Heyhey, BookNerds! I was incredibly luckily to receive an eARC of The Wild Court, the final instalment in The Coming Of Aed trilogy, from the author – EG Radcliff. A big thank you to Radcliff for the opportunity to read and review the third book in this amazing fantasy series.
SPOILER WARNING: This review will contain spoilers for book 1: The Hidden King, and book 2: The Last Prince.
Book Review: The Hidden King (The Coming Of Aed #1), by E.G Radcliff | Book Review: The Last Prince (The Coming Of Aed #2), by E.G. Radcliff | Cover & Title Reveal: Coming Of Aed #3, by EG Radcliff (#StoryTellersOnTour, @sot_tours)
Synopsis: Aed has been on the throne for seven years, but on the night of the Autumn Festival havoc occurs as fae pour through the veil causing destruction. In order to protect his family and his fragile Kingdom, Aed must embark on a journey through an unfamiliar realm and bring peace to fae and human alike. But the Fae Queen’s consort has gone missing, and peace may be difficult to obtain.
CW/TW (May contain spoilers): blood/gore/mentions of rape/death/loss of limbs/violence/abuse/Apologies for any I missed.
The Wild Court, by EG Radcliff is a stunning and impressive finale to the Coming Of Aed series – Radcliff continues to impress with the richness of her prose, the complexity of her characters and the vividness of her settings.
The Writing Style/Narrative. Radcliff’s writing is as captivating and compelling as it was in the previous two books. This time, however, we get to visit the faerie realm and the descriptions are gorgeous and vivid. Radcliff perfectly captures both beauty and horror in this book, the duality coming through in the settings, the characters and the magic. I was completely enthralled from start to finish, ending up with me binge reading the book in one sitting. Not only does Radcliff perfectly balance horror and beauty in her descriptions, she also manages to maintain the perfect balance between action, humour and intense emotional scenes. The prose had me laughing out loud, tearing up and moving closer to the edge of my seat in anticipation.
The book contains multiple narrative perspectives, primarily Aed, Ronan and Eamon’s – each of which gives us excellent insight into the characters and their current state. Radcliff manages to balance the switching perspectives perfectly, never giving too much away, to create suspense, mystery and tension which slowly comes together. The multiple narrative perspectives help to balance the book, making it a well paced adventure that keeps you gripped. I loved every single chapter, all of the perspectives that we were given – each one was full of action, humour and emotion that made you fall even more in love with the story and its characters.
Plot. Each installment of this series has explored something different, but each one ties into the wider story being told. The Hidden King focused around Aed and his human life, his struggles, his family and eventually his magic. the Last Prince acts a a prequel as well as a sequel, and lends its focus to Ninian and the harsh realities of life in a place ignored by those in charge. The Wild Court, this book, focuses on Aed, his fae side and his determination to fix what is broken in this world – he has pure intentions of peace and rebuilding his Kingdom.
I absolutely adored the plot in this book, which gave us something new and yet deeply tied to the previous book. We finally get a look at the faerie realm (which was so amazing!) as Aed (and company) search for the Queen’s Consort to bring peace to the Fae and humans alike. This book is probably the most action-packed and fast-paced in the series, making it a stellar finale that blows you away. The action packed plot means I can’t say too much without spoilers but we get a seven year time jump, sassy Ronan, an overprotective Aed, and a relatively new character (introduced late into book 1), Eamon, who is loyal and strong-willed. The plot is centered on these three (and another character) as they work together to bring peace to both realms.
The primary part of the plot is to find the fae Queen’s consort, return him to her, and hope this placates her anger. However, Radcliff also manages to weave in several underlying plots that slowly weave together to form an intricate web of secrets, strategies and battles. This was very cleverly crafts, particularly with all the fae characters we meet along the way as Radcliff stays true to the lore meaning they cannot lie. Radcliff expertly uses the unsaid to combat the truthful fae making you attend to every detail, this also serves to maintain mystery and suspense as full plans are never revealed until they are put into action.
While the plot is fast paced and action packed, Radcliff still manages to create something heartfelt and emotional. The story is about war, violence and power but at it’s core there is a story of trauma, healing, of family and of belonging. One of Radcliff’s most prominent strengths is giving us stories that have excellent plots but really delve into the characters, their emotions and their relationships – giving us a story full of depth and characters we truly feel for.
