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.
Welcome to the chapter that may be the one that breaks me. ed. —Nope, they get worse. The chapter that features every single problem with the book, Maas’s writing style, the main character, continuity, just everything, condensed into a few pages. ed.—Oh, how I wish this was the only chapter with this problem.
Feyre wakes up in a dungeon cell. She’s all banged up, and there’s blood in her mouth, her lip is split open, her nose is broken, her eyes are nearly swollen shut, she’s in bad shape, okay?
I was in a prison cell. My weapons were gone, and my only sources of light were the torches beyond the door. Amarantha had said a cell was to be where I would spend my time, but even as I sat up—my head so dizzy I almost blacked out again—my heartbeat quickened. A dungeon.
First of all, Amarantha had said I’d spend my time in a cell, there, fixed that weird fucking part of the sentence for you. Second, did you think she meant the kind of cell that’s not in a prison or a dungeon environment?
It ached—ached worse than anything I’d ever endured. I bit down on a cry as my fingers grazed my nose, flakes of blood crumbling from my nostrils. It was broken. Broken.
I’m impressed that it wasn’t broken—broken. Way to exercise some restraint.
I couldn’t panic. No, I had to keep my tears in check, had to keep my wits together.
Feyre has wits?
She starts to think about how to provide first aid to herself, like using her shirt for bandages and water to wash her injuries.
I’d violated one of Alis’s rules.
We anticipated that, Feyre.
I’d had no choice, though. Seeing Tamlin seated beside Amarantha …
Mmm, you did have a choice, though. You had the choice to warn everybody in the human world about the blight and to listen to Tamlin and not run off after him when you knew for a fact it would be certain death. You were jealous that Amarantha was stealing your man.
Feyre wonders how long she’s been unconscious, and I’m going to guess that since she hasn’t peed herself, not long. But she doesn’t know when Amarantha will ask her to do the first task.
I didn’t allow myself to imagine what she had in mind for me. It was enough to know that she expected me to die—that there wouldn’t be enough left of me for her to torture.
But don’t worry! Someone else is being tortured in the dungeon. She hears someone screaming and a whip cracking and makes it all about herself and her guilt:
Clare had probably cried similarly. I had as good as tortured her myself.
I deserved this—deserved whatever pain and suffering was in store—if only for what she had endured.
But … but I would make it right. Somehow.
Nope! No, you absolutely will not make it right, at all. There is no way to make it “right.” You will find a way to make yourself feel less guilty.
I’m not a psychologist, okay? I can’t tell if this line of reasoning is narcissism or psychopathy. But I can tell you that it’s deeply, maliciously selfish to believe that you can make “getting someone tortured to death and killed because you pretended to be them to get out of a dangerous situation” right with “but at least I rescued my boyfriend and we get to be together in true love.”
Patrons, if you’ve read the other books, does Feyre give even one thought to Clare Beddor in them? I really have to know if this is something that haunts her for the rest of the series because frankly it should.
I must have drifted off at some point, because I awoke to the scrape of my cell door against stone.
Feyre bored herself to sleep with her self-centered bullshit. We have so much in common.
Someone slipped into my cell and swiftly shut the door—leaving it just a bit ajar.
Then they didn’t shut it. What is…
You know what, let’s just move on.
The person who’s come to her cell is Lucien.
[…] the hay crunched as he dropped to the ground before me.
HUGE NITPICK INCOMING: it’s straw, not hay. Hay is animal feed, you wouldn’t use it to cover floors. Straw is the nutritionally useless part of wheat that gets repurposed for bedding. Hayrides are rides taken in hay wagons, but the scratchy stuff you’re sitting on is straw.
That’s extremely picky but it’s such a common mistake in Medieval inspired fantasy.
Lucien is like, what are you doing here? And Feyre tells him about Alis giving her a bunch of exposition.
The important thing is that Lucien voices the same issues I’ve had with Feyre showing up Under the Mountain.
“You shouldn’t have come here, Feyre,” he said sharply. “You weren’t meant to be here. Don’t you understand what he sacrificed in getting you out? How could you be so foolish?”
That’s what I’m saying! I feel like Lucien is the only character who’s following the plot but nobody ever listens to him.
