- Page Count: 699
- Release Date: May 2, 2017
- My Rating: 5 stars
Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Rosesseries.
Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings 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.
I left out major spoilers! (But will hint at general plot points, so click away if you don’t want to know anything before reading). And I do address some issues at the bottom.
THIS BOOK TOTALLY WRECKED ME. In the best possible way (because I’m thrilled to cry for a day straight? Idk). First of all, the scope of this story is extraordinary. Events from the first half that seemed so important at the time now feel like minuscule details in the face of this EPIC PLOT.
I love how Maas writes such complex characters who have had their lives shattered in a variety of ways, yet still keep fighting for each other and work to create a new life with the family they chose. Feyre’s growth from the first book where she had such low self-worth is beyond inspirational as she finds the ability to completely forgive & love herself and everything she’s been. She’s still a flawed character who makes some sketchy calls and is continually healing. And that’s what I love most about this book: every single character is broken and healing. Lucien, Elain, Nesta, Cassian, Azriel, Mor, Rhys, Amren, even Tamlin. EVERYONE. And the amount they care about each other is just
Maas manages to juggle a wide range of characters in this book, add in even more, and find really creative ways to show what’s happening with other ships besides Rhys & Feyre. I’m SO grateful for all of the page time Cassian, Nesta, Elain, and Azriel get! I’m not saying who lives or dies, but I’m realllly hoping the companion novels will be about my main ships.
I also loved how everyone finds a different way to be strong (like in ways besides brute strength) and the story actually shows the horrors of war without glorifying killing. There’s a theme of the choices & consequences of war and how one life can change the world:
”what we think to be our greatest weakness can sometimes be our biggest strength. And… the most unlikely person can alter the course of history.”
I was curious to see how Feyre would wield her new power as High Lady on her own rather than through Rhys. A lot of stories find ways to keep couples separated until the very end so you never really see them figure out how they work together, so I thought the scenes with Rhys & Feyre just talking strengthened their characters so much. There’s a running thread throughout the story that Rhys would rather sacrifice himself than let others be hurt and EVERYTHING GETS SO EMOTIONAL.
But oh my goodness she and Rhys totally turned into Bella & Edward with how they’d drop all urgent issues and rush to the bedroom nonstop. I’m not against having healthy/positive portrayals of sex in YA by any means, buuut this kind of felt like overkill and I personally wanted to see the page time spent elsewhere. And I’m sure a lot of people will be thrilled those scenes are included so this isn’t a complaint… but I was mostly snickering or rolling my eyes like
Other random parts I loved:
– CASSIAN. My phone now autocorrects his name to caps lock if that’s any indication of my love. His entrance was epic.
– Finally getting to see so many details of the other Courts! I NEED FAN ART
– the Winter Court has armored polar bears and wee fox messengers with vests omg
– Characters who have the ability to be more than the bad decisions they made in the past (while still not excusing those actions)
– References like the Myrmidons, Ouroboros, the Illyrians, Stryga, Koschei, Thesan, Eris, Lord Thanatos, Madja, the Firebird + Vassa, Andromache, and so many others! Maas wove in Russian folk tales, Bible stories, elements of Greek mythology, and various myths from around the world in such clever ways (see my Tumblr post).
– so many plot points came full circle or were repeated in such neat ways
– Lucien’s story
– ALL OF THE SASS AND BANTER
– I never thought I’d be this emotional about the Weaver, the Bone Carver, or the Suriel…
– seeing Cassian in action commanding troops as the general
– the absolutely amazing world
– Serious LOTR vibes with their Council of Elrond drama & hobbit-like Autumn Court
– Elain really reminded me of Eowyn in the Houses of Healing (and… other moments). Her character arc also kind of reminded me of Elide from TOG at times? yay
– Rhys shows Feyre the library he turned into a refuge for women recovering from abuse and it’s more than a side comment — like Mor and Rhys genuinely care for their mental health and also seek refuge there themselves
– Actual healthy relationships. Rhys treats Feyre as an equal: ”the male who had always presented me with a choice not as a gift, but as my own gods-given right.”
– THAT WHOLE BATTLE AT THE END. I am still not ok.
I wasn’t too sure about the first 10% though… Feyre had to explain every single action she took at the Spring Court so the reader couldn’t misconstrue her actions, which got to be a little drawn out.
