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.
Another chapter, another hygiene scene:
After soaking in the bath for nearly an hour, I found myself sitting in a low-backed chair before my room’s roaring fireplace, savoring the feel of Alis brushing out my damp hair.
Usually, I’m a fan of fairy tales where the kind, loving, self-sacrificing heroine finally gets to live in luxury. But there has been no reason for me to root for this outcome for Feyre. Especially since she sneered at her sister for longing for that type of life.
Alone with Alis, Feyre starts getting chatty about the blight and the troubles in fairyland, but Alis tells her it’s none of her business.
I twisted in my seat, glaring up into her masked face. “Why aren’t the other High Lords keeping their subjects in line? Why are these awful creatures allowed to roam wherever they want? Someone—someone began telling me a story about a king in Hybern—”
Now, I know the last chapter was a thousand miles away but I’m almost 100% sure that the Suriel, whom Feyre specifically sought out for counsel, told her to mind her own business, too.
“If this spills into the human world—if there’s war, or this blight poisons our lands …” I pushed back against the crushing panic. I had to warn my family—had to write to them. Soon.
She gave up that plan like two chapters ago. But now it’s back on. I mean, the Suriel said to just chill out, do nothing, and she’ll survive. Why listen to the entity you risked–and nearly lost–your life to get answers from? Obviously, you’re the one who knows best.
“The less you know, the better. Let Lord Tamlin deal with it—he’s the only one who can.” The Suriel had said as much.
No shit? Are you just remembering that right now?
Even Alis remembers about the Suriel two chapters ago:
“You think no one would tell me what you asked the kitchen to give you today, or realize what you went to trap? Foolish, stupid girl. Had the Suriel not been in a benevolent mood, you would have deserved the death it gave you. I don’t know what’s worse: this, or your idiocy with the puca.”
Due to the nature of this book overall, I truly expected Feyre to be like, “What puca? We’ve moved on.”
I see that the puca isn’t capitalized either. So, maybe the non-capitalization of Naga wasn’t racism. Maybe it was just another example of the inconsistency at which Maas excels.
“Would you have done anything else? If you had a family—”
“I do have a family.”
I looked her up and down. There was no ring on her finger.
Bitch, there’s no ring on your finger, either, and you’re still talking about your family.
“My sister and her mate were murdered nigh on fifty years ago, leaving two younglings behind. Everything I do, everything I work for, is for those boys. So you don’t get the right to give me that look and ask me if I would do anything different, girl.”
The message here seems to be family = children. Charming.
Now, having been told this by Alis, does Feyre say, “I’m sorry,” or “I understand what it’s like to be left responsible for the lives of others?” Of course not. She just asks if they live at the manor and wonders how they’re still children if it’s been fifty years, and the conversation moves on to an info-dump about how faeries age. Spoiler alert, some slowly, some not slowly, and High Fae aren’t born very often.
Finally, Feyre does say, yeah, I understand what you mean, and sorry for implying that you don’t have a family or whatever. Except for the word “sorry” never actually shows up.
Alis’s lips thinned, but she said, “The next time that fool Lucien gives you advice on how to trap the Suriel, you come to me. Dead chickens, my sagging ass. All you needed to do was offer it a new robe, and it would have groveled at your feet.”
What? Did you mean that Lucien, a fairy, whom we have been told over and over again could not lie, lied to you?
But I’m glad to know that Alis has a sagging ass. I was worried for a minute she might be pretty somehow and it would take the shine off Feyre.
Feyre was bathed and brushed like a prized horse, so what could the next scene possibly be? If you guessed, “Dinner, again” then you’re absolutely right.
