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.
With every chapter of this book, I have to sit back and go, is this really a bad chapter/bad writing, or is your judgment clouded by the chapters you’ve already read. But now that we’re up to seventeen chapters, I really do feel like, okay, seventeen chapters is seventeen chances for me to be fair.
And this book has used those gracious chances up.
After this, the gloves are coming off.
Since I’m not giving this book the benefit of the doubt anymore, I’m gonna use the first paragraph to make some predictions:
I jerked awake in the middle of the night, panting. My dreams had been filled with the clicking of the Suriel’s bone-fingers, the grinning naga, and a pale, faceless woman dragging her bloodred nails across my throat, splitting me open bit by bit. She kept asking for my name, but every time I tried to speak, my blood bubbled out of the shallow wounds on my neck, choking me.
Remembering that I have avoided spoilers and not skipped ahead, allow me to give you a forecast about this villain. She will be super attractive but aware of how attractive she is. She is an ex-lover of Tamlin’s. She will be jealous of Feyre. To prove just how much Tamlin loves Feyre, he will murder this unnamed Executive Bitch Woman. Oh, and when we get to the scene she’s dreaming about (if it ever happens and the author doesn’t just abandon it for three chapters or move on to some other side plot), Feyre will be rescued by Tamlin, whom she was martyring herself to protect.
So. Let’s see if I end up being right. No spoilers. ed.—a shocking amount of that turned out to be correct.
The nightmare wakes her up, and she hears screaming and noises downstairs.
Every hair on my body stood upright as I flung open the door. I might have stayed and cowered, but I’d heard screams like that before, in the forest at home, when I didn’t make a clean kill and the animals suffered. I couldn’t stand it. And I had to know.
Could you have stayed and cowered, Feyre? Because we heard all about how you watched your father get his ass beat until you shit yourself and puked, but somehow that was stronger and nobler than your sisters because they ran away.
Downstairs, Tamlin and Lucien rush in with a fairy who’s been wounded.
The faerie was almost as big as Tamlin, and yet the High Lord carried him as if he were no more than a sack of grain. Another species of the lesser faeries, with his blue skin, gangly limbs, pointed ears, and long onyx hair.
That’s another telling passage, isn’t it? She can instantly tell that this fairy is “lesser” because…his skin isn’t white.
Back in the day, I wrote some pretty racist fantasy novels, myself, okay? But a lot of you have told me on social media (or in comments) that this aspect of Maas’s writing never improves, and has even gotten worse. So, we won’t be doing the entire series of these. I’ve heard enough about how she treats her very few queer characters or characters who don’t have white skin. ed.—Later in this series, Maas retcons two major characters, Lucien and Rhysand, out of whiteness, despite describing them as “tan” and “pale” in this book. Fans have insisted that it wasn’t a retcon, at all, and that Maas’s cast of characters have always been staggeringly diverse and well-represented. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I understand, Feyre somehow “discovers” that Lucien isn’t white in a later book.
Feyre notices that the fairy is bleeding profusely from stumps on his back.
Lucien rushed into the foyer below just as Tamlin shouted, “The table—clear it off!” Lucien shoved the vase of flowers off the long table in the center of the hall.
Editor’s note: Doesn’t this castle have an infirmary? Why didn’t they bring him there?
Either Tamlin wasn’t thinking straight, or he’d been afraid to waste the extra minutes bringing the faerie to the infirmary.
If I were still editing, and this was my author, we’d be having a troubleshooting convo right now.
“Scouts found him dumped just over the borderline,” Tamlin explained to Lucien, but his eyes darted to me. They flashed with warning, but I took another step down. He said to Lucien, “He’s Summer Court.”
“By the Cauldron,” Lucien said, surveying the damage.
Well, well, well. Look who’s figured out what the fuck his religion is.
So, wanna know what happened to the fairy? Don’t worry. He’ll tell you. Numerous times. And I’ll keep track of all of them.
“My wings,” the faerie choked out, his glossy black eyes wide and staring at nothing. “She took my wings.”
Again, that nameless she who haunted their lives.
Remember: it’s she. It’s a woman. Because women are terrible.
Tamlin flicked a hand, and steaming water and bandages just appeared on the table.
But he had to order paint and canvases and brushes from Faerie Amazon or something.
“She took my wings,” said the faerie. “She took my wings,” he repeated, clutching the edge of the table with spindly blue fingers.
She Took My Wings Count: 3
Whoever she was, she hadn’t just taken his wings. She’d ripped them off.
Are these definitions mutually exclusive? Because it doesn’t feel like they are.
I mean, until we get to:
The wounds were jagged—cartilage and tissue severed in what looked like uneven cuts. As if she’d sawed off his wings bit by bit.
So, were they “ripped” or “sawed”? Those are different verbs.
“She took my wings,” the faerie said again, his voice breaking.
