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The Coming of Áed #1

The Hidden King

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Hidden truths. Hidden power. Hidden destiny.

On the shores of a rusty sea, in the streets of a starving city, a young man named Áed scraps to build a life for himself and the makeshift family he loves. Scarred by a trauma he cannot remember, and haunted by the brutal damage it left behind, he has no idea of the courage his future will demand.

When tragedy strikes, a desperate Áed risks a treacherous, life-changing journey in his last chance to save the only family he has left - but an ancient legacy smoldering within him is about to turn deadly. Neither he - nor a kingdom - will ever be the same.

SPFBO SemiFinalist 2020
BBNYA SemiFinalist 2021
BlueInk Notable Book
International Review of Books Gold Seal Book

318 pages, Kindle Edition

Published July 12, 2019

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About the author

E.G. Radcliff

10 books151 followers
E.G. RADCLIFF IS A PART-TIME pooka and native of the Unseelie Court. She collects acorns, glass beads, and pretty rocks, and the crows outside her house know her as She Who Has Bread.

Her Coming of Áed fantasy series was crafted in the dead of night after offering sacrifices of almonds and red wine to the writing-block deities.

You can reach her by scrying bowl, carrier pigeon, or @egradcliff on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Amazon Author Page).

Books in The Coming of Áed series:
The Hidden King (Get Discussion Questions for Book Clubs)
The Last Prince (Get Discussion Questions for Book Clubs)
The Wild Court (Get Discussion Questions for Book Clubs)

See what book bloggers say, Read the interviews, Subscribe to E.G. Radcliff's newsletter for a bit of fun!

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 123 reviews
Profile Image for Kat.
Author 8 books326 followers
April 28, 2022
I thoroughly enjoyed this Celtic inspired fantasy which is the first in a series. Aed scrapes out a difficult life in the Maze, where he depends on Ninian and Ronan. His mother is long since gone, having left in the night with only a parting letter for him that Ninian read as Aed could not. When something terrible happens, Aed and Ronan are forced to journey to the nearby White City, and the novel becomes a coming-of-age journey where Aed discovers his true legacy and hidden powers. I really enjoyed the lavish descriptions of the city and the marketplace. Everything was easy to picture and see in my head. Aed doesn’t understand his magic or where it’s coming from and so people keep getting hurt which leads to terrible consequences for him and Ronan. Parts of this book feel like set up for the rest of the series, but I enjoyed the way things unfolded and the neat reveals that were spread out along the way, including some of my favorite tropes. I’m definitely curious to see what happens for Aed and Ronan (and some of the other characters introduced towards the end of the book, who I bet will play larger roles in future books) next!

Trigger Warnings:
Profile Image for Rebecca Crunden.
Author 16 books444 followers
November 20, 2022
To chase a pretty story felt like foolishness when scraping by was hard enough, and the towering cliffs jutting up from the lowland presented another deadly discouragement. People told themselves that their lives were as good as they could ever be.

The Hidden King is the first in The Coming of Áed series, a fast-paced fantasy adventure that throws twists and turns with magical acumen. Not only does THK set up a fantastical world that the reader only gets a glimpse of in book one, but the characters and their relationships are sure to pull readers in and give them FEELINGS (see me, here with my FEELINGS, lmao). It’s the first book I’ve read by EG Radcliff, and I’m definitely going to be reading more of her books!


“I’ve never danced with a woman.”
“But you have danced.”
“I danced with Ninian.”

The Hidden King begins with a bang, diving straight into the world of Áed and Ninian. FYI I am already Áed and Ninian trash and I want to draw hearts around them. Fantasy and romance waheyyyyy. WELL NEVER MIND. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY ;___; MY HEARTTTTTTTTT. OUCH OUCH OUCH WHYYYYY.

“You can’t sleep for two nights after the burial, or burning, I guess, of a love.”

I picked up this book totally thinking it was going to be a romantic fantasy, so I genuinely did not expect Ninian to DIE right at the beginning. OUCH, MY FEELINGS. (I have since learned that The Last Prince is all about Áed and Ninian and is a prequel, which I did not realise at all. I for sure thought it was the sequel and that Ninian would make it.) I was wrong, booooooo. But seriously, this heartbreaking twist shouldn’t detract anyone, because it’s a direction that sets up the lead character’s journey and Radcliff keeps Ninian’s memory alive throughout the story. Áed doesn’t just move on and meet someone new straight away, which I appreciated. There is also a strong bond that remains the core of the story, which is the bond between Áed and Ronan. THEY ARE PRECIOUS.

“You can’t sleep for two nights after the burial, or burning, I guess, of a love.”

This quote, ooooh. It hit me.

The relationship between Áed and young Ronan that builds in the wake of Ninian’s death is wonderful and rich, with the pair grieving together and protecting each other. Despite this, they’re quickly swept up into an adventure neither bargained for ~

I shan’t spoil more, but there’s lots of twists and turns, and cool magical mysteries! I really loved the author’s world-building and I’m curious to see where everything goes in the sequel! For fans of fast-paced fantasy, The Hidden King is definitely worth checking out! Just have a box of tissues ready. ;_;

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Profile Image for Alaina.
6,084 reviews215 followers
July 17, 2020
The Hidden King sounded like a pretty good book. Then once I dove into it, I was liking everything that I was reading. Yet, the pace was kind of a hot mess for me because it would go from fast to slow throughout the book. At least for me.. but I did still enjoy everything that was happening.

I'm also kind of jealous of all the pretty eye colors within this world. Not sure if they mean something or not but I would be a-okay with violet eyes. Maybe even pink? Just saying. Other than that, you do get to meet Áed and Ronan. I wasn't expecting to fall in love with little Ronan as quickly as I did but I'm not mad one bit either.

Another thing I didn't expect, the emotions flowing through me. It had such sad moments that almost broke my heart. Luckily for me, the adventure was pretty entertaining. Especially when you get to meet drunk Boudicca.

Overall, it was a bit predictable when it came to some things but I'm intrigued to dive into the next book just to see what the heck is going to happen next.
Profile Image for Lukasz.
1,263 reviews202 followers
July 1, 2020
The Hidden King is about, yes, you've guessed it, the hidden king. Shocking, I know.

