Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin
Series Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Date Added: May 26, 2017
Date Started: June 12, 2017
Date Finished: July 15, 2017
Reading Duration: 33 days
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.
Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.
As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.
In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.
Note: Spoilers have been tagged, but apparently the background isn’t completely black, because you can still kind of see the words, but probably not enough to make them out unless you put forth a concerted effort. My blog update/upgrade is still a work in progress, so I apologize for any inconvenience.
The finale to Maas’s whirlwind fae, paranormal romance is both satisfying and complete, so I was quite surprised to see not only a fourth, but up to a sixth book in the series planned, at least by what Goodreads says. My hope is that these volumes will focus on other characters and wrap up some loose ends. It would be a shame to sully Feyre and Rhys’s wonderful OTP status with series fatigue, but if the later books explored other relationships and showed how humans and fae learned how to coexist that would be perfect. The power couple could obviously be involved in such happenings, but they shouldn’t be the only focus.
Feyre’s gambit in the Spring Court is deliciously vengeful, but Maas is like Martin insofar as actions have consequences, which come to fruition later, and while I don’t want to say all is well at the end, I will proclaim the plot comes full circle. Tamlin acts like the guy who pressures girls to sleep with him, and then when they no longer have any interest, turns into the jaded, abusive, slut-shaming ex who’s terrifyingly possessive.
The difference between him and Rhysand is even more striking considering how the High Lord of the Night Court behaved when he’s first introduced. Rhys is putting on a show, but Tam is entirely face value, and only prolonged experience teaches Feyre this. With Tamlin, possession goes only one way. She belongs to him, and his rage at her loss is the wrath of a man who’s been robbed of a prized object. Even when she tells him she left of her own accord, he can’t believe that the Night Lord didn’t mentally manipulate her somehow to steal her away. Though to be fair in the initially chapters of the book, Feyre courts and nourishes that belief for her own gain, but even when the ruse is disclosed, Tamlin still can’t believe the once human he “rescued” has her own free will, can make her own choices, and chooses not to be with him.
Contrasting both him and his Spring Court with Rhys reveals the differences more starkly than night and day. Feyre and Rhys are a partnership, a unity of equals, which the overprotective Tamlin could neither understand let alone accept, but the Lord of the Spring Court is not alone in this. All of the other territories in Prythian have this grandiose pretense about them that Rhysand only plays at to keep up the illusion without supporting it in his Court of Nightmares. This serves to fool Prythian into the belief that he’s only the dark side of dreaming when his true seat of Velaris is a city of light. All the other Courts have this grandiose pretense about them, and the difference between High Fae and Lesser Fae is sharply delineated, but in the Night Court, where they’ve been wearing the proverbial mask for years, there is no pretense, at least not in the City of Stars. The true nightmare of the Nightmare Court is how it’s not a nightmare at all; it’s a masquerade Rhys is forced to keep up in order to play a part. His actual inner circle is made up of more than friends; they have familial bonds. They like each other; they tease each other, and they want to work towards the good of all Prythian and the world.
Taking off the mask is a major theme of the trilogy. In Thorns and Roses, everyone in the Spring Court is forced to wear one, and though its physical absence is blatant from Rhysand’s visage, he’s been wearing one for over a thousand years. His unseen mask conceals far more than any borne by Spring, and Feyre neither has nor gives him an easy time in its eventual removal.
Stories that contain an amalgamation of preternatural beings can often seem cluttered with the supernatural, but these series never does that, and I, personally, can’t help but love the introduction of Drakon’s people, the Seraphim.
It’s also of note that the Seraphim of course have feathered wings as opposed to the Illyrians’ bat-like ones. There’s an angel/demon paradigm here, yet they both fight for the same side.