Look, it’s not that I hate dinner scenes in books, okay? I don’t. Lots of stuff happens around a dinner table. Have you ever seen Hereditary? The dinner scene in that movie is pivotal, as it is the exact moment Toni Colette was robbed of an Oscar. ed.—every time I think about that Oscar snub, I am more furious. “Don’t you swear at me, you little shit! Don’t you ever raise your voice at me! I am your mother! You understand? All I do is worry and slave and defend you, and all I get back is that fucking face on your face! So full of disdain and resentment and always so annoyed! Well, now your sister is dead! And I know you miss her and I know it was an accident and I know you’re in pain and I wish could take that away for you. I wish I could shield you from the knowledge that you did what you did, but your sister is dead! She’s gone forever! And what a waste… If it could’ve maybe brought us together, or something, if you could’ve just said ‘I’m sorry’ or faced up to what happened, maybe then we could do something with this, but you can’t take responsibility for anything! So, now I can’t accept. And I can’t forgive. Because… because nobody admits anything they’ve done!“ Like, come on. She did not “eat.” She devoured that scene.
But the dinner scenes in this book are so predictable. Feyre sits down, thinks of how she needs to make a plan, talks about how dangerous Lucien and Tamlin are, then someone gets mad and leaves. That’s it.
So, she strides into the dining room, where Tamlin and Lucien are already waiting.
Lucien cocked his head in a silent inquiry, and I gave him a subtle nod as I sat. His secret was still safe, though he deserved to be walloped for sending me so unprepared to the Suriel.
Then why are you keeping it secret? What loyalty do you owe to a fairy who just tried to get you killed?
Lucien slouched a bit in his chair. “I heard you two had a rather exciting afternoon. I wish I could have been there to help.” A hidden, perhaps halfhearted apology, but I gave him another little nod.
You were supposed to be there, remember, Lucien? It’s almost like he…lied. And how is this any kind of apology? He tried to get you killed, didn’t show up for you when he said he would, and you’re acting like, well, it’s cool, he kinda apologized.
He said with forced lightness, “Well, you still look lovely, regardless of your Hell-sent afternoon.”
Not only does Maas use “Hell” in a fantasy world where there is no indication whatsoever that Christianity or Islam exists, but she also paraphrases a common idiom about heaven.
I snorted. I’d never looked lovely a day in my life. “I thought faeries couldn’t lie.”
YOU DON’T KNOW YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL/THAT’S WHAT MAKES YOU BEAUTIFUL
This is such a huge missed opportunity, IMO. At some point between the forest and now, Feyre needs to have had the thought that Lucien, despite what she thought she knew about the High Fae, lied to her. And then this line would have had a double meaning. She would be calling him out at dinner in front of Tamlin, and Tamlin would have no idea. And she would have leverage over Lucien.
I mean, that’s the kind of thing a good writer would have done but this book wasn’t written by a good writer. Instead, Feyre kind of vaguely wonders about everything else they’ve told her that she’s believed.
Lucien leaned back in his chair, smiling with feline delight. “Of course we can lie. We find lying to be an art. And we lied when we told those ancient mortals that we couldn’t speak an untruth. How else would we get them to trust us and do our bidding?”
Now, at this point you’re probably thinking, “surely, Feyre now realizes that Lucien set her up and lied to her about the Suriel, what with Alis straight up saying that he did.”
Perhaps the Suriel had been lying today, too, with that long-winded explanation about the politics of the faerie realms. About staying with the High Lord, and everything being fixed in the end.
Yup. She jumped straight past, “Lucien lied to me and tried to get me killed,” to, “this must mean the fairy whose one defining characteristic is that it must tell you the truth when you ask it questions is the liar.”
And then she looks at Tamlin and thinks about how he’s exactly like what that cult in her village think the High Fae are like and I’m not sure why that’s important at the moment.
“Even though Lucien revealed some of our closely guarded secrets,” Tamlin said, throwing the last word at his companion with a growl, “we’ve never used your misinformation against you.”
Google says that, too.
I ate in silence, so busy trying to decipher every word I’d overheard since arriving that I didn’t realize when Lucien excused himself before dessert. I was left alone with the most dangerous being I’d ever encountered.
Are we going to hear about how dangerous Tamlin is every single time she’s alone with him? Because she’s been alone with him a lot, and every single time we have to be reminded that he’s dangerous.
WE. GET. IT. SARAH.
Tamlin asks Feyre if she’s feeling better and asks her what she was doing in the western woods. She tells him she heard a legend about a creature you can catch and it’ll tell you what you want to know.