Áed, a poor and illiterate boy from the Maze, lives with his partner and their adopted (sort of) son. An unexpected tragedy forces him to leave the place and seek refuge in the legendary White City, where he makes friends and enemies and discovers his secret origin. And powers. Although it sounds incredibly cliche, Radcliff's writing impressed me. I found the book polished, immersive, and engaging.

Radcliff's beautiful, evocative writing coupled with a clear structure and a solid characterization mark The Hidden King apart from most books in this overcrowded subgenre. A strong scene-setting makes even the book’s darker moments (torture, mentions of sexual abuse, violence, and hate speech towards weaker and poorer) hold attention. Of course, the narrative takes shortcuts and some of the plot progression depends on main or secondary characters making incomprehensible choices (like King's detail allowing a captive alone with him in a room). Some things happen too conveniently and closer scrutiny reveals unconvincing (or maybe just too convenient) twists and turns. And yet it never distracts from the story.

I applaud Radcliff for masking minor issues with features (characters, prose, nuances) that make the narrative immersive and addicting. An impressive, if slightly formulaic, debut.

Profile Image for Yogaa Lakshmi.
80 reviews5 followers
March 4, 2020
This book is a really well written book. It's adventurous, action-packed and the write influenced me in such a way that I was able to imagine myself from the main protagonist's shoes. The story revolves around a seventeen year old boy, Áed, who lives with his partner, Ninian and an orphaned boy, Ronan. The story is really well-written and is able to convey the right amount of feelings that the author wanted to convey. In short, this book is a fast-paced thrilling, coming-of-age adventure. I would totally recommend it to everybody!
I would like to thank NetGalley for giving me this opportunity to review this wonderful book.
Profile Image for M.E. Aster.
Author 3 books41 followers
July 29, 2022
The Hidden King is a must read for any fantasy fans!

Radcliff is a new to me author and I had been hearing so many good things about this series. It definitely lives up to the hype. Radcliff has a created a unique world here colored by their wonderful descriptions and characters.

Áed was a great main character. I connected to him instantly and I felt everything he was experiencing. His found family was so special and the bond he had with both Ninian and Ronan warmed my heart.

I don’t want to say too much more in case I spoil things so I will stop my rambling here. All you really need to know is that this book was beautifully written and I can’t wait to read the sequel!
Profile Image for Jamedi.
172 reviews31 followers
October 13, 2022
Score: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨ (4,5 out of 5 stars)
Full text review: https://vueltaspodcast.wordpress.com/...
Interview with the author: https://vueltaspodcast.wordpress.com/...

The Hidden King is the first book in the Coming of Aéd trilogy, a YA Dark Fantasy series by E.G. Radcliff. I dived into this book almost blind, just knowing that it had good reviews, and now I want to read the full series, because I think there's so much potential in the world of the Coming of Aéd, being darker than I expected.

Aéd, a humble person, lives with his partner, Nian; and their adopted (well, more or less) son, Ronin. A tragedy that makes Aéd lose Nian acts as the catalyst that will make the story advance; as Aéd will need to escape from the Maze, the city where they lived, taking Ronin with him, searching for a better life in the nearby White City. To this mix, we need to add a mysterious letter let by Aéd's mother, whose content has never been revealed totally to him, as he's unable to read.

All these elements are used to write a great coming-of-age story, with a strong focus on the characters and on the feelings of both, Aéd and Ronin. For him, Ronin is his son, and will do whatever is needed to be sure nothing harms him; leading to some violent situations, and showing that when he gets angry, mysteriously he can call the fire and use it as a weapon (despite he is not able to really control it).

The pace is fast, happening many things in such a short book. That doesn't prevent the author from having really beautiful prose, showing her strength in the craft. There are several scenes that feel really impactful, and honestly, I didn't expect to appear in the book, making it darker than the usual YA book. Again, I think this enriches the novel and is one of the reasons I want to return to the world. Probably, the only aspect I didn't find as compelling as the rest was the ending, as for me it was kinda predictable and too easy to reach, but again, this is just a matter of personal taste.

In summary, The Hidden King is an excellent introduction to The Coming of Aéd Trilogy. The mix of Fae myths with dark fantasy made me enjoy it, and I think it is a recommendable read even for grimdark enjoyers (despite it being lighter than the genre usually allows). I hope to be back reading this saga in November and December, so we can see together what the trilogy still has for us!
Profile Image for Maggie.
1 review1 follower
August 15, 2019
High fantasy, gritty danger, a promising city with a darker truth, a mad king, a heart-wrenching romance, and a spark of magic: it’s everything any fantasy reader could want.

The Hidden King is a one-night book: the kind I stay up way too late to finish because I simply must know what happens next. I found it impossible to put this book down; the plot is full of invigorating twists that kept the pages turning and my mind reeling.

There’s so much to love about this book, but my favorite aspect of The Hidden King is Radcliff’s command of deep character relationships. Whether considering the devotion and trust that marks Aed and Ronan, the friendship and confidence of Boudicca and Aed, or the pure love of Aed and Ninian, Radcliff always takes her characters to the next level. It’s these dynamics, and Radcliff’s mastery of manipulating them, that kept me utterly captivated.

The Hidden King is a must-read. E.G. Radcliff knows the way to my reader heart, and The Hidden King has left me eager to delve deeper into her world. .

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Profile Image for Cass™.
195 reviews87 followers
April 24, 2020
1.5 out of 5

DNF-ed at 50%. I tried really hard to push through the book. I really, really did, but no matter how far I got I could just not click with book. There’s three main reasons I chose to DFN it. One: the premise was promising, but after a couple of chapter in and the very spoilery title, you sort of figure out the main conflict. Two: one main reason I chose to pick this up is because of my love for fae, and I had read through other reviews that they were featured here. But at 50% and fae were merely mentioned twice! Three: the characters were so...boring. Something big happens at the very beginning and I felt nothing for Áed and Ronan. We’re supposed to root for them and I honestly found myself not caring what happened to them. If the characters were worthwhile perhaps I would have finished it. The book had a lot of promise but it felt short in delivery.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this title.
Profile Image for Angela.
306 reviews
December 12, 2019
I received this as an ARC to read for free via Booksprout in exchange for my honest review.