“Well, I’m here now!” I said, louder than was wise. “I’m here, and there’s nothing that can be done about it, so don’t bother telling me about my weak human flesh and my stupidity! I know all that, and I … ” I wanted to cover my face in my hands, but it hurt too much. “I just … I had to tell him that I loved him. To see if it wasn’t too late.”
“Louder than was wise” should be my epitaph. But the rest of it is like… am I supposed to think that because the character recognizes that what she’s done has totally negated the purpose of Tamlin surrendering and condemning his whole court, it somehow makes sense for her to have done so? Am I supposed to think she had a good reason because she realizes it was a ridiculous thing to do in hindsight? ed.—Judging from spoilers people have given me for the rest of the series, yes. This is a common thread with Maas’s writing.
Lucien has come to take care of how broken Feyre is.
Lucien glances over his shoulder, checking the door. “The guards are drunk, but their replacements will be here soon,” […]
I’m including that bit because it has bearing on something I’m going to rage about later.
To fix Feyre’s nose, Lucien has to set it, so there’s this whole Mel-Gibson-in-Leathal-Weapon-check-out-how-tough-this-character-is moment that ultimately leads to so much pain Feyre passes out. When she wakes up, Lucien explains that he only healed her a little bit, because otherwise, Amarantha would notice that someone helped Feyre.
“And my nose?” I said, feeling it before he answered.
“Fixed—as pert and pretty as before.”
It’s important to know that Feyre is still pretty.
Feyre is like, wait a minute, why didn’t Amarantha take your power away?
“She gave me back a fraction—to entice Tamlin to accept her offer. But he still refuses her. He jerked his chin to my healed face. “I knew some good would come of being down here.”
Why is Tamlin still being “enticed” to accept anything? He lost. The time ran out. He didn’t get a deeply specific type of human to say she loved him.
Whoa, hey, speaking of “deeply specific,” isn’t it odd that Tamlin only searched for human women to try to romance? I don’t remember the curse saying anything about Tamlin having to love the person back or want to bone them or anything. What if he broadened that search and maybe there’s some guy out there who would have fallen in love with him. Or an enby person.
LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL what am I saying. There’s no fucking way gay people exist in this book. Not with the way Sarah wrote that Rhysand thing. Gay people were total non-entities in her thoughts when she wrote this. The very notion that a human man or enby might have broken the curse absolutely never crossed her mind. Never. Because if she had even the slightest gay awareness, she would have known how Diet Dom Rhysand came across.
But back to the curse. Tamlin already lost. What does Amarantha need to get his consent for? The entire deal was that she was basically gonna take him Under the Mountain and force him into sexual slavery or something.
Also, if Lucien can use magic to “entice” Tamlin, why can’t Amarantha do the same thing?
But now we’ve reached a point where a character is like, at least I’m being held prisoner as long as I can help Feyre, which… I guess I find anyone caring about Feyre’s well-being a stretch of imagination far beyond that which I can comprehend. It’s the most unrealistic thing in this whole book to me.
A grim nod. “She’s summoned all the High Lords to her now—and even those who swore obedience are now forbidden to leave until … until your trials are over.”
All Amarantha ever does is summon people, it seems like. And they keep returning, every single time, even though she keeps doing shit like imprisoning them and stripping them of their power and cursing them with bejeweled masks.
You know what, Prythian High Lords? You’re too gullible to rule a country. You don’t deserve to have it because you don’t have the good sense the Cauldron gave you to keep it. ed.—This is what I still find so frustrating about this book. We’re told again and again how smart and tricky the fae are, but all Amarantha has to do to get the High Lords to come to her is to be like, “I promise, this time I’m not going to curse you all or steal your magic,” and they’re like, “We see no reason to not trust her. Get in the car.”
Feyre asks Lucien if Jurian’s eye is really in that ring, and that leads to Lucien telling Feyre, IN A PAGE LONG BLOCK PARAGRAPH, the entire story of what happened after Jurian killed Amarantha’s sister, which let’s be honest, none of us are interested in. Like, the idea of killing a guy in revenge for murdering your sister and like, laying waste to his army and taking this horrible revenge is definitely a much more exciting story than the one in this book, but I don’t want to have to hear about this elaborate backstory that I know, deep in my heart, probably won’t have any bearing over the rest of this book. ed.—I’m not sure why THAT isn’t the book Maas decided to write, in the first place. It’s certainly a more interesting concept.
