With the imminent arrival of in two weeks time I thought it would be good to discuss a few thoughts I have while reading A Court of Thorns and Roses on my annual re-read. I absolutely adore this series, mostly because of A Court of Mist and Fury but also because I think it is so beautifully written and wonderful. I adore Sarah J Maas’ writing and devour anything she writes so I cannot even explain my excitement (and nervousness) about reading ACOWAR. Check out below five thoughts I had while re-reading ACOTAR for the 3rd or 4th time. PLEASE NOTE: there will be spoilers ahead with this blog post for both books of the series.
- Thoughts about the writing
I am in love with Sarah J Maas’ writing. She has such a gift of spinning words together so beautifully that I just want them plastered about on my wall. She writes Feyre as an artist and that artistry comes out in colours and in words, not just in painting. There are so many fantastic quotes in this book and I loved jumping back into it to read them again. What is great is that she doesn’t make them sound overly ridiculous in normal speech. They sound normal and proper and like something someone would say but they also resonate within you and keep you thinking long after that scene has finished. I find the same thing with the Throne of Glass series and this series just echoes it. Sarah has once said that ACOTAR is the story of her heart and I truly think this is why it is so beautiful. The writing is so emotive.
“Don’t feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.”
“We need hope, or else we cannot endure.”
“Because all the monsters have been let out of their cages tonight, no matter what court they belong to. So I may roam wherever I wish until the dawn.”
- Thoughts about Tamlin and Feyre
Ah the controversial couple. I have a lot of mixed feelings about them and not just because of ACOMAF. I really loved reading this book again and trying to see what I really thought of Tamlin. I have come to the conclusion that I really loved Tamlin and Feyre together in this book, before Under the Mountain. They are mean to each other, they fight but they also get to know what it means to love someone who is a bit prickly. I’m a bit prickly myself sometimes so I take comfort in the fact that they fall in love with each other. It doesn’t happen straight away and they have to learn how to cope with each other but I feel like it happens at a good pace.
Tamlin takes his time with her. He finds out that she provided for her family and takes that into consideration, and he asks her what she likes. He gives her paints and lets her use the study. He attempts to compliment her despite being useless at it. (Really? Clean hair? Come on!) He also protects her from things and it’s lovely. Feyre who has never had anyone take care of her before or pay attention to her responds as I would – with suspicion at first but then begins to realise that her life is better than before. She is broken when she first comes to him, her family has done that, but she begins to be healed by time and space and Tamlin. I also love that she refers to him as her High Lord. There’s such ownership in it.
However, even before Under the Mountain, Tamlin is morally grey too, especially when it comes to Feyre. The whole issue of Calanmai is awful, especially when he bites her in the hallway. Now I know some will say that he was being an animal and that she shouldn’t have disobeyed him but the way he handled it was not ok. It screams of abuse. A lot of other people picked it up when they first read it but it wasn’t until I read reviews that I realised that’s why that part felt so off. The way he acts the next morning explaining that it was Feyre’s fault is also awful and horrible and abusive. You don’t pick up on this when you first read it though because you are in the eyes of the abused and she brushes it off.
Another thing is how Tamlin acts when Feyre has drunk the Faerie wine at the summer solstice. This is not as big of an issue for me but when I read it I couldn’t help comparing how he treats her here and how Rhysand drugs Feyre Under the Mountain. In these chapters, Feyre is drunk, yes by her own choice, but Tamlin makes her dance and then takes their relationship to a new level (not in a bad way but just in a different emotional standing) even while she is under the influence. This feels . . . icky to me as she is not of her right mind and has been drinking but he doesn’t take that into consideration. I may be reading too much into it but I’m curious that people seem to forget this when slamming Rhysand for drugging Feyre to stop her remembering what happens each night.