From the time that I started The Hidden King, to the time that I finished, I was enthralled. E.G. Radcliff does a wonderful job at pulling you into the story and I found myself not wanting to put it down or wanting it to end.

This is a must read for any fan of high fantasy reads, YA or not. I cannot wait for the second book which will take us before the events of The Hidden King.
Profile Image for Tina.
188 reviews18 followers
March 25, 2020
Thank you to the publisher for allowing me an advanced copy of The Hidden King for an honest review!
I really enjoyed The Hidden King. I can't say it was a totally original story but that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy it. It's a true rag to riches story that has themes from some of my favorite stories. Part Count Of Monti Cristo part Joseph from the bible, part Alladin. Aed is a street rat from the poor part of the world. Tragic circumstances send him on a journey with an end he could never imagine. I'll be honest when I opened this e-book and read the "About the book" section my enthusiasm for this book took a little hit. I always hate when writers name there character things I have no idea how to pronounce. This was quickly followed by a Glossary of how to pronounce the names and slang terms used. My thoughts went something like this... "Great Now I'll know how to pronounce the names in this story" to "OH gosh, I need a glossary to pronounce the names in this story." The first chapter was a little confusing until I got to know who was who. I can't really say I learned how to say most of them since flipping back to the glossary in a e-mail is not worth the effort. But the story was so compelling and the new characters were spaced out enough that I really didn't interrupt the story too much. Overall it was a fast-passed book with loveable characters and story you are sure to love. I believe this book could be a standalone but with a semi-open ending for future books. One other semi critique I felt like things happened very quickly without many true obstacles. (The second hald of the book.) While it's nice to not wait 4 books for a conclusion I would have enjoyed a little more detail. We hardly get to know anyone in the king's court or how they feel about the king to come. I'll leave it at that so I don't give any spoilers.
Profile Image for Jesse Bailey.
Author 6 books71 followers
September 20, 2020
The Hidden King was a wonderful read to end my summer with. It's greatest strengths are its characters and prose, and goodness did I fall in love with the main character, Aed. The relationships in this book are where the author excels, bringing out relatable emotions between the characters, both heartwarming and heartwrenching.

I also applaud the author's choice for the queer romantic relationship featured. It's not super prominent, but at the same time, it's an important aspect of the story and Aed as a character. The dynamic of Aed, his lover, and their sort-of adopted son gave me all the feels.

Although the plot took some expected turns in the second-half of the book, the entire story kept me entranced. I had to know if Aed would survive his lifealtering changes throughout, and again, the characters are just so dang likeable that I savored every interaction between Aed, Ronan, Boudicca, & Cynwrig.

Finally, I must note the author's prose, which I admire. Radcliff writes in a way that puts the reader at ease, which naturally fits the tone of the story and its characters. The writing isn't overbearing or overly complex--its intimate and genuine.

A great read that I recommend to those seeking likeable characters, a gay MC, and a story that has its moments of darkness/despair but always strives for a bright moment on the horizon for its characters.
Profile Image for John St. Clair.
Author 1 book29 followers
May 1, 2022
The Hidden King was the selection for our monthly book club in April 2022. One of the reasons I love reading books chosen by other groups or people is that I am then forced to explore genres outside of my normal “go-to” favorites. I think this is a good thing—as I get to broaden my literary repertoire. This novel, which appears to be the first in a book trilogy, is fantasy and was a delight to read. The characters, especially the protagonist Áed, are rich and deep in development, and I genuinely found myself caring for their well-being. Áed's journey, is one that takes him from a hardscrabble life on the streets of the “The Maze” (or “Smudge” as it's also named) to the majestic destiny that awaits him in “The White City.” Of course there's a central plot twist—one that should remain “hidden” for the purposes of this review, however one that is ultimately satisfying. I enjoyed reading this book, and as it's the beginning of a series, I definitely wouldn't mind returning to this fanciful land in the future. I rate this work with an enthusiastic 4 and one half stars! Take a bow E.G. Radcliff!
Profile Image for Michele Quirke.
Author 2 books122 followers
April 30, 2022
The Hidden King was this month's choice for my book club and I've been really looking forward to it. Now that I've finished I'm happy to report that it was such a fun fantasy! Fae are in right now and this book delivered! Lots of action, mystery, magic, emotion, and secret royalty!

For me, the highlight of this book was the cast of characters. I really liked Aed, our protagonist. The way he took care of Ronan warmed my heart and I loved each scene those two were in together. Although the beginning of the book started out a bit slow, once they arrived at the White City and met Boudicca, I was hooked. I think she was my favorite character. Super generous, kindhearted, and brave!

Overall this is a great fantasy and I look forward to reading the next book in this series! 4.5 stars!
Profile Image for Anya Pavelle.
Author 4 books120 followers
June 14, 2021
I'm so happy I found this series! I love anything to do with Celtic mythology and the fae, so this book was a pleasure to read because of the world building and themes. The author's descriptions are beautiful and, at times, haunting. The characters are also fully fleshed out, which helped me empathize with their struggles. Although the series is marked as being for a YA audience, I believe adults who enjoy fantasy will love the series, too.
Profile Image for P.L. Stuart.
Author 3 books339 followers
October 19, 2021
Sometimes you find certain books that are almost a perfect fit for your overall reading tastes and your current reading mood. The marvellous "The Hidden King", YA dark fantasy novel by E.G. Radcliff, is such a book for me. Of note, this book is highly decorated, including a semi-finalist berth in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO6) last year, and was LONG on my TBR list, as a MUST-READ, along with the entire "Coming of Áed" series.

Among my most desired features for any novel are character-driven narratives, enchanting prose, and rich worldbuilding. And, I happened to be in the mood for something smooth and easy to read, not too long (not over 400 pages, and this book is just under 300), and heartwarming. I found it all in "The Hidden King", and a few more gems besides.

