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 prompt in this text window was “This box is your blank canvas. Have fun!” Or something like that. This makes me highly doubt the algorithm has paid attention at all to what’s happening here.
What followed the second trial was a series of days that I don’t care to recall.
Me neither, Feyre.
A permanent darkness settled over me, and I began to look forward to the moment when Rhysand gave me that goblet of faerie wine and I could lose myself for a few hours.
Fact: Some people turn to substances during times of crisis.
Fact: Some people are more vulnerable to abuse and manipulation during times of crisis.
Fact: I highly doubt Maas is going to be able to handle this with sensitivity.
It totally checks out that Feyre is traumatized to the point of wanting to, well, check out. It makes sense that after a harrowing, dark night of the soul mortality scare, she may have picked “freeze” out of her threat response options.
I went “fawn” mode until I remembered that Feyre doesn’t seem to internalize Rhysand’s actions as something to fear, which is a whole ‘nother… thing.
I stopped contemplating Amarantha’s riddle—it was impossible.
Congrats to all of us for ascending to our true forms and evolving into beings of sheer possibility.
Feyre is convinced she’s going to die from Amarantha’s third task because there’s no way the fairy queen is going to be like, well, guess you can just win, then. I’ve been thinking about that, actually; I’m not sure we’ve ever heard that if a fairy makes a deal, they absolutely cannot break it. Back when we were told that fairies could lie, all assurances that anyone would honor a deal kinda hit the wall.
The future I’d dreamed of was just that: a dream. I’d grow old and withered, while he would remain young for centuries, perhaps millennia. At best, I’d have decades with him before I died.
This has totally occurred to Feyre before. We read it. And what did she reasonably expect in this dream future? That she would somehow live forever? Did she just find out about human life spans?
Decades. That was what I was fighting for. A flash in time for them—a drop in the pool of their eons.
This would be the perfect place for Feyre to doubt whether or not Tamlin actually wants her to be there to save him, wouldn’t it? She could wonder if it really matters that much to him, knowing that she’s going through this for what will amount to basically days of his life in the grand scheme of things?
Sarah decided not to do that, though.
No, see, what Sarah decided to do was tell us how Feyre feels about…
You already know what I’m going to say.
She tells us how Feyre feels about…
I stopped thinking about color, about light, about the green of Tamlin’s eyes—about all those things I had still wanted to paint and now would never get to.
I did wonder when we were going to hear about painting again, to be honest. I thought maybe she would just, IDK. Never mention it again because the author forgot about it?
I’m going to do a lot of skimming in this next part because it’s pretty clearly setting up a vague sequel. Also, because there isn’t any new information revealed, and the whole scene turns out to be useless, anyway. It’s going to shorten the recap, but there really isn’t anything you’re missing in terms of content. It’s a scene that’s just listening to someone else’s conversation while Feyre runs the usual “ATTOR SCARY!” script at us. Nothing new is established at all, and Feyre openly tells us she’ll do nothing about the information that’s rehashed here.
After the section break, Feyre is being taken by the shadowy servants to get all painted up, and they run into the Attor talking to someone else. Now, remember, the faeries can make Feyre basically invisible, which is convenient because they all hide and listen to the conversation.
One of them covered my mouth with a hand, holding me tightly to her, shadows slithering down her arm and onto mine. She smelled of jasmine—I’d never noticed that before. After all these nights, I didn’t even know their names.
This book is so aggressively heterosexual that it wraps all the way around and goes out the other side. Only a fully straight person could read that and not get the most sapphic of vibes.
Think about it.
Every night, nameless female shadow beings come and tickle Feyre’s nude body, including intimate places, with paintbrushes. Now, one of them is holding her, putting a hand over Feyre’s mouth and entwining their shadows or whatever.
This is basically lesbian erotica, and the author has no clue.
Anyway, the Attor is talking to someone else about how the High King is pissed off that Amarantha is doing this whole trials-and-riddles routine after she fucked up the entire war over Jurian. The king doesn’t really care that Amarantha took Prythian or that she took a bunch of spells from him, but now she isn’t falling in line and backing him up on taking over the world or whatever it is he wants to do.
As I said, it’s all very vague.
What manner of creature was this thing to be so unmoved by the Attor?
IDK, Amarantha isn’t afraid of him. I guess the manner of the creature would be a sexually predacious representation of deeply-rooted internalized misogyny?
There’s more talk and threats about the High King and how mad he is and how Amarantha is so dangerous, etc. But everything they talk about is general: the king is mad, Amarantha doesn’t care because she’s so dangerous, the king is mad, etc. Nothing specific like, “The king plans to march on Prythian in three weeks,” or anything that would establish a clear and looming threat. Yet, despite there being no specific new information revealed, the text insists that this is a pivotal Big Reveal™:
Whatever plans the King of Hybern had been working on for these long years—his campaign to take back the mortal world—it seemed he was no longer content to wait. Perhaps Amarantha would soon received what she wanted: destruction of my entire realm.
