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 for this text window was “how’s your next thing coming?” and like, you’re gonna have to be more specific, Patreon. This is the year of Chaotic Creation and I have my fingers in so many pies at the moment.
But I’ll never forget my true passion, reading really popular books and becoming so increasingly disillusioned about the publishing industry that I am slowly turning into a chestnut.
Now, if you don’t remember that Feyre’s plan is to somehow win over Lucien to intervene with Tamlin re: her captivity, don’t worry. It gets repeated several times in this chapter. But that’s what’s happening when Feyre is being bathed yet again.
Hygiene is an astonishingly large presence in this book.
Anyway, Feyre is waiting for the servants to run her bath and she’s thinking:
Tamlin had mentioned that he and Lucien had various duties, and aside from running into him in the house yesterday, I’d seen neither of them around. So, locating Lucien—alone—would be the first order of business.
Now is as good a time as any to reiterate how bewildering Feyre’s logic is with regard to this plan of manipulating a High Fae who hates her and her entire species, who specifically wants her killed, into doing her this big favor. It doesn’t make sense, considering Tamlin is the one who’s been kind.
Feyre asks Alis where Lucien will be that day and it turns out, he has guard duty. Feyre heads out to the stables, where she’s startled by Tamlin.
How had he crept up so silently on the gravel? Faerie stealth, no doubt.
…uh. I’m not sure it was ever in doubt that someone creeping up is stealthy.
Anyway, Tamlin asks if she set trip wires the night before and she’s like, no because I trust you when you say nobody’s gonna hurt me, and then he tells her he doesn’t have to work that morning and she notices how hot he is:
Indeed, his usual tunic was off, the baldric gone, and the sleeves of his white shirt had been rolled up to the elbows to reveal tanned forearms corded with muscle.
Rolled up sleeves and tanned forearms corded with muscle? Trout likey.
He asks if she’d like to ride with him to see the rest of the grounds. As in, he is seeking out her company intentionally. So, this High Fae who can decide whether Feyre lives or dies is open to dialogue, to talking to her. This is the opening she’s hoping to get…with Lucien?
But Feyre interprets his invite as somehow forced or inauthentic:
Again, that effort to be accommodating, even when every word seemed to pain him. Maybe he could eventually be swayed by Lucien.
OR BY YOU.
I guess maybe I’m just not understanding how Tamlin seems less likely to respond to overtures of friendship from a human than Lucien does. I just didn’t pick up on that in the text.
Where the characterization should go.
Of course, it’s not like Tamlin is any kind of prize, because this is his reaction when she declines his offer:
Tamlin clenched his hands into fists, as if fighting against the claws itching to burst out. But he didn’t reprimand me, didn’t do anything other than prowl back into the house without another word.
Boy oh boy, do I love heroes who are moved instantly to near-violence by the slightest rejection.
Soon enough, if I was lucky, Tamlin wouldn’t be my problem anymore. I hurried for the stables, tucking away the information. Maybe one day, if I was ever released, if there was an ocean and years between us, I would think back and wonder why he’d bothered.
…none of this addresses anything we’ve read during their interaction.
1. We already know that this is a mutual problem
2. He didn’t give her any information. He asks if she wants to go riding and she turns him down, and he leaves without further conversation. There is no new information revealed in this encounter.
3. Why he’d bothered with what? Honoring the centuries-old treaty but having a moral objection to executing humans? He has to. He’s explained that.
These are just random, unrelated sentences.
Was Maas a first-time author when this got picked up, or did she already have a hugely popular series out there somewhere that would justify releasing this draft of the novel?
Oh. Oh, I see. She had a hugely successful other fantasy series. Is it better than this one? ed.—it is not better than this one.
Feyre gets to the stables, where we learn that all the servants are cursed to wear horse masks.
For them I felt a shred of pity at what the blight had done, the ridiculous masks they now had to wear until someone could figure out how to undo the magic binding them to their faces.
Reminder: they have to wear these masks on their faces because of the blight. Hope you didn’t forget that.
