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.
The Attor has Arya Stark in his clutches:
Tamlin. Alis and her boys. My sisters. Lucien. I silently chanted the names again and again as the Attor loomed above me, a demon of malice.
The Attor hasn’t taken any of Feyre’s weapons away because “we both knew they were of little use.”
Well, Feyre, you knew they were “of little use” when you left the house but we still had to hear about how tough you were for toting them along.
The Attor just tugged me onward with that slithering gait, its clawed feet making leisurely scratches on the cave floor. It looked unnervingly identical to how I had painted it.
Painted what, the cave floor?
In case you don’t remember what Feyre painted in chapter twenty, she describes it as:
[…] a tall, skeletal thin gray creature with bat ears and giant, membranous wings. Its snout was open in a roar, revealing row after row of fangs as it lept into flight.
At the end of chapter thirty-three, she described the Attor as having a “pointed” face, which doesn’t strike me so much as a description of a “snout” but if I hadn’t flipped back to check out the description in chapter twenty, I wouldn’t have that gripe.
This leads me to two points: one, this was a great way to avoid re-describing the Attor and slowing down the action, and two, it would have worked better if the earlier description of the Attor hadn’t happened over ten chapters ago because I can’t be the only reader who totally forgot that she painted what she thought the Attor would look like.
Oh, and on the last chapter, Rachael commented that the description of the Attor invokes the image of Batty from FernGully: The Last Rainforest. I, however, have been imagining Bartok from Anastasia, and will continue to read all of his lines in my head in Hank Azaria’s pathetic attempt at a Russian accent (that sounds almost identical to his El Salvador accent from The Bird Cage.)
I encourage you all to pick a Don Bluth animated bat and join Rachael and I.
The Attor takes Feyre straight to the throne room.
Leering faces––cruel and harsh–– […]
Thanks for defining “leer” for me, it’s such an uncommon word and I am unfamiliar with words in general, being a reader.
[…] watched me go by, none of them looking remotely concerned or disturbed that I was in the claws of the Attor.
Why would they? I love that Feyre just knows she’s the main character of this universe and how shocked she always is to discover other people might not be thinking about her.
We strode through two ancient, enormous stone doors––taller than Tamlin’s manor––and into a vast chamber carved from pale rock, upheld by countless carved pillars. That small part of me that had again become trivial and useless noted that the carvings weren’t just ornate designs, but actually depicted faeries and High Fae and animals in various environments and states of movement. Countless stories of Prythian were etched on them. Chandeliers of jewels hung between the pillars, staining the red marble floor with color. Here––here were the High Fae.
This gives real Hellboy 2: The Golden Army vibes, doesn’t it?
There’s a party going on in the throne room and people are wearing masks so idk, if they fell for that shit twice I really don’t know. I don’t know, y’all. Maybe they still have their masks on from the first time and are still cursed to leave them on?
The cold marble floor was unyielding as I slammed into it, my bones groaning and barking.
No one. Not one single damn reader would have been confused by the idea of marble being hard. Not. One. But we need that unyielding here just in case.
This is the sort of petty shit that bugs the hell out of me.
There, lounging on a black throne, was Amarantha.
Though lovely, she wasn’t as devastatingly beautiful as I had imagined, wasn’t some goddess of darkness and spite.
Because…she’s not pretty enough? Like, every single thing we’ve heard about her is that her two main character traits are darkness and spitefulness. Is the notion here that she must be ethereally beautiful to be truly evil? As beauty increases, does the evil increase, too? How does that work? And what level of vanity and self-consciousness does it require to make that link?
But let’s all stop and appreciate that while we’ve heard all the High Fae are preternaturally gorgeous, the one who is Feyre’s romantic rival is the only one who’s just kinda meh.
It made her all the more petrifying.
I don’t see how, when you’ve been terrified of and unnerved by the beauty of every High Fae you’ve encountered so far, and it’s specifically their beauty that has made them seem dangerous to you.