IDK, maybe it’s in here because we’ll need it for the rest of the series or something but I’m looking at the fact that we have 73% of the book remaining AND three tasks AND a fucking riddle to go. Plus, when I look at the table of contents, after the forty-sixth chapter (jfc forty-six chapters) it’s like:
- Pronunciation Guide
- A Court of Mist and Fury Teaser
- Don’t miss any of this epic series from Sarah J. Maas
- Praise for the Throne of Glass series
- Praise for Court of Thorns and Roses
- About the Author
- Books by Sarah J. Maas
So that’s gotta take up at least ten percent of what’s left.
Also, aside, why is praise for this book in the book? I already have the book. Who are you trying to convince that it’s good? And it’s like, at the end of the book, so maybe they’re saying, “Oh, you didn’t like it? Well, here’s a review that compares it to A Song of Ice and Fire, so who’s stupid now?” And I’m like, IDK, whoever the fuck wrote that review comparing her to George R.R. Martin? ecause the only thing they have in common is that their books are too fucking long.
Where was I?
Oh, yeah. Feyre has a problem with Amarantha because:
A huntress—she was little more than an immortal, cruel huntress, collecting trophies from her kills and conquests to gloat over through the ages.
This entire book.
The defining thing about Feyre.
(Besides whether the fuck or not she can paint something)
Is that she can hunt.
I’m sorry, I must be suffering from slow carbon monoxide poisoning that’s affecting my memory, I really must. Because I remember, OBVIOUSLY INCORRECTLY, Feyre being a hunter and considering keeping the pelt of the wolf she skinned to make a cloak. ed.—And remember how hunting was supposed to be the key to Feyre being able to navigate this tricky situation?
But now, a “huntress” is the worst thing a person can be, I guess.
Hey, another cool, totally not misogynist thing to note: Feyre is a hunter, but Amarantha is a huntress, the girl version and therefore the more evil kind.
The rage and despair and horror Jurian must endure every day, for eternity … Deserved, perhaps, but worse than anything I could imagine.
Yeah, well, you’re not reading this fucking book.
The thing is, I don’t really think it’s all that monstrous of Amarantha to eternally punish the guy who tricked her sister and then CRUCIFIED HER. If someone crucified someone I loved after betraying them, there wouldn’t be a terrible enough punishment. I’m #TeamAmarantha on this one.
But what a seasonally appropriate tale, huh?! ed.—It was near Easter.
Feyre finally asks about Tamlin, by the way. She’s come all the way Under the Mountain, got her ass beat, and made this deal, but she had worldbuilding questions before she thought to ask about the guy she did all that shit for in the first place.
And guess what? Lucien doesn’t have time to give Feyre an answer! Wow, this is going to conveniently manufacture some drama, isn’t it? Feyre will be constantly pointing out to us that she doesn’t know anything about Tamlin and how he’s feeling or if he’s under a spell or what’s going on with him, and I bet she’ll continually miss opportunities to find out, only to say, “I needed to gather more information” or something like that.
Hey, if a conflict isn’t strong enough to survive asking a question like, “how is this person?” then it’s not a strong enough conflict.
Lucien vanished—just vanished into the dim light.
You saw someone do this already—saw them do it. Remember when Rhysand—Rhysand did it? And it makes just as much sense now as it did then. Both Rhysand and Lucien took the risk of walking into a dangerous situation, only to poof away from it.
Why? Why did Lucien have to sneak down to the dungeon if he can poof there? Why did Rhysand stroll into the dining room that morning if he could magically appear?
Because Sarah needs to make her characters make an entrance. Feyre needs to be able to hear footsteps because footsteps are ominous and her author is addicted to The Big Reveal™.
There’s a section break:
I dozed on and off for what could have been hours or days.
OMG are they torturing her by forcing her to read this book? That’s diabolical.