She Took My Wings Count: 4
“Keep still,” Tamlin ordered, wringing the rag. “You’ll bleed out faster.”
…should there be an “or” in there? Or is this advice that Tamlin is giving the dude on how to die quicker? I totally heard that little kid from The Emperor’s New Groove saying, “that seems like a pretty crucial conjunction.”
It’s even more confusing when the fairy struggles after that sentence. Is he fighting for life? Feyre guesses that he’s trying to avoid the pain of having the stumps touched and holds him down so Tamlin can tend to the wounds.
Which is interesting, what with faeries being so super strong, but I guess he is dying. It’s a good thing he has such an attentive EMT working on him:
His skin was velvet-smooth and slippery, a texture I would never be able to paint, not even if I had eternity to master it.
Literally holding down a dying creature who has blood spraying everywhere and Feyre’s like, let me compliment the texture of his skin by bestowing an “even I couldn’t duplicate it”-type humble brag comment in my internal monologue. This is the most character consistency we’ve seen so far.
Another thing that just grinds me down about that line? She described the colors of the fairy and how extraordinary his veins looked in an earlier passage, but it’s the tactile sensation and not the visible image that makes her think of painting. Why not? Why should this be the one place in the whole book where the writing makes sense?
Tamlin calls for Lucien, but Lucien isn’t brave and strong and selfless like Feyre, so he vomits in a potted plant and runs away.
Editors Note: How can Feyre hold this faerie down? You’ve already stated multiple times that faeries are stronger than humans.
The faerie twisted again and I held tight, my arms shaking with the effort. His injuries must have weakened him greatly if I could keep him pinned.
Which is fine. That’s a reasonable fix.
It should have been further up the page, is all. Writing Tip: You always want to answer the editor’s continuity questions somewhere in the manuscript before where you received the note. You want to answer those questions that the reader is going to have before they have them.
“She took my wings,” the faerie sobbed. “She took them.”
She Took My Wings Count: 5
“I know,” I murmured, my fingers aching. “I know.”
“I know,” the reader murmured, their brain aching. “I know.”
Blood gushed—so fast and bright that it took me a heartbeat to realize that a wound like this required a tourniquet—and that the faerie had lost far too much blood for it to even make a difference. It poured down his back and onto the table, where it ran to the edge and drip-drip-dripped to the floor near my feet.
First of all, Doogie Feyre, M.D. couldn’t know how much blood loss a non-human creature could survive. One of the biggest mistakes Maas made with Feyre’s characterization was not being able to let Feyre admit that she lacks expertise. With a change as simple as something like, “and that the faerie had lost more blood than I could imagine any creature surviving,” Feyre isn’t stating something as fact, but as her personal assessment. Instead of coming off as a know-it-all (when we’ve already discovered that she does not, in fact, know as much about Prythian and its residents as she thought she did), it would just be her using the knowledge she has to form a grim conclusion.
Feyre asks Tamlin if he can use his magic to heal the faerie.
Tamlin swallowed hard. “No. Not for major damage. Once, but not any longer.”
First the paintbrushes, now this. It is not Tamlin’s day.
Just in case you haven’t caught up yet on what caused these wounds on the faerie:
“She took my wings,” he whispered.
She Took My Wings Count: 6
Tamlin’s green eyes flickered, and I knew, right then, that the faerie was going to die. Death wasn’t just hovering in this hall; it was counting down the faerie’s remaining heartbeats.
What a missed fucking opportunity here. With all the European folklore she’s mined, Maas never thought to include any of the deities or creatures associated with death? Come on. This could have been so much more dramatic and cool and imaginative. Instead, we get:
“She took my wings,” he said again, his shaking subsiding a bit.
She Took My Wings Count: 7
Feyre holds the dying faerie’s hand and tries to comfort him.
I stroked his limp hair, its texture like liquid night—another I would never be able to paint but would try to, perhaps forever.
Not in a snarky way, I’m starting to wonder if Maas has synesthesia, because while I do a fair bit of painting myself and I do understand the difficulty of painting texture, I don’t understand how “night” is a texture and not a description of something you see rather than something you feel, sensory-wise.
Something wet touched my feet, and I didn’t need to look down to see that his blood had pooled around me. “My wings,” the faerie whispered.
Oh no. Did someone take them?
Then Feyre tells him that he’ll get his wings back, even though she’s aware that he’s dying and it’s not actually gonna happen.
The first false vow I’d ever sworn.
Except for the one where you vowed to go with Tamlin to uphold the treaty by living out your days in Prythian because you immediately started planning ways to wriggle out of that deal.
Tamlin says a little prayer that is the reason the side of my Kindle is dented:
“Cauldron save you,” he said, reciting the words of a prayer that was probably older than the mortal realm. “Mother hold you. Pass through the gates, and smell that immortal land of milk and honey. Fear no evil. Feel no pain.” Tamlin’s voice wavered, but he finished. “Go, and enter eternity.”
