As promised, I’m importing the A Court of Thorns and Roses recaps here from Patreon. These were originally written beginning in August of 2020, so there will be references to upcoming or seasonal events that won’t fit with our current timeline. I am not a time traveler and you’ll never be able to prove that I am. I will also include editors notes like this every now and then as we go, mostly to amuse myself but to give re-read value to those who’ve already been on this awful, awful journey with me.
The prompt that showed up in the text window here? It was “What’re you thinking about?” Leaving aside how weirdly informal that contraction is (we’re not bros, Patreon blog post composition window. This is a work thing only), the thing I’m thinking about is how frustrating this book is.
Do you like stories that outright tell you to strap the fuck in because there are gonna be a huge series of super boring and repetitive events coming up? Well, boy howdy. Have I got a book for you.
Chapter Eight opens in the garden that Alis told Feyre not to go into alone. She’s there, alone, because she shook her escort, the guy who could protect her from the stuff that will get her if she goes into the garden alone.
As one does.
You might be thinking, but wait! At the end of the last chapter, Feyre said she would find out soon enough whether or not the High Fae would warn humans about this magical blight souring the land. We must have moved onto the scene where that happens.
Alas, dear Patrons, it appeared to be the only way the author could figure out how to hook the reader into the next chapter. Maybe she meant for chapter seven and the beginning of chapter eight to be together, but it made chapter seven too long? Either way, it’s the worst possible way to set up a hook. “I’m going to find out something later and it’s super foreboding and ominous, just wait until you turn the page…SIKE! Still in the fucking garden!”
We’re also still doing the dance of whether or not to escape, whether escape is possible, and whether or not Feyre has weapons:
I pretended to meander through the exquisite and silent gardens, mentally marking the paths and clever places for hiding if I ever needed them. He’d taken my weapons, and I wasn’t stupid enough to hope for an ash tree somewhere on the property with which to make my own.
You pretended to meander through the garden and find places for hiding? That doesn’t sound super useful. You should have actually done that, rather than just pretending.
Just in case you were wondering, she doesn’t have any weapons. It’s super important to mention that in every single scene because the author is pretty sure you’re as smart as a goldfish and you can’t remember from one scene to the next whether or not Feyre has her weapons.
Let’s not even cover the fact that she has already said, many times, that trying to fight would be futile. Or the fact that she needs an ash tree if she has any hopes of killing a faerie. Remember, the ash arrow isn’t the only thing that kills faeries, it’s just the only thing that gives a human a fighting chance against one. Feyre described the effects of ash as simply interfering with the faeries’ magic long enough for a human to have a chance to strike.
So…if the faery magic is already fucked up by the blight, why does she need the arrow to kill them?
Upon inspection the night before, I’d learned that there was no lock on my window.
Feyre: oh no, am prisoner! much captive!
Tamlin: you can leave literally whenever you want. In fact, I don’t really want you to be here, so…
Feyre: such captured! oh, woe! oh imprisonment!
Tamlin: no, seriously. I’m not going to make you stay here. You can go anywhere you want.
Feyre: cruel beast! let feyre go!
Tamlin: I’m trying my ass off trying to get you to leave.
Feyre: am forced to languish here in my cell! am desperate for escape! oh injustice! an injustice on feyre!
Tamlin: Get out.
Sneaking out and rappelling down the wisteria vines wouldn’t be difficult at all—I’d climbed enough trees to not mind the height. Not that I planned to escape, but … it was good to know, at least, how I might do so should I ever be desperate enough to risk it.
Not that she planned to escape, just that she’s constantly talking about making plans to escape. Where would we get such a silly idea?
I mean, that’s just about as silly as rappelling with a stiff wooden vine adhered to the building for structural support. But whatever, enjoy your ride.
She decides she’s better off in fairyland for now.
But not without trying to find someone who might plead my case to Tamlin.
You’ve already pled your case to Tamlin and he’s already told you that the only way to fulfill the treaty is for you to stay in fairyland. He doesn’t even want you there. Nobody wants you there. If they could send you back, don’t you think they would? I would. Within like twenty minutes I’d be like, “Eh, I’d prefer a race war, actually.”
Feyre remembers Alis saying that she thought Lucien could use a snapping at or whatever, and for some unknown reason, that makes Feyre think he might be a good person to win over.
I’d never been particularly good with words, had never learned the social warfare my sisters and mother had been so adept at, but … I’d been decent enough when selling hides at the village market.
