This review is of Holly Black’s THE WICKED KING. This post CONTAINS SPOILERS.
If you would like to read the spoiler-free post click here. To begin, here is the summary and a quick review before the extended review:
Summary: 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.
Judge a book by it’s cover: This cover I have is very pretty (but have you seen the B&N cover?? Just gorgeous.)
What to expect: The one thing I noticed personally is that TWK is a lot faster pace-wise than TCP almost to the point of comparing it to a film. It took me less than 24 hours to read TWK whereas TCP took me days. Without giving spoilers away, there is a lot going on — in a good way. And quickly we see that Jude almost seems overwhelmed as she tries to balance everything — but she is so calm about it you almost don’t realize how much she is balancing. And the tension! So much, so good. If you enjoyed any of Jude and Cardan’s relationship in TCP, then you will love TWK. And, like always, so many good quotes.
Why you should pick this book up: If you read TCP and are just mildly interested in what happens in TWK — pick it up. I enjoyed TCP, but I will admit I was not head over heels in love with it. I LOVED TWK (did not try to have the entire sentence in all-caps, but here we are).
Want more?: This is book two in a trilogy. There is a short story, THE LOST SISTERS available and takes place between TCP and TWK. It is from Taryn’s perspective, and I can’t help but wonder if there will be another between TWK and book 3 (you can look up book 3’s current title on Goodreads as it does give away a spoiler; also, the idea of a short story between books 2 and 3 is also a potential spoiler, but if you have read both books 1 and 2 and TLS, then you’ll understand my thinking).
Lastly if you are in need of a book to satisfy your TWK hangover, go over to Epic Reads for a post on books to read after reading this jaw-dropper.
ATTENTION: IF YOU HAVE YET TO READ THE WICKED KING do not continue reading. The following contains spoilers for the book.
Media Gal Reads’ Review:
If THE CRUEL PRINCE was about understanding cruelty on a small school level and evolving into an entire community level, then THE WICKED KING is about the puppeteering of power.
Cardan is under Jude’s command as king and we quickly understand that Jude is trying to juggle a lot from Cardan and his unscrupulous acts, her family she can barely trust anymore, Prince Balekin who is now a growing threat along with, queen of the sea, Orlagh, and, of course, Oak’s safety with Vivi.
While power is sweet, there’s a lot to balance. But Jude does do well — as long as Cardan follows her lead.
The tension between Jude and Cardan is delicious and becomes the growing threat of everything to come crashing down. This is not because it overcomes Jude’s actions, but they do impact both character’s decisions.
At the Hunter’s Moon revel, Locke plans on crowning Jude as the Queen of Mirth. He knows what effect Jude has on Cardan, and when folk of the sea comes to crash it with Orlagh’s threat, this is the first time Jude accepts a command from Cardan, a contrast to how usually their power struggle acts.
It seems like Jude is starting to trust Cardan, and more surprisingly, it seems like Cardan might not be as bad of a king as everyone is led to believe.
We see this in an argument between the two musicians, and who Cardan decides to give the lyre to. It’s an old-fashioned idea of justice and honor, but somehow it comes off as wise all the same. Later we see this in Cardan’s bedroom when he, Jude, the Roach, and the Bomb decide how to treat Balekin and Orlagh; he even states he doesn’t believe murder is the answer to everything unlike everyone else in the group.
One most notable act is when the puppetry switches and Jude becomes a puppet for Orlagh and Balekin, being trapped under the sea for a month. She near fully loses her power over Cardan and he is given the opportunity to act as a High King for once. He is anything but perfect, but he even states he works as hard as he could obviously to get Jude back. This isn’t just a switch in powerplay but also shows how much Cardan truly cares for Jude.
The power struggle fully snaps not exactly when she releases her command and marries Cardan but when he exhiles her to the mortal world. While we know that Jude is the Queen of Faerie, there is hope she will return to Elfhame not as a low following mortal but as a leader in her own right.
Power play in THE WICKED KING makes for an exciting, movie-like story while also giving the sensual tension between Jude and Cardan new levels. THE QUEEN OF NOTHING should answer all our questions and hopes as it finishes this wickedly crafted trilogy.
What did you think of Holly Black’s THE WICKED KING? I’d love to hear your comments below!