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.
You know that feeling when we’re reading this book and we’re like, damn, this could have been good? This is a whole chapter of that. Prepare yourself.
The chapter opens with Feyre remembering Lucien’s instructions for finding a Suriel.
I repeated Lucien’s instructions as I walked out of the manor, through the cultivated gardens, across the wild, rolling grassy hills beyond them, over clear streams, and into the spring woods beyond.
I hate to keep bringing this up but the inconsistency of the worldbuilding demands it. Hungers for it.
WHAT HAPPENED TO CERTAIN DEATH IF YOU LEAVE THE MANOR GROUNDS?
The answer is: consistency in worldbuilding would be disastrous to the plot.
The lands were as empty as the manor itself, though I occasionally glimpsed something shining in the corner of my eye. Every time I turned to look, the shimmering transformed into the sunlight dancing on a nearby stream, or the wind fluttering the leaves of a lone sycamore atop a knoll. As I passed a large pond nestled at the foot of a towering hill, I could have sworn I saw four shining female heads poking up from the bright water, watching me. I hurried my steps.
The lands were empty except for all the fairies.
Night was the dangerous time, I reminded myself. I had only a few hours until sunset.
Since when is the forest safe during the day? Because the impression we, the readers, were given is that the forest is especially dangerous at night. Not that it was totally safe during the day.
Probably comment from editor in the margin: Earlier, it’s dangerous in the day, too. That’s when the Bogge was after them.
Sarah Maas, probably, who refuses to scroll up in the document to correct any inconsistency in the book she’s about to make millions, literally millions, of dollars from:
Even if the Bogge had stalked us in the daylight.
The Bogge was dead, and whatever horror Tamlin was now dealing with dwelled in another part of these lands.
There. Problem solved. There was one dangerous fairy in the whole of the forest, and Tamlin killed it, and all the other bad fairies are now somewhere else and Prythian is safe, at least the places where Feyre must be able to traverse alone for purposes of the plot.
Here’s a writing tip: if your worldbuilding and your plot clash, you need to change one or the other. Because not everyone is going to end up with a PR blitz and nonstop social media hype. Some of us actually have to write well. Please plan on being the latter.
Feyre wonders if Tamlin is having to face the High Lord and if the High Lord is the one who took Lucien’s eye, and then she’s like, ope, wait, there’s a woman I can blame. She brings up the High Lord’s consort then “pushed away the thought,” meaning I guess she doesn’t want to think of Lucien or Tamlin talking to anyone with she/her pronouns.
Lucien had said to find running water, and this was close enough to make escape possible. If I needed to escape. Hopefully I wouldn’t.
He said you would need to escape. He straight up told you to be prepared to run when the thing gets loose. Escaping was part of the instructions.
So, Feyre puts down her snare and goes up a tree.
From my spot up a nearby tree—a sturdy, dense oak whose vibrant leaves hid me entirely from anyone below—I waited.
POV is a thing, right? I mean, not in this book but definitely in other books. Feyre cannot possibly know if someone on the ground can see her. She can know that she can’t see the ground. She can’t know if someone below can see her.
Feyre wonders if Lucien and Tamlin get bored of living constantly in one season. She thinks this kind of year-round-spring set-up would have been fine for her when she was trying to feed her family through frozen winters, which leads us into a new plan Feyre has that she won’t share with us because simply withholding information is what passes for plot twists, I guess.
I’d just settled in again when a ripple of silence came toward me. As if the wood thrushes and squirrels and moths held their breath while something passed by.
While I enjoy the “ripple of silence” part, I have to use this opportunity to again point out that everything but the weather is exactly the same as the human world, it seems. The fauna is exactly the same on both sides of the wall. How does living in one eternal breeding season affect their population? How do animals adapt to something like that? Wouldn’t it make more sense for there to be, I don’t know, fantastical animals in this fantasy setting you’ve created?
My bow was already strung. Quietly, I loosely nocked an arrow.
Remember a few chapters ago when her bow wouldn’t protect her from anything in Fairysville or whatever? I do. I wish the author had. But it’s hard to make your character Not Like Other Girls and a Kick-Ass Heroine if you can’t show her using a weapon.
Maybe this had been a very bad idea.
Siri, show me the definition of “duh.”
Maybe Lucien had overestimated my abilities. Or maybe he had been waiting for the chance to lead me to my doom.
