“You do not fear. You do not falter. You do not yield.
Remember that you are a wolf. And you cannot be caged.”
Rating: 3.5 stars.
After swearing that I would drag this book out as long as I possibly could, I have finished it within the course of three days. So much for patience. But at the very least, in my defense I have to say, I couldn’t find it in me to put it down. As the last “official” book in the series (but not the final installment, for we will probably see novellas in the future) it was almost everything I had hoped for. I say almost because although it is also the lengthiest of the trilogy, there are cliffhangers and questions left unattended at the end. However, I have a feeling that will be where the novellas come into play. Without spoiling anything, I’d wager we definitely will be getting a Lucien novel! You can imagine how hard I cried over that revelation.
In A Court of Wings and Ruin, we follow as our heroine, Feyre, infiltrates her enemy court to gather information on the upcoming war. The High Lord of Spring doesn’t suspect anything amiss, blaming her absence on mind control and believing her to have been a prisoner, yet his emissary— (also, let’s be honest, the best character in the whole series…nope, I’m not biased at all)— Lucien begins to notice things not quite settling with her return. Those initial chapters of Feyre’s time in Spring were both painful and exhilarating to read because you are compelled to sympathize with her by also cheering her on through her devious work and spying. It isn’t until certain scenarios break apart the foundation of the court where Feyre, along with her wary friend Lucien, find themselves north of Prythian in the Night Court. From there, the story becomes full of battle strategies, ancient creatures, reunion scenes, and of course—confrontations and revelations. (No joke, the final war scene took about one-hundred pages. And it was intense throughout the whole ordeal.)
I finished reading A Court of Wings and Ruin a few days ago and at first I thought I loved it. But after the dreaded honeymoon phase… I’ve started to realize that I really didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had thought I would. As much as I had hoped I would.
For some reason it just didn’t feel like a Sarah J Maas book, especially not one from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. I know Throne of Glass has its ups and downs, but with ACOTAR I was expecting a phenomenal finale due to how incredible A Court of Mist and Fury was. I’m still sickened and shocked by how much this book failed me. I’ve invested my heart into theses characters—not a day went by for almost two years where I didn’t think of the series at least once— and to read the last book, thinking it was going to be the mother of all fantasy novels, and to realize that I didn’t connect with any of the characters I was in love with…. it hurt. A lot.
I have seen many people speculate that she might have not written to the best of her ability due to the pressure put on Maas to finish the series on time, but with the amount of books she has written and the length of them all, I would have at least expected a bit more than what we got. We all joked that we didn’t know how she could end a series, thinking it might result in the deaths of our favorite character, but I didn’t think their death would literally come at the hand of the author for not writing them the way they’ve always been portrayed, even by the fans.
For starters, there’s Mor. I’m not so much bothered by the way in which her sexuality came out than I am by her treatment for… well, for the entire book. Mor is supposed to be this strong and compassionate woman who doesn’t let shit bother her and uplifts others! In ACOWAR, Mor not only is repeatedly overshadowed by other events and characters, but she acts aggesvijy in a way that doesn’t line up right with her original aesthetic. She is terse with Amren, almost platonic with Feyre, and outright brazen towards Nesta. In fact, the only people she seems to care about in the book are Azriel and Cassian, even though she’s partially using them as a cover because she’s afraid to come out about being bisexual. I’m sure that wasn’t intended on the authors part, to make it seem like Mor suddenly didn’t have that compassionate side to her anymore, but tragically that’s what this story conveyed to me. And to be fair? She had all the right to not be kind to them, especially after Rhysand and Azriel put her in the position where she had to negotiate with her rapists and abusers in order to further their alliance in the war. I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I saw that. I know Rhys can screw up at times, as is known from his character in the prior two books, but this was just outright OOC and made me feel really uncomfortable for the rest of the novel. Not to mention that Keir doesn’t even face a bad end? In fact, I don’t think it’s even mentioned what happens to him other than the promise Rhysand made to allow all the vile people from the Hewn City into Velars (I cried so much reading that. I was actually praying Feyre would use her High Lady card to ensure that didn’t happen).
The only character who I thought to be perfectly in character was Cassian, but even his parts felt clipped or forced. I think that’s in part due to the book being seven-hundred pages long wherein all the loose ends had to get tied up before the final chapter, but also it was in part due to the writing. It just felt rushed, as though the focal point of the book shift from being about character development and relationships to being about plot and battle tactics. Even the setting felt like a grey area— definitely not like the atmosphere from the Spring Court or Velaris. I wasn’t even sure where we were in certain parts of the book because the usual lengthy descriptors that I adored weren’t written into the book at all save for all the battlefield scenes.
Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship felt (while not necessarily dull) incomplete? I was rooting for them since book one, and after book two I had really thought that this was going to be the finale to make all other YA finale books want to be like it. I had high expectations and they were practically all trampled on. Every Feysand scene was either a smutty sex scene or just the two of them being in the same room discussing politics. There wasn’t any cuteness or snark from the prior books, and it almost felt like Rhysand lost his sarcastic/ fun nature that made us all fall for him and Feyre lost her tactical nature that made her such a good huntress. Kind of backwards for what we had anticipated from these two, isn’t it? It felt like they were present, but not actually there. I cried during Rhysand’s death scene, but in the back of my mind I knew what was coming. Why? Because we already saw it happen in the first book. While I think it was intended to be some sort of homage to the original story, it fell flat for me and I truly believe it was only added for shock value. As were much of the scenarios in this story.
Lucien…. I wrote a 2k+ meta about his arc in ACOWAR on tumblr, and you can read all about what I felt regarding it right HERE. But to surmise: I love that he escaped Spring and is now going to pursue a life in Velaris, but I hate that it seems as though he still wants forgiveness from Tamlin when it should be the other way around. I know we’re most likely going to get a novella for him, which would explain why the Helion/ High Lady of Autumn drama went unanswered in this book, but I don’t think it’s smart to bank off of a novella to answer questions that should be laid at peace in the official series.
I was thrilled with the arc given to Lucien, however I don’t think he had the proper character development that I had been hoping for. For starters, he finally realizes that Tamlin is a toxic friend and that he needs to separate himself from Spring, so Lucien goes with Feyre to the Night Court where he is then treated as you might imagine— the Inner Circle is wary of him, but they give him the chance to prove he is not like the Court he had just escaped from. Feyre helps them understand him a bit more, and we even get a scene where Lucien is wearing Illyrian leathers and wielding blades gifted to him by Cassian and Azriel! I loved that he was so prominent in the first half of the book, but towards the end he nearly vanished. And then we only saw pieces of him in the aftermath of the war. Unsurprisingly, I was bitter about that. Way to dangle a treat in front of a dog, Maas. However, Lucien does say to Feyre in the end “I have quite the story to tell you.” about his time missing in the book, and we are also told that his father isn’t Beron, but Helion—High Lord of Day. It all makes sense to me now that we have this information, and I was put out that we never got to see the two of them talk. I don’t even know if either of them are aware of what they mean to one another! Hence: a Lucien novella. It’s bound to happen.
It didn’t feel like I was reading a finale, especially not one to my favorite series. This is definitely my least favorite of the trilogy, and I’m so hurt (betrayed?) by the concept of that. I wish this book hadn’t come out and that we were all still in the excited month-before-publication phase where we thought we were going to get a million times more of the content than we actually did.
There were parts I really loved, like Azriel teaching Feyre to fly, Feyre and the Suriel having a heart to heart, the Archeron sisters sleeping in the same bed together like they once did when they were mortal etc… but the parts I didn’t like weigh too heavily on my heart to be overlooked.
Maas really stepped up the diversity in this book, and I couldn’t be happier about that. She’s finally learning! We find out that most of the courts are created of people of color, even the Winter Court (which a lot of fans had casted to be all white). I’m not just talking about the cop-out “tanned skin” or “warm tone” semantics often used in prior books. On the matter of LGBTQ+ representation, we see plenty of non-hetero romances, even within the main character group. I know for a fact that these characters could have been handled better: Helion being bisexual and written as a person who loves to sleep around? That’s just a classic stereotype and I wish it had been left out. Mor…. while I might be in the smaller portion of the fandom who was happy with her coming out, and found her story to be understandable and even relatable, I just wish it didn’t have to happen in the last chapter of the last book. Obviously it was a second thought type of decision, but it I’m glad she is canon bisexual. I just wish it wasn’t kept a secret at the end of the book.
I’m such a fan of Maas. What happened to this book destroyed me. I just can’t wrap my head around how she and the publishers let this happen?
Overall I just can’t believe this series is “over.” I know there will be novellas to come, but it’s the feeling you get when you finish a book that leaves you stunned for weeks on end… that’s going to be tough to deal with. I already miss these characters. It actually makes me sick thinking about how much I miss them because I feel like the last I saw them was actually in A Court of Mist and Fury. But all I can say now is: can’t wait for the fanfiction. I already have a million and one ideas! Hopefully these novellas come out soon.