The amount of Not Like Other Girls™ in this book astounds me. It’s actually kind of impressive, all the ways it gets shoehorned in. Feyre had never learned how to be a sneaky, underhanded bitch like every other woman in the story, but she’s naturally awesome at a task perceived as more practical.
She’s going to use these bargaining skills to convince Lucien, the dude whom she fully acknowledges wants to kill her, to convince Tamlin to take some other sort of action to fulfill the treaty:
If there even was one.
…there is. And it’s you being dead.
I’m becoming increasingly irritated with the fact that the author is bashing us over the head with shit we already know, yet can’t be bothered to have her heroine remember things consistently.
So, Feyre is still pretend meandering when:
A prickling sensation ran down my spine. I’d spent enough time in the woods to trust my instincts.
Well, clearly fucking not, if you’re wandering around the garden that Alis said would fucking murder you.
Feyre sees two flickers of light in the shape of “small figures” who giggle. They’re freaking her out when out of nowhere, Alis is calling Feyre for lunch.
Like, how long has Feyre been pretending to meander? Because in the last chapter she ate breakfast, got dressed, and ended up out here after looking at a painting. Is she a mouse? Does she need to eat twenty times a day?
After a section break, Feyre is back on the “I need weapons!” kick:
I stole a knife from dinner that night. Just to have something—anything—to defend myself with.
Then she notes that “dinner was the only meal I was invited to attend,” despite us seeing Alis call her into the house for lunch on this very same page. I guess that was just by herself? Either way, she’s fine with it because she doesn’t want to eat with High Fae, anyway.
I could endure an hour of sitting at their fancy table if it made them think I was docile and had no plans to change my fate.
I like how all the luxury she’s “enduring” is part of a clever ruse. Like, she doesn’t really want any of this stuff, she’s playing nine-dimensional chess so they’ll just think she’s not planning anything.
I supposed I should have pitied them for the masks they were forced to wear, for the blight that had infected their magic and people.
I mean, they’re not technically forced to wear the masks. They can be talking beast creatures, right? I would choose that over wearing a fucking mask all day.
We get details about Lucien’s glorious hair and his bejeweled sword that’s super fancy, though Feyre is confused about who he’d use a sword against since there’s nobody around.
Perhaps it had something to do with those invisible things in the garden.
Right, those invisible things you SAW WITH YOUR FUCKING EYES WORDS MEAN THINGS SARAH THEY MEAN THINGS. ed.—They do not mean anything to Maas, and they continue to not mean anything to her throughout the book.
Alis had said the house was safe, but warned me to keep my wits about me. What might lurk beyond the house—or be able to use my human senses against me? Just how far would Tamlin’s order not to harm me stretch? What kind of authority did he hold?
Can I answer this one? He has authority over the stuff in the house. Alis already explained that. So did he. And the stuff that’s lurking beyond the house is other fae. This has all been subtly explained with a bulldozer full of repetition over and over since they got there.
Lucien calls her out for staring at him, asking if she’s looking at the sword or planning to kill him and she’s like, no way.
His lazy, vicious grin was still there. Act civilized, behave, possibly win him to my side … I could do that.
Still not sure why LUCIEN is the one she has to win over. I get it, she thinks she’ll get nowhere with the guy who could have killed her but didn’t. Why she thinks she’ll get further with the guy who just straight up wants her killed, I have no idea. But I think I just need to stop questioning anything about this book. It’s the only way the story is going to work.
Tamlin says that Feyre likes to hunt, and she corrects him:
“I hunted out of necessity. And how did you know that?”
You…told him…you killed his friend and sold the pelt?
But no, the way Tamlin put two-and-two together was by…seeing the bow and arrows in her house.
“When I saw your father’s hands, I knew he wasn’t the one using them.”
Ah, yes. His soft, lazy hands that he uses to…carve wood. Not “scarred, callused hands” like Feyres.
Feyre once again comments on practical things she could buy for her family with Tamlin’s decadent treasures. This time, it’s a plate that sparks her ire. Then Lucien asks her how old she is, she says nineteen, he’s like, damn, you’ve got to be twenty-one to legally fulfill your obligation to the treaty and he takes her back to her village where she finds that her family already knew that and just used her absence to move away to where she can never find them because she’s insufferable.
I wish that’s what happens, but instead, Lucien just says she’s a skilled killer (because Feyre can only be insulted if those insults imply that she’s actually a badass) and she gets mad before she remembers that she’s trying to win them over:
Docile, unthreatening, tame … I’d made my mother a promise, and I’d keep it. Tamlin’s looking after my family wasn’t the same as my looking after them.