You didn’t think of this before? You didn’t just go, hmmm, Tamlin, the guy who says they can’t kill me, is gone and this dude, who has said numerous times that he’d rather you were dead, is all, “go into the woods and piss off some fae,” and only now, when you’re in the fucking tree, do you think, huh. This seems fishy.
Okay, as long as we’re here, let’s just slog ahead.
I’d laid my snares carefully, making the chicken look as if it had wandered too far and snapped its own neck as it sought to free itself from a fallen branch.
Fairycide Hunter with Lt. Joe Kenda
I was originally gonna go with “Fairytale Forest CSI” but I just like that Joe Kenda dude and his half-awake commentary.
If you have Discovery+, you know what I’m talking about.
ed.—For the first time, I’m wondering why, exactly, Feyre used a chicken to bait her snares to catch a sentient fairy thing that probably is aware that chickens don’t live in forests. I’m truly confused as to how I didn’t catch this before.
Her snare trap catches something that shrieks and fights and Feyre gets down from her tree, assuming it’s the Suriel. Good for her, it is.
Lucien, I decided as I crept up to the faerie in the birch glen, really, truly wanted me dead.
Oh, no shit? The guy who has said a couple times by now that if it were up to him, he’d have you killed? What a weird vibe you’re picking up there, Feyre, I don’t get where that’s coming from.
I hadn’t known what to expect as I entered the ring of white trees—tall and straight as pillars—but it was not the tall, thin veiled figure in dark tattered robes. Its hunched back facing me, I could count the hard knobs of its spine poking through the thin fabric. Spindly, scabby gray arms clawed at the snare with yellowed, cracked fingernails.
So like, a Dementor.
But I guess I don’t get how it can’t escape the snare. As the scene goes on, the Suriel proves to be highly intelligent. At least, as intelligent as a character in this book can be. Surely, it could figure out how to untie a snare. ed.—but not intelligent enough to not pick up a dead chicken in the forest to eat it.
Before we go on, let’s briefly discuss how a snare works. A lot of people confuse ground snares and noose traps. A spring trap or a noose trap are the kinds that drag prey off the ground. That’s not what Feyre made, so don’t imagine a Dementor hanging by one ankle from a tree limb, its robes flipped over its head, Dementor willie just flopping around. Don’t you dare imagine that.
A ground snare, which is what Feyre set, catches around some part of the animal (usually the head or a limb) and as the creature keeps on moving, the wire or twine you’re using cinches around them. Because they’re animals, they don’t stop and go, “Hmm, what an interesting predicament, but easily escapable if I simply don’t pull.”
But why doesn’t this Suriel do that? Remember, this a creature she can ask anything and get an answer. “How do I get out of a snare?” is apparently like, the one question it can’t? A question that I can’t answer is, why didn’t it see the snare in the first place? ed.—Or, why didn’t it realize that a chicken in a forest is a trap?
Another question I have to ask is, why does “snare” go from singular to plural to singular again? Yes, laying snares, you absolutely want to lay as many as possible in the area you’ve baited. But first, Feyre talks about laying her snare. Then, when the thing is snared, her “snares” hold. And then she comes up on the Dementor and it’s back to one snare.
Feyre approaches the Suriel with her bow drawn because again, no consistency, let’s just forget that only ash arrows kill fairies, this is all fine.
The faerie went rigid. And sniffed. Once. Twice.
Then slowly, it turned to me, the dark veil draped over its bald head blowing in a phantom breeze.
Right, so. Like a Dementor.
A face that looked like it had been crafted from dried, weatherworn bone, its skin either forgotten or discarded, a lipless mouth and too-long teeth held by blackened gums, slitted holes for nostrils, and eyes … eyes that were nothing more than swirling pits of milky white—the white of death, the white of sickness, the white of clean-picked corpses.
Okay, still a Dementor but damn, look at that descriptive imagery. Bravo, but also oh, no, because again this is a spot where the book really shows that the author can write well but simply chooses not to.
It goes on to talk about how the Suriel looks just like a Dementor some more, and then it starts talking to Feyre.
My bowels turned watery.
You know what? Tamlin can just magic her up some new pants when she gets back to the house or whatever. That’s not our problem to solve nor dwell upon.