So much of that is straight from the damn Bible. Like, Exodus and Psalms, for one. Plus the concept of salvation and eternity? I’m so confused. Did Maas think we wouldn’t notice? Was she just banking on her readers having never heard them? Because even non-Bible-using people probably recognize them.
It’s just so incredibly lazy to create a death culture that’s as tainted with the Bible as American death culture is in the real world. Especially when Maas obviously at least glanced at a list of European fairy myths. Why not take it that one extra step and build on the research you’ve already done?
Anyway, the fairy dies.
I could feel Tamlin’s eyes on me, but I wouldn’t let go. I didn’t know how long it took for a soul to fade from the body. I stood in the puddle of blood until it grew cold, holding the faerie’s spindly hand and stroking his hair, wondering if he knew I’d lied when I’d sworn he would get his wings back, wondering if, wherever he had now gone, he had gotten them back.
Again with the super real-world belief system. I’m not saying other cultures don’t have concepts like souls and the afterlife, just that this one is real…let’s say “big three Western religions” to avoid any troublesome terminology. Little to no attempt was made in this fantasy story to make much about it fantastical.
I studied the faerie’s face—so unearthly, so inhuman. Who could be so cruel to hurt him like that?
Unearthy and inhuman are usually the reasons someone would hurt something. For example, when you killed that fairy in the forest. Or the Naga. You remember those unearthly, inhuman creatures you killed? Tamlin’s killed them while you’ve been here.
Yeah. Not so appetizing once you’ve seen how the sausage gets made, huh?
Feyre is so noble and distraught that Tamlin has to gently guide her away from her vigil beside the first dead faerie she gave a shit about.
“We can’t leave him there,” I said, making to step down. Tamlin caught my elbow.
“I know,” he said, the words so drained and weary. “I was going to walk you upstairs first.”
Before he buried him. “I want to go with you.”
“It’s too deadly at night for you to—”
“I can hold my—”
“No,” he said, his green eyes flashing. I straightened, but he sighed, his shoulders curving inward. “I must do this. Alone.”
Like, Feyre, know when to shut up please. This is not about you and how brave and strong you are. This is about something awful that just happened to someone that Tamlin apparently knows or knew or at the very least, feels responsible for. You’re not a part of this particular story, even though it’s happening in your story.
And he’s got a good reason for not involving her in this part of his life:
“Feyre,” he said—softly enough that I faced him again. “Why?” He tilted his head to the side. “You dislike our kind on a good day. And after Andras …” Even in the darkened hallway, his usually bright eyes were shadowed. “So why?”
Exactly. She hates fairies, killed a fairy, he’s making good points here.
“Because I wouldn’t want to die alone,” I said, and my voice wobbled as I looked at Tamlin again, forcing myself to meet his stare. “Because I’d want someone to hold my hand until the end, and awhile after that. That’s something everyone deserves, human or faerie.” I swallowed hard, my throat painfully tight. “I regret what I did to Andras,” I said, the words so strangled they were no more than a whisper. “I regret that there was … such hate in my heart. I wish I could undo it—and … I’m sorry. So very sorry.”
FINALLY. Finally, Feyre actually apologizes for murdering Tamlin’s bff. But I’m gonna be real concerned if, “I regret that there was…such hate in my heart,” is enough to absolve her for the rest of the story.
I couldn’t remember the last time—if ever—I’d spoken to anyone like that.
Yeah, I can’t remember you ever apologizing for wronging someone, either. Usually, you’re just whining about how you’ve been wronged.
Or, you know, just not thinking that other people might have emotions at all:
If he felt such grief, such guilt, over a stranger, then Andras …
WOW! You’ve made such a stunning (and might I say, lightning quick) connection here: people get sad when their friends die! And it only took you…seventeen chapters and nearly half the book to get there!
We end the chapter with another opportunity for Feyre to check out Tamlin’s muscles and a chapter hook that, while poetic, I guess, annoys the piss out of me for petty reasons:
I watched him—watched every movement he made, the muscles of his body visible through that blood-soaked tunic, watched that invisible weight bearing down on his shoulders. He didn’t look at me as he scooped up the broken body and carried it to the garden doors beyond my line of sight. I went to the window at the top of the stairs, watching as Tamlin carried the faerie through the moonlit garden and into the rolling fields beyond. He never once glanced back.
OF COURSE HE DIDN’T LOOK BACK! HE’S CARRYING A DEAD BODY! THOSE ARE DIFFICULT TO TRANSPORT, TAKE IT FROM SOMEONE WHO KNOWS. WHY WAS HE SUPPOSED TO LOOK BACK, FEYRE? DID HE FORGET HIS WALLET?
Maybe we’ll find out in chapter 18, which I have just now skimmed only to find it’s impossibly long and just nonstop exposition. So, that’s gonna be a real treat for everyone involved.