The Hidden King, by E.G. Radcliff
Aed dreams of escaping the misery of the Maze, the dismal city of his birth, but his love for his makeshift family – his partner, Ninian, and an orphaned boy named Ronan – compels him to stay.
When a crushing tragedy forces a new beginning, Aed determines to break out of the Maze once and for all – but not before deeply buried secrets flare up with formidable consequences.
Setting out for the legendary White City fueled by hopes of a better life, Aed discovers a beautiful world hiding unexpected danger. Navigating a treacherous path of friendship and deception. Aed must embrace a legacy he had never imagined in order to protect the only family he has left.
Overall Impression: Positive
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The Hidden King, by E.G. Radcliff was a wonderfully enjoyable read. With complex characters navigating a unique world, it was interesting to see how they dealt with the challenges life throw at them. I was especially impressed with how quickly the author was able to get me invested in the well-being of the characters, and how strong an emotional response they were able to draw out because of it.
The plot was a little predictable for me, since I was able to guess fairly early on what the revelations at the end of the book were going to be. I found this didn’t make the story any less enjoyable though, as I still looked forward to seeing how the character realized for himself what I already suspected, and how he would deal with it when he did find out. There were also what I assume as some nice teasers that will lead into events later in the series (who was the red eyed person he spotted watching him? Someone important?).
The writing style was a nice combination of descriptive where it needed to be and spare where it didn’t to let the readers imagination fill in the blanks with their own images. The author painted a dark and dingy world contrasted against the impossibly bright and perfect world of the White City and used some nice variety of vocabulary while doing so. I always like a book that makes me have to look up the definition of a word or two.
I’m actually hard pressed to come up with many direct criticisms of the book. While it wasn’t the most winding of plots, nor the deepest of dives on character morality and development, I feel the book was exactly as much of those as it needed to be to convey itself to the read and not get bogged down. My only minor suggestions are that I would have maybe liked to spend a little more time in the Maze, whether with Ninian and Aed, or through the eyes of other characters throughout the course of the book. I think it might have highlighted the differences between the two cities more thoroughly. The story could have also gone the route of contrasting not only the dark of the Maze with the light of the White City, but could have also delved into the glints of good among the dark of the Maze to compare with the hidden evils in the White City. Ninian acted as a bit of that glint of light in the Maze, but I would have liked to have seen it explored a bit further.
One other aspect that possibly could have been developed a bit more would have been learning more about the history of the fae, particularly their interactions with the humans, and why it’s lead to the feelings about them that currently exist. There were moments in the book where I forgot they were part of the world, until a plot point that involved them reminded me of it, and I suspect they are going to get a lot more relevant to the story in future books.
Overall though, I truly enjoyed reading The Hidden King, and would highly recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of fantasy stories. I’m looking forward to reading The Last Prince when it comes out.
– written by Whim Shifter (Book reviewer @TheNovelMarket)
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