The Suriel calls Feyre’s trap “clever” because of course, it is, she’s Not Like Other Girls and everyone knows that when you’re Not Like Other Girls it’s because you’re “clever” and “brave” and “surprising”.
And I guess you also get diarrhea in the forest like a sick bear.
The Suriel wants to know who the fuck ratted it out, and doesn’t believe Feyre when she says she learned about them from her mother.
“Lies—I can smell the lies on your breath.”
Look, if that’s all you’re smelling right now, be thankful.
It sniffed again,
Don’t do it, bro!
its fingers clacking together. It cocked its head to the side, an erratic, sharp movement, the dark veil snapping with it. “What would a human woman want from the Suriel?”
“You tell me,” I said softly.
For the past eleven chapters, all we’ve heard about is how Feyre needs information, no one will tell her what she needs to know, she has to capture a Magic 8-Ball in Harry Potter cosplay, and finally, finally she’s on the precipice of getting the answers she wants and…
she plays it cagey.
Come the fuck on.
Even the Suriel is like, ma’am, this is bullshit, you were desperate enough to catch me so obviously you want answers just ask the damn question.
But, you know, not in those words.
Hey, wanna know why I lost my shit on my private FB the other day and passed holy judgment upon friends and/or family who have contributed to the popularity of this book or this particular “brand” of fantasy as a whole?
I swallowed hard. “Is there—is there truly no way for me to go home?”
“Not unless you seek to be killed, and your family with you. You must remain here.”
Whatever last shred of hope I’d been clinging to, whatever foolish optimism, shriveled and died. This changed nothing. Before my fight with Tamlin that morning, I hadn’t even entertained the idea, anyway.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME EVERY SINGLE CHAPTER SINCE CHAPTER THREE HAS BEEN YOU “ENTERTAINING” THE THOUGHT OF GOING HOME IT’S LITERALLY BEEN THE ENTIRE PLOT THIS WHOLE TIME
Deep breath. Calm down, Jenny. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s nobody’s fault but Booktubers. Fucking. Booktubers. ed.—and now, BookTokers. Fucking. Booktokers.
Perhaps I’d only come here out of spite.
Putting herself in a dangerous and entirely unnecessary position in order to spite someone? That doesn’t sound like Feyre, at all.
Yeah, so that “whatever last shred of hope” paragraph up there? That’s the end of her acceptance that she’ll never get back home. Like…the entire acceptance. She immediately moves on like, oh well, guess I’ll ask for a bunch of clunky exposition then. She asks the Suriel to tell her about Tamlin and the Suriel is like, oh yeah, the High Lord of the Spring Court, sure, what do you want to know? Then it’s basically a page full of the Suriel reiterating that there are seven courts and the courts are about seasons and times of day, you know, shit we already learned from the mural. It’s also reiterated for us that Tamlin is “deadly,” so like, thanks for the refresher course in that.
Feyre is all like, hey, what about this blight I’m hearing about? as if the Suriel is a god damn Amazon Echo, and the Suriel is like, wtf do you think you’re going to do about it, human?
“Stay with the High Lord, human,” the Suriel said. “That’s all you can do. You will be safe. Do not interfere; do not go looking for answers after today, or you will be devoured by the shadow over Prythian. He will shield you from it, so stay close to him, and all will be righted.”
Hang on, let me make a mental note here of the fact that the Suriel, who knows the answers to all questions or whatever, has explicitly stated, in its preternatural wisdom, that if Feyre tries to meddle with blight stuff, she’s gonna get her ass killed. I’ll need to remember this passage when Feyre immediately runs back and starts poking her nose in shit that’s not her business and doesn’t get killed. I haven’t read ahead at this point, I’m just assuming this is what’s going to happen. ed.—That is exactly what happens.
You know, like IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE SURIEL TELLS HER TO STOP ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT IT:
That wasn’t exactly an answer. I repeated, “Where did the blight come from?”
At this point, I don’t know why it surprises me that the creature described as being compelled to answer any and all questions has now sidestepped a question. I’m sorry, I guess I just assume authors read their first draft over and make corrections. If we’re not doing that anymore, I’ll just save myself some time.
“The High Lord does not know that you came here today, does he? He does not know that his human woman came to trap a Suriel, because he cannot give her the answers she seeks. But it is too late, human—for the High Lord, for you, perhaps for your realm as well …”
Again, the creature compelled by magic, by its very nature, to answer questions is evading questions.