Overall the plot of this book is amazing. The action scenes are executed well, the characters were as strong as ever, their relationships are realistic, and the settings are vivid.
Worldbuilding/Magic. So as I said, the settings and world are incredibly vivid in this book with rich details and a strong presence. This time, however, we get to see more magic, more fae and the fae realm itself! So far in the series our view of magic has been centered around Aed, we knew what he could do with fire, and what weakens him. This time Radcliff does not hold back and dives straight into the fae with a much wider breadth of power.
Firstly, we all know how the human realm operates by this book, but we now have a seven year time jump with Aed on the throne. This time we see him working hard to restore a neglected and fragile Kingdom, fixing the Maze and securing it with ties to the White City. We see a healing Kingdom with a new power structure that fits nicely into the world. Not only that we see Aed and Ronan in their new lives, Aed a dedicated and pure King and Ronan, the Prince, who finally gets the chance to grow up in a safe environment. Anyway, I’ll talk more about the characters, their development and their relationships further down!
After seeing the healing Kingdom and this new light on the Maze, the faerie attack begins threatening this safety. Aed embarks on a quest in the faerie realm to maintain peace, and this is where we get a whole new load of world-building done subtly and organically. I cannot tell you how excited I was to finally be in the fae realm and I loved it! Much like the human realm, the fae are divided in power – with the Queen at the top. The Queen heads the High Court of fea, the strongest fae with the strongest magic, and they rule over the Lower Courts which are split into smaller courts, like clans. However, within each of the Low Courts we have individual and internal power structures which play out as you see them.
One thing I loved about this was that the fae have different appearances depending on which Court they come from, which seemed influenced by nature (at least to some extent). Even though I read a lot of fae books, I rarely see such a diverse portrayal of fae, which is why I was so delighted at how Radcliff chose to portray them. Radcliff draws on Celtic mythology for her portrayals, remaining true to Fae not having wings, being unable to lie, the idea of crosslings, living in courts (and Faerie Fort’s) and being diverse in nature.
However, while the lore is clear she still manages to make the fae and this story her own. She applies different physical characteristics to the fae depending on their court and they have different routines – interestingly low court fae usually have physical flaws or imperfections that distinguish them from high court fae, but with our cast of characters this is never judged and is simply accepted. Radcliff does an excellent job at incorporating characters with disabilities, from Aed to characters (fae and human) we meet along the way, and she always keeps them at the forefront, relying on their own strengths. Not only does she incorporate their own strengths she lets the characters manage themselves, they all know their limits, what they can/cannot do and what aid they need and it is always just another part of the character, people listen to them and give them help or space for them to help themselves.
Aside from the actual fae world itself, which is closely tied with nature and has lots of mystical/magical creatures lurking, and it’s power structure, we also get a much closer look at the range of fea magic. We learn more about the veils, about the firs magic Aed has and the stronger flames possessed by the High Court Fae but we also get much more than fire magic this time. I don’t want to spoil what the fae can actually do (though if you know the lore you may be able to figure some out) but what is most interesting is the Fae have many different types of magic that have a dual nature, it can be helpful, healing and protective or dangerous, damaging and harmful. We see a lot of duality in the fae realm. I absolutely loved all the magic we learned about in this book – it was all executed cleverly and perfectly.
Finally, we learn a bit more about magic used by humans, much like Boudicca. True to lore, magic is everywhere and all around, and we get a bit more of an intricate look at how humans channel this fae magic and wield it for themselves – though I can’t really go more into this, it was an interesting element that I really enjoyed.
Anyway, if you couldn’t already tell, I absolutely adored the worldbuilding and the faerie realm in this book, and I loved the magic too! The worldbuilding is subtle but strong and works to gradually give you an intricate image of the world Radcliff has taken us to.
Characters. So we get a pretty decent cast of characters for this adventure, but most of them are better left for you to meet yourself so I will focus on our main three for the review as not to spoil anything. However, as I said the characters are all strong in presence as well as diverse with a budding m/m relationship, multiple characters with disabilities and fae with different race/ethnicities. Every character is individual and unique, making them stand out and remain interesting throughout the story. We also get to meet some very interesting characters along the way!
