The Wicked King by Holly Black PDF

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Chapter 1 With Summary

The new High King of Faerie lounges on his throne, his crown resting at an insouciant angle, his long villainously scarlet cloak pinned at his shoulders and sweeping the floor.

An earring shines from the peak of one pointed ear. Heavy rings glitter along his knuckles. His most ostentatious decoration, however, is his soft, sullen mouth.

It makes him look every bit the jerk that he is.

I stand to one side of him, in the honored position of seneschal.

I am supposed to be High King Cardan’s most trusted advisor, and so I play that part, rather than my real role -the hand behind the throne, with the power to compel him to obey should he try to cross me.

Scanning the crowd, I look for a spy from the Court of Shadows. They intercepted a communication from the Tower of Forgetting, where Cardan’s brother is jailed, and are bringing it to me instead of to its intended recipient.

And that’s only the latest crisis. It’s been five months since I forced Cardan onto the throne of Elfhame as my puppet king, five months since I betrayed my family since my sister carried my little brother to the mortal realm and away from the crown that he might have worn since I crossed swords with Madoc.

Five months since I’ve slept for more than a few hours at a stretch.

It seemed like a good trade-a very jaerie trade, even: put someone who despised me on the throne so that Oak would be out of danger.

It was thrilling to trick Cardan into promising to serve me for a year and a day, and exhilarating when my plan came together. Then, a year and a day seemed like forever.

But now I must figure out how to keep him in my power and out of trouble for longer than that. Long enough to give Oak a chance to have what I didn’t: a childhood.

Now a year and a day seem like no time at all.

And despite having put Cardan on the throne through my own machinations, despite scheming to keep him there, I cannot help being unnerved by how comfortable he looks.

Faerie rulers are tied to the land. They are the lifeblood and the beating heart of their realm in some mystical way that I don’t fully understand.

But surely Cardan isn’t that, not with his commitment to being a layabout who does none of the real work of governance.

Mostly, his obligations appear to be allowing his ring-covered hands to be kissed and accepting the blandishments of the Folk.

I’m sure he enjoys that part of it-the kisses, the bowing, and scraping. He’s certainly enjoying the wine. He calls again and again for his cabochon-encrusted goblet to be refilled with a pale green liquor. The very smell of it makes my head spin.

During a lull, he glances up at me, raising one black brow

“Enjoying yourself?”

Chapter 2

Balekin is imprisoned in the Tower of Forgetting on the northernmost part of Insweal, Isle of Woe. Insweal is one of the three islands of Elfhame, connected to Insmire and Insmoor by large rocks and patches of land, populated with only a few fir trees, silvery stags, and the occasional treefolk.

It’s possible to cross between Insmire and Insweal entirely on foot, if you don’t mind leaping stone to stone, walking through the Milkwood by yourself, and probably getting at least somewhat wet.

I mind all those things and decide to ride.

As the High King’s seneschal, I have the pick of his stables. Never much of a rider, I choose a horse that seems docile enough, her coat a soft black color, her mane in complicated and probably magical knots.

I lead her out while a goblin groom brings me a bit and bridle.

Then I swing onto her back and direct her toward the Tower of Forgetting. Waves crashing against the rocks beneath me. Salt spray misting the air. Insweal is a forbidding island, large stretches of its landscape bare of greenery, just black rocks and tide pools and a tower threaded through with cold. iron.

I tie the horse to one of the black metal rings driven into

AuthorHolly Black
Language English
No. of Pages309
PDF Size4 MB

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