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.
At the end of the last chapter, I predicted that there would be something racist happening in the next chapter.
AND I WAS CORRECT.
This is how Naga are described in ACOTAR:
Covered in dark scales and nothing more, they were a horrendous combination of serpentine features and male humanoid bodies whose powerful arms ended in polished black, flesh-shredding talons.
Here were the creatures of the blood-filled legends, the ones that slipped through the wall to torment and slaughter mortals. The ones I would have been glad to kill that day in the snowy woods. Their huge, almond-shaped eyes greedily took in the Suriel and me.
Now, go look at the Wikipedia entry for Naga. Go on.
Okay, I know you’re not going to. So to sum up, I read the Wikipedia page, I clicked some of the sources, I didn’t do like a super deep dive BUT. I haven’t found evidence of Naga being monsters. I have found evidence of heroic love stories, snakes who reach enlightenment, beings that control rain and fertility, are worked into architecture, and are generally thought of as divine beings by several cultures across Asia.
But Maas has decided they’re blood-thirsty, inhuman monsters with “almond-shaped” eyes, the #1 choice of fanfic writers trying to relay the Asianness of their OC. And then has written that these are the bad fairies that Feyre won’t mind killing. Oh, and she’s chosen not to capitalize the name of the only creature so far to have come from non-European mythologies.
You know. Just real subtle racist stuff.
“The Dark Mother has sent us a gift today, brothers,” he said, gazing at the Suriel, who was clawing at the snare now. The naga’s amber eyes shifted toward me again. “And a meal.”
“Not much to eat,” another one said, flexing its claws.
Hey, were yous all aware that Feyre is skinny? Like, real, real skinny? It’s important to know that even though she’s been eating rich foods and sweets at these huge banquets every single night, she’s still very, very skinny.
The problem Feyre’s got now, aside from her author, is that the Suriel is still tied up.
I had ten arrows—nine, once I fired the one nocked in my bow. None of them ash, but maybe they’d keep the naga down long enough for me to flee.
Yes, Feyre, that’s very good. Ten minus one is nine.
I had three heartbeats to make up my mind. Three heartbeats to execute my plan.
The plan to escape this situation. Not any of the nine hundred other plans we’ve heard about. This “plan” is to draw her bow, scream her head off, and fire an arrow through the rope holding the Suriel. Which she pulls off, and it buys her some time as the Naga are blown back.
No chance of my movements being considered an unprovoked attack anymore—not now that they’d seen my aim. They still wanted to kill me.
Um. What does this mean? She was hoping they’d think she’d attacked the Suriel? And that the attack was unprovoked? But the Naga for sure provoked this whole thing? I’m sorry, but was everyone’s reading comprehension just total shit when this book came out? That sentence means absolutely nothing. It makes no sense. It’s just words that sound like maybe they should be in a fight scene.
So, Feyre jumps over a stream, but that doesn’t work on the Naga. This chapter is almost exclusively her running from and fighting with the Naga, by the by. Now, she shoots one, but:
I didn’t know if it was a killing shot. I was already gone.
So, we’re possibly down to three Naga? Maybe?
Lucien had said he’d be nearby—but I was deep in the woods, too far from the manor and help.
Those two clauses don’t work with that conjunction. Lucien said he’d be nearby. Her being far from the manor doesn’t really matter. He told her that he’d be in the woods. Being far from the manor doesn’t cancel out Lucien being in the woods.
So, we’re running and running and her thinking is that if she runs far enough maybe she’ll run into Lucien. But she doesn’t run back toward the manor. She runs off into the woods to look for Lucien on the slim chance that she’ll survive the forest long enough to track him down.
Feyre ends up surrounded by three Naga.
“Scrawny human thing,” he spat to the others, whose smiles grew sharper. “Do you know what you’ve cost us?”
I guess that means the fourth one died? But they’re smiling about it? Whatever. The important thing for you to know is that Feyre is skinny.
I wouldn’t go down without a fight, without taking some of them with me.
Got any more cliches you want to throw in there, Sarah?
“Go to Hell,” I said, but it came out in a gasp.
“Hell,” I say, taking a long drag off my cigarette. In my contemplation, it has accumulated a column of ash as long and gray as the sky above the coast. There’s a storm crossing the channel, a storm to rival the tempest in my mind. I exhale a nicotine phantom, grit my teeth against the October cold. “Hell is Maas’s world-building.”
THERE CAN’T BE HELL UNLESS YOU HAVE HELL AS A CONCEPT IN YOUR WORLD, SARAH.