But while her ebony eyes shone, there was … something that sucked at her beauty, some kind of permanent sneer to her features that made her allure seem contrived and cold.
I guess I’m just interrogating the text from the wrong perspective here. I can’t figure out how oh, she doesn’t look like she’s spiteful and dark but she does have a sneer and seems super evil, works.
But Feyre. Feyre, we have to know…
Can you paint her?
To paint her would have driven me to madness.
Great, now I can move on comfortably with that knowledge.
There’s a paragraph that repeats, again, all of the information we know about Amarantha: she worked for the King of Hybern, she killed her slaves rather than free them, she killed humans during the war, she took over Prythian.
Sarah, for fuck’s sake. Trust that your readers don’t have the attention span of me scrolling TikTok on the toilet. We just suffered through an entire chapter of a character telling us all that information several times. We didn’t forget.
Then she sees Tamlin sitting on a throne beside Amarantha.
He was still wearing that golden mask, still wearing his warrior’s clothes, that baldric––even though there were no knives sheathed along it, not a single weapon anywhere on him.
First of all, that you can see. Second, have we ever seen him with knives in the baldric? I feel like that was a complaint I’ve made before, that he wears a baldric for no reason.
He just stared at me, unfeeling––unmoved. Unimpressed.
Why should he be impressed? He literally sacrificed his entire court and everyone in it to save you from Amarantha and you came and presented yourself to her. If I were him, I’d be so pissed off at you, I’d never speak to you again.
There’s more description of Amarantha and a finger bone necklace she’s wearing.
If I shifted my arm, I could draw my dagger––
And do what?
By the way, when I typed that, I sang it to my Kindle.
Feyre is constantly telling us that her weapons won’t work against the High Fae, that she doesn’t have a chance, that’s she’s as good as dead. Then she’s like, ooh, I’m so badass, I could grab my dagger, I’m so ready to fight. And this is apparently a common problem with Maas’s books; the kickass heroine is always almost ready to fight. I may have mentioned this in an earlier recap, but someone recently told me that the Feyre has a higher body count in this book alone than the heroine of Maas’s other series so far. I don’t know if that’s true, but I have seen people mention that in the first book of that series, Throne of Glass, the heroine doesn’t kill anybody.
Why is that a problem?
The heroine of Throne of Glass is a powerful assassin.
I feel like a lot of authors want their female main characters to be these badass warrior women but they give them no common sense, fighting skills that suddenly disappear in battle, and conveniently positioned male characters who do the actual dirty work of killing. Then, they use Girl Power as a marketing point, like being a killer is a strong and positive feminist character trait in the first place. ed.—Reading Modelland has given me new perspective on strong female characters and how the concept went grotesquely wrong somewhere, so expect a blog post about that at some point soon.
The Attor calls Feyre a “human thing” he found, and Amarantha is like, so what?
The Attor chuckled, the sound like sizzling water on a griddle, and a taloned foot jabbed my side. “Tell Her Majesty why you were sneaking around the catacombs––why you came out of the old cave that leads to the Spring Court.”
This implies that the Attor knows why Feyre was sneaking around in there. When did she tell him? Because in the second paragraph of this chapter, Feyre says she can’t speak without screaming, so she hasn’t asked the Attor any questions.
Would it be better to kill the Attor, or to try to make it Amarantha?
You’re not going to kill anybody, Feyre. Sit down.
Feyre figures that since Tamlin isn’t reacting to her presence, he must be under a spell. I’m not sure what she expected him to do in this huge throne room jam-packed with other powerful fairies. Is he supposed to kill Amarantha and then get killed? Is he supposed to run to Feyre and embrace her and give away the fact that she’s the correct human target, not Clare?
Maybe, idk, Feyre, maybe he’s mad that he threw away any hope of defeating Amarantha’s curse just to save you, and then you were like, nah, rather die, thanks.