Not surprisingly, as the title of the novel indicates, Radcliff uses several tried and trusted fantasy tropes, including the unwitting or reluctant heir, coming into his or her inheritance, as the main plot for her book. Áed is a penurious, illiterate youth, with haunting red eyes, a wonderful partner named Ninian, and an adopted son named Ronan. Áed is an orphan, and has been rescued by his partner, who knows more about Áed's heritage than Áed does.

The three -Áed, Ninan and Ronan - struggle to survive on the mean streets of "The Maze", a dirty, desperate slum, rife with gangs, thieves, and other undesirables, where life is cheap, death is quick, and and there is little hope for bettering one's circumstances. Áed does what he can to scrape by, including rummaging for and selling scraps.

Ninian does his part, and is the main breadwinner, by risking life and limb in fierce pugilistic matches. The plucky and sweet Ronan is the centre of Áed and Ninan's world, but the two lovers also have each other, and their bond is beautiful. But disaster strikes the already volatile existence of the trio.

This misfortune drives Áed to make a daring decision. Freed of what shackles him to poverty and hopelessness, he is determined to forge a better life for those he loves in the White City, a fabled place of mystery, wonder, and prosperity, for those who live downtrodden, in the Maze.

This is a novel, whose strengths are its absolutely glorious prose, clear and compelling plot, and splendid characterization.

When writing is THIS good, you have to quote passages in the book:

“The earthy darkness made him panicky, especially since beside the path, bottomless chasms yawned in the gloom. Hundreds of cells passed behind them, each alike, though and some revealed ghoulish faces crowned with wild hair, long beards, or bloody scratches peering through the iron bars.”

I found myself stopping to re-read certain parts of the book, "smelling the roses", so to speak, as I savoured the delightful prose. Radcliff paints the world of the Gut so deliciously, so vividly with her words, including the sibylline "No-Man's-Land", that I felt I was right there, looking over vast expanses, uncharted lands, and imposing mountains.

The plot has more than enough bends and corners that the reader will likely push through to read the book in one sitting, as it's that engrossing. Not everything is a surprise, and there is an element of predictability to some of the action. As I mentioned earlier, if you don't like your comfortably familiar tropes, this book may not be for you. For me, it was all so well-done, it had absolutely no negative impact on my enjoyment.

Let's spend a moment to speak to some of the wonderfully-drawn characters. Áed, the protagonist, is a fantastic lead, and the reader will scream and cry and grimace with his story, while rooting for him to succeed. His relationships with the good people in his life, particularly Ninan, Ronan, and Boudicca, are heartwarming. The complex villains are appropriately despicable, and you will revel to see some of the really detestable ones receive their comeuppance.

There is a thread of distinct darkness that runs through a pattern of hope and overall optimism in the novel. There is violence, pain, and torture in "The Hidden King", and be warned, some scenes are difficult to read, and the tragedies that occur may bring you to outright weeping. But only such a lovely, poignant, and extremely written novel can evoke such strong emotions from the reader, and Radcliff possesses the sort of skill to have you reaching for the tissue box. There is a strong presence of elemental magic, the Fae, and lurking, shadowy presences that one will be unsure of. It's definitely "soft" magic, but that's exactly what I prefer.

Overall, this is a book that I loved, and after hearing nothing but good things about it, am so pleased all I heard proved to be true. I have already taken steps to secure the next two books in what promises to be an outstanding series, and give a resounding five stars for "The Hidden King"!
468 reviews17 followers
November 16, 2019
I really enjoyed reading this novel. I think it's fantastic start to the series and opens a lot of avenues for development while still being a cohesive story unto itself.

The world-building is excellent, despite being centered in a relatively small geographical area. While we don't learn anything about the wider universe, this, at first glance, makes sense as no events involving outside forces have bearing on the narrative. Furthermore, the author retains the freedom to create those plotlines at a later date should the need arise, and it's highly unlikely to contradict anything from this first entry. The basic premise for the setting and culture is not altogether uncommon, but the author has added some features that make it unique and intriguing.

The character building is, likewise, very skillfully handled. Aed, as a character, makes sense - his knowledge and skillset match his background (or what we learn of it). While he is the primary focus of the novel, and we experience the novel through his eyes, the author has done a very good job of fleshing out the other major characters. There were some characters that I wanted to learn more about - Ninian, Seisyll, Juroc, and Eamonn come to mind. (Two of these, I anticipate, will reappear in future installments, but I felt that more information about the remaining two would have enriched my understanding of the events a bit). I don't think this really hurt the novel - it's a personal preference. I also found that certain characters came across as a bit too black and white - I prefer some ambiguity (villains who are wonderful parents, heroes who are jealous, etc). Again, I think the author made good choices overall, and it's not at the level of negatively affecting my enjoyment of the story and this was limited to characters in few scenes.

Another small quibble that I have is with the formatting. In the edition I read, I wasn't able to adjust the font size or style on my e-reader, although I did manage to increase the line spacing slightly. This resulted in a font size that was a couple of points smaller than my comfortable reading size. I powered through, but I wish I'd been able to make these adjustments. I am not sure whether this was a specific choice the author made, an error/omission in the formatting process, or some failing on my or my device's part.

I though the author's choice of end-point for this novel was perfect. It wraps up the main story arc of this novel, but leaves a lot of open-ended threads to pick up going forward. Sometimes, this type of ending can feel gimmicky (i.e. "now you must buy the next book - I win!") but in this case, it was organic and didn't feel like a marketing ploy at all. I feel that the author did as I expected: made me want to keep following the story on the merits of the world and characters.

The novel was very enjoyable, with interesting characters, solid world-building, and lots of potential for development as Aed's story progresses. I look forward to reading more from this author.

I received a copy of this novel through Voracious Readers Only.
Profile Image for Jon Ford.
Author 5 books20 followers
August 17, 2021
The Hidden King is the story of Aed. Struggling to make a good life for himself, his love Ninian and their adopted ward, Ronan, his life is thrown into chaos when tragedy strikes and forces them to leave their home in The Maze and head to the White City in the hopes of finding something better. There they meet Boudicca and Aed’s life changes completely.