Why would an author do that? Because she’s trying to keep her heroine from having to engage with the plot. Maas doesn’t actually want to write any of this fantasy stuff here. She has to write it in order to get to the parts where Feyre, who just so happens to match Maas’s physical appearance exactly, gets sympathy from the audience and attention from the men in the story.
Oh, I’m sorry. Was I not supposed to notice that? Was I not supposed to notice that aside from a servant (who has been described as short and fat and wearing a bird mask) and an evil, looming she who is the root of all evil (and who will probably turn out to be Tamlin’s consort now that we know he’s a High Fae) there are no other women in this story at all once we get to Prythian? Was I not supposed to notice that the only women in the first three chapters were either vain, selfish, ditzy, murderous, or cult members? Even the dead mom is a bitch.
Look, I’m calling this what it is: self-insert Beauty and The Beast fanfic that somehow succeeded against the odds set by its author’s low standards. She just had to add that pesky plot she doesn’t care about.
So, years ago, I was on a plane, sitting next to an author who was about to have her debut YA high fantasy novel come out. She was talking about how great Sarah J. Maas is and how Maas personally helped her on her career path, which was cool. I hadn’t read any Maas so I just assumed she was super skilled and a great mentor to have as a result. Then the newbie author’s book came out and it was ten-thousand times better than this. Like, so, so much better. Now, reading this, I’m like, wow, that was a close fucking call for that author. Phew. ed.—that author has since had a very public falling out with Maas.
Were you hoping that this whole Suriel thing would turn into an info dump so huge, Staten Island would build a park on top of it?
“Across the violent western sea, there is another faerie kingdom called Hybern, ruled by a wicked, powerful king. Yes, a king,” he said when I raised a brow. “Not a High Lord—there, his territory is not divided into courts. There, he is law unto himself. Humans no longer exist in that realm—though his throne is made of their bones.”
It’s a super good thing that Feyre studied that map mural so she can tell us exactly which island the Suriel is talking about.
The Suriel goes on to tell Feyre the history of the treaty and the war and the Hybern guy and how he sent his trusted inner circle out to fuck up Prythian.
As spies and courtiers and lovers, they infiltrated the various High Fae courts and kingdoms and empires around the world for fifty years, and when they had gathered enough information, he made his plan. But nearly five decades ago, one of his commanders disobeyed him. The Deceiver. And—” The Suriel straightened. “We are not alone.”
Whoa, how weird that danger showed up just as the Suriel was about to reveal what I can only assume is a heavily telegraphed plot twist about Tamlin or Lucien being “The Deceiver” that we’ll probably find out about after a billion more hints.
“Human, you must free me and run,” it said, those death-filled eyes widening. “Run for the High Lord’s manor. Do not forget what I told you—stay with the High Lord, and live to see everything righted.”
I mean, it’s still Stockholm syndrome even if you’re staying for your own safety, Feyre.
Feyre asks what they’re supposed to run from.
“The naga—faeries made of shadow and hate and rot. They heard my scream, and they smelled you. Free me, human. They will cage me if they catch me here. Free me and return to the High Lord’s side.”
The Naga, huh? Like, the snake demigods from Hindu mythology? I can’t wait to see how this plays out. I am not going to scroll forward, but I bet this is gonna be super racist. Especially considering they’ve already been described as being “made of shadow and hate and rot,” which is not what the Naga are.
Can’t help but notice that all of the creatures from European mythology are capitalized. High Fae. Suriel. Bogge. But then we get to “naga” and suddenly the shift key just busted and sprang right off the keyboard.
Feyre tries to set the Suriel free, but it’s too late, the shadowy figures are already closing in on them, and that’s the chapter hook.
I once again walk away at the end of a recap with the most enraged feeling over all this wasted potential. These are interesting mythology components, there are pieces of interesting worldbuilding, but none of them adhere to each other. Why write fantasy if you’re not interested in worldbuilding? Why? This makes zero damn sense. We get it. You’re horny for fairies. So is Tori Amos. Just write some Rise of The Guardians fanfic or hump a piano bench about it and get past it, Sarah.
I just keep hearing the Tenth Doctor shouting, “I could do so much more!” before entering that radiation chamber, except now he’s screaming it while pounding on the windows of Sarah J. Maas’s office.
For god’s sake, why didn’t she let him in?