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Review: The Wicked King (Holly Black)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 9 on My Book List 2020

”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.”

I wish I could disagree with Cardan but he’s right! *lol* All this book is about are intrigues, machinations, power games and murder and tell you what? I’m so here for it! Like SO here for it! XD Holly Black knows how to write her faeries and I’ll never get tired of her books. There’s just something about them that keeps me on my toes and forces me to be on my guard. ;-P It’s rare to find this is a book and I appreciate her even more for it.

This said, I’ve to admit that for some people this book might seem to be pretty slow. There is a lot of build-up and it takes a while until the storyline gets into motion. Or rather it’s set into motion right at the start of the book but it kind of trickles in the background. You know something is brewing but you can’t put your finger on it and the more the story unfolds the more you get that feeling of uneasiness. The feeling that something is wrong and the awareness that you’re missing something crucial. 😉

I think this made for a super intriguing atmosphere and my urge to continue to read fought a constant battle against the connoisseur within me that wanted nothing more than to savour this book. XD Especially the Jude/Cardan scenes almost caused me to throw all caution to the wind. *lol* I didn’t give into the temptation though and considering THAT ending I’m glad I took my time to analyse every single sentence. I have theories! A BUNCH of them and I’ll make sure to go into detail in my characters section. 😉

2

Take my hand and follow me,
To the land of faerie,
Where I will spoiler thee.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you in advance,
Come enjoy the revel and let us dance.
You and I, we shall have some fun,
And if you’re scared,
Well, now is your last chance to run! ;-P

Jude:

”Watching his fear ripen fills me with an almost voluptuous satisfaction. I, who have had little power in my life, must be on guard against that feeling. Power goes to my head too quickly, like faerie wine.”

Jude Duarte is one of those characters I can’t help but adore. I love this girl so much! She’s cunning and intelligent which is always a dangerous combination, but she’s also compassionate and even though she tries to hide it, it always shows. Like for instance when she tried to prepare Heather for what would happen in Faerie. Still, Jude has become a force to be reckoned with and I’m in awe of all the strings she pulled. She’s become a formidable faerie which is probably the biggest compliment you can pay her and by running an entire kingdom in the background she’s grown as well. It’s not about gaining power anymore but about holding it (like Madoc pointed out so nicely) and considering it all she’s doing a great job. Or she did until she got betrayed by the Ghost and was spirited away to the Sea. >_<  I couldn’t believe it went into this kind of direction and I think her month as a captive of queen Orlagh changed her profoundly. She was reminded of her limits and she was willing to play along in order to save herself. I guess in some way it made her realize that she’s still so very powerless when it comes to the machinations of the courts. And for our reckless Jude this must have been quite a damper. Cardan at her disposal or not, they could have killed her easily. I think what it will always come down to is that she craves the power to be her own master and as long as she hasn’t achieved that she won’t be able to rest. Speaking of which: OMG!!! That ending! She’s the Queen of Faerie now but no one knows and she’s exiled!!!! WTF??!!!  Jude better come back because I need a happy ending! T_T

”You want to know what I did to make him raise me up?” I ask, leaning toward her, close enough that she can feel the warmth of my breath. “I kissed him on the mouth, and then I threatened to kiss him some more if he didn’t do exactly what I wanted.”

”I hate the way I cling to him, the nails of one hand digging into his back, my thoughts splintering, 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.“

”Sometimes, when lying on the cold stone floor, I wonder if there’s a limit to what I will let them do, if there is something that would make me fight back, even if it dooms me.
If there is, that makes me a fool.
But maybe if there isn’t, that makes me a monster.”

”I imagine what it would be like to have my own crown, my own power. Maybe I wouldn’t have to be afraid to love him. Maybe it would be okay. Maybe I wouldn’t have to be scared of all the things I’ve been scared of my whole life, of being diminished and weak and lesser. Maybe I would become a little bit of magic.”

Cardan:

Cardan leans forward as though they are sharing a jest. “Oh, tell me the rest. I like tricks and snares. Even ones I was nearly caught in.”

Okay, Cardan lounging on his throne is my new aesthetic! XD Also that one earring dangling from his ear! Ahh, did anyone else imagine him as the 8th member of BTS? *LOL* Anyway! Let’s talk about my precious boy who became more and more intriguing! I never thought I could be even more obsessed or besotted with him but “The Wicked King” certainly proved me wrong. I love this new calculating Cardan and I was kind of happy to see that he grew into his power. He played them all! And he did it masterly! Every gesture, every move he made, and every single word that left his lips, it was calculated and deliberate. The sings were all there and they became even more pronounced after Jude returned from the Sea. The way he commanded the situation with Queen Orlagh was amazing and it was really surprising to see how clever and skilled he is. I could see it from miles away but what truly gave his game away was the moment when he held council about how to proceed with Queen Orlagh. Cardan acting reasonable and making sense was such a dead giveaway. *lol* I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do now but I’m also kind of worried about him. Without Jude by his side things will get even trickier. >_<

”When he becomes drunk, his subjects become tipsy without knowing why. When his blood falls, things grow. Why, High Queen Mab called Insmire, Insmoor, and Insweal from the sea. All the isles of Elfhame, formed in a single hour.”