But Feyre starts making this plan about how badass she’s going to be, like, okay, I need to “figure out my surroundings” and then keeps her hands “within casual reach of my daggers,” and thinks about how since Tamlin might be under a spell, she’ll have to grab him and physically haul him to safety herself.
Shut up, Feyre. You’re not going to do any of that and there’s no indication whatsoever that you could pull it off. Especially not when you’re outnumbered what sounds like hundreds to one.
“I came to claim the one I love,” I said quietly. Perhaps the curse could still be broken.
Right, because curses have a grace period like a credit card bill.
Amarantha laughs at her and says to Tamlin:
“You certainly were busy all those years. Developed a taste for human beasts, did you?”
Does she… does she not remember that humans were part of the curse that she cursed him with? Why is she suddenly surprised about this?
He said nothing, his face impassive. What had she done? He didn’t move––her curse had worked, then. I was too late. I’d failed him, damned him.
Again, maybe he’s protecting you by not acknowledging you, Feyre. Or, here’s a wild thought we haven’t explored yet, MAYBE HE’S MAD THAT HE SACRIFICED EVERYTHING FOR YOU AND YOU THREW IT BACK IN HIS FACE AND MADE HIS SITUATION WORSE.
“It makes me wonder––if only one human girl could be taken once she killed your sentinel …”
We never heard anything about that condition of the curse. That’s just suddenly added to explain why Amarantha said the line about human beasts.
Her eyes sparkled. “Oh, you are delicious. You let me torture that innocent girl to keep this one safe? You lovely thing. You actually made a human worm love you. Marvelous.” She clapped her hands, and Tamlin merely looked away from her, the only reaction I’d seen from him.
At no point did they use Rhysand’s mind-reading powers to interrogate Clare? They never found out that she’s not the same human? Rhysand never saw Clare and went, “yo, I just saw that girl the other day and this isn’t the same one?” I thought he was part of Amarantha’s inner circle. Is he even at this party?
But it’s great that the love interest of this book was totally cool with an innocent girl getting tortured.
Tortured. She’d tortured––
Yes, Feyre, what a shock. The thing that you knew would happen to her happened to her.
Amarantha asks why she shouldn’t just kill Feyre, and Feyre says:
My blood pounded in my veins, but I kept my chin high as I said, “You tricked him––he is bound unfairly.” Tamlin had gone very, very still.
One of my biggest pet peeves with this book is how something will just be stated as if we’ve been counting on it all along. Like we were sitting here going, yes, Feyre is going to confront Amarantha over the fact that Tamlin was bound unfairly, that’s the loophole that gets him out of this curse, obviously.
No one ever mentioned that he’s somehow “bound unfairly” because of deceit. That was never explained. It was never even proposed as a way he might be able to get out of the curse.
Things you need to know from the next couple of paragraphs: Amaranth has a ring with an eyeball in it and the eyeball can look around, and she tells Feyre, hey, look over there, see that? That was supposed to be you:
There, nailed high on the wall of the enormous cavern, was the mangled corpse of a young woman. Her skin was burned in places, her fingers were bent at odd angles, and garish red lines crisscrossed her naked body. I could hardly hear Amarantha over the roar in my ears.
“Perhaps I should have listened when she said she’d never seen Tamlin before,” Amarantha mused. Or when she insisted she’d never killed a faerie, never hunted a day in her life. Though her screaming was delightful. I haven’t heard such lovely music in ages.” Her next words were directed at me. “I should thank you for giving Rhysand her name instead of yours.”
YES SARAH THANK YOU WE KNOW.
We have already covered that Clare Beddor is the human they took in Feyre’s place. This isn’t a BIG REVEAL. It didn’t need to be a BIG REVEAL. It was already revealed to the reader.
At least Feyre is sickened by the fact that she caused that to happen to Clare, and that she’s responsible for the death of this innocent person who was never involved in what Feyre had going on. But this line:
That rotting body on the wall should be mine. Mine.
made me bust out laughing, because due to our experience of Feyre so far, I couldn’t help but read it as Feyre being jealous that she didn’t get murdered. It doesn’t read that way in the text if you actually care about and like Feyre (I’m sure someone, somewhere, thinks Feyre is awesome), but it’s hilarious if you’ve consistently found Feyre selfish and shitty.
