe I lived in the ocean…I think that’s why I am drawn to any stories about pirates, mermaids, sea adventures and underwater worlds. I was so happy that we got to see what The Undersea is like in The Wicked King; I liked the way the world is shaped from reef coral and sea kelp and how the Mer Folk go about on their turtles. I hope we get more of it in the finale.
4. Deception, Lies and Secrecy
The twists and turns in this book come in thick and fast. I really enjoyed the political intrigue and second-guessing which ran through the story. There are so many different court factions who all have their own loyalties and priorities which make for a fascinating narrative. I wound up constantly changing my mind about which characters were good and which were bad. Whilst I’d love to say that I figured out which character had betrayed Jude, I still wasn’t 100% certain until I read it in black and white. Add to that the mystery of good-guy/bad-guy King Cardan then The Wicked Kingcertainly kept me on my toes.
“Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.”
5. THAT ending…!
It’s fair to say that Holly Black has mastered the cliff-hanger ending. Just when we were thinking that all was well – BAM – there goes the rug, pulled right out from under your feet and you’re questioning all you thought you knew about how this tale was going to turn out… It’s hard to describe without giving away loads of spoilers but it’s safe to say that I didn’t see it coming and, as alluded to before in my feelings about Cardan, I’m not entirely sure whether Cardan is protecting Jude and being the “hero in disguise” or whether he really has managed to get his own back after what Jude did to him at the end of The Cruel Prince.
“And the single last thing in my head: that I like him better than I’ve ever liked anyone and that of all the things he’s ever done to me, making me like him so much is by far the worst.”
Needless to say, the only way I will find out the answers to the many, many questions buzzing through my head is with the final instalment in this trilogy, The Queen of Nothing, set for release in 2020. I thoroughly enjoyed returning to Elfhame to see what lay in store for Jude, Cardan and the rest of the characters in this series. Again, thanks to Readers First and Hot Key Books for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read The Wicked King? If anyone wants to chat Book 3 or Cardan theories then feel free to drop me a comment below!