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.
We left Feyre just as she’s seen her father approach the gates of the manor.
I didn’t give myself a chance to panic, to doubt, to do anything but wish I had stolen some food from my breakfast table as I layered on tunic after tunic and bundled myself in a cloak, stuffing the knife I’d stolen into my boot. The extra clothes in the satchel would just be a burden to carry.
My question here is, why would she have to “steal” food in a place where they have been actively pushing her to eat? But anyway, after all this careful planning for her escape she was definitely thinking about getting around to doing, the moment has come. She’s surprised that her father has come to save her and thinks, well, I must be worth more than what Tamlin is giving them.
My father—my crippled, broken father had come.
The ableism in this book is something else. I get it, he’s got a disability and this is a kind of medieval, fairytale setting, but that’s exactly what it is. A fairytale. I understand and appreciate realistic ableism in historical settings because I feel like, you know, don’t sugar coat this shit. I know a lot of people think it’s good representation for disabled people to put them in historical stories and never have the character experience any ableism or have any trauma from experiencing ableism but if you’re setting it in a real-world situation, it just doesn’t sit right with me. But this isn’t a real-world book. This is a totally new world, in which the author would be free to simply…have no ableism. Feyre could simply have had empathy (substantial bits of her characterization would need to be reworked), acknowledged how impossible the journey would have been, the pain he must be in from his disability. Both of those would have been so much better than “crippled, broken.” ed.—It’s especially galling to imply that he’s only overcome his disability due to greed.
Feyre makes sure there’s nobody in the garden and climbs down a trellis. There’s another borderline-ableist bit about how her father is limping with his cane and how surprising it is that he made the journey, and those things could have easily been expanded by focusing more on the “oh my gosh, my father cares about me enough to have made this harrowing, physically demanding journey,” and less on, “wow, how did Crippy McGee manage to hoist his lazy self up out of his chair and make it all the way here?” ed.—AAAAY must the mon-ayyyy!
My father reached the gates. They were already open, the dark forest beyond beckoning. He must have hidden the horses deeper in. He turned toward me, that familiar face drawn and tight, those brown eyes clear for once, and beckoned. Hurry, hurry, every movement of his hand seemed to shout.
My heart was a raging beat in my chest, in my throat. Only a few feet now—to him, to freedom, to a new life—
I guess I’m shallow because yet again, I’m like, why would you want to go back to the family that you actively resented? I guess if it’s all you’ve ever known, but she seemed to bone-deep fucking hate them to the point that it sounded like if she hadn’t made that vow to her mom, she would have been happy to see them starve to death.
Now, as we all likely anticipated:
A massive hand wrapped around my arm.
Shit, shit, shit.
Feyre Rose Steele
I didn’t dare move, not as his lips thinned and the muscles in his jaw quivered. Not as he opened his mouth and I glimpsed fangs—long, throat-tearing fangs shining in the moonlight.
He was going to kill me—kill me right there, and then kill my father. No more loopholes, no more flattery, no more mercy. He didn’t care anymore. I was as good as dead.
“Please,” I breathed. “My father—”
“Your father?” He lifted his stare to the gates behind me, and his growl rumbled through me as he bared his teeth. “Why don’t you look again?”
You know what happens next.
Only a pale bow and a quiver of pale arrows remained, propped up against the gates. Mountain ash. They hadn’t been there moments before, hadn’t—
Yeah, it’s some kind of shape-shifting fairy thing.
“Weren’t you warned to keep your wits about you?” Tamlin snapped. “That your human senses would betray you?”
Yes, Tamlin, thank you. That’s what I was thinking.
On the other hand, I should cut Feyre some slack. She’s never read a fantasy novel before. Maybe she didn’t see that coming. You know, even though she’s been warned like nine hundred times about things in the garden.
“Fool,” he said to me, turning. “If you’re ever going to run away, at least do it in the daytime.” He stared me down, and the fangs slowly retracted. The claws remained. “There are worse things than the Bogge prowling these woods at night. That thing at the gates isn’t one of them—and it still would have taken a good, long while devouring you.”
Nay, Tamlin, ’tis you who are the fool. Because now, Feyre is gonna just focus on the daytime part and disregard every other warning she’s ever gotten.
Feyre is like, my dad shows up here and you think I’m not even going to try to see him, except she once again calls him her crippled father like it’s a job title and not an outdated adjective to apply to other people. She also is like, do you really think I’m gonna be psyched about staying here with you?
He flexed his fingers as if trying to get the claws back in, but they remained out, ready to slice through flesh and bone. “What do you want, Feyre?”
“I want to go home!”
“Home to what, exactly? You’d prefer that miserable human existence to this?”