Now, let’s go Under the Mountain. Feyre, you’re absolutely amazing and I’m so impressed that you decide to save the one you love. She has such courage and I love seeing this happen. What I don’t love is seeing Tamlin ignore her. I totally get that he doesn’t want to give Amarantha more power over him by speaking or responding to Feyre but Feyre has nothing to go on. She thinks he doesn’t love her, she thinks she’s disappointing him and why? Because she gets no response from him. And when they are finally alone, does he whisper to her that he loves her and is so proud or what to expect or anything? No! He kisses her and starts to undress her. Why does he not speak to her at all? Multi-task people! Kiss and undress and talk!
I hate that even when Feyre is about to stab him that Tamlin says nothing. He doesn’t smile, doesn’t nod or say anything. He gives her no indication that he cares or believes in her at this point. I know he is in a really difficult position but really. Surely he could give her some response. It also really bothers me that when Feyre is getting beaten by Amarantha and she is being killed – KILLED – he begs Amarantha to stop and for forgiveness. I know that he is injured but he doesn’t yell for Feyre (like Rhysand), he doesn’t scream at Amarantha (like the other faeries), he begs her to stop. Now, Tamlin might be a man of little words but if that was my Mum being beaten you can bet that my Dad wouldn’t be quietly begging for the person torturing her to stop. He’d be doing something about it. It doesn’t sit right with me how Tamlin handles Under the Mountain and I know he was going through a lot but on page, his love for Feyre doesn’t exist in the pages with Amarantha so I am not convinced.
The book ends with them together and I’m happy. They have to deal with Rhysand and his bargain sure, but they are together. Beaten, bruised and traumatised, but together. They go home and you’re left with hope, hope for the future, for them and for their world. Feyre and her High Lord are saved.
“I found him carefully studying me, his lips in a thin line. “Has anyone ever taken care of you?” he asked quietly.
“No.” I’d long since stopped feeling sorry for myself about it.”
“I threw myself into that fire, threw myself into it, into him, and let myself burn.”
“You look . . . better than before.”
Was that a compliment? I could have sworn Lucien gave Tamlin an encouraging nod.
“And you hair is . . . clean.”
“I love you,’ he whispered, and kissed my brow. ‘Thorns and all.”
- Thoughts about Rhysand
I love Rhysand. So much. This post is about ACOTAR so I don’t want to get into what I know from ACOMAF but please note that I love Rhysand. When he first shows up and rescues Feyre I love that she says that he is the most beautiful man she’s ever seen. I mean, how gorgeous must he be for her to think that immediately. I love that he is so sensuous and graceful and I think he is such a great multi-faceted character and one you learn more about as the series goes on.
In ACOTAR, Rhys is very morally grey. He saves Feyre but then is revealed to be an enemy of Tamlin’s who then hurts Feyre and taunts her. Under the Mountain he is hard to figure out. He is directly connected to Amarantha, hurts Feyre so she agrees to his bargain so he can heal her and then drugs her every night so she doesn’t remember anything. All these things are explained in ACOMAF but on the page in this book, we see Feyre’s confusion about his character and boy does it give me a lot of confused feelings. He isn’t all bad though; he heals her after the first trial, he bets on her beating the Middengard worm, he helps her with the second trial and then stops others from hurting her. He also saves her butt when her and Tamlin have their moment together and while he isn’t nice about it, he saves her anyway, despite what it costs him later. He reveals himself to Feyre through the book slowly and I like that we see him let down his boundaries when he is around her. He isn’t an evil character, he’s complicated and challenging but ultimately, he is better than you think. He is as much a prisoner as Feyre and it’s not until Chapter 42 where we really realise this when he explains how much he hates Amarantha.
The final chapters we see Rhys are his redemption. He fights for her in those moments and if that doesn’t break your heart than I don’t know what will. He tries to kill Amarantha to stop her from hurting Feyre and there is so much pain and feeling in those moments. I re-read them and just see how much he finally decided to make a step to hurt her. I will forever hate the fact that Tamlin was the one who killed Amarantha, not Rhys who was her prisoner for so long, especially when Tamlin doesn’t even fight for Feyre.
The ending with Rhysand and Feyre is beautiful and I feel like it is their first truthful conversation together. Both reeling from the pain they are feeling they talk, for once not in a prison cell and not fighting for their lives. They talk and you see this friendship that could occur despite them technically being enemies, despite them having a bond between them that they think is the bargain. Their relationship is so unknown and even though she leaves with Tamlin, I can’t help thinking that Rhys is as important.
This book isn’t a love triangle, even though a lot of people think it is. Feyre doesn’t love Rhysand during it and has more feelings of hate towards him than anything else. But, the potential between them definitely screams something else and that’s what you’re left with as the book finishes.
“Rhysand stared at me for long enough that I faced him.
“Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”
“What do you want?” I demanded.
“A moment of peace and quiet,” he snapped, rubbing his temples.
I paused. “From what?”
He massaged his pale skin, making the corners of his eyes go up and down, out and in. He sighed. “From this mess.”
I sat up farther on my pallet of the hay. I’d never seen him so candid.
“That damned bitch is running me ragged,” he went on, and dropped his hands from his temples to lean his head against the wall. “You hate me. Imagine how you’d feel if I made you serve in my bedroom. I’m High Lord of the Night Court – not her harlot.”
“I stepped out of the shelter of my savior’s arm and turned to thank him. Standing before me was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen.”
- Thoughts about Feyre’s heartbreak with the final challenge.
The final challenge. Just the words make my heart feel heavy. As you probably know the final challenge put before Feyre by Amarantha is to stab three innocent faeries in the heart and then she would be free. Imagine, freedom is within grasp, only one more challenge to go, and then you are told to kill three people in front of you. Every time I read this part, my heart breaks for Feyre because how can someone ask that of someone else? How evil must you be to ask that? Feyre’s internal monologue is absolutely heart wrenching in this part and it feels so real. I feel as though I am standing there in the court room watching her do it. The pain is so realistic, the words she is saying to herself so real. Her heartache and desire to plunge a knife into her own heart also resonates because how can you live with yourself having done this. This part of the book is probably the most powerful and it really sets the scene for the next book, because how does one just continue on from killing two innocent people? How does one paint again having taken away someone’s final days? I think these chapters and the one’s following are the most and best developed as you feel so emotional during those moments. How can Feyre move on from this?
“Refuse and die. Kill three innocents and live. Three innocents, for my own future. For my own happiness. For Tamlin and his court and the freedom of an entire land.”
“As I lifted the ash dagger, something inside me fractured so completely that there would be no hope of ever repairing it. No matter how many years passed, no matter how many times I might try to paint her face.”
“One faerie – and then we were free. Just one more swing of my arm.
And maybe one more after that – maybe one more swing, up and inward and into my own heart.
It would be a relief – a relief to end it by my own hand, a relief to die rather than face this, what I’d done.”
- Thoughts about my feelings on this book
When I first read this book, I wasn’t blown away. I really enjoyed it but had a few issues, mostly because of Tamlin and Feyre as I explained earlier. I thought this was a great book and one I would re-read but not as perfect as some others I have read. I have since changed my mind. While I still count this book as a 4 star book (although I am considering changing it!) I love it. I feel like the more I re-read it, the more I love it. I love the characters and I love the plot. I love that it has twists and turns and that you follow Feyre as she discovers things and gets to know Tamlin and Lucien and Rhysand. I want more and more of this world and these characters and the writing.
I have to admit, knowing what comes in ACOMAF makes me love this book more. I like that it perfectly sets up the story that continues and evolves in book two. The depth of everything in book one becomes so developed and I just love it. This series is quickly becoming one of my favourites and I am super excited for what will come in book three.
If you haven’t read A Court of Thorns and Roses, you can buy it here.
So what do you think? Do you agree with my thoughts? Do you disagree? I’d love to hear what you think about ACOTAR in preparation for ACOWAR. Let me know in the comments.
P.S. Bookmarks in image from ReadandWonder on Etsy.