Oh, right. The promise. The promise Feyre made to her mother. Feyre’s mother’s promise.
Once again, I’m asking you to please trust that your readership isn’t made up entirely of goldfish.
Feyre goes on to fantasize a little about what it would mean to provide for her family and number one on the list is her sisters being “married off.” Feyre is so Not Like Other Girls™ that she’s gone full circle and become a medieval dude. ed.—I’m going to take a page out of Maas’s book and beat you over the head, dear Hater: she vociferously objected to her sister getting married in an earlier chapter.
Does Feyre get married off in this little daydream? Don’t be silly! She gets to follow her passion for painting! Her sisters get married off like brood mares, then she gets to follow her passion because she doesn’t need a man. See? It’s feminism!
“So is this what you do with your lives? Spare humans from the Treaty and have fine meals?” I gave a pointed glance toward Tamlin’s baldric, the warrior’s clothes, Lucien’s sword.
The way this is worded makes me think another character came in when I wasn’t looking, but she means that they both wear warrior clothes, I guess?
“Didn’t …,” Tamlin interrupted, his deep voice surprisingly gentle, “didn’t your mother tell you anything about us?”
And then Feyre is like, no, she didn’t have time to. And like…what? Someone has taught her about faeries. I don’t remember if it specifically was her mom, but she does think she knows something about them.
Then, Tamlin asks her how her mother died. And how did he know her mother is dead?
When I lifted my brows, he added a bit more softly, “I didn’t see signs of an older woman in your house.”
That’s the problem with those pesky older women. Just because you didn’t see signs of them doesn’t mean there isn’t an infestation.
Predator or not, I didn’t need his pity.
Again, while this probably sounded cool and tough in the author’s head, it just doesn’t make any sense. Predators aren’t known for showing pity, so it’s not like it’s a built-in function that you’d expect in the first place. And if she means she doesn’t need him to pity her to stay alive, that doesn’t make sense, either, since she’s only alive right now because of the pity he took on her in sparing her life.
But I said, “Typhus. When I was eight.”
I better never get trapped in a middling fantasy novel where everything is exactly like Earth because I will be furious and loud about it. ed.—the fact that Maas’s spectacular worldbuilding is often brought up with breathless praise will me furious until the day I die. She’s such an imaginative and skilled fantasy writer, but she can’t come up with anything better than a carbon-copy of Earth, complete with Earth diseases?
Feyre gets up to leave.
“Feyre,” Tamlin said, and I half turned. A muscle feathered in his cheek.
Lucien glanced between us, that metal eye roving, but kept silent. Then Tamlin shook his head, the movement more animal than anything, and murmured, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
And we’re still supposed to think she’s got a better shot at digging deep and finding some kind of humanity in Lucien. Yeah, no sense in trying with this dude, he’s basically an animal, right?
I also refuse to imagine what a feathered muscle looks like.
When Feyre leaves without responding, she thinks:
Let Tamlin dismiss me as a rude, uncouth human not worth his careful watch.
I’m not sure I’m reading the book the author was writing because so far, Lucien has been the character dismissing her as human and not worth the trouble.
I’d be better off persuading Lucien to speak to Tamlin on my behalf—and soon, before any of the others whom they’d mentioned appeared, or this blight of theirs grew. Tomorrow—I’d speak to Lucien then, test him out a bit.
Writing Tip: when you decide you actually want one character to be the bad guy instead of the other, you need to go back and change that in the chapters you’ve already written.
Truly, I despair. I DNFed a different book last week and it had so many similar problems that I’ve decided Maas-style fantasy is a blight upon literature and it must be stopped. ed.—I truly believe that Sarah J. Maas, her fandom, and her copycats have done so much damage to traditionally published fantasy that it may never recover.
In my room, I found a small satchel in the armoire and filled it with a spare set of clothes, along with my stolen knife. It was a pitiful blade, but a piece of cutlery was better than nothing. Just in case I was ever allowed to go—and had to leave at a moment’s notice.
Just in case.
We’re 19% into the book. Gosh, I hope the remaining 81% is just more of Feyre planning to get away, then abandoning the plan as hopeless, then going back to the plan while simultaneously explaining why the plan will never work, rinse, repeat until Jenny’s eyes melt out of her fucking skull from the sheer heat of her rage at having read such a clumsy vomit draft she had to PAY FOR.
That’s it. That’s the chapter.