Exactly! She hated her family, she hated that she had to do all the work for her greedy sisters, she didn’t even like her boyfriend. Feyre, you wanted the fuck out, you got the fuck out.
She goes on to say that because she made that promise to her mother, everything she’s ever done since has been to take care of her family. Again, she doesn’t even seem to like the mother she made this vow to but okay. Feyre tells Tamlin that he’s forcing her to break that vow but it’s like…
Feyre. You’re not upset about your family. You’re not missing your family or your old life. You’re missing your identity.
Feyre has spent years of her life in a cycle of perpetual martyrdom and resentment. Now that it’s been lifted from her shoulders, she has no idea who the fuck she is as a person. I would be able to forgive that if she’d been in an abusive situation but she was really just in a situation where she didn’t like the fact that they’d lost all of their money and her family didn’t know how to cope with the trauma of a violent altercation that left the breadwinner disabled.
Sorry. Broken. Crippled.
Tamsin states the obvious:
“You are not breaking your vow—you are fulfilling it, and then some, by staying here. Your family is better cared for now than they were when you were there.”
Tamsin, Tamlin, I don’t fucking remember, either way, a-fucking-men.
Those chipped, miscolored paintings inside the cottage flashed in my vision. Perhaps they would forget who had even painted them in the first place. Insignificant—that’s what all those years I’d given them would be, as insignificant as I was to these High Fae. And that dream I’d had, of one day living with my father, with enough food and money and paint … it had been my dream—no one else’s.
Yes, Feyre. I’m sure they’ll all forget you. Every time that fairy money shows up on their doorstep, their chest of gold or whatever, probably delivered by a leprechaun, they’re gonna be like, “whoa, wtf is this? Why is this happening? What a strange and unexpected occurrence, completely unrelated to that night a huge, menacing beast tore our door off and threatened to kill us for some reason that has now slipped my mind.”
Like, didn’t her sister even buy her the paint to make those flowers? And LOL that she’s suddenly shocked that her dream of her sisters somehow disappearing and her living at home with her dad forever wasn’t shared by the sisters who would have to disappear and the father who maybe wants some peace and god damn quiet with his adult children out of the damn house.
But Feyre is like, I can’t give up on them and tacks on some moping about how of course her father would never come to get her.
Fed and comfortable. If he couldn’t lie, if it was true, then … then it was beyond anything I’d ever dared hope for.
Then … my vow to my mother was fulfilled.
Oh, shit, how are you gonna find enough wood to build yourself a new cross, Feyre?
My life was now owned by the Treaty, but… perhaps I’d been freed in another sort of way.
Such introspection. And so quickly, too.
They head back inside and Tamlin explains that they don’t need sentries at his house, since he’s there, and most troops are at the border. He, too, trained to guard the border during the war and he’d never expected to have the responsibility of running the manor. Feyre figures that’s why he needs Lucien around to do the talking for him, but she doesn’t want to ask any other questions because it seems too personal.
At this point, she doesn’t think to herself, oh wow, what a weird parallel between our circumstances. Instead, she changes the subject to learn that the fairy that tried to lure her off the grounds is a puca, a creature that would have dragged her away and eaten her alive.
“These lands used to be well guarded. The deadlier faeries were contained within the borders of their native territories, monitored by the local Fae lords, or driven into hiding. Creatures like the puca never would have dared set foot here. But now, the sickness that infected Prythian has weakened the wards that kept them out.” A long pause, like the words were choked out of him. “Things are different now. It’s not safe to travel alone at night—especially if you’re human.”
Weren’t humans always unsafe in fairyland? Yous guys were at war.
This would also be a good time for Feyre to reflect on the fact that she’s been kinda wrong about how the world beyond the wall works but, eh.
“What else is different now?” I asked, trailing him up the marble front steps.
He didn’t stop this time, didn’t even look over his shoulder to see me as he said, “Everything.”
Like, idk, Feyre. The fact they have masks fused to their faces is one of the things that’s different. In fact, kinda all they’ve talked about with you since you arrived is how things are different now? It’s come up in almost every conversation.
After a section break, Feyre finally accepts that she’s definitely gonna stay in Prythian forever.
As much as I longed to ensure that Tamlin’s word about caring for my family was true, as much as his claim that I was taking better care of my family by staying away—even if I was truly fulfilling that vow to my mother by staying in Prythian … Without the weight of that promise, I was left hollow and empty.
Those are the same thing, Feyre.
I turned the page hoping that this would be where she had some moment of further introspection where she realizes that the vow wasn’t important and only fomented resentment or something and she regrets it all worked out that way, but obviously that doesn’t happen. I assume it will at some point because it’s the natural progression of her character arc.
Just like I assume Tamlin is going to turn out to be a great guy and Lucien is going to be an evil villain.
