Review of The Wicked King by Holly Black

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Holly Black, why have you done this?!? We were doing so well and then you had to go and pull the rug out from underneath us. I feel a bit betrayed…well, more than a bit. 

Fellow fans of Cardan and Jude, you will either love or hate the events that unfold in The Wicked King. Personally, I was ecstatic for about five minutes until Holly shattered my happiness with just a few sentences. However, it wasn’t the sentences themselves that crushed me, but the fact that the book ended on a cliffhanger. In my opinion, it should be considered a crime to end a book in such a way. Now I am left in suspense, eagerly awaiting the next installment.

Jude is an amazing heroine. Despite being a mere human in the Faerie world, she manages to overcome all obstacles with her intelligence and strength. If that’s not the epitome of girl power and kickassery, then I don’t know what is. She reminds me of Anne Boleyn in her ambition, cunning, and strategic thinking. However, Anne did meet a tragic end due to Henry’s cruelty. On the other hand, Cardan wouldn’t do that to Jude (knock on wood).

The Summary

When one thinks of Kings and Queens, power and control are usually the first words that come to mind. However, this is not the case for the new High King of Faerieland who is bound by oath to obey every command and order from his seneschal, Jude Duarte. Despite being a mortal, Jude managed to deceive a Faerie prince and now holds a great deal of power over the High King.

Throughout the book, Jude plays a strategic role, much like a Queen in a game of chess. In contrast to the King, who doesn’t move much, it’s the Queen who has all the tricks up her sleeve. Every negotiation and action goes through Jude; Cardan, the High King, is obligated to fulfill her wishes, as he took an oath to do so earlier in The Cruel Prince. Although Cardan is understandably bitter about the situation, he has no choice but to oblige until the year is up.

Power struggles, gameplays, duals, calculated moves, espionage, deception, bogus assassination attempts, wrongful imprisonment, familial battles and much more happens throughout The Wicked King. Honestly, to steal a line from GoT, it’s the game of thrones people! You either play the game or you sit around all day with a crown on your head drinking wine and dancing. Yeah, we all know which is the better group.

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

That right there is the cold truth Jude learns navigating the frothy waters of court life. 

My Thoughts

Cardan. I know he’s a prickly ass at times, but I love him. Even after some rather treacherous moves. Most people would probably say it’s a poisonous relationship. Well, it is. Literally – I’ll say no more. 

“The three of you have one solution to every problem. Murder. No key fits every lock.” Cardan gives us all a stern look, holding up a long-fingered hand with my stolen ruby ring still on one finger. “Someone tries to betray the High King, murder. Someone gives you a harsh look, murder. Someone disrespects you, murder. Someone ruins your laundry, murder.”

The High King has honestly come a long way than the cruel prince we first met. He was his typical self for the majority of the book, but becoming increasingly more involved within political affairs; something he never had much interest in. With that, he managed to make a mammoth power move that no one saw coming and then like a domino effect, another dozen right after that. He is truly a force to be reckoned with people. 

A sign needs to be put up when entering Faerie that says ‘DO NOT MESS WITH THE HIGH KING. SERIOUS REPERCUSSIONS WILL ENSUE THAT WILL LEAVE YOU SENSELESS.’ Someone should make this into a sign. I’d buy it. 

I don’t want to say much, but we have a lot of traitors in our midst. I’m not proud of that fact. I mean, it’s Faerie, you kind of expect it, but there’s some people who never ranked on your radar which makes the deception hurt a lot more. 

We have discussed Cardan, now let’s talk about Jude. People either love or hate her, and there were times when I felt like rolling my eyes, especially when she threw her stuffed animals into the fireplace. She also had multiple arguments with herself about Cardan’s situation, making me feel like I was going crazy. However, I found her somewhat relatable, with all her internal debates and self-motivating talks.