Now, I freely admit that I’m more of a SciFi or UrbanFantasy fan really, so it takes an extraordinary book to drag me along for a ride in a more ‘traditional’ fantasy setting.

The Hidden King is that extraordinary book.

I’ll try not to give any serious spoilers!

Let me first say that this book is an exceptionally easy book to read. The prose flows beautifully, and your eyes just slide easily across the words as they become sentences, and then paragraphs. Before you know it, the chapters are flying past.

It helps too that the story is enthralling. It’s a relatively simple tale told from a single perspective, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it lacks depth or complexity. The world building is effortless. As the story unfolds you learn what you need to about this fascinating backdrop, each piece of information being revealed without the need for exposition. It’s beautifully done.

Each character is wonderfully realized too. Aed is easy to root for as the protagonist, making some of the things that happen to him as the tale progresses quite hard to take. You genuinely feel for him and Roman and find yourself wishing they could just catch a break. Which is when they do…right on time! EG Radcliff’s sense of timing in this respect is perfect.

Also, there’s something beautifully elegant and refreshing about the fact that there’s no ‘world shattering crisis’ that requires a ‘chosen one’ to solve. The Hidden King is a much more intimate story about love, struggle, survival, friendship and perseverance. It has you rooting for the little guy right from square one, and the ending almost makes you want to punch the air in celebration!!

Each character is wonderfully diverse and distinct, and each brings a sense of shift to the story. For example the narrative takes on a more positive vibe when Boudicca is introduced, which is perfect as her character (and she fast became a favourite of mine) is a beacon of light and positivity. Other characters, when they are introduced, shift the tone in different directions.

I’ll stop there before I really do spoil something. Suffice to say, I love this book and can’t wait to get stuck into The Last Prince (a prequel!) and The Wild Court (the sequel!)

This is a wonderful example of what an Indie book can be at its best! Highly recommended!!!
Profile Image for Halo Scot.
Author 10 books141 followers
February 8, 2021
An extraordinarily addictive fantasy infused with beloved characters and Celtic mystique.


E.G. Radcliff has a new superfan in me. I heard about THE COMING OF ÁED on the Writing Community Chat Show (@writing_show), and the concept immediately enchanted me. It’s a Celtic-inspired dark fantasy with fae mythos and Leigh Bardugo, Holly Black, and V.E. Schwab vibes. I’ve visited Ireland and lived in Scotland, and Radcliff perfectly captures the Celtic charm in both its wistfulness and mystique—think the song “Celtic Legend” by Mike Stobbie.

Book 1 is a rags-to-riches, coming-of-age (Coming of Áed) story. THE HIDDEN KING rises above a competitive crowd of YA fantasy and firmly establishes itself at the zenith of its category. This book just has “it,” a magnetic formula that hooks you from the start and draws you in till you’re cheering for the heroes and yelling at the villains (and scaring your neighbors by doing both out loud). There’s a magic to the writing, a captivating allure, and a cross-genre appeal for all ages.

The characters are precious and endearing, so real and raw and beautiful, a found family of lost souls. I love them all, especially Áed’s relationship with his ward, Ronan, in a role both protective and nurturing. The world they live in is brutal at times, yet filled with hope, and crafted with exemplary skill and precision. Radcliff builds mountains with lyrical prose, a kinetic pace, and heartbreaking then heartwarming drama.

It’s one of those books that leaves you buzzing, that makes you rush through the day to return and escape to this fantasy world. I kept telling myself “just one more chapter” in the wee hours of the night till I ran out of chapters and instantly ordered Book 2, THE LAST PRINCE, because I need more of this series in my life. Suffice to say, I love the characters, the world, the story—everything. It’s addictive and outstanding—rich with heart and vibrant with talent. Truly radiant and obviously five stars ★★★★★
Profile Image for E.P. Stavs.
Author 13 books81 followers
April 22, 2022
We picked THE HIDDEN KING for our monthly book club read, and I cannot wait to sit down and discuss it in a week. It was such a great story! The author gets you in the feels right off the bat with Aed and Ninian, but I think the most emotional connection was between Aed and Ronan. There's a moment in chapter 10 where I thought my heart my literally burst: "For you, ceann beag?... I don't think think I'd ever sleep again." The addition of Boudicca's character was delightful, as well, and she was probably my favorite after Aed and Ronan. But to be honest, every character in this book was well-done, and I can confidently say that they were the highlight of this book (for me). The plot was interesting, as well - a bit predictable, but in a comforting, fun way. And I look forward to seeing how the rest of the trilogy plays out. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Lali Love.
Author 7 books625 followers
May 1, 2022
As a young adult science fiction fantasy writer, Author Radcliff’s breathtaking book covers immediately drew me into this classic rags-to-riches coming of age story. The premise of the Hidden King’s Celtic dark fantasy captivated me.

The emotional plot twists grabbed my heart and took me on a roller-coaster ride with its Fae folklore, mystique, and dreamy charm. The world-building and fast-paced storytelling of the author are both superb. The characters are impactful and loveable, so genuine, unfiltered, and magnificent, rediscovering their innocence. The lyrical prose transports you to this fantasy world, making for a page-turning read.

I can’t wait to complete the series! A must-read for anyone who enjoys fantasy novels!
Profile Image for Marilyn.
438 reviews20 followers
December 16, 2022
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It read like an old fashioned fantasy book.
There was a very strong beginning which introduced us to the main characters of Ninian, Áed, and Ronan. I did not expect pugilism to be the main job of Ninian. However this was how they made money to survive in the Maze or Smudge as we found out later it was also called. I actually thought Ninian was to be the alluded to hidden king. I didn’t pay attention to the series title carefully , obviously. And Áed is our unlikely hero - red eyes with crippled hands.
Nonetheless, Áed and Ronan’s journey began after a tragic event in their lives, and so the rest of the story proceeded. Aéd was unaware of his true parentage and part of his journey then revealed who he really was.
I was glad to see there were good people and not just grey characters. Although I was expecting more subtle and conniving people, that I was always suspicious at people’s motives. But everyone was who they appeared to be without exception, so this was a bit of a disappointment for me. I’d hoped for more uncertainty.
The other slight criticism is that as a king, Áed would not insist others who are his servants should call him by his first name. That took me out of the story because it felt more modern. Also since two very evil characters wanted him dead, I believe he should have had them executed but banished or imprisoned never to be seen. But perhaps they will show up again to be villains.
The prose was descriptive and flowing. There was very good world building. And to me the characters had good depth. Enjoyed this very much.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for KiKi The #BookNerd KBbookreviews.
177 reviews20 followers
February 22, 2020
The Hidden King, by E.G Radcliff is a magnificent, Celtic inspired fantasy full of faeries, magic and danger. https://kbbookreviews867789450.wordpr...

