The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince

Raised in Faerie by the man who murdered her parents in front of her, Madoc, a Faerie General and her Mother’s first husband. And bullied at school by Prince Cardan and his cohorts for sure virtue of being human, Jude Duarte has not exactly had it easy as a human living in Faerie. But while her twin sister Taryn just wants to be left alone and to fit in, Jude dreams of more, she wants approval and power and most of all she wants to be a Knight.

At school, Jude catches the attention of Locke, one of Prince Cardan’s cohorts and it seems as though things are going swimmingly for Jude as she also catches the eye of Prince Dain who believes he can make use of Jude, for as a human, Jude can lie, but Faeries can not. Dain invites Jude to join his Circle of Spy’s, in return for Jude’s service Dain bestows a ‘gist’ on Jude protecting her from fairie compulsion so that no fairie may command her.

However, as its all going well, a love interest at school and a role in the court, we know it can not last. Locke reveals his true self and Prince Dain is executed by Madoc during a coup in support of Prince Balkein, the rest of the royal family refuse to support Balkein’s quest for the crown so at the end of the blood bath the only royals left alive are Prince Balkein and Prince Cardan, for the King of Fairie must be crowned by a member of the Royal Family and Balkein needs one of his siblings to crown him. However, from Jude’s work for Prince Dain and her friendship with Locke she has pieced the bits together and realised that there is another of royal blood that must be protected from Prince Dain and Madoc.

While Cardan may outwardly appear to detest Jude it is clear to see that actually he feels very differently about her, but that his feelings for Jude are something that he see’s as a weakness in himself, for how can he, a Prince of Fairie, feel this for a mortal girl? Let alone a mortal girl that bests him every chance she gets??

When Jude helps Cardan escape the bloodbath of the failed coup they find common ground and work together to protect the young royal that has been so well hidden this whole time. However, as Jude can lie, she manages to trick Cardan into taking the crown and makes him the King against his wishes something the Cardan his none to happy with.

In truth I did find The Cruel Prince to be a bit tedious at times and slow going, however when you then read The Wicked King you see that Holly Black is carefully sowing the seeds for later on, so keep reading and you won’t be disappointed.

The Wicked King

Ooooh that was good!!! The Wicked King picks up five months after Jude has successfully maneuvered Prince Cardan into becoming The High King of Elfhane. But as we know from The Cruel Prince – Cardan does not want to be King and it is only through his bargain with Jude to be King for a year and a day that he currently is, and he is not happy about it!

Cardan is quite happy to be as annoying as possible under the terms of Jude’s commands and he leaves her as his seneschal to do all the work of dealing with the politics and running the kingdom. However we cannot forget how Jude came to be the King maker- because Cardan likes her- oh he may have denied it and done everything in his power to make her life hell and I imagine he saw his desire for a mortal like Jude to be a weakness in himself, as how could a Faerie Prince be attracted to a mortal girl?  But it is still there under the surface with lines like ‘kiss me again’, ‘kiss me until I am sick it’ and of course when they finally give in and then act like nothing has happened.

Cardan being King in name only, can only continue for so long especially when Jude is kidnapped and he is free from Jude’s bargain/commands and can become the King that he never wanted to be.

The majority of the book was so-so, it wasn’t an epic page turner, however I found it enjoyable. The ending on the other hand was brilliant, Cardan finally starts acting like the King, and while Faeries cannot lie he finds a clever way to play Jude at her own game and I found myself going ‘Awww yes!!!’ on one page to going  ‘Wait? What? Nooooo!!!’ on the next- clever work indeed from our Faerie Queen Holly Black.

I can’t wait for the next instalment and to see Jude’s revenge on Cardan and everyone else. But mainly on Cardan, here’s hoping these two crazy cats who are so skilled at outwitting the other can finally stop playing one another and work together.

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