Some red-skinned fairies come to get her because I guess we’re going for demons and hell and stuff, idk, but the main point is that we have to know that the subservient fairies are any color other than white.
Oh, you thought I didn’t notice that? You thought I didn’t see that all the fairy gardeners and maids and shit at the manor were explicitly described as not looking like white people? You thought I missed that?
I did not.
Anyway, the red fairies take Feyre to the throne room.
I marked the path, picking out details in the hall—interesting cracks in the walls, features in the tapestries, an odd bend—anything to remind me of the way out of the dungeons.
Because you’re going to escape? Now that you’ve doomed the whole Spring Court and then threw away their sacrifice to come their rescue, you’re going to just keep escape in your back pocket?
I observed more of Amarantha’s throne room this time, too, noting the exits. No windows, as we were underground. And the mountain I’d seen depicted on that map at the manor was in the heart of the land—far from the Spring Court, even farther from the wall. If I were to escape with Tamlin, my best chance would be to run for that cave in the belly of the mountain.
What the shit is this even about? What cave? I spent a lot of time going back over and back over the scenes where Feyre looked at the map or they talked about Under the Mountain and not one single fucking time did anyone mention that there was some kind of cave in the mountain that wasn’t Under the Mountain. Is she talking about the little side cave shortcut? How was it “in the belly of the mountain” when she couldn’t even see the fucking mountain when she went into it?
This could honestly be the worst fantasy novel I’ve ever read. And I had to proofread the fantasy novels I wrote.
And let’s go back over this whole thing where if she escapes with Tamlin. Up to this point, Tamlin hasn’t expressed any interest in being saved or escaping. At all. Like, he made some meaningful eye contact that Feyre interpreted the way she wanted to, but he just kinda sits there doing nothing when she’s around and he didn’t make any effort to see her or get any messages to her, even though we know Lucien can poof in and out of dungeons.
Sorry, he can poof out of dungeons, he has to get the guards drunk and do this whole elaborate sneakery to enter the dungeons.
And she’s like, it’s far from the Spring Court, even farther from the wall… the Spring Court wasn’t far from the wall at all. She went through the wall and was immediately in the Spring Court’s lands. We just read that.
The thing that pisses me off is that I know in my heart there’s a map in this book. I didn’t look for it, but there’s no fucking way there isn’t a map.
BUT DOES THE AUTHOR BOTHER TO USE IT?! NO.
And finally, since I have paragraphs to say about every damn thing in this chapter, Feyre is willing to escape with Tamlin. Not a damn thought for the rest of the Spring Court or what will happen to them if Tamlin escapes. Not a damn thought about Lucien and what will happen to him. Feyre is very boyfriend-focused at this point and fuck everything and everyone else.
STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER!
A bunch of people are in the throne room, all looking fancy.
Dispersed among them were faeries with masks. The Spring Court. If I had any chance of finding allies, it would be with them.
If I were a member of the Spring Court and Tamlin had doomed me to living in a hole as a prisoner for the rest of my immortal life to save Feyre, and Feyre came back and was like, no, I can fix this, I’m your only hope? I wouldn’t be her ally. I would sock her so hard in the tit.
They throw Feyre on the ground in front of Amarantha’s throne.
“I couldn’t sleep last night, and I realized why this morning.” She ran an eye over me. “I don’t know your name. If you and I are going to be such close friends for the next three months, I should know your name, shouldn’t I?”
Watch out, literally anybody Feyre has ever known for her entire life. She’s about to sell you out to save her own ass.
There was something charming and inviting about her—a part of me began to understand why the High Lords had fallen under her thrall, believed in her lies. I hated her for it.
Yeah, you’re going to have to explain to me what about her is so charming and inviting, Ms. Maas. Show your work. Because so far, all we’ve really gotten out of her is over-the-top villainy and paragraphs about her beauty.
But to be honest, maybe that really is all it takes to trick the High Lords? Since they kept coming back over and over to get imprisoned or have their magic taken away or their eye plucked out. They just keep going back like, okay, this time she says it’s in good faith. This time, we believe her.