And I was nervous about how this story would end since we’ve never seen Maas finish a storyline before, but I feel like she wrapped up everything really well while still making it clear where the following companion books could continue! And I’m so excited about a ship I never thought would sail but totally might now. Basically, this world means SO much to me and I’m really happy with how everything ended.
Now for some points that I really do want to hear some input on:
I think Maas listened to her readers and made a serious effort to make this book more diverse overall. There are fae of every race in every rank now, there are several gay couples with new characters (one of whom is a High Lord), another High Lord who’s either bisexual or pansexual, and a major character is gay. Maas also clarifies that Amren, the Illyrians, and a lot of other characters are definitely not white or simply “tan.” And I know Mor’s story didn’t work for some readers, but I’ve also seen others who are absolutely thrilled. So I guess I’m hoping to hear more discussion about what did or didn’t work for everyone.
There is one sentence in the beginning that I do want to highlight, though. The niece and nephew of Hybern appear and aren’t interested in Ianthe’s advances so Feyre observes that “perhaps any sort of physical passion had long ago been drained away, alongside their souls.” That sentence really angered a lot of people in the book community and was seen as a comment against asexuality. There’s another part later where Feyre thinks “the two of them perhaps preferred no one’s company but each other’s. In whatever unholy capacity.” And I guess I thought she meant incest instead of shaming asexuals, but will still mention it since it’s the center of a lot of discussion right now. Another sketchy part at the beginning is how two POC characters die to further Feyre’s story, which also happened in Crown of Midnight. And there are some other parts where I raised an eyebrow at certain actions or comments (and personally wasn’t huge on how yet another bisexual character wants to sleep with literally everyone they see). So hopefully people can be aware of this going into the story, read critically, and use this as grounds for discussion, learning, and highlighting how authors can improve and be held accountable.
So, yes, I will acknowledge that this book has some problematic aspects and I am in no way attempting to overlook them or blindly excuse whatever Maas does. But I am still giving this book 5 stars, largely because of the extremely positive rep for PTSD, surviving trauma & abuse, and rebuilding yourself. I have never seen an author write such realistic, relatable, and inspirational character arcs in this area as Maas – I’ve heard from over 100 readers throughout the past year who say that her books quite literally saved their lives. The positive impact her books have had on so many young women is incredible (even if it’s just making them think critically about how men treat them). Sometimes it seems like people scrutinize every single sentence Maas writes on a much more vindictive level with the sole aim of pointing out her faults (which are there… again, not denying this), so I want to clarify that there is an actual, important reason why I gave this 5 stars besides general fangirling squeals.
I really don’t feel the need to justify why I relate so strongly to these broken characters, but I did at least cover some of my current physical health situation in my review of Empire of Storms. I’m still struggling to survive day to day, contrary to whatever illusion social media + photoshop creates. I can’t even try to explain the exhausting physical battle, but will say that the mental endurance for years of isolation is a whole other challenge. So to find this family of characters who have been through hell physically and mentally, yet still manage to find hope, love, and fight to survive is more powerful than I can say. These books and characters have been a total lifeline for me (and so many friends in similar situations) and I will always be grateful to Maas for them. So maybe pause before you judge me as a white girl with an easy life who blindly supports anything Maas writes out of clueless privilege.
I’ve never denied the faults in her books. But I AM asking that people stop dismissing any positive representation for others as not only unimportant, but something to viciously attack those readers for finding. Most of the bloggers I follow who are strong advocates for diversity gave Everything, Everything 5 stars for its diversity despite what I found to be hurtful ableism. It never once crossed my mind to disown them as “wrong” because I know rating books is complex and reflects our own individual experience with a story.
And just because I identified so strongly with the positive rep doesn’t mean I’m ok with the rep that didn’t work as well. My 5 star rating is not trying to brush those parts aside, imply that the problems in this book weren’t as important as the parts I liked, or to overlook any issues. I struggled with this rating, but in the end the amount that this book has helped me and so many readers I know is overwhelming.
And I genuinely do hope that there can be a respectful discussion in the comments because I’m curious how others experienced the same story. If I missed some problems that really stood out to you, I genuinely want to hear about it and learn. My rating is definitely not written in stone and will probably change as I reflect more on the book (like how my ACOTAR rating has fluctuated anywhere between 2-4 stars).
Thank you to the wonderful Brittney for texting me nonstop while reading and surviving this with me – here’s her review.