Anyone who has been following my blog reviews for at least a little bit of time knows just exactly how much I have been waiting to read this book series. If not, the answer is: forever. It is now here.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Synopsis From The Book
Sharpen your blade. Harden your heart.
Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever. And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.
Guard your mortal heart.
Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
I know. I know I said I would reread The Modern Fairytales before I got to this series. However, they were just starring at me. Starring at me saying “read me.” I have to oblige. I just have to. It would be wrong of me not to. Plus, the longer I wait, the more my anticipation grows. The longer that grows, the more likely I have to get disappointed in all my excitement for the book series.
I can’t let that happen.
So I am here, ready to read. Are you ready to take this journey with me?
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
Things I knew going into this book: Cardan becomes King, Jude does it for her brother, Jude is a human. That was it. I knew two of those from the front synopsis and the third because of Wicked King. How this was all come to pass I had no clue at all.
How it came to pass had me reeling. Jude is such a liar and I love it. Please lie more Jude. Please. I can not wait to read book 2. As a note I took a lot of time with this book, rereading passages I loved, and thus it took me more than my standard time. I was hyped for this and I let myself sink into it in a different way than normal.
Jude and Taryn are human, brought to Elfhame by their half sister’s father, ten years ago. Madoc, their sister’s father, killed their parents and took them for himself, introducing the two mortal girls to The Folk as Gentry. From there Jude had to learn to survive. Skilled with a sword and words, Jude and her sisters adapted to their new lives. Taryn became sweet, wanting to blend in, Jude became rough wanting to prove herself, and Vivi, their half sister, rejected it all.
The Summer Tournament approaches, and Jude wants to compete as a knight candidate. In her classes she is bullied by Prince Cardan and his friends, for things she can not control. This does not sway her, and instead she stands up to him more and more, refusing to bend her head. It is through this that she comes to work for Prince Dain, Cardan’s older brother, as a spy. It is by being a spy that she learns of a plot to take the crown from the rightful heir (Prince Dain).
Through this, Jude and Locke (one of Cardan’s friends) begin a fling, that lasts until the new coronation in the fall. It is at this coronation that the Eldest Prince, Prince Balekin, kills Dain and his siblings, resulting in the massacre of the royal family, all but him and Cardan. Her father, Madoc, is also one of the hands to blame. Cardan is missing, and when Jude finds him, she finds him drunk. Stealing him away, she concocts a plan to get the only other heir onto the throne: Oak, her little brother (said to be half siblings with Vivi but is not). Oak is the son thought dead, of Prince Dain (a son he tried to murder), and is not yet strong enough or old enough to rule.
Jude learns that Locke had been toying with her, and that her sister was in love with him. Her stepfather a cruel liar, her sister one as well, Jude turns to herself to make sure that her brother and her home remain safe. She seeks out support and then brings Cardan to his eldest brother, a brother who she knows to have beaten him in the past. It is here, under the eyes of all the Fae gentry, that Jude helps Oak crown Cardan (much to Cardan’s dismay) and steals the throne. Jude has made Cardan swear her allegiance for a year and a day, and that is the amount of times she has to make sure her brother’s throne remains safe (and to convince Cardan to keep it safe).
What I Liked:
Connection to the other two books(series) in this world. I may not have remembered all the characters from The Modern Fairytales, but I did recognize them when they came.
Jude; Perhaps I just really love girls who are knights with swords. However I also love girls who are silver tongued liars, and know their way around a riddle. Jude has her pride, pride I respect. Her pride is backed by her skill with a sword and with her words. I was not sure why people loved her so much, but now I do know.
Cardan; He’s cruel, yes, but he’s been made that way. He was abused and never loved. He was taught cruelty and it is to cruelty that he belongs, however he can be kind. I want to see how Jude controls him in the second book.
Taryn; Jude’s twin sister who just wants to fit in and be loved. I respect her. I also respect that she would do anything to try to be a fae. She is Jude’s mirror, and to that I understand her. She is not weak, rather strong in different ways. I can not blame her for her betrayal to Jude, not really. Not after everything she has worked for.
Vivi; The Fae who wants to be human. Where her sisters want to be immortal, she wants to be mortal. I can only imagine what it is like for her, having watched her parents die and then blaming herself. I love her and want her to have the best.
Locke; He is Fae and as much as I hate him and what he did, I can not. Perhaps he does truly love Taryn. I will need to read more to decide for myself.
Other characters; Nicely developed. Equally other. Dangerous and awesome, whimsical and filled with mayhem. Just like how I like my Fae.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
General plot; Honestly going through this, I already knew the biggest spoilers for it, so I was just waiting and sitting reading slowly instead of devouring, thinking “does any of this really matter.” I wish I didn’t know and could have stopped myself from knowing. Perhaps then I would have dove in without questioning.
Time Taken To Read
I’m not going to 5 star this until I’ve read all three books.
“I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.” – Jude about Cardan, pg 30
“I am coming unraveled. I am coming undone.” – Jude, pg 148
“The odd thing about ambition is this: You can acquire it like a fever, but it is not so easy to shed.” – Jude, pg 297