Do you see what I mean? There are plans, but we don’t know what they are, but we do, and something might happen, but we don’t know when, and maybe the bad guy will win. That whole passage is a vampire hunter’s worst nightmare: not a stake in sight. Nothing in that passage serves to up the tension in any way. Feyre is just hearing two characters rehash stuff she already knows about things that might hypothetically happen.
Those fucking em-dashes. She interrupts the sentence to contradict it. Molto bene.
There was nothing I could do about the King of Hybern, anyway—not while trapped Under the Mountain, not when I hadn’t even been able to free Tamlin, much less myself. And with Nesta prepared to flee with my family, there was no one else to warn. So day after day passed, bringing my third trial ever closer.
The days would have kept on passing even if all that other stuff isn’t true, Feyre. But, in other words: the scene happened for nothing.
Well, not nothing. I have a theory about this.
I was talking to someone last night who read the first two books and stopped because book two in the series very heavily borrowed from Anne Bishop’s The Black Jewels Trilogy and it annoyed them. One of the interesting things they said was that the jump from this book to its sequel felt like starting an entirely different series. I’m not going to find out, but it did make me wonder if this book wasn’t meant to be a stand-alone, and then maybe the publisher requested that it be spun into a series before publication. The lore is pretty slap-dash and then for the next book to basically feel like it’s starting from scratch is… interesting.
But that’s my theory. My theory is that some of these “big reveal” scenes about Hybern and Amarantha’s plans were added in revisions with an eye to expanding this into a series, but no further plotting had been done at that point.
There’s another section break, and Feyre is in her cell. She’s completely broken:
I suppose I sank so far into myself that it took something extraordinary to pull me out again.
Not because she’s being drugged and probably assaulted every night. No, it’s because she almost lost a task because she can’t read.
The literacy thing, I dunno. It’s starting to feel discomfortingly ableist.
I was watching the light dance along the damp stones of the ceiling of my cell—like moonlight on water—when a noise traveled to me, down through the stones, rippling across the floor.
Where is this light coming from? She’s in an underground cell.
Now that I’m thinking of it, how is she seeing “darkness” appear when Rhysand and the shadow people are there? She’s in a cell deep under the mountain. There aren’t windows down there.
At least we know where the music is coming from:
I looked toward the small vent in the corner of the ceiling through which the music entered my cell.
The dungeon conveniently has an HVAC system!
Hey, if Feyre is so clever and resourceful, why hasn’t she considered escaping through the vent? Even if it’s just to note that it’s there and would be too small to escape from?
I’m thinking about how my favorite BookTok-er, MyNameIsMarines, has talked about how people say they like these books because they didn’t have to think while reading them, but that also means that if you think about them even a tiny bit, they fall apart. This is one of those instances where if you’re just flying through the book, brain off, not paying attention, Tamlin’s music coming through this surprise vent would be poignant and romantic. But if you’ve been paying any attention at all to the details, you’re like, “What vent? Why hasn’t she thought about escaping through it? She talks about how tough she is and how she’s always planning her escape all the time, and now there’s a vent we never heard of?”
When Feyre closes her eyes, she can see the music like a painting. Now that Sarah has remembered that her main character was really, really into painting, she’s going to continually remind us, too.
There was beauty in this music—beauty and goodness. The music folded over itself like batter being poured from a bowl, one note atop another, melting together to form a whole, rising, filling me.
The music was so good, it was like eating cake batter? That’s a description I can get behind.
Basically, she has this weird hallucinatory orgasm from the music:
The pulse of the music was like hands that gently pushed me onward, pulling me higher, guiding me through the clouds.
The music makes her see a sunrise, and she remembers how much she wants to see the daylight again, etc, but it’s pretty clear that this is supposed to be sex via fiddle, as well:
I let the sounds ravage me, let them lay me flat and run over my body with their drums. Up and up, building to a palace in the sky, a hall of alabaster and moonstone, where all that was lovely and kind and fantastic dwelled in peace.
This is better sex than when he actually fucked her. Like, how bad in bed is this guy that his fiddle has more sheet game?
The music was Tamlin’s fingers strumming my body; it was the gold in his eyes and the twist of his smile. It was that breathy chuckle, and the way he said those three words. It was this I was fighting for, this I had sworn to save.
The music rose—louder, grander, faster, from wherever it was played—a wave that peaked, shattering the gloom of my cell. A shuddering sob broke from me as the sound faded into silence. I sat there, trembling and weeping, too raw and exposed, left naked by the music and the color in my mind.
Now imagine how hot this would have been and what an impact this intimacy would have made if they hadn’t had that mediocre sex scene way back when.
Two more days until my final trial. Just two more days and then I would learn what the Eddies of the Cauldron had planned for me.
Now. I don’t want to be a pessimist, okay. I don’t want to ruin your lovely day. But this is chapter forty-one. We’re now a single day away from Feyre’s final trial.
There are forty-seven chapters in this book.
Brace yourself. Thar be bad pacing on the horizon.
With that in mind, starting thinking of the next book we should do here. The summer will fly by and we’ll be done with this one. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.