Synopsis: Aed has built himself a life, a family, in a run-down city full of starving and violent people. He has very little memory of his past, but the trauma is forever with him buried in the physical damage it has caused.

But, when terror and tragedy strikes, Aed must risk everything to save the family he still has. Desperate for a better, safer life Aed takes his family on a dangerous journey, one that become more deadly then he could ever have imagined. A legacy is stirring and nothing will ever be the same again.

The Mythology:
This YA fantasy draws inspiration from the Celtic myth of Aed (also known as Aedh and Aodh) and of faeries. The inspiration is light and subtle, most notably because the faeries in this story are all of one kind, sharing the same physical traits as well as having an affinity for the same type of magic. And Aed himself also only draws lightly from the myth, since it is relatively complex and there are a few different versions of the story but they all have one thing in common, Aed is always related to a specific element. I don’t want to give too much away but if, like me, you are familiar with Celtic mythology then expect light but impactful influences – which I think were done extraordinarily well!

— Incredibly Strong And Descriptive —
The Writing Style And Narrative: Radcliff’s writing style is incredibly strong and descriptive, I was easily immersed in the world she had created. It was incredibly evocative and rich, I connected well with the characters due to the amazing writing and was eager to know more as I raced through the story. The addition of another language used for specific terms and exclamations added another interesting layer to the story and was fun and intriguing to read.

The Hidden King is written in the third person narrative, my favourite, and starts with the perspective of Ninian – an interesting and clever choice as he is not the key main character. A clever choice because it allows us to organically learn the reality of this harsh part of the world known as ‘The Maze’. Ninian’s perspective is effective as it very quickly establishes clear image of this world through its gangs, violence, starvation and structure. We immediately gain insight into the character of Ninian, the world he lives in and his motivations without any heavy information.

The third person narrative then switches to Aed, the main character. Again allowing a wider frame of knowledge of this world as well as getting insight into his thoughts of Ninian. Through Ninian’s perspective we get his view of Aed, then we are able to build on that through Aed’s perspective of himself, as well as our own views of him as we are now able to see his ideas, emotions and motivations. The rest of the story is told from Aed’s perspective, a good choice as it allows for some mystery to be established. Aed is traumatised from his past, but cannot remember it allowing you to be curious and read on in order to unravel the truth. Aed also has limited knowledge of the place to which he is travelling, allowing suspense to build as we slowly learn about it.

The narrative choices are effective for this book, as it allows for mystery to be built and allows us to form a strong opinion of the main characters.

— Well Paced, It Is Fast And Action-Packed —
The Plot/Story: This book is heavily character-driven, so there isn’t much of a plot but this isn’t an issue because the story is done so well. We follow Aed as his life is turned upside down and he takes his family on a journey to The White City which is rumoured to be much better than the Maze, in the hope that he can build a better life there. But, Aed soon realises this will not be as easy as he first thought.

The story is well paced, it is fast and action-packed as many things happen to Aed or because of Aed but this dos not come across as passive because everything that happens does so for a reason, a good reason or a logical one that ties into the larger picture. This technique worked incredibly well for this story and allows for some fun twists. A little predictable at times, but there are enough shocks and surprises to keep you intrigued that it doesn’t take away from the story.

Moreover, the story has a good balance of action, comedy, and more serious moments. This was brilliantly done, the moments were well timed and effectively evoked the emotions intended. The comedy and clever sarcasm was a refreshing break from the tension of the action or the sad, serious moments which in turn allowed the emotional scenes to be more powerful. I thought it was incredibly well crafted and very powerful in the delivery – I was never bored and I was incredibly invested.

The story does use some well known tropes such as hidden power/hidden destiny/chosen one type tropes. But, it is done in an original and unique way that you can appreciate their uses.

The World-Building And Magic: I loved the world that Radcliff has built it is incredibly interesting.

The Maze, where the story is initially set, is a poor, run-down, filthy place full of gangs, violence, fights and thieves. The people are starving and have little care for their appearances because their goal is only to survive, and they are seen as incredibly unruly and volatile. The White City on the other hand is much better. It is where the King resides, as well as the rich and well looked after.

The two cities are polar opposites in almost ever way and cleverly shows the power divide and the social structure of this society. The people have different beliefs and customs as well as limited knowledge about each other. It is an interesting way to divide the people and I look forward to seeing how this develops or changes throughout the rest of the series.

The two cities do both celebrate the same event, though very differently. They have a night or festival dedicated to the Fae. The Fae do not live among the people in this story they are on the other side of the veil but, magic in the world does exist. Though it is not explored much it is referenced that people can draw on the Fae’s magic for healing etc.. but they dislike to. Moreover, not much is known about them but it is clear the Fae are not liked, they are seen as volatile and manipulative creatures and the festival is an attempt to appease them and keep them happy.

I hope to see more about the magic aspect of the story because it seems incredibly intriguing. We do get an in-depth insight into some magic but you will have to read for yourselves to find out more!

The Characters: Radcliff has created quite a diverse cast of characters, though I hope to see more interesting and strong female characters like Boudicca in the rest of the series. While I would have liked to have seen a little more character development, Radcliff is a master at writing complex, realistic and well-developed relationships between characters. This book also features an m/m couple, found/adopted family, and disability.