I’m not skipping this next part, it’s just exposition in a paragraph. I wanted yous all to know that before you thought, Jenny, why would you skip a huge chunk of the book. I did not skip a huge chunk of the book. The book skipped a huge chunk of the book. The following is all exposition in a couple of paragraphs.
Feyre starts joining Lucien on patrol and she brings her bow and arrow with her every time but it makes her think about how one arrow changed her fate and when she tries to shoot a doe, she changes her mind.
Then it’s off to dinner!
No, really. Imagine the scene that just got skipped over. Plot and character development happened in that moment for Feyre, and it was consigned to a couple of paragraphs before moving on to talk more about Tamlin. Literally, the female main character’s arc is happening in the background of her own story while the author fixates on the male characters.
Feyre mentions that Tamlin leaves dinner early all the time now.
On the third night after my encounter with the puca, I’d scarcely sat down before Tamlin got up, giving an excuse about not wanting to waste hunting time.
Lucien and I stared after him for a moment.
What I could see of Lucien’s face was pale and tight. “You worry about him,” I said.
Lucien slumped in his seat, wholly undignified for a Fae lord. “Tamlin gets into … moods.”
Oh good. Yous all know how I love “moody” male characters.
“He prefers being alone. And having the Bogge on our lands … I don’t suppose you’d understand. The puca are minor enough not to bother him, but even after he’s shredded the Bogge, he’ll brood over it.”
Sweet, he’s gonna stay moody, too. Gosh, I hope someone cracks his moody shell and overlooks rudeness or mistreatment at his hands to prove her love or whatever.
I’m not saying that’s going to happen, I’m just saying it’s a trope I wouldn’t be shocked by in this book.
“And there’s no one who can help him at all?”
“He would probably shred them for disobeying his order to stay away.”
A brush of ice slithered across my nape. “He would be that brutal?”
Feyre, who has spent this whole fucking book so far talking about how cruel and inhumane fairies are, is shocked that a fairy would be cruel and inhumane.
But again, let me tell you how much I love moody characters who refuse help but continue being “moody.”
Lucien explains that you can’t hold onto power by being friends, and fairies aren’t scared of any consequence other than death. Of course, his actual words are:
“[…]We’re too powerful, and too bored with immortality, to be checked by anything else.”
which doesn’t make sense to me because if they’re “bored by immortality” then how would death be a deterrent? I’m not objecting to the use of “immortal” as meaning “won’t die of natural causes” but I’m 100% objecting to the idea that people who are bored of living forever would view death as a horrible punishment rather than a reward.
It seemed like a cold, lonely position to have, especially when you didn’t particularly want it. I wasn’t sure why it bothered me so much.
A. Because it’s what you just went through with your vow to your mother B. You’re gonna fuck him the answer is C. Probably, all of the above.
After a section break, we’re in a nightmare Feyre is having about shooting Andras. She’s aware in the dream that she doesn’t want to shoot him, but she doesn’t have the choice to stop. After she shoots him, he transforms and she realizes that she’s skinned him in his faery form. Here’s some of the imagery that really jumped out at me:
One shot—one shot straight through that golden eye.
A plume of blood splattering the snow, a thud of a heavy body, a sigh of wind. No.
Love “a plume of blood” because you can really see the arterial spray.
I blinked, and then—then my hands were warm and sticky with blood, then his body was red and skinless, steaming in the cold, and it was his skin—his skin—that I held in my hands, and—
One of the things that’s been overall bugging me about this book is that Maas seemed so reluctant to show these dark and brutal things the fae do, but she mentioned them all the time. It was consistently, “or worse” and “they could eat you” but we didn’t see this stuff. We never saw anybody weeping over a mangled body found in the woods. Feyre never has a memory of someone being attacked, someone she knew, anything to connect her to the violence she was telling us about. I really, really liked this nightmare because it goes so much further and shows us graphic gore. Now, is graphic gore necessary for every fantasy story? No, obviously not. But if you’re going to talk about blood and death and violence and then never really show any, you’re gonna lose me. And this nightmare sequence upped the stakes both in terms of delivering on the promise of darkness and showing us that on at least some subconscious level, Feyre is starting to understand what she’s actually done to Andras. He’s not just a random faery, he’s a person she killed and skinned and even if she didn’t mean to, it happened.
Then, she wakes up and blames her family for her lack of self-examination:
Perhaps it was the quiet, the hollowness, of the past few days—perhaps it was only that I no longer had to think hour to hour about how to keep my family alive, but … It was regret, and maybe shame, that coated my tongue, my bones.
Regret is like almond milk. It coats the tongue.
And the chapter hook? Is that she gets out of bed.