Amarantha asks Feyre to respond to this whole displayed corpse thing.
I wanted to spit that she deserved to burn in Hell for eternity, but I could only see Clare’s body nailed there, even as I stared blankly at Tamlin. He’d let them kill Clare like that––to keep them from knowing that I was alive. My eyes stung as bile burned in my throat.
“Do you still wish to claim someone who would do that to an innocent?” Amarantha said softly––consolingly.
There’s that burning in Hell thing in a world without Christianity or any other hell-having religion. But that’s not the biggest problem here.
Tamlin, the love interest of this book, has committed an act so reprehensible that it can’t be forgiven. He watched as an innocent human was tortured to death and nailed to a wall. He sat there and let it happen, knowing that Feyre gave Clare’s name to save her own skin, and he went along with it. He and Feyre are both culpable for Clare’s death, but Feyre is culpable due to her recklessness. Tamlin is culpable due to inaction. To me, that’s fully turned him into a bad guy, in my eyes. All he had to do was say, “That’s not her, the real human’s name is Feyre, Rhysand got it wrong.”
“But Amarantha might not have believed him!” Okay, but when Feyre returned from Prythian, she was glowing. It was commented on, and Feyre noted it, herself. She looked different after Prythian. If Clare didn’t have that glow, they would have known that she was the wrong person, because it would have been proof that she had never set foot in Prythian. And even if Tamlin did fail in convincing Amarantha, at least he would have tried.
But he didn’t.
I snapped my gaze to her. I wouldn’t let Clare’s death be in vain. I wasn’t going down without a fight. “Yes,” I said. “Yes, I do.”
Clare’s death is going to be in vain because from spoilers people have told me, Feyre doesn’t even end up with Tamlin. And her death was always going to be in vain because she had nothing to do with this fight, anyway. Feyre’s thought here is, well, if I get Tamlin free, Clare didn’t die for no reason, but she absolutely did. She died for Feyre’s cause, and she died because Tamlin let her die. There’s no way to redeem that, even if Feyre gets her boyfriend back. ed.—I never want to be a side character in any kind of fantasy novel, but I would be extra pissed off if I was a side character in a fantasy novel and I died for someone else’s not-true-true-love.
Back to Amarantha, though:
Her lip curled back, revealing too-sharp canines. And as I stared into her black eyes, I realized I was going to die.
Again, not a BIG REVEAL, doesn’t build any suspense. Feyre has been talking for four chapters now about the fact that she’s on a suicide mission. At this point, Feyre thinking she’s going to die isn’t a big shocker or stakes raiser.
Amarantha asks Tamlin what he thinks about all this.
I looked at the face I loved so dearly, and his next words almost sent me to my knees. “I’ve never seen her before. Someone must have glamoured her as a joke. Probably Rhysand.” Still trying to protect me, even now, even here.
But…he was presumably “here” when he tried to protect you by letting a serial killer torture your friend? And why couldn’t he say that about Clare Beddor?
Because he viewed Clare Beddor’s death as a means to an end. Amarantha would stop looking for the girl Tamlin loved if she believed that girl was dead. Tamlin is just as culpable for Clare’s murder as Amarantha is and, in my opinion, more culpable than Feyre, even though she’s the one who dragged Clare into this mess.
“Could it be––could it be that you, despite your words so many years ago, return the human’s feelings? A girl with hate in her heart for our kind has managed to fall in love with a faerie. And a faerie whose father once slaughtered the human masses by my side has actually fallen in love with her, too?”
If Amarantha didn’t know this or didn’t find it believable that it could happen… why capture and murder Clare? Why did Clare need to be disposed of if Amarantha didn’t know that Tamlin was about to break the curse? What was the motive?