Aed: Aed is Ninian’s partner, Ronan’s adopted dad (of sorts) and he has a disability – his hands are severely damaged. Aed is an intriguing character, he is kind, loyal and utterly devoted to his family, all he wants is what is best for them. His relationship with Ninian is pure, sweet and kind. His relationship with Ronan is also adorable, it is incredibly deep, Aed is desperate to protect him and they have an amazing bond between them. The relationships between Aed and the characters he knows/meets was one of my absolute favourite things about this book.

Aed is a very determined character, he is clever and logical, and watching him come to terms with who he is was very interesting, the end of the story was a great way to complete this part of his arc and I am incredibly intrigued to see how his character develops after this.

Ninian: Ninian is smart, well read and a little more sarcastic than Aed. He is more snappy but equally as devoted to Aed and genuinely loves him. Ninian is interesting as he is one of the few from the city who can read, he is part of the ancient nobles and while that means nothing anymore I look forward to learning more about this and about his past. Ninian is witty and a charmer but also headstrong which gets him into trouble. I liked his character and his relationship with Aed was amazing.

Ronan: Ronan is the adopted child of Aed and Ninian. He is a bright boy, enthusiastic but also far too innocent for one who grew up in the Maze. Aed is determined to protect him and keep him safe and Ronan depends on him and adores him. Ronan is clever, a quick learner but also hesitant and looks to Aed for guidance, but he can be incredibly stubborn. I love Ronan he is sweet and has a fantastic relationship with Boudicca, it was amazing to watch it unfold and develop. Ronan is a character that has a lot of promise in the future books and I cannot wait to see where he goes!

Boudicca: Boudicca is clever, strong and funny, and a little chaotic. I loved her, she has a brilliant bond with Ronan and with Aed, she is feisty and headstrong as well as logical and is overall a fantastic character. I adored her and cannot wait to see what she gets up to in the rest of the series.

There are a few more characters but I don’t want to spoil the book. They are all equally amazing though, with amazing relationships, and one who I am keeping an eye out for is Eamon – I liked him and predict he will be a great character to read about in the future!

Overall: The Hidden King, by EG Radcliff is an amazing YA fantasy with magic, danger and faeries. The relationships between the characters are phenomenal and the world is incredibly intriguing. I look forward to seeing how the series progresses! The Celtic influences are subtle but impactful and the story brings a unique and original perspective to the myth and some well known tropes. I loved this book and will definitely be reading the rest of the series!

I would definitely recommend this to fantasy lovers, particularly those who love faeries and magic!

CW: Violence, fighting, death, torture (not overly detailed)

*I received a kindle copy of #TheHiddenKing from the author #EGRadcliff in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Elle.
208 reviews1 follower
February 9, 2021
I was very excited for this book after reading The Last Prince. I do think it helps immensely to read The Last Prince first as you understand who Áed, Ronan and Ninian are.

I did enjoy this book and look forward to the next in the series.

I would say my only issue if you could call it an issue is the pacing of the book for me, I feel like it's a little slow in areas but that's pretty standard when trying to introduce people to a new series so I can't be mad at it.

I will admit that this went in a very different direction than the Last Prince and I didn't expect it 😂😂

I still enjoyed this book and look forward to the next book in the series.

I will say that reading the Last Prince first greatly helped my understanding of the world, I'm sure you could start with the Hidden King if you wanted to but it made a lot more sense for me to read prequel first. But I guess it depends on how much you want to know about the world before diving in.
Profile Image for Nikki Mitchell.
Author 9 books20 followers
August 2, 2020
Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

Aed lives in the Maze, a world full of gangs, dirt, and starvation. With hands crippled beyond recognition, work is near impossible to come by, and he has been denied even entry into a gang. The only thing keeping him going is his partner Ninian and the little boy they look after, Ronan. But when tragedy strikes, Aed has to figure out a new way to live. Journeying to a city greater than any he could have dreamed of, he discovers secrets about himself that will shape his destiny. Will these secrets help or harm his new life?

With an absolutely beautiful prose style, EG Radcliff juxtaposes a horrifically desolate world with the pristine Suibhen, emphasizing their contrasts and bringing each to life for the reader. Her use of frequent metaphors perfectly grounds this unusual world into reality for the readers, allowing us to connect with it and its characters on both an emotional and physical level. I can actually see where the characters are living, feel how their surroundings constrain them. I have to be honest, her writing style is what drew me into the book and kept me reading.

The characters each have interesting nuances, but admittedly, they each seem a bit underdeveloped--excepting the MC, Aed. There is so much potential for each of them to be unique, both in dialogue and action. And yet, most of the secondary characters spoke similarly, acting only in predictable ways to move the plot along. None really conformed to a specific personality, except superficially. However, as this was only our introduction to the characters, I have hope that the sequel will further flesh out their motivations and personalities!

I have seen several reviews that laud this book for its fast-paced, action-packed plot. However, I thought it was completely the opposite. There is no real climax, no building of tension or even a guiding force to keep the plot moving along. Rather, the book feels more like a jumble of one small, inconsequential event after another, each without tangible excitement or suspense. I kept waiting for the stakes to rise, for something big to happen, but it never did. The plot was predictable and inauthentic, awkwardly moving from each new event.

Overall, I loved the premise of this novel. The "rags-to-riches" trope always gets me, and the world and its hint of magic draws me in. The writing style also keeps me hooked, wanting to read more if only to experience the words themselves. Hopefully, the plot picks up in the next book, as now all of the background on the characters has been dealt out. I will most likely be picking up the next book in the series!

See this and other book reviews at thebookdragondotblog.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Estelle Tudor.
Author 13 books33 followers
July 29, 2020
A blazing, captivating tale! I was pulled into Aed's story from the first page. I rooted for him and could sense something 'other' about him, the character being so well written.

The world building was full and rich, I especially loved the marketplace description. I felt as if I were seeing it through Aed's dazzled eyes. This rags to riches adventure is a satisfying read and the ending leaves you wanting more in a good way.

I cannot wait to read more from E G Radcliff, she has a way of drawing you in with her well written prose.
Profile Image for Aina.
26 reviews
April 30, 2021
5/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The first thing I have to say about this book is I cried. I cried so much I can't even believe it, and still it's one of the best books I have read in a while. 