”Now, Queen of the Undersea, we will have a truce as you had with Eldred, as you had with Mab. We will have a truce or we will have a war, and if we fight, I will be unsparing. Nothing and no one you love will be safe.”

”When my father sent me away, at first I tried to prove that I was nothing like he thought me. But when that didn’t work, I tried to be exactly what he believed I was instead. If he thought I was bad, I would be worse. If he thought I was cruel, I would be horrifying. I would live down to his every expectation. If I couldn’t have his favor, then I would have his wrath.”

”I wasn’t kind, Jude. Not to many people. Not to you. I wasn’t sure if I wanted you or if I wanted you gone from my sight so that I would stop feeling as I did, which made me even more unkind. But when you were gone – truly gone beneath the waves – I hated myself as I never have before.”

Cardan shakes his head and drinks another cup of tea. “We show her that I am no feckless High King.”
“And how do we do that?” I ask.
“With great difficulty,” he says. “Since I fear she is right.”

Vivi:

”Revenge is sweet, but ice cream is sweeter.” She goes to the freezer and removes a tub of mint chocolate chip. She brings that and two spoons back to the sofa. “For now, accept this delight, unworthy though it is for the Queen of Faerie in exile.”

I can’t believe Vivi truly thought that Heather would come out of Faerie unscathed and I really disliked her for her actions. At first she didn’t tell her the truth and then she added insult to injury by glamouring her after things went downhill. No wonder Heather moved out of their apartment. If someone would have done the same to me I would have moved out as well. I think Jude was right with everything she said about Vivi not being able to understand what it means to be a human in Faerie. She’s a faerie and she never seemed to care all too much about Taryn and Jude’s struggles. So I don’t know if Heather will come back again but if Vivi wants her back she’ll have to do so much better than she did before.

3

Jude & Cardan:

”I wondered if it wasn’t you shooting bolts at me.”
I make a face at him. “And what made you decide I wasn’t?”
He grins up at me. “They missed.”

ADKASDLFKAsDJFASKDFJASDFLKASJDFAKLSDFJASLKDFJSDfH!!! Okay, sorry, but that just needed to get out! *lol* Now I feel better and can write about it! XD So first things first: I love them! Their love-hate relationship is legit one of the best things about this series and I ship them so hard it almost kills me to read their scenes! <333 Their chemistry is off the charts and I just can’t get enough of them. This said: I guess in some way Cardan finally got his revenge for Jude forcing him on the throne. *lol* Well, he certainly did a number on her by exiling her from Faerie! I don’t think it was about revenge though. I don’t even think it was about power. I’m sure he had completely different motives so hear me out and let me explain! I DO believe that he meant every single word he said before he married her and he wasn’t lying because faeries can’t lie. So I think his main reason to exile her was to keep her safe. When she was abducted and imprisoned in the Sea he realized how much he truly loves her and that changed everything. She’s his weakness, the only thing that could be able to hurt him and he’s not holding on to power for himself but for her sake. I mean he trusted her so much that he gave Taryn what she wanted because he thought it was her. His love and trust for Jude will be his downfall and it was the reason why he exiled her even though he loves her. So he tricked her out of her hold over him and now he’s free to do what needs to be done in order to protect her. Which was a pretty clever move on his part. Still, I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY MARRIED AND THAT JUDE IS THE QUEEN OF FAERIE NOW!!! OMG! That totally caught me by surprise and I was speechless! *lol* So whatever happens between those two in the final book, I’m so ready to read it! <333 Give me all that love and hate, because apparently it’s both in their case. ;-P

Cardan steps close to me, his gaze devouring. I am not sure I can bear his cutting me down again. Luckily, he seems at a loss for words.
”I hate you,” I whisper before he can speak.
He tilts my face to his.
“Say it again,” he says as the imps comb my hair and place the ugly stinking crown on my head.

”You believe I planned your humiliation?” He laughs. “Me? That sounds like work.”
“I don’t care if you did or not,” I tell him, too angry to make sense of my feelings. “I just care that you enjoyed it.”
“And why shouldn’t I delight to see you squirm? You tricked me,” Cardan says. “You played me for a fool, and now I am the King of Fools.”

