A Court of Wings and Ruin, the last book in the fantastical A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy, and easily my most anticipated book of the year. Last year, I was blown away by the second book, A Court of Mist and Fury. That book captured my heart, so much so that I now consider it my favorite. Saying A Court of Wings and Ruin had a lot to live up to is an understatement.
The last book in a series, especially a trilogy, is always hard to write perfectly. I've read very few finale books that I have read and felt completely satisfied with. Then again, I'm the type that will never be satisfied (haha Hamilton, anyone?). I'd like to start this review off saying that I absolutely adored this book. It was a truly transcendent experience. This is not a series I will ever forget, or ever stop rereading. While I did love the book, I'll be the first to admit that it did have its flaws. I'll go into those flaws with detail, and I just really want to express that I did truly love this book. It was amazing, it just wasn't everything I'd hoped for-- which was a lot. Do I still highly recommend this series? Of course, it's still one of my all time favorite series, and has my all time favorite book in it. Do I still love this series with all my heart and soul? YES. Like I said before, it's extremely hard to write a last book in a series, especially a trilogy, that leaves the reader feeling satisfied and happy. For one, it's saying goodbye to that specific cast of characters. Two, the reader always wants more, if it's a truly good series the reader can never get enough. Three, The reader's visions, expectations and hopes are often very different from the author's. Sometimes finale books in trilogies feel rushed, like all the information is crammed in. This is one of the issues I had with A Court of Wings and Ruin.
"Do not get distracted. Do not linger. You are a warrior, and warriors know when to pick their fights."
Like many books before it, and many books to come, A Court of Wings and Ruin falls into the pit of rushed trilogy endings. I don't see the appeal of trilogies to authors, especially when it seems like the amount of information crammed into the last book always seems like enough to spread out into another, if not two more, books. A Court of Wings and Ruin was strange in the way that the beginning felt a little... slow, while the end? So many things that seemed like they had lead up to a big conclusion were rushed through. And a lot of the BIG SHOCKERS in the end, didn't even have enough time to impact the reader before they were resolved. This book didn't feel as well thought through and edited as its predecessors. My theory on that is that Sarah is writing A LOT these days. She's been banging out these gigantic books, and has less time to go over them, which is unfortunate. There were a lot less moments in this book where you just go "OH that's what all those subtle little foreshadowing bits that I barely even noticed lead up to." That was something Sarah's previous books had been so good at-- dropping random little things that you don't even notice, until you see the outcome and it seems OBVIOUS and just feels right because of all the hints towards it. Instead, this book had rushed scenes that didn't seem to fit correctly, and then also scenes that had big lead ups and then lasted for only a few paragraphs. The pacing of this book just felt off.
"They took what is ours. And we do not allow those crimes to do unpunished."
While I absotleuly love the first person narrative, it's the one that I chose to write in, it didn't exactly work for this book. While it worked brilliantly in the previous two books, that was because those two tracked the internal progress of Feyre growing into her own self. In this book, Feyre has found herself and the character building arcs are really supposed to be concentrated on others. But it felt... awkward trying to show these huge character arcs through only Feyre's eyes. Not that I'm saying I think the book should'be switched to third person, because that would be weird and out of tone for the series, but I just wasn't a big fan of how the other character arcs were portrayed through Feyre's eyes. Sometimes scenes were just stuffed in to be there, and I don't know. It just felt off and weird.
There were certain, very important characters, that just disappeared for a really long time (yeah, a character I love just dropped off the face of the book for a good half before turning up randomly again-- it didn't feel like the good, smooth transitions Sarah usually writes.) And then there were just other characters, doing really important things in the background, but we have no insight into it because Feyre has no insight into it. And then they just pop back up after having done this really big task, that causes disconnect between the reader and the character. I didn't see what they were up to, so their big reveal at their great deeds doesn't seem quite as important. For instance, there's a character that we haven't seen since the first book that just turns up with this big surprise and I couldn't exactly bring myself to care when they were put into danger. Why? I don't know them, I don't know what they'd been up to. I had no real connection to them.
"You do not fear. You do not falter. You do not yield."
The plot itself was pretty interesting, there were just some holes that I was really expecting to be filled in before the end of the book... And they weren't. YES I am aware that there are more books coming set in this world. But this was marketed as the conclusion to this specific story, to Feyre's story and the issues going on with her.... It really didn't feel like the end. I think Sarah might've been trying to set up too many things in a book that was supposed to feel like a conclusion. There were just so MANY things that she set up that it didn't feel like a conclusion at all because of all the holes, and questions unanswered, not to mention that all the time spent setting up other books didn't leave quite enough time for a big, satisfying ending.
"There are many types of strength beyond the