Title: A Court of Mist and Fury
Series Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Date Added: January 26, 2017
Date Started: May 1, 2017
Date Finished: June 11, 2017
Reading Duration: 41 days
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Shares Paradigms With: The Mabinogion Tetralogy (Welsh Mythology), The Poetic & Prose Edda (Norse Mythology), Classic Mythology (Hades and Persephone), The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. LeGuin
Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.
With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.
*******Spoilers for A Court of Thorns and Roses*******
I have learned to eat crow.
Sometimes you have to admit when your expectations about a trilogy are completely wrong. When you saw through one of the author’s ruses, but completely missed another and far more important one that would’ve utterly changed your point of view about a character.
This book demolished my beliefs about Rhys even as it completely validated my feelings about Tamlin. I tried as hard as Feyre to hold onto my hatred of the High Lord of Night, but once the truth about someone is revealed there is no going back.
It was a slow burn, too. Maas made it so that both reader and Feyre came around near the same time. The newly made High Fae’s PTSD is very well done with the author showing the nightmares and triggers. I had no problem recognizing the warning signs between her and Tamlin, since I never liked him, but it is more blatant than a scream. They are both suffering, but instead of talking about it as a healthy relationship would do, Tamlin pointedly ignores the fact that his fiancee is vomiting up her guts every night to the point that she’s as gaunt as a corpse. He shuts her completely out of the rising political machinations of Prythian, refuses to “allow” her to learn anything about the powers bequeathed to her by the High Lords, which Rhys not only cultivates, but encourages her to do. The Night Lord also teaches her how to read during her weekly visits to his Court per the terms of their bargain.
The breaking point with Tamlin comes when the High Lord of Spring literally confines Feyre to the house, after she fails to convince him to let her to accompany him and Lucien. The emissary had been trying to speak on her behalf, but he’d always wind up deferring to Tamlin, leaving Feyre to wonder if she had any allies in Spring…but even worse than that, confinement is one of Feyre’s triggers due to her time and torture Under the Mountain with Amarantha, and Tamlin fucking knows this, and he locks up her anyway. He says he only wants to protect her, but it is more than possible to be a protector and not a jailer. While they’re may only be nuance and intention separating two locked doors, the main difference is who holds the key.
The core idea behind Tamlin and Rhysand is frankly brilliant. Maas is bucking traditional YA mores and showing that just because someone rescues you, saves you and your family from poverty, and is willing to marry you, it doesn’t mean they are worthy or deserving of your affection, and you don’t owe them your body.
In Thorns and Roses, we find out that in order to break the curse, Tamlin had to somehow make a human woman fall in love with him under certain conditions, which just lays the groundwork for that kind of manipulation. He literally needed Feyre’s love in order to save his Court and kingdom whereas Rhys *spoiler* even as her mate *end spoiler* always gives her a choice.
Prythian’s surface judgment about Rhysand and Feyre is that the Lord of Night stole away the Bride of Spring. It has a decidedly Persephone and Hades vibe to it.
Random note: I want to write a story about this image…though one could argue that I already have, many times over. A monochrome, silvery warrior draped in death and an innocent maiden covered in flowers. What could I possible be referring to??? *ahem* But I’d want to do a more direct reworking of the Persephone and Hades myth, painting him in a better light, making him less villainous. Though he looks cold, there seems to be a hesitancy to touch her, as if he doesn’t want to taint the pure.
But that’s the ruse Rhys has kept up for thousands of years. If they think you’re a horror, their fear will keep your people safe. The High Lord of the Night Court gave up everything in order to protect his lands, and the dichotomy of the Court of Nightmares and the Court of Dreams is a similar motif to Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Nightmares must exist so that dreams can flourish.
The one thing I don’t like about Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship is purely stylistic. I’m not fond of the way Maas writes sex. I have absolutely no problem with explicit sex scenes, and I’m honestly glad that this series has them and is still considered YA, but the language of it is a bit too inelegant for me. There’s nothing wrong with the way she writes sex, nor is there an issue with consent especially in Rhys and Feyre’s case, but it’s just not the style I prefer.
I also find some of their general phrase choices slightly out of sorts. While it’s always good to break the mold of tradition in order to peel open something new, the more modern language e.g. the term “prick” and giving the middle finger seem incongruent for the time. If this were more modern or urban fantasy, the expressions would fit better.
If you’ve only read A Court of Thorns and Roses and didn’t like it for the same reasons I pointedly expressed in my review, please consider continuing the series. The author knew what she was doing, and she masterfully manipulated my thoughts as easily as Rhysand, making me hate him as much as the majority of Prythian, but not only the Spring Court was forced to wear masks. In Tamlin’s land they came off at the end of Amarantha’s reign, but Rhys has been wearing his for thousands of years, starker than the visible concealment and far more heartbreaking.
I may have to go back, reread the first book, and consider changing my rating. Though the first novel in a trilogy obviously informs the second, this is the first series I’ve read where the inverse also occurs, creating a two way conduit between installments that’s never been seen before.