In The Hidden King we follow Áed, a normal guy who has been living in poverty for his whole life. The first time we meet him we notice his love for Ninian, his lover. The second thing is that he can't use his hands, due to a wound that didn't heal right, and we can see him struggling through the book, asking Ronan, his adoptive son, to cut vegetables for him, mending clothes, etc.

On chapter three I was already crying, and I was surprised at how invested I was with the characters, right from the beginning.

Áed has to flee the Maze, where he has always lived, in order to keep Ronan safe, and he decides to go to the White City to give him a better future. 

On the journey there he discovers he has some kind of power, one that he uses to protect Ronan, and that he himself doesn't understand. From here we can see how much he cares about Ronan and his well-being, and how much it hurts him to see Ronan is scared, hungry or hurt. 

When they finally reach the White City they find out they're still not safe, so they decide to get into somebody's house to hide, until Boudica, the owner of the house, returns.

She is one of my favorite characters ever. She's kind, brave and just, and she alone manages to make a huge difference in their lives, even though when they meet we learn that people at the White City don't know about the problems people at the Maze have, about dying of hunger and killing to survive. 

There was a scene that shocked me more than any other, and that is when the White City residents pill tables and tables of food, sharing with others and eating their share, getting drunk and saving most of the food for the Fae. Áed asks Boudica about it, and she is surprised to learn that in the Maze, they don't save food for the Fae. Bur Áed makes her realize, when you are dying of hunger, there is no space for superstitions. 

In the end, the biggest message I got from this book was the love Áed feels for his family, how much of himself he gives for Ronan and his happiness. He gives and keeps giving, and even in his worst moments, he can't stop praying he's ok. 

The love, the family, the hardships and the healing, this book has everything, and i can't wait to know more about their adventure.
Profile Image for Red Ink Book Reviews.
221 reviews12 followers
August 30, 2021
The Hidden King (The Coming of Aed Trilogy) – E.G. Radcliff

I was lucky enough to win a giveaway run by the author and received a complete paperback copy of the trilogy.

E.G. Radcliff is an American author who writes many YA fantasy stories. I have previously read “The Last Prince” which is the prequel to “The Hidden King”, so I had some background regarding the characters and the story going into this book.

Aed has just lost his Ninian and is now having to navigate a world alone and look after poor little Ronan. But what is Aed, an illiterate man with crippled hands meant to do.

Yet Aed tries, he and Ronan flee the Maze and make for the White City, just like he and Ninian had always talked about doing. Flee the Maze and try to make a better life for themselves in the White City.

However, things did not go quite as Aed and Ronan had hoped. Shortly after their arrival in the great White City Aed and Ronan were taken by the guard of the King of the White City. From there things take an interesting turn for Aed.

He is tortured and subjected to unbearable amounts of pain and in a panic as to the fate of Ronan and his wellbeing. Praying and hoping he wasn’t being subjected to the conditions that Aed was himself.

But after all of this, Aed learns who he truly is and what was really written on the letter written by his mother and that truth changes Aed’s life and future forever more. How Aed deals with this information and what course his life takes is one he needs to carefully consider for it doesn’t just affect him anymore, he had Ronan to think of.

“The Hidden King” is a gripping and enchanting YA fantasy story about a young man finding his way in the world. A down trodden individual who has grown up living a hard life, crippled and illiterate and then learns about who he is, who he truly is and this changes his world. It’s a story about the poor guy who is constantly getting beaten down and finally learns that who he is, that this can change his world for the better. And if he does things the right way, it can change the lives of so many other unfortunate people for the better too. A beautiful story that pulls at the heart strings and weaves an enchanting tale. I am definitely thirsty for the next chapter in this fantasy tale.
Profile Image for S. Kaeth.
Author 5 books46 followers
July 2, 2021
This book is absolutely incredible in so many ways I’m kind of at a loss of where to start, so let me start with the characters. Áed is amazing. He’s so easy to root for, and he, as well as all the side characters, feel fully fleshed out. All he and his partner really want is to give Ronan, the boy they’re raising, a better life than either of them had. It’s not much but it’s a goal. Áed is disabled and he’s gay, neither of which define him or drive his main conflict, which is really refreshing. Instead, his found family accepts him for who he is and loves him for who he is, facing the battles that do come at his side.

And the battles that come his way are hard to describe without spoiling anything because this is a book about self-discovery, as Áed learns about himself. It’s dark, it’s brutal, it’s touching, and it’s heartwarming. It makes you feel all the feels, and that’s why I love it so much. The author did an absolutely brilliant job and I’m going to be a little annoying about this book for a while because it’s just that good. Don’t forget that besides reading indies, another good way to support great authors is to ask your library to get the book (if your library takes purchase suggestions). And, of course, telling all your friends like I’m doing now!

If you’re a fan of dark fantasy, found families, (ooh, there’s more tropes I could list but I don’t want to spoil things), or of authors like Robin Hobb, then try this book!

My one complaint is that the worldbuilding was so cool, it could have gone even deeper (but really, it was about on Robin Hobb’s level, and about that level for dark and gritty).
Profile Image for Amanda at Bookish Brews.
269 reviews160 followers
September 30, 2020
What a fun book!

I finished this book so quickly, because I just didn't want to put it down. I was instantly drawn into it because of the sweet love that Aed and Ninian had right from the start. They survive in a starving city together, and are truly partners in life.

I'm a huge sucker for a Found Family, which is exactly what I found right at the beginning of this story. Ninian, Aed and their semi-adopted son Ronan are so cute together. I love the idea of having a semi-adopted son in a starving town. I've read so many books where the characters are just struggling to get by at some point in the story, but never have a read a book where amidst the struggle, they decide to take in another to care for them. Love that!

And it doesn't stop there!!! We come across another person who becomes a part of this little Found Family. Truly I can never get enough of that kind of love and friendship!!

I think the biggest thing I have to say about this book is that, though I found it to be extremely predictable, it was such a good example that predictable doesn't need to mean Bad. I normally love twists and turns that I can't anticipate, but the surprises in this book were delightfully expected. Exactly what I wanted to happen actually happened. It was such a refreshing read!

*I received a free copy from the author for a review on book 2
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