Aed. I didn’t think I could love Aed anymore than I already did but I was so wrong! Aed is one of those characters that you immediately and forever have a soft spot for because he is so determined and has such pure motivations. Now that Aed is King, we have an Aed who is dedicated and devoted to his people, but his time in the Maze has clearly left it’s mark with him still remaining overprotective and absolutely devoted to keeping Ronan safe. Aed develops a lot over the series but this book really delves into his fae side as well as having Aed slowly deal with his past and the loss of Ninian. Though it has been seven years on the throne, Aed is still a grounded character, very human and realistic (in spite of him being half fae), and his slow arc of acceptance and dealing with trauma is both natural and emotional. We truly see just how much Aed cherishes those close to him, and how far he will go to protect them.
I absolutely adored Aed and Ronan’s relationship in this book, the father/son dynamic. Now no longer under the influence of the Maze, and with the time jump, the two are more relaxed and we get some excellent moments of sass from Ronana, and Aeds reluctance to give in. Ronan is a bit more carefree now, and while Aed still worries, he relents a little more after some humourous verbal sparring and sarcasm. Once in the fae realm we see their relationship develop further and see how Aed is equally important to Ronan as Ronan is to Aed. These two have one of my favourite found family relationships and I really loved how it developed over this book.
Ronan. Ronan is now a teenager, more carefree and sarcastic than before, but he still hold onto that soft heart he had in the earlier books. Ronan is stubborn but kind and you can see he truly loves Aed and takes after him in his softness and loyalty. Ronan is quick to adapt to situations, a remnant from his life in the Maze, and the most accepting of fea having been raised by a half-fae. I loved that we got to see more of Ronan in this book, more of his clever and determined side and his devotion to helping others. Ronan is quick and smart and we see him utilise all of this in the book. I also liked the relationship Ronan develops with another character, and how he has grown use to Eamon – not hesitating to tease him and be witty.
Eamon. I love Eamon, he is fiercely loyal and devoted to helping Aed. Eamon is challenged a lot in this book, being human he has a deep rooted fear of the fae (not knowing Aed is of fae blood). However, Eamon develops incredibly over the course of the book and acts to keep Aed from his more impulsive intentions. Eamon is smart and skilled, and we see his own talents play out in the book. Eamon is quite patient and gentle, especially when it comes to Aed, as he knows about his past. But he is also quick to judge the fae and can have a quick and sharp tongue, however, when challenged and as he overcomes his prejudices he is apologetic and corrects his behaviour. Eamon is very realistic and relatable in his development and devotion.
I particularly liked his relationship with Aed, though it is very slow burn this works well with Aed overcoming his past. Eamon never pressures Aed and is a steady and constant source of support who stands by his side. Aed also is deeply loyal to Eamon, wishing to protect him as much as Ronan and the two help each other overcome a lot throughout the story. In the midst of the battles and action, we have a lot of sweet moments between the two (some manufactured by our devious Ronan). The slow burn romance works well alongside the plot too, which throws a lot at both Eamon and Aed individually, the two have a lot to deal with so the slow burn helps balance this by ensuring the story doesn’t get lost – it allows their relationship to develop more organically.
Radcliff really challenges her characters in this book and doesn’t hesitate to put them through the wringer, with high stakes the suspense and tension continuously supports the story. As with the previous books in the series, the characters and their relationships truly stand out among the best, with the wde cast of characters all having their own unique, complex and interesting relationships with each other and with the main characters.
Radcliff really dives into family, friends, and loyalty in this book and challenges both the characters and the reader’s perceptions. From blood to found families we get strong, close ties as well as tenuous and tense ones that make this book even more of an engaging read.
Overall. The Wild Court, by EG Radcliff is an impressive final instalment to a rich, gritty and heartfelt series that enages your heart and mind. With strong themes of family, found family, trauma, tragedy, loss, power and war, Radcliff gives us an epic action-packed plot as well as an intensely emotional story personal to the characters.
*I received an eARC/review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!*