Feyre won’t speak, so Rhysand gets called in. Amarantha asks Rhysand if Feyre is the girl he saw at Tamlin’s manor.
“But did you or did you not tell me that girl,” Amarantha said, her tone sharpening as she pointed to Clare, “was the one you saw?”
He stuffed his hands into his pockets. “Humans all look alike to me.”
Okay but like, what about timelines, Rhysand? Because we’ve already established that there was no conceivable way for Clare Beddor to be at the manor at lunchtime and at the Beddor house later that night.
Amarantha gave him a saccharine smile. “And what about faeries?”
I read that line and I was like, you’ve got to be shitting me. Feyre is a fairy, isn’t she? And then the next line happened:
Rhysand bowed again—so smooth it looked like a dance. “Among a sea of mundane faces, yours is a work of art.”
and for a second I was like, oh, okay, it’s just a setup to show how good Rhysand is at playing this role for Amarantha. And then I was like, no. There’s no way we don’t somehow find out that Feyre is a fairy. I’m guessing that by the end of this series, she’ll not only be a fairy, but like, a super special, once-in-an-eternity, prophecies fairy who ends up ruling over all Prythian for reasons that don’t approach continuity for even a second.
I’m not going to read any further in this series to find out. I have more self-esteem than that. But I’m guessing that’s how it shakes out. ed.—I hate how good am I at guessing.
Humans all look alike … I didn’t believe him for a second. Rhysand knew exactly how I looked—he’d recognized me that day at the manor.
This might have been a good point if he had recognized her out of several other humans, but he just recognized her as being the human at Tamlin’s manor. Maybe he really couldn’t pick Feyre out from a line-up.
But he damn sure knew Clare Beddor wasn’t Feyre because the timeline makes it impossible.
Amarantha asks Rhysand what Feyre’s name is and Rhysand says:
“How would I know? She lied to me.”
As I pointed out before, he could have gotten the name from her when he went digging around in her mind. The only reason he didn’t was because it would have ruined the whole tragic mistaken identity thing the author was going for, as well as the opportunity to write vague sex stuff that makes this book “spicy.”
The weird thing is, Amarantha doesn’t call Rhysand on that. She’s not like, uh, you could have used your mind-reading powers, duh. And it’s not like she doesn’t know that he has these powers because she orders him to use them on Lucien.
I mean, Tamlin is right there, too, but sure.
The Attor drags Lucien out of the crowd, and his four brothers are there to watch and enjoy seeing their brother tortured. I assume all this stuff about the side character’s family history comes up in a later book, and I’m not just reading it for no reason. But I did appreciate this description:
Behind them, pressing to the front of the crowd, came four tall, red-haired High Fae. Toned and muscled, some of them looking like warriors about to set foot on a battlefield, some like pretty courtiers, they all stared at Lucien—and grinned. The four remaining sons of the High Lord of the Autumn Court.
I like that she mentions that there are four of them, twice. Four, four sons, ah ah ah. And the choice of “some of them” when you’re talking about four people. Like, you can’t easily divide that up? Maybe one of them looks like a warrior and the other three look like courtiers? Maybe two of them are courtiers and the other two are warriors? The use of “some” here really tickles me because it implies that Feyre can’t count higher than two.
Ready—he was ready for Rhysand to wipe out everything he was, to turn his mind, his self, into dust.
This book—this book is going to wipe out everything I am, to turn my mind, my self, into dust.
Amarantha asks Tamlin what Feyre’s name is, and with Lucien right there with Rhysand about to claw up his brain, Tamlin doesn’t say anything. Amarantha asks Lucien’s brothers if they know Feyre’s name and they’re like, no but we’d totally tell you if we did.
Here’s a description of one brother:
He was lean, well dressed, every inch of him a court-trained bastard.
How much time has Feyre spent at royal courts that she can empirically state this?
Probably the eldest, given the way even the ones who looked like born warriors stared at him with deference and calculation—and fear.
Again, it sounds like we’re talking about way more than four people here, but sure, let’s groove with it.
Rhysand starts to shred into Lucien’s mind, and Feyre has no choice but to reveal her name to save him.
“An old name—from our earlier dialects. […]”
God damn it. She’s a fucking fairy, isn’t she?
