[Review] The Wicked King – Holly Black

Book Title: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #02)
Author:     Holly Black
Number of pages:  336


After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the inheritor to Faerie, Jude should maintain her youthful brother protected. To achieve this, she has certain the depraved king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the ability behind the throne. Navigating the consistently shifting political alliances of Faerie can be tough sufficient if Cardan have been straightforward to manage. But he does every thing in his energy to humiliate and undermine her whilst his fascination together with her stays undiminished.

When it turns into all too clear that somebody near Jude means to betray her, threatening her personal life and the lives of everybody she loves, Jude should uncover the traitor and struggle her personal difficult emotions for Cardan to take care of management as a mortal in a Faerie world.

(re: Goodreads @ The Cruel Prince by Holly Black)

Should this ebook be picked up? the tl;dr overview:

– The stakes in courtroom drama and political intrigue are increased and additional developed; shifting powers and outdated/new gamers make their transfer
– Setting showcases new environments however typically lacks nuance to assist the change in surroundings, the magic concerned, and vivid imagery
– Romance feels extra gradual burn now (however the earlier love sq. is now a love triangle.)
– Some continuity points within the writing from data. established within the first ebook that will simply haven’t been explored moderately than being a discrepancy (e.g. Jude’s mendacity, use of mithridatism, use of magic)

This overview has been a very long time coming, and I do apologize as a result of loads of it’ll be primarily based on my notes I wrote months in the past. Spoiler stage is low-moderate.

Disclaimer: I acquired an ARC of The Wicked King from Hachette at Book Expo.


The Wicked King [unfortunately] doesn’t start instantly following Jude taking the reigns of her newfound energy (which I might have enormously appreciated seeing Carden shirking duty in lieu of his “12 months and in the future” promise). Instead, it begins just a few months after-the-fact, so we’re primarily advised of Jude’s grievances navigating her position in politics and courtroom drama as a voice for Cardan. In any occasion, the sequel delves into the political unrest of the dominion now that Cardan has grow to be king.

For probably the most half, Wicked King is a tighter story than Cruel Prince within the sense that we’re in a position to cast off the introductions and deal with the event of character and competing agendas. Lots of the earlier focus was on the institution of Jude’s place rising up on this new atmosphere with the person who killed her dad and mom and the rising powers that search to tip the stability.

That being stated, a narrative nonetheless has to align itself with its roots of plotting, battle, and world constructing. And that is the place the supply of Wicked King begins to lose its traction for me. The stakes are raised that a lot increased on this sequel however the narrative parts in assist appeared to not develop on the similar tempo because the Jude versus Everyone battle continued to escalate.

I’ll clarify per part beneath.


Here’s the factor: the explanation why I personally discover nuggets of exposition in SF-F tales a worthy ingredient to incorporate is that issues must be defined, even within the broadest of sense, to generate readability and fill in lacking holes. I’m not saying I want paragraphs of exact breakdown however within the case of Wicked King, one thing as small as Merfolk having tails/fins in a single scene after which moments later displaying ft and toes is jarring at worst, questionable at finest. Are they Animorphs? Are they utilizing magic? Are they simply sporting costumes? I don’t know, and since this sequel spends a fantastic chunk of time increasing the scope of the world (which is nice), finessing these particulars goes a good distance for a extra visually healthful expertise.

Further, there’s this one scene the place Cardan goes full Avatar Aang and it was the reason for expletives from yours actually. Magic by way of glamour and geas? Sure, that kind of magic was talked about. Earth and water bending with a wizard hat and robes? Possible, sure, on the small scale as a result of earth-related magic was proven beforehand, however on this case, it reads like the most important Deus ex Machina trope thrown in. You’re telling me that Cardan, the more-apathetic-than-not King who drinks and has sexual awakenings all day, out of nowhere heralds badass elementalist talents and mainly displaces the whole fishing business/ocean? C’mon now.

Also a throwaway remark however as a result of these faeries are woodland-creature-esqe, I’m calling #TailWatch2k19 on Cardan as a result of I used to be underwhelmed by the point out of his tail compared to the necessity to describe Nicasia’s tail and Gnarbone’s tail, and everybody’s tail, sans Cardan save for like two-three occasions. It isn’t that normalized but to be forgotten.

I used to be additionally about to complain concerning the abundance of balls and celebrations (4 in whole, iirc), however I’ll chalk it as much as the faes loving to social gathering and shit moderately than it being bland plotting. This is the one Get Out of Jail Free card.