Also, doesn’t really endear Feyre to me that she feels pity for the servants. Like, oh, these ones are meek and they’re serving me so they’re the good kind of people I hate? WTF.
She also notes that they don’t look at her and might be mad about the whole “being a faerie murderer” thing.
Any attempt at casualness took a stumble when I finally found Lucien astride a black gelding, grinning down at me with too-white teeth.
Don’t register this as a nitpick, but I wonder why they have to geld their horses. Like, if they can change into animals and shit, couldn’t they just talk to stallions and be like, “settle the fuck down and let me ride you, asshole!” or something? Like, surely the stable hands can turn into horses, right?
Which just opened up an absolute horror show of implications in my mind. Let’s get the fuck out of that idle train of thought, thank you very much.
On the other hand…how do we know the horses aren’t faeries, too? The one that Tamlin brought her on seemed to have a mind of its own, right? This is not to say horses don’t have a mind of their own. Just that when they have a mind of their own it is literally never in favor of anyone but the horse.
Wait, are they gelding faeries? Or are the horses gelded so they don’t fuck the stable people when they’re horses?
Clearly, we’re not getting off the train after all.
“Morning, Feyre.” I tried to hide the stiffening in my shoulders, tried to smile a bit. “Going for a ride, or merely reconsidering Tam’s offer to live with us?”
This dialogue is actually spoken by Lucien but the tag would never indicate that.
I tried to recall the words I’d come up with earlier, the words to win him, but he laughed—and not pleasantly.
If you’re trying to recall them, too, don’t bother. We weren’t privy to those thoughts.
At this point, we enter the world of huge block paragraphs, so expect a fair amount of summing up because again, they tell us a lot of shit we already know.
Lucien invites Feyre to ride out on a hunt with him. He even gives her a weapon. Feyre notes again that the stable faeries don’t pay any attention to her. Despite acknowledging that she’s never hunted on a horse before and doesn’t even know how to chase game, she’s going out with him because this has all worked out super conveniently.
“No ash arrows today, unfortunately.”
I clenched my jaw to keep a retort from slipping off my tongue. If he was forbidden from hurting me, I couldn’t fathom why he would invite me along, save to mock me in whatever way he could. Perhaps he was truly that bored. Better for me.
You really shouldn’t bother making a retort in this case, anyway. Because that would make you a real bitch, Feyre. You killed his friend, you haven’t shown any true remorse, and you stalk around complaining about them…not killing you? And forcing you to live in luxury instead?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m shallow. But if someone showed up and was like, hey, I should kill you but instead, come away from your shit family and have a life of unparalleled opulence the likes of which you could never dream, I would be like, wow, did I ever luck out. Thanks for not killing me for my honest mistake/self-defense.
I don’t need her to be grateful to them. I need her to acknowledge that life is better in faerie land and that if she “escapes,” she’ll be in a much worse situation. Then, I need to hear why she would prefer that. Because the thing is, we’re supposed to be feeling that she’s strong and brave and true of heart because she wants to keep this vow to her family. But if she does go back to them, she’ll actively hurt their chances at survival. We already know that their lives have vastly improved, so technically, escaping would break her vow. What, then, is the impetus for seeking escape?
There isn’t one. There is no reason at all at this point for Feyre to continue trying to escape to fulfill her vow to her family. We need new motivation.
For example, if Feyre went, “Wait, this blight could hurt my people, too? Maybe I should stay here and make it my mission to help stop the blight,” she would be a) fulfilling her vow and b) not whining about the escape we all know she’s not gonna make.
Anyway, they ride out on their hunt and Feyre describes the staggering unbelievable beauty of the landscape that looks basically like any damn forest with trees in it that could exist right here on our own earth because why put any fucking effort into establishing a truly cool and unusual fantasy world when people are gonna shit themselves about your imagination and incredible world-building anyway?
But lest you think she’s like other girls, she sees flowers and has this reaction:
Those were things that weren’t necessary to my plans, useless details that only blocked out everything else: the shape and slope of the path, what trees were good for climbing, sounds of nearby water sources. Those things could help me survive if I ever needed to.
