The last two books in Holly Black’s “Folk of the Air” trilogy were just as amazing, engaging, and sensually pleasurable as The Cruel Prince. In her quest for power, Jude Duarte is upping the ante as the right-hand to the high king of Faerie in book two, and then breaking her exile on pain of death in book three. There’s plotting, spying, backstabbing (both literal and figural), and Jude’s struggle to balance playing Faerie’s game without completely becoming the thing she hates.
Jude continues to be awesome, perhaps jumping into my top ten favorite characters of all time. The rest of the cast also continue to be awesome as Black deftly collides humor and honesty in characters that could very easily be flatly villainous. Even the worst characters of her stories have redeemable qualities, or a sense of honest crookedness that makes it almost impossible to hate anyone, even when they’re doing terrible things. The world of Elfhame only becomes more vibrant, colorful, and dangerous with each chapter.
One of the things I admired most about the series was Black’s theme with lies and truth. Faeries can’t lie, but that makes them ever more deceitful because they know how to twist language. As a human, Jude can lie, and it becomes one of her most valued qualities in the political machinations of the Faerie court. But it’s also her greatest hindrance because her word has no weight. Words are weapons in Faerie, maybe more so than the swords they all carry, with the ability to bind and curse, heal and bestow, but Jude’s only access to them is her ability to look someone in the eye and lie like she means it. The whole concept brought new life (at least to me) on the ideas of lying and truth telling, opening up greater concepts to the power of words and how they’re wielded.
This series was an absolute delight, and I recommend to anyone who loves the world of Faerie.