Tamlin flinched as his claws shot out, slicing his face. But the wounds closed as soon as they opened, leaving only a smear of blood running down his golden skin—which he wiped away with the back of his sleeve. “You went to catch the Suriel.”
I know this book gets “spicy” (to use the parlance of Booktok) so all I’m gonna say is, Feyre, do not let this man fingerblast you. But more importantly, yeah. He can heal himself. Sometimes? When it’s convenient? But not when it gives Feyre a chance to touch him and see his abs through his shirt or something.
Feyre is like, no, I caught the Suriel, and Tamlin is like, a human girl captured a Suriel, and then Feyre turns into Elle Woods:
Despite myself, despite the afternoon, my lips twitched upward. “Is it supposed to be hard?”
And of course, Tamlin laughs because this is so charming. Then he’s like, hey, do I need to trap a Suriel to find out about this list of words I found? And he has the piece of paper Feyre threw away.
“Unusual? Queue? Slaying? Conflagration?” He read the list. I wanted to curl up and die. Words I couldn’t recognize from the books—words that now seemed so simple, so absurdly easy as he was saying them aloud. “Is this a poem about murdering me and then burning my body?”
Ah, yes. Conflagration. I remember that on all my third grade spelling tests, that’s how simple they are.
Damn, the literacy snobbery is beyond the bounds of what any page should hold.
So, because Feyre feels inadequate, she blames Tamlin for her feelings of inadequacy and just gets up to leave. But, as is standard in this book, as she walks away, Tamlin makes a remark that causes her to stop and turn to him.
Seriously. It’s happened a lot.
What he says this time is, “You love them very much, don’t you?” followed up with:
The list of malformed words was still clutched in his hand. “I wonder if your family realizes it,” he murmured. “That everything you’ve done wasn’t about that promise to your mother, or for your sake, but for theirs.” I said nothing, not trusting my voice to keep my shame hidden.
SHAME OVER WHAT DO YOU KNOW WHAT SHAME MEANS, SARAH? OR DO YOU JUST PULL EMOTION WORDS OUT OF A HAT?!
Maybe that part about her shame would make more sense if it somehow connected to anything else in the paragraph. Shame that her family mistreated her so badly? Shame that she’s no longer taking care of them? WHAT SHAME?!
All of the contradictions in this book make it so tedious. I don’t care about anything going on in the plot. I don’t give a shit about any of the characters. This book is obnoxious.
Tamlin once again offers to help Feyre write a letter to her family and she tries to angrily storm away.
So, true story: in high school I had this friend who always had resting bitch face, so whenever she left a room we’d go, “Anna got mad and left.” She didn’t ever actually storm off angrily, it just looked like she was angry and leaving the room. For almost thirty years we’ve been making that joke whenever Anna leaves a room.
Feyre has ruined it for me. Because nobody, absolutely nobody, gets mad and leaves as much as Feyre does.
Tamlin moves vampire-fast to block her from leaving.
“I don’t need your help.”
“Clearly not,” he said with a half smile. But the smile faded. “A human who can take down a faerie in a wolf’s skin, who ensnared the Suriel and killed two naga on her own …” He choked on a laugh, and shook his head. The firelight danced along his mask. “They’re fools. Fools for not seeing it.”
Well, Tamlin, it’s a good thing that you and your probably human-compatible genitals showed up to remind us how tough and not-like-other-girls Feyre is.
He gives her back her list of words and says:
“You gave up so much for them.” He lifted his other hand as if to brush my cheek. I braced myself for the touch, but he lowered it before making contact. “Do you even know how to laugh?”
No, Tamlin. Teach me. Teach me to live, laugh, and love.
I shook off his arm, unable to stop the angry words. High Lord be damned. “I don’t want your pity.”
His jade eyes were so bright I couldn’t look away. “What about a friend?”
“Can faeries be friends with mortals?”
This is another passage that I’m pretty sure is lifted wholesale from another book or a movie. Possibly about vampires. But it leads us into another excruciating info dump about the history of fairies and their fairy lore. During the war, some fairies were pro-humans and some were anti-humans, and the human-likers fought with humans against the human-haters and that’s the only reason the treaty ever happened in the first place because otherwise it would have just been a slaughter.