Without a valid motivation to escape, all this does is remind us that Feyre is a Strong™ character. You don’t have to explain or justify Strong™. You just have to repeatedly show your character being Strong™ in the face of a plot you don’t seem to have thought too hard about.
Feyre thinks about the differences between the bow she used at home and the one she’s carrying now and how she probably wouldn’t be able to shoot this one, anyway.
Let me tell you how fucking shocked I was to get to the end of this chapter without Feyre somehow pulling off an amazing shot even Lucien missed or something like that.
“Well?” Lucien pressed. “No game good enough for you to slaughter? We’ve passed plenty of squirrels and birds.”
Like, I was convinced at this point that Feyre was going to shoot a sparrow in flight or something that would make me go, you know what? Recapping isn’t the job for me anymore. It’s time to go back to college and finish that mortuary science degree.
Luckily, that does not happen and I can continue working pantsless, which is largely frowned upon in the funeral industry.
Feyre tells him that they seem to do all right without her hunting help. Then she smells lilacs and enjoys the smell of them for a second before remembering that flowers are not useful. Feyre asks why, if Lucien is Tamlin’s emissary, he’s patrolling the grounds.
The answer is, because the author needed it to happen.
But he tells Feyre that it was Andras’s job and now he’s doing it. And for some reason, this is what makes Feyre realize that maybe she should, idk, feel any remorse for killing Andras.
Andras had a place here, and friends here—he hadn’t been just some nameless, faceless faerie. No doubt he was more missed than I was. “I’m … sorry,” I said—and meant it. “I didn’t know what—what he meant to you all.”
Can Feyre just once, for the love of everything sacred, acknowledge that other people have feelings without mentioning that she has it fucking worse? Just once? ed.—She cannot and does not.
Feyre may be the most self-obsessed character I’ve ever read, and remember, I read part of Grey.
Lucien shrugged. “Tamlin said as much, which was no doubt why he brought you here. Or maybe you looked so pathetic in those rags that he took pity on you.”
“I wouldn’t have joined you if I’d known you would use this ride as an excuse to insult me.” Alis had mentioned that Lucien could use someone who snapped back at him. Easy enough.
Or, Alis was trying to get you killed. I mean, let’s be real here: if it was safe to snap back at him, why hasn’t she?
He smirks and apologizes.
I might have called him a liar for that apology had I not known he couldn’t lie. Which made the apology … sincere? I couldn’t sort it out.
Since we know that Feyre has been wrong about everything else, why does she assume she’s still right about the lying thing? Is this setting us up for a double-cross later and whoever crosses her will be like, “Ha ha, we can lie after all!” and she’ll be shocked and hurt or something?
“So,” he said, “when are you going to start trying to persuade me to beseech Tamlin to find a way to free you from the Treaty’s rules?”
I tried not to jolt. “What?”
“That’s why you agreed to come out here, isn’t it? Why you wound up at the stables exactly as I was leaving?” He shot me a sideways glance with that russet eye of his. “Honestly, I’m impressed—and flattered you think I have that kind of sway with Tamlin.”
Can he read minds? That would be awesome, if he just dropped that bombshell like, “Yeah, my magic eye can see your thoughts.”
“Before you waste one of your precious few human breaths, let me explain two things to you. One: if I had my way, you’d be gone, so it wouldn’t take much convincing on your part. Two: I can’t have my way, because there is no alternative to what the Treaty demands. There’s no extra loophole.”
“Loophole” is the word that makes me suspect he can read thoughts. Feyre has used it five times in thirty pages, according to Kindle, so when Lucien uses the same word, it feels very intentional.
“I admire your balls, Feyre—I really do. Or maybe it’s stupidity. But since Tam won’t gut you, which was my first choice, you’re stuck here. Unless you want to rough it on your own in Prythian, which”—he looked me up and down—“I’d advise against.”
Your balls. See, balls are masculine and that’s much better than feminine, so this shows us that other people see how Not Like Other Girls™ she is.