There doesn’t have to be a motive. Sarah wrote it, so it makes sense. She says so.
“I suppose if anyone can appreciate the moment,” she said to the ring, “it would be you, Jurian.” She smiled prettily. “A pity your human whore on the side never bothered to save you, though.”
So, this is actually pretty cool. She has Jurian bound to the finger bone necklace and the eyeball ring. That’s one hell of a punishment. Not only did Jurian have to be tortured to death, but his consciousness also doesn’t get to die. And she made him into cool jewelry.
Just another really awesome idea that proves Maas can write cool stuff, but consistently refuses to do so.
Since Tamlin still isn’t like, gazing fondly at Feyre or whatever, Feyre decides that he’s been potentially glamoured to have his memory wiped. Which is it, book? Is he trying to protect Feyre by playing it cool, or is he under a spell?
My bowels turned watery––I couldn’t help it.
Is Feyre some kind of marsupial whose only threat defense behavior is to spray shit everywhere? Why does this keep happening?
“But I’ll make a bargain with you, human,” she said, and warning bells pealed in my mind.
What did I say in the last chapter? What did I say?
Unless your life depends on it, Alis had said.
Conveniently, it does! This makes me wonder why it was even a condition Alis set out in the first place. Maas knew this was where the story was going, right? Then what’s the point of setting a “don’t make deals” clause if your character is going to have to make a deal right away? It’s not like there’s been any time to build suspense or show us the consequences of making a deal before she goes through with it, and it just makes Feyre look, well, dumb.
“You complete three tasks of my choosing––three tasks to prove how deep that sense of loyalty and love runs, and Tamlin is yours. Just three little challenges to prove your dedication, to prove to me, to darling Jurian, that your kind can indeed love true, and you can have your High Lord.”
I mean, that doesn’t sound like it’s gonna be it, right? The last time she did a curse or whatever, it was so painfully specific and riddled with conditions that I assume it took three or four days for her to explain it to the people she cursed. And at some point, I think she probably had to use slides.
“I complete all three of your tasks, and his curse is broken, and we––and all his court––can leave here. And remain free forever,” I added. Magic was specific, Alis had said––that was how Amarantha had tricked them. I wouldn’t let loopholes be my downfall.
Amarantha didn’t “trick” them. She invited them to a party and they went, knowing that the last time she threw a party she stole everybody’s powers. It’s not a trick if you’re just gullible.
But I like that Feyre is so cautious about loopholes when her terms explicitly leave no room for Lucien’s freedom. He’s from the Autumn Court, genius.
Amarantha agrees but says:
“I’ll throw in another element, if you don’t mind––[…]
Of course, you will. We all knew your first answer was way too straightforward.
“[…]––just to see if you’re worthy of one of our kind, if you’re smart enough to deserve him.”
Oh, it’s gonna be based on whether or not Feyre is smart? Bad luck, Tamlin. I am so sorry about that, bro.
“I’ll give you a way out, girl,” she went on. “You’ll complete all the tasks––or, when you can’t stand it anymore, all you have to do is answer one question.”
The question is, unfortunately, “How many em dashes are in this book,” and we all know that counting them will only lead to madness.
“A riddle. You solve the riddle, and his curse will be broken. Instantaneously. I won’t even need to lift my finger and he’ll be free. Say the right answer, and he’s yours. You can answer it at any time––but if you answer incorrectly …” She pointed, and I didn’t need to turn to know she gestured to Clare.
Magic is specific, but you’re totally cool with letting Amarantha vague up those consequences? You don’t need them stated explicitly?
You’re crushing this, Feyre. You’ve made a deal when you were warned not to. You set the terms of the deal in such a way that you can’t rescue Lucien. And now you’re like, meh, I don’t need the specific consequences of failure even though I know I need to be very specific about all of this due to trickery.
A chill slithered down my spin. Alis had warned me––warned me against bargains.