Remember in the last chapter when Amarantha said she’d give Feyre a riddle to solve?
“Solve this, Feyre, and you and your High Lord, and all his court, may immediately leave with my blessing. Let’s see if you are indeed clever enough to deserve one of our kind.”
Here it is, folks. This is the moment when this book scattered my marbles—scattered all of them.
There are those who seek me a lifetime but we never meet,
and those I kiss but who trample me beneath ungrateful feet.
At times I seem to favor the clever and the fair,
But I bless all those who are brave enough to dare.
By large, my ministrations are soft-handed and sweet,
But scorned, I become a difficult beast to defeat.
For though each of my strikes lands a powerful blow,
When I kill, I do it slow …
The answer is LOVE.
You know how I know?
BECAUSE IT’S NOT A PARTICULARLY CLEVER RIDDLE AT ALL.
There must be someone you can hire to write good riddles for your books if you’re not smart enough to come up with something decent on your own. And this is written like it’s supposed to be in some kind of poetic rhyme scheme… try to read it out loud. Just try to read it with some sort of rhythm.
SPOILER ALERT IT SOUNDS DOOFY AS FUCK.
8,100 people have highlighted that passage. That’s almost ten thousand people who read that and went, ooh, definitely want to come back and re-read this. This is some top-tier riddling, right here.
There are better riddles on popsicle sticks and Laffy Taffy wrappers.
I’m not even going to look ahead in the story and see if the answer is love. I knew it was love the moment I read the fucking riddle and went, oh, right, because the heroine has to learn how to love and express her love and the whole point of the book so far has been that Feyre’s been falling in love, love, love, love.
It’s love. There’s no other possible answer. It’s love, it’s obvious, and we’re going to have to read what, like ten more chapters of this shit because she won’t be able to figure it out or something.
My mind was void, a blank mass of uselessness.
We were already aware, I assure you.
Could it be some sort of a disease?
No, I think it’s just who you are as a person, Feyre.
Oh, wait, she’s talking about the answer to the riddle.
My mother had died of typhus, and her cousin had died of malaria after going to Bharat … But none of those symptoms seemed to match the riddle. Maybe it was a person?
Remember how this entire book we’ve been told Feyre is so, so clever? Just incredibly intelligent and clever, clever, clever?
IT’S LOVE YOU FUCKING DUNKSHART.
The answer was so close—one little answer and we could all be free. Immediately, she’d said—as opposed to … wait, had the conditions of my trials been different from those of the riddle? She’d emphasized immediately only when talking about solving the riddle.
Editor: You know, you never mentioned if the riddle worked the same way as the trials. When she finishes the trials, are they all immediately free?
No, I coudln’t think about that right now. I had to solve this riddle. We could all abe free. Free.
But the riddle is too gosh darn hard, too diabolically clever.
I’d be better off slitting my own throat and ending my suffering there, before she could rip me to shreds.
I think that every time I sit down to read the next chapter of this book. That I’d be better off if Feyre slit her own damn throat and ended my suffering there.
They take Feyre back to the dungeons, where there’s a section break and she tries to work out how many days she’s been down there (she thinks it’s two), and she spends the whole time thinking about the riddle.
The more I thought about it, the less sense it made.
See also: the world-building, characterization, and continuity of this fucking book.
Not to mention the nagging feeling that she might have wound up tricking me with this bargain when she’d emphasized immediately regarding the riddle. Maybe she meant she would not free us immediately after I finished her trials. That she could take however long she wanted.
I really, really like fairy tales and to be honest, that wording didn’t ping anything for me. Do the tasks over three months, or solve the riddle and not stay for three months. That’s not to say that Feyre shouldn’t have paid better attention when making the deal and explicitly said, like, we walk out of here that exact night. Just that to me, it doesn’t feel like there’s any kind of hole in the deal as written.
I mean, if there’s really a hole in the deal, it’s the concept of “freeing” them. Because remember, Amarantha “freed” her slaves by killing them.
Anyway, Feyre has nightmares about Jurian’s eye and what might happen to her, and THANK. GOD. the full moon happens at the end of the chapter.