So, remember how she had ten arrows, nine after she fires one? Well, she fired two. How many arrows are left, students? That’s right, eight. Eight arrows, ah ah ha. So obviously the only solution is to use her bow as a striking weapon the entire rest of the time.
They laughed, stepping nearer. I swung the bow at the closest. He dodged it, chuckling. “We’ll have our sport—though you might not find it as amusing.”
IDK, I feel like maybe she should have at least tried to get another shot off. She’s freaking Legolas most of the time. We just saw her shoot an arrow through a rope and cut it clean in half, then immediately shoot a Naga.
But now they’re too close, so it doesn’t matter.
Let’s talk about this “have our sport” sentence, though. I assume this is an …or worse situation? Like, they’re going to rape her? What kind of sex organs do snakes even have? Would it even be possible? ed.—I have since learned, against my will, what snake sex organs are like. This is the kind of information that teenagers just drop on you with, “Wanna hear something weird about snakes?”
A Naga breaks her bow and pins her to the ground, but she has a knife in her boot. She stabs the Naga in the neck and:
Blood rained down onto my face, into my mouth as I bellowed my fury, my terror.
I know for a fact I’ve seen this in a movie before. Like, this exact “what a badass” moment. I wish I could remember. If you know what movie the author was watching while writing this, leave it in the comments. ed.—Someone did leave this in the comments, but when Patrons are no longer subscribers, Patreon removes their comments. I am once again begging someone to remind me which movie this is.
Now, time for a quick writing tip:
One of them lunged for me, and I dodged aside.
I have such a bad habit of doing this, myself. You don’t have to put “aside” after dodged. It is implied. There are so many words that don’t need adverbs or prepositions because they kind of already have them. The problem is, we add them in casual speech so often. If someone “lies down,” they could just “lie.” If they “sit down,” they could just “sit.” Same with “stand up,” etc.
IT HAUNTS ME.
I’ll probably never get out of the habit, but you can save yourselves!
The wolves are just about to pounce on Belle when:
He opened his mouth again, and a bone-shattering roar sounded through the clearing.
Only it hadn’t come from the creature’s throat.
That’s right! The Beast has arrived to save Belle from the wolves!
The noise hadn’t finished echoing before the naga went flying off me, crashing into a tree so hard that the wood cracked. I made out the gleaming gold of his mask and hair and the long, deadly claws before Tamlin tore into the creature.
Well, I guess he’s not a beast at this point. He’s fighting these super dangerous creatures in his hot guy form. That makes plenty of sense, doesn’t it?
Tamlin let out another roar that made the marrow of my bones go cold and revealed those lengthened canines.
Or not. I mean, he’s roaring? He’s got elongated canines? Did that happen before when he wasn’t in beast form? Is he in his beast form but still wearing the mask and the hair for some reason? What the hell is going on?
If I cared deeply, I would be upset right now.
At this point, Tamlin kills all the Naga and Feyre is like, oh wow, he’s so dangerous and scary because he’s a High Lord (who deserves capitalization consistency).
Feral rage still smoldered in his gaze, and I flinched as he knelt beside me. He reached for me again, but I jerked back, away from the bloody claws that were still out. I raised myself into a sitting position before the shaking resumed. I knew I couldn’t get to my feet.
That paragraph would be more powerful, I think, if we didn’t see her in a gripping panic over shit like…candles. And books.
“Feyre,” he said. The wrath faded from his eyes, and the claws slipped back under his skin, but the roar still sounded in my ears. There had been nothing in that sound but primal fury.
I guess this establishes that Tamlin can make scary animal noises in his regular form, right? Eyebrows eyebrows.
I’m so pissed off because I know they’re gonna bang but Feyre is gonna be thinking about her plan or something the whole time, probably, instead of grabbing onto those antlers and losing herself in the moment.
Tamlin says he was tracking the Naga and heard her scream.
So he didn’t know about the Suriel. And he—he’d come to help me.
I wonder how fast she snitches out Lucien now. She’s like, oh, he saaaaaaaaaaved me.
Prediction: At some point, Feyre will compare Tamlin rescuing her from the wolves to Tamlin “rescuing” her from her terrible family. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll be relieved.
He reached a hand toward me, and I shuddered as he ran cool, wet fingers down my stinging, aching cheek.
Here’s another writing tip: pairs of adjectives aren’t better in pairs. This is another one that I struggle with, too. It’s really easy to be like, “Oh, more adjectives means more vivid! Yay, I so good writer!” But re-read that sentence and remove “cool” and “aching”.