You just mentioned that––mentioned it on the last page. We talked about this––talked about it a few paragraphs up.
Feyre asks what the tasks are and Amarantha says:
“Oh, revealing that would take all the fun out of it. But I’ll tell you that you’ll have one task every month––at the full moon.”
Magic is specific, right? Feyre just let us know she’s super smart because she’s being so specific (despite forgetting Lucien not being part of Tamlin’s court) so you’d think she’d be all, yeah, no, don’t think so.
You’d think that. But she just blazes past it and asks what she’s going to do while she waits for these unspecified tasks. Amarantha is like, oh, you’ll just have to work for me.
“If you run me ragged, won’t that put me at a disadvantage?” I knew she was losing interest––that she hadn’t expected me to question her so much. But I had to try to gain some kind of edge.”
“Nothing beyond basic housework. It’s only fair for you to earn your keep.” I could have strangled her for that, but I nodded. “Then we are agreed.”
Despite the fact that only Feyre’s actions are mentioned in the middle of that dialogue, it’s Amarantha saying it.
Note, please, that Amarantha doesn’t say she won’t run Feyre ragged or give her work that puts her at a disadvantage. She simply says it’ll be basic housework. She never promises not to sabotage Feyre.
I knew she waited for me to echo her response, but I had to make sure. “If I complete your three tasks or solve your riddle, you’ll do as I request?”
“Of course,” Amarantha says. “Is it agreed?”
His face ghastly white, Tamlin’s eyes met with mine, and they almost imperceptibly widened. No.
Because he’s seeing the same thing we are, Feyre. He’s sitting there going, don’t trust that she’s not going to fuck with you, ps. you’re doing this whole thing wrong.
But it was either this or death––death like Clare’s, slow and brutal.
Yeah, babe, I hate to tell you, but you’re still facing death if you fail the tasks. Amarantha has never indicated that if you fail at the tasks, you’ll just go home without freeing Tamlin. Just because she only said she’d kill you if you got the riddle wrong doesn’t mean she won’t kill you if you fail. Again, Feyre knows that magic demands specificity and she keeps saying she’s concerned with making sure this shit is iron-clad, no take-backsies, but she’s failing spectacularly.
But she feels she has no other choice because:
Because when I looked into Tamlin’s eyes, even now, seated beside Amarantha as her slave or worse […]
Oh, how I would have dearly loved for this white author to tell us what’s worse than slavery. She’s written so sensitively about the subject so far.
Thankfully, she doesn’t opine further on that.
Feyre thinks about how it’s her only hope to believe she might be able to beat this ancient queen.
She’d tricked them all, but I hadn’t survived poverty and years in the woods for naught. My best chance lay in revealing nothing about myself, or what I knew. What was her court but another forest, another hunting ground?
What the fuck are the deer and rabbits like in this world? Were they trying to make tricky deals with her? Were they desperately trying to learn all about her, therefore she had to play things close to the vest? I don’t understand the part about her best chance being to reveal nothing, because Amarantha isn’t asking Feyre anything about herself. She’s just asking Feyre to agree to the deal.
If the author is asking me to believe that hunting animals for food in the woods is on par with making deals with the fae, well… she’s not going to. Because this whole “I used to hunt, therefore I’m in a unique position to best the most dangerous, evil, horrible queen Prythian has ever seen” isn’t gonna wash. It’s just silly and it makes Feyre look goofy at best, narcissistic at worst.
Feyre agrees to the deal and hey, remember when Amarantha said she wasn’t going to do anything to put Feyre at a disadvantage? Right away, Amarantha commands some fairies to beat the ever-living shit out of Feyre.
And I have to be honest, I’m a little jealous of the evil fairies who rinse her ass out and hang it on the line to dry.
Blood sprayed from my mouth, and its metallic tang coated my tongue before I knew no more.
Okay, I’m also jealous of Feyre. At least she gets to lose consciousness during the course of the book. I’d pay someone to knock me the fuck out while I’m reading it.