He shucks his cuffed white shirt over his head in a single elegant gesture, revealing bare skin and scars. My hands are shaking. He captures them and kisses my knuckles with a kind of reverence.
“I want to tell you so many lies,” he says.

”But how did she make you agree?” I demand. “She has no power. She could pretend to be me, but she couldn’t force you –“
He puts his head in his long-fingered hands. “She didn’t have to command me, Jude. She didn’t have to use any magic. I trust you. I trusted you.”

”Faerie suffered with us at each other’s throats. You attempted to make me do what you thought needed to be done, and if we disagreed, we could do nothing but manipulate each other. That wasn’t working, but simply giving in is no solution. We cannot continue like this. Tonight is proof of that. I need to make my own decisions.”

Taryn & Locke:

”But you know me too well to bother.” She shakes her head. “When I’m with him, I feel like the hero of a story. Of my story. It’s when he’s not there that things don’t feel right.”

I said it once and I’ll say it again: Those two were conspicuously inconspicuous in. I always waited for their involvement but they made sure to act in the background and not to show their true motives. To be honest I didn’t expect anything different. I knew sooner or later they’d make their move and I was right! XD The way Taryn betrayed her sister. Just WOW! I’m curious if we’ll see more of them in the next book because I kind of missed Locke’s machinations. Yes, he made Jude the Queen of Mirth but that was about everything he did (aside from trying to get her killed) and it certainly wasn’t enough. He can do better than that and I really hope I’ll get more of the cunning fox in the next book.

”I am done with being polite. We’re not going to play word games or make up riddles. Humiliating the High King is a bad idea. Humiliating me is a terrible idea. Running around my sister is just dumb. Maybe you thought I was too busy to take my revenge? Well, Locke, I want you to understand that for you, I will make time.”
His face pales. He’s obviously not sure what to make of me right now.

Nicasia & Cardan:

”Would you marry me, then? Tie the sea to the land and bind us together in misery?” Cardan gazes at her with all the scorn he once reserved for me. It feels as though the world has been turned upside down. But Nicasia does not back down. Instead, she takes a step closer.
“We would be legends,” she tells him. “Legends need not concern themselves with something as small as happiness.”

As it seems Nicasia is still in love with Cardan, but unfortunately (or fortunately, always depends on your POV) he doesn’t seem to reciprocate her feelings. I guess her try to force him into a marriage only made him dislike her even more and those two definitely won’t become a couple anytime soon. That horse is definitely out of the barn. *lol* I think Cardan wants love and the fact he chose Jude tells us everything we need to know. So I’m sorry Nicasia, but you’ve lost the game. 😉 #SorryNotSorry

Jude & Madoc:

”You don’t believe that I could care about you, even after you betrayed me?” He watches me with his cat eyes. “I’m still your father.”
“You’re my father’s murderer,” I blurt out.
“I can be both,” Madoc says, smiling, showing those teeth.

I know this might sound weird but I’m still down for this twisted father-daughter relationship! *lol* They have such an interesting dynamic and the fact they both seem to care about each other yet still don’t give each other an inch is just awesome. When an opportunity arises it is seized no matter the consequences or what kind of repercussion it might entail for the other.  They obviously respect each other though so I wonder if there actually might be a happy ending for those two. As opaque as Madoc is, the genuinely seems to care about Jude and I’m pretty sure she considers him to be her father too, no matter what she tells him. XD Ahh I like them. Guess we’ll find out what will happen in “The Queen of Nothing”.

”I’ve been glamoured and carried into a revel, weeping and alone. As far as I can tell, the only difference between tonight and all the other nights when I endured indignities without complaint is that those benefited you, and when I endure this, it benefits me.”
Madoc looks shaken. “I didn’t know.”
“You didn’t want to know,” I return.

”Does he know?” Madoc asks, grinning in a slightly terrifying yet paternal fashion. “Does our High King have any idea how good you are at running his kingdom for him?”
“Keep hoping he doesn’t,” I say, trying for a breezy confidence that I don’t feel when it comes to anything to do with Cardan or our arrangement.

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

”Orlag and the Undersea we will vanquish together. But when they are gone, it will be us staring across a chessboard at each other. And when I best you, I will make sure I do it as thoroughly as I would any opponent who has shown themselves to be my equal.”

4

This was perfection and I enjoyed “The Wicked King” even more than I thought I would, which is no easy thing to accomplish! I lived and breathed for all the backstabbing and cunning in this book and I can’t wait to see what will happen in the next one. Considering all the scheming and plot twists we witnessed in here (oh what a pleasure!) I’m pretty certain Holly Black will have no mercy in the final book as well! I’m ready, Holly! Destroy me! 😉

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