There’s additionally a point out of an anime through the course of this story with a fella who’s an ice skater and that’s only a beautiful sight.


Speaking to the political and civil unrest within the Kingdom of Elfhame, the stakes are a lot increased now that Cardan is the sitting King. This is the place this story soars. It’s attention-grabbing to witness Jude wrestle to maintain maintain of this energy that isn’t actually hers; to need to dabble in a little bit of every thing and to wish to converse with as many people as doable. The conversations make for a well-paced page-turner chock filled with quips from Cardan and her chin-up supply of ploys to allay the courts picture of a human appearing on the ‘King’s behalf’.


Let’s speak about continuity and the narrative being devoid of harnessing its subplots as they arrive to narrate to the large image merchandises. So mithridatismwe all know it as the method the place Jude thinks everybody’s going to homicide her so she distills poison into herself to construct tolerance (paraphrased). It was a important plot level in Cruel Prince. In Wicked King, Jude [allegedly] continues taking doses of those poisons [every day]. This is commonly advised to us. Fine. But then Jude even says her physique as “acclimated” to it, craves stated poisons, and her physique can be sicker with out it. So what occurs? Jude will get captured for an prolonged interval and wouldn’t technically have vials of liquid demise. So…

Two issues come to thoughts: 1) she can be off inoculating herself with poisons, and 2) her physique craves poisons and if she’s off her habit, I might think about she might relapse. While she does really feel off-kilter in some bits, she didn’t appear to expertise, in a real sense, a sense of a scarcity of capability or agitation as to the elimination of drug. Further, with limited-to-no entry to those poisons, ought to her tolerance to poisons not develop weaker?And then as soon as we convey Poison Plotpoint #2 into this sequel, I need to query the efficacy in how she was in a position to fend it off with such ease.

Another side to the storytelling I’ve issues about is how Jude, for as nifty as she is in staying up to the mark, doesn’t appear to behave on her one biggest ability. And I suppose I’m simply undecided why not? Throughout Wicked King, Jude reminds herself greater than a half-dozen occasions that “somebody you belief has already betrayed you“. It is effectively established that fae can’t lie however people can (e.g. Jude). Jude is aware of this. Faes know this. So the ball is all the time in her courtroom to drive a character-driven story; to have company and discover the merciless intentions of others to defend her personal place in courtroom. And as a lot as exterior threats exist and Jude continues to mitigate these threats, the writing makes it really feel as if she’s being reined in.

Don’t get me improper. The battle remains to be very palpable nevertheless it might be a lot stronger and the stakes, whereas increased, might be much more so to raise the story to extra perilous heights if she took these steps than being reactive to all of the shit that she finally ends up having to undergo.


Speaking to the characters and relationships, the Wicked King spins extra webs connecting the relationships and explores Jude’s underground mercenaries in Ghost, Roach, and Bomb, together with how her community of spies influences her floor stage choices with the courtroom and Cardan.

I appreciated that in gentle of the brewing battle with the Undersea, the story furthers the event of Nicasia and Queen Orlagh, each of whom had superficial growth within the first ebook (e.g. imply woman + imply women mother with a fin), in order that’s swell.

But let’s speak about Cardan. Just kidding, there’s nothing to actually speak about since he’s the identical Cardan you recognize and love from the primary ebook till the fires of battle drive his hand to behave — to be the fucking Avatar. (I sigh). Jude, alternatively, continues to haul ass in protecting everybody essential to her alive and protecting the ability inside her grasp. Her mendacity, scheming, and fight prowess is all there — actually, she appears like a extra “grown up” model of her Cruel Prince self (even when solely months separate the 2).

In phrases of the romanceWicked King showcases what I believe the Cruel Prince missed the mark on. Her growth with Cardan should have performed out as a gradual burn all through the collection, and on this sequel, we get shades of chemistry and rigidity that feels a lot extra natural than their “sad-story-capture-cardan-make-out” plotting.


I do know most of this overview reads extremely unfavorable however I really did get pleasure from Wicked King higher than within the first ebook. The ranking clearly doesn’t mirror this due to the entire ragging I’ve accomplished. Anyways, most of this ebook facilities round Jude and Cardan, and most I really feel are right here for them anyhow, so this installment received’t disappoint.

I’m additionally very a lot an outlier on this collection to date so possibly don’t take heed to me in any respect.


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