I have a theory about Amren that might connect her to them, as well. It’s a wee bit spoilery for the character’s origins, but not for the narrative itself. *spoiler* I’m pretty certain Amren is an angel who fell, though I don’t know of which Choir descended. She mentions “watching,” which brings to mind the Nephilim whom are also known as the Grigori or, more importantly for our purpose, the Watchers. Amren makes mention of her “Father,” which is another red flag for her (once) angel status. She believes the world of fae and humans is some hell he locked her in, which begs some questions: Who is “he?” Did Amren come from our world? What did she do to be banished to Prythian and locked in the Prison? Amren is sustained by blood, which of course has some vampiric connotations, though some inverse Christ ones, as well; however, one of the most telling signs that she might indeed by the Angel of Death comes when either Cassian or Azriel mention her “hunting.” Those in the know paint blood on their doors, and this is a clear reference to the 7th Plague of Egypt when the Angel of Death slew the first born *end spoiler*
The Bone Carver’s siblings also have some excellent name references. Stryga, his sister, has a name that comes from the Italian for witch, strega, and his brother Koschei is a nod to the Russian folktale Koschei the Deathless. These little tidbits are sprinkled throughout all three volumes and show that Maas did enough research to give earlier tales and legends their due.
Another wonderful thing about this series is not everyone is white. Far too often, stories that take place in this kind of fantasy world only feature Tolkienish elf looking fairies with not a single drop of melanin to be found.
Now, don’t get it twisted, we all know this is my type hehe; however, it’s not only awesome, but relevant, validating and dammit necessary to be able to see yourself in fictional media, and Thorns and Roses is phenomenal with this. At least one of the human queens is said to have dark skin, and Helion, the lord of the Day Court is described as “a dark-skinned man clothed in white and gold colors,” which makes sense for the Solar Court of the day.
And Tarquin of the Summer Court proves how awesome dark skin looks with white/silver hair (not that I don’t already personally know that #silverhairdontcare)
So suffice it to say I’d feel the same way about whitewashing in the film version of this as I would for An Ember in the Ashes (spoiler alert: do not do it). Also, if they dropped the bi/queer angle for *spoiler* Mor, *end spoiler* that would piss me off, as well. There were a few other queer characters, and hell, if they decided to include some more, I wouldn’t be upset.
As with many other (arguably all) fantasy stories, dispossession is the catalyst for the narrative. There were High Fae that always opposed the Treaty with humans for what it took away, and they also felt jilted for being required to give up their human slaves *eye roll* It’s a good metaphor for the Confederacy and entitlement in general. When you’re used to something, no matter how terrible it might be for someone else, the loss of it seems like a slight. Even if you never deserved it. Even if it was more than wrong. Even if having it means other sentient beings are irrevocably hurt.
When anyone is mired in such entitlement, longing for “the good old days,” there is little that can be said to persuade them from their course. They will find any and every excuse to justify enslaving and oppressing other people, usually by instituting an “us and them” fallacy, where “they/them” are lesser and therefore not deserving of the same rights as “we/us.” The Fae have magic; humans do not; therefore humans should serve the Fae. That very conclusion is fallacious and only contingent on the belief that the possession of magic/power makes one better/higher on that notion alone. Like I might have better reasoning skills than my cats, but I sure as hell can’t do a standing jump more than twice my height, nor can I see in relative darkness.
The High Fae may be beautiful, but Maas makes it a point to break the Aesthetic Fallacy, as a great many of them are greedy, jealous, and cruel. *spoiler* Ianthe *end spoiler* may be lovely, but she’s a manipulative bitch, and *spoiler* the Suriel *end spoiler* might be outwardly hideous, yet still beautifully dreams of a better world.
There are some pacing issues in this final novel, most notably in regards to ending fatigue, especially when compared to the intrigue and deception at the beginning. I was supposed to wait for the novel to be available at the library, but after the end of the second, I knew I couldn’t and rushed to the bookstore as soon as possible. I finished the first part that very night. The second section is a bit slower, too, but it’s a nice contrast to the high tensions of the first.
In terms of series endings, A Court of Wings and Ruin does an excellent job. The majority of the series’ narrative occurs in the second book, which is my trilogy ideal. Introduce and leave something unfinished in the first; have that unfinished business explode into something world changing in the second, which should also be where a good portion of character development occurs; and then wrap it up in the third, and Maas’s saga of Feyre and Rhys ends splendidly. I can only hope she chooses to explore what’s left in the upcoming volumes and leave Night’s rulers in relative peace.