No—no, I couldn’t just … just stay here. Forever. Until I died. Maybe … maybe there was some other way, or someone else who could find a way out. I mastered my uneven breathing, shoving away the panicked, bleating thoughts.
This just doesn’t make any sense. Winding up in Prythian fixes all of her problems.
- she’s away from her shitty family she hates
- she’s no longer expected to wait hand and foot on anyone
- in fact, the opposite
- her family is being cared for, fulfilling her vow
- she can paint all fucking day if she wants, probably
- she isn’t starving anymore
Maybe I’m just not understanding something here. Maybe I’m a selfish, cruel, unfeeling person to think that if my family treated me like shit and expected me to be the sole breadwinner and then said to never come back, I wouldn’t feel too bad about this arrangement that’s working out for everyone.
That’s probably because I’m not a strong enough character.
Strength is never rethinking your initial plan or adjusting for new information. Just plow straight ahead, listening to no one.
She asks where the rest of the court is, and he’s like, how do you know about the court, and Feyre is like, idk, most regular-ass houses don’t have emissaries. Then she says that servants chatter and asks if that’s why they made them wear bird masks.
Now, this should not be the number one priority here, okay? I don’t give a shit why the servants have bird masks.
Lucien scowled, that scar stretching. “We each chose what to wear that night to honor Tamlin’s shape-shifting gifts. The servants, too. But now, if we had the choice, we’d peel them off with our bare hands,” he said, tugging on his own. It didn’t move.
Yes, we know that they can’t take their masks off. Trust your reader to internalize information, even if your heroine can’t.
That said, I know I repeat a lot of points in these recaps. I trust you. I’m just in disbelief and need to express it so it doesn’t build up like an urgent but stubborn poop on a long drive.
“What happened to the magic to make it act that way?”
The blight, Feyre.
See what I meant about not internalizing information?
Lucien let out a harsh laugh. “Something was sent from the shit-holes of Hell,” he said, then glanced around and swore. “I shouldn’t have said that. If word got back to her—”
Bet money “she” is the villain and “she” is the only other fuckable woman in this story.
Also, a reference to “Hell” implies there are Christians and Muslims in Prythian because they’re the ones who believe in it.
Prythian was ruled by seven High Lords—perhaps this she was whoever governed this territory; if not a High Lord, then a High Lady.
Surely, we’re not still relying on Feyre’s understanding of Prythian for worldbuilding, are we? Since it’s all been wrong so far?
Feyre asks Lucien how old he is, and he tells her just “old,” and then she’s like btw, what are your powers? Please state them clearly to the reader so I don’t have to reveal them via action:
“Trying to figure out my weaknesses so you can—” I glowered at him. “Fine. No, I can’t shape-shift. Only Tam can.”
Again, this dialogue is delivered by Lucien, not Feyre.
So, if only Tamlin can shape-shift, why was Andras a wolf? Because Tamlin used his power to shift Andras into a wolf so he wouldn’t be detected by humans.
Why a wolf? Why not a bug or something? Because humans kill wolves, right? Why be anything a human would want to kill? Feels like Tamlin kind of painted a target on him.
“Anyway,” Lucien went on, “the High Fae don’t have specific powers the way the lesser faeries do. I don’t have a natural-born affinity, if that’s what you’re asking. I don’t clean everything in sight or lure mortals to a watery death or grant you answers to whatever questions you might have if you trap me. We just exist—to rule.”
So, is Tamlin not a High Fae, then? Because he has a specific power.
We learn of the existence of an old and dangerous type of faerie called Suriel, who have to tell the truth if captured. But Lucien is like, fat chance you’re gonna get their help, drop it or you’ll be imprisoned in the castle for your own damn good.
Feyre asks Lucien how he got his scar, and he’s like, because I talked back to the wrong person. Not Tamlin, though. Tamlin supplied Lucien’s new eye.
All of a sudden, Lucien gets real, real nervous and warns Feyre to drop her weapons and stare straight ahead, despite the spooky bush-rustling happening around them. Even the horses are afraid, but they keep walking ahead until the chapter hook:
And then I felt it.
So, we get to see what she feels in chapter ten, I guess.