See? Then, when she goes on to realize that the reason his hands are wet is that they’re covered in blood, “wet” hasn’t been buried.
Again, this is such a super common, easy, obnoxious mistake that a lot of people struggle with, so the sooner you can catch it in your own work, the sooner you can fix it and be a better writer than me or Maas.
Tamlin heals her wound with magic and explains how he came looking for her when he found one of his own arrows in a dead Naga.
“I found one dead half a mile away,” he went on, his hands leaving my face as he unbuckled his baldric, then shucked off his tunic and handed it to me. The front of my own had been ripped and torn by the talons of the naga.
Couldn’t he just magically fix the clothes she’s wearing? He magically fixed her body. He makes food appear from nowhere. He conjures fire.
Oh, no, you’re right. He can’t because if he did, Feyre wouldn’t have an excuse to check him out:
I pulled on Tamlin’s tunic over my own, ignoring how easily I could see the cut of his muscles beneath his white shirt, the way the blood soaking it made them stand out even more.
She ignores it before describing it in detail. Again, an easy mistake a lot of people make. But at some point, it goes from “mistake” to “pattern of infuriating and disturbing behavior” and I think I’m ready to say we found the line.
I had this hilarious mental image of Tamlin standing under a waterfall of blood, smoothing his hair back in slow motion like a cologne commercial or something.
A purebred predator, honed to kill without a second thought, without remorse.
Except for how he didn’t want to kill you because he felt enough blood had been spilled already or whatever.
I shivered again and savored the warmth that leaked from the cloth.
Is that the verb we’re going with? Leaked? For heat.
Sure, let’s keep going.
Tamlin helps Feyre stand up, but she’s all wobbly and such.
I stared at our linked hands, both coated in blood that wasn’t our own.
No, he hadn’t been the only one to spill blood just now. And it wasn’t just my blood that still coated my tongue. Perhaps that made me as much of a beast as him. But he’d saved me. Killed for me.
Yeah, we were there. Like, we’re aware that you killed things and that the blood is on you because of that. Anyway, yeah, he killed for you, swoon.
He asks her if he “wants” to know what she was doing in the woods.
No. Definitely not. Not after he’d warned me plenty of times already. “I thought I wasn’t confined to the house and garden. I didn’t realize I’d come so far.”
She wasn’t confined, no, but Alis told her not even to go into the garden or onto the grounds.
He dropped my hand. “On the days that I’m called away to deal with … trouble, stay close to the house.”
- stay in the house
- okay, go out of the house but only with Tamlin and only to the garden
- all right, it’s fine for you to go out in the woods with Lucien, too
- fine, at least bring one of Lucien’s knives
- stuff is only dangerous at night, anyway
- you know what, go where you want so long as mom’s home
This is the most ridiculous… how do people gloss past this shit and not see it? And I’m sorry, I know some of you did read this and didn’t notice this stuff. It’s not your fault. I’m pretty sure there must be some kind of subliminal message coded into this shit and I somehow, miraculously, am not susceptible to it.
Look at me.
Look at me.
*extreme Robin Williams drama voice* It’s not your fault.
I wanted to tell him how much that meant—that the High Lord of the Spring Court thought I was worth saving—but couldn’t find the words.
Everybodies and otherfolks, we’ve found it. The lowest ever bar for a love interest. “He doesn’t think I’m disposable.”
I know Feyre is straight now. I know it in my heart. She is straight as an ash arrow.
Love yourself, Feyre.
Tamlin is like, let’s get back home and Feyre thinks about how it’s not really her home, she doesn’t have a home anymore, etc. The walk gives Feyre time to reflect on what she learned from the Suriel.
Stay with the High Lord. Fine—easy enough. But as for the history lesson it had been in the middle of giving me, about wicked kings and their commanders and however they tied into the High Lord at my side and the blight … I still didn’t have enough specifics to be able to thoroughly warn my family. But the Suriel had told me not to go looking for further answers.
Super convenient way to get around that pesky need for a well-developed plot. “A magical being told me not to be curious about anything happening in the book” is a great fucking dodge. Now, we can just enjoy endless retellings of how Feyre got up, had breakfast, walked around, almost died, went to dinner, blood somehow became involved, and she went to bed.
The chapter hook is meh. It’s about how Tamlin looks ashamed of himself. And like, I care so little for Tamlin at this point, I’m not invested enough to jump into the next chapter right away, the way a hook should feel.
So, a full chapter of damsel in distress from strong, kick-ass Feyre, ending in the irresistible hotness of a blood-soaked underwear model. This was worth our time. We have been in no way robbed.