He also mentions that this happened five hundred years before, when he was a child.
“But had I been old enough, I would have. Against slavery, against tyranny, I would gladly go to my death, no matter whose freedom I was defending.”
He would have voted for Obama a third time, if he could have.
I wasn’t sure if I would do the same. My priority would be to protect my family—and I would have picked whatever side could keep them safest.
Make America Great Again
Then, there’s more info dump to totally clean up what’s going on with her family:
“For what it’s worth,” Tamlin said, “your family knows you’re safe. They have no memory of a beast bursting into their cottage, and think a long-lost, very wealthy aunt called you away to aid her on her deathbed. They know you’re alive, and fed, and cared for. But they also know that there have been rumors of a … threat in Prythian, and are prepared to run should any of the warning signs about the wall faltering occur.”
And these greedy, lazy, awful people wouldn’t seek out the long-lost relative to squeeze her for as much cash as possible?
Also, this is another really convenient moment where the author can just abandon all those “plans” Feyre was vaguely making for so many chapters and focus on whatever shiny new conflict pops into her head.
Feyre is super pissed off about the fact that Tamlin altered their memories and he says he did it because he was afraid her father would come after her or get a rescue party together and they would violate the treaty again.
“You don’t know him. My father wouldn’t have bothered to do either.”
Tamlin looked at me for a long moment. “Yes, he would have.”
But he wouldn’t—not with that twisted knee. Not with it as an excuse.
We’re doing “disabled people are selfish and lazy” again.
Yeah, it’s not a total slap in the face to read something like that when you’re a disabled person. Do ableds really not understand that being thought of as lazy or selfish for having physical limitations and extra care needs is like, our number one fear and something used to justify caregivers murdering their disabled relatives? Because we talk about that a lot.
At this point, Tamlin has done every single thing Feyre has set out to do from the start of the book. Her family is taken care of, she’s not having to provide for them anymore, he warned them about the blight…so end of book, right? That was all the goal/motivation/conflict Feyre has ever had. The story is finished.
But it’s not, so I figure Feyre is now going to just kind of drift through the rest of this book making a mission out of whatever the male characters find important.
Had I known he possessed those abilities, I might have even asked the High Lord to glamour their memories if he hadn’t done it himself.
Oh, really, Feyre? Because this was your reaction just one page ago:
Faerie arrogance, such faerie arrogance to change our minds, to implant thoughts as if it wasn’t a violation—
ONE PAGE YOUS ALL. ONE PAGE. I turned the page from “violation” to Feyre just being like, oh, if I’d known, I’d have had him do it. Violation of the mind is only allowed if Feyre says it’s allowed? I guess?
Feyre gets hypnotized by how gorgeous Tamlin’s mask is, which leads her to ask him for paint. He’s surprised that she likes art and even mentions that there’s a gallery in the castle, but he can’t show it to her until it gets cleaned up.
What, did you go through there and slash all your portraits in a fit of Disney?
He also tells her she can paint whatever she wants and he’ll give her all the supplies but it will take a while to “track them down,” which is another fantastic inconsistency brought to you by the dude who can conjure flame and create whole banquets with a wave of his hand but who apparently needs Majykyl Hobby Lobby to ship art supplies to him. Sure. I give up looking for consistency in the plot. I’m just letting it sweep me downriver like an inexperienced kayaker.
Tamlin asks Feyre if she’d want him to show her the gallery and she accepts because the paintings in there must be really, really good.
He smiled at me still, broadly and without restraint or hesitation. Isaac had never smiled at me like that. Isaac had never made my breath catch, just a little bit.
Oh wow, he smiles at you in the way the dude who didn’t want to marry you but would still fuck you in a barn when he got bored never smiled at you? Shoot for the moon, Feyre. This is Prince God Damn Charming.
The chapter hook is Feyre walking away so he won’t see her smile back. Such suspense. I wonder what will happen.
At least this recap has finally, FINALLY gotten it through my head that I need to stop looking for mainstream success, if this is what delights the mainstream.