Ya know…as an end to the Feyre party, I think it was fitting. I liked aspects of the book well enough, and the end was definitely engaging enough to warrant a lot of “OMG” moments. It wasn’t my favorite of the trilogy, for many reasons (some of which I had previously applauded in the last book, others that made me roll my eyes), but I don’t regret reading it either. I’ll probably read A Court of Silver Flames in the distant future because YAY NESTA, a loooong Maas break is in effect right about now!
Note: This is the third book of the ACOTAR series, so there are some spoilers here.
A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN
by Sarah J. Maas
Bloomsbury Publishing, May 2017
Rated: 3 / 5 cookies
FEYRE WILL BRING VENGEANCE.
She has left the Night Court – and her High Lord – and is playing a deadly game of deceit. In the Spring Court, Tamlin is making deals with the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees, and Feyre is determined to uncover his plans. But to do so she must weave a web of lies, and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.
As mighty armies grapple for power, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.
BUT WHILE WAR RAGES, IT IS HER HEART THAT WILL FACE THE GREATEST BATTLE.
This trilogy, as a whole, has certainly taken me on a roller coaster ride of opinions. Some of my thoughts can probably be attributed to the fact that I’ve read all three books at least one or two years apart, so my opinion of characters changed. After a brief re-read of the previous books, though, I can safely say that there is still one character opinion I’ve carried across all three books, and that is Nesta being a sassy fierce woman.
A lot happens in A Court of Wings and Ruin though most of this takes place near the end of the book. From the cliffhanger ending of A Court of Mist and Fury, you’d think we’d get all the action we needed with the war in the third book. Alas, this is not so, but I found I actually didn’t mind the constant meandering in some cases. A lot of characters are reintroduced or introduced (the presence of the Peregryns were awesome, actually), we get at least two Rhysand POVs, and because of the large scale of the battle, we see more of Prythian that I had been hoping for since the descriptions of Velaris and the Summer Court in the previous book. I was pretty entertained, but a lot of the dialogue and conversations were a slog to get through.
What I Loved
The High Lords. After Under the Mountain with Amarantha (which was definitely my favorite bits of A Court of Thorns and Roses), we don’t see all of the High Lords together until the third book. Even then, there were some changes in the dynamics of the High Lords and their consorts. I do love that we actually see each one, and that we got a sense of how their relationship is towards the Night Court and Rhys’ Inner Circle. If ever there are going to be short stories recounting each High Lord’s perspective during that 50-year-nightmare in Under the Mountain, I’d definitely read it. And I wish that the whole Kallias and Viviane story hadn’t been a “tell” and more of a “show.” Would have loved that interaction, and it sounds like a story that could have been steamy as well, which Maas can definitely deliver.
The description of the battle. Despite my general prediction of how the battle is going to go (and it pretty much ended the way I thought it would), I actually loved reading it. There were instances during the final battle that had me tearing up and cheering slightly for certain groups of people. There were instances where I could not stop reading from page to page because of how intense things were going.
The Lucien redemption arc. You know, I was pretty disappointed that Maas did Lucien dirty in ACOMAF. I felt bad about how his character went from snarky and clever to cowardly and hesitant, especially since I thought he was really well-written in the first. (Then again, Tamlin got the same write-off as Lucien–actually, Tamlin’s was worse.) The third book kind of brings his character back from springtime darkness, and I really, really wished we’d gotten a glimpse of Lucien’s actual journey to find the cursed human queen. In fact, there were a lot of things happening “off-stage” to this Feyre play, and I wished Lucien’s adventure had its own highlight, because he’s a character that is redeemable, with an interesting enough backstory as is. (I had a lot of “OMG” moments with respect to Lucien, that’s for sure.)
What I Was Conflicted About
The Nesta Archeron show. She doesn’t say it outright, but I felt like Feyre was shipping Nesta with Cassian the whole time. Every Nesta and Cassian scene was like Feyre was trying to connect dots that might not actually be there. Granted, there is a thing between Nesta and Cassian, but it just felt voyeuristic whenever Feyre described her take on things. There is a short story out there of Cassian and Nesta’s second meeting in ACOMAF, and I honestly am all for it. I’m also for anything Nesta. The way her relationship played out with the different characters was fascinating, and I was actually liking how she goes from having “a stick up her ass to taking it out and beating people with it” (credit to the writers of Mass Effect 2 for that metaphor…).
Feyre. On the one hand, she’s definitely a much better person than when we first saw her in ACOTAR. She’s grown quite a lot, actually, even to the point where she plots and does things really well. But because she’s really the only perspective we see (beyond Rhys), she became quite grating. There were occasions where she slips into the eyes/mind of another character, but this doesn’t happen often, and when she does, I have a hard time believing the narration through that character’s eyes is not Feyre’s perspective. There were also other places I would have loved to see, but since the reader could only really go where Feyre goes, a lot of the events we get are being told to us. Too much telling, not enough showing.
What I Was Meeeeeh About
The dialogue at times felt really stilted and awkward between people. It was fun to actually see the bickering between the Inner Circle in ACOMAF, which was why I loved that book so much. I felt like ACOWAR tried to rehash the same things but to a lesser degree of amusement. There were a few chapters where characters tried to get into diplomatic arrangements with groups but then spent most of that time insulting each other instead of actually being productive (for Cauldron’s sake, there’s a war going on!). There were at least two meetings that literally boiled down to who can slut-shame and/or defend their female loved ones from said slut-shaming. Were these really the only insults the fae had? Seriously?
(Also, don’t get me started on the six-page dialogue about someone coming out as gay…which literally added nothing to the storyline because neither character does anything about this fact other than the two of them letting out their pent-up anger. It also just made me think less of the character, not because they’re gay, but because this became such an overblown issue that’s been happening for centuries and they haven’t done a thing to resolve it. Close/best friends shouldn’t be dragging this shit out to each other. For hundreds of years.)
And on that note…
Hundreds of years of advanced elven civilization and same-sex relationships are still frowned upon. I know that one of the central flaws of the fae courts is the misogyny involved within the structure of their society (“No High Ladies” my ass), but you’d think with characters like Rhysand and Thesan and Helion and Kallias and Tarquin holding power for hundreds of years that there would have been some kind of headway into progress. Thesan has a frigging male lover, and employs Nuan–a High Fae who also happens to be one of the best tinkerer from the Dawn Court. Nobody bats an eye about skin color (there’s a passing reference to discrimination against the Xian, though this is given through bitterness in political loyalties), yet people still have problems about others’ sex lives.
There were literally only two kinds of women: the victims and the aggressors (who are no better than the male misogynists). Don’t get me wrong. I loved that there was portrayal of sexual abuse on both ends of the gender spectrum, and that both men and women are equally shown to be aggressors. I loved that there were women like Feyre who did undergo some traumatic event that they had to pull themselves out of–some with more help than others. These were elements I simply adored about ACOMAF. Unfortunately, ACOWAR builds upon this to the point where almost every named female was either a victim of some kind of abuse or the aggressor (Ianthe, the Hybern general, and constant mentions of Amarantha). I know getting past that trauma is a major issue and any woman who gets past or rises above this trauma should be applauded. But it was too much. Females do not have to be abused victims to undergo massive character growth. Not one female–main or secondary or named–is taking part in the story as empathizers who still take action despite more comfortable situations.
3 out of 5 cookies! Also, I kept a running tally every time “mate” and mentions of the “mating bond” showed up in the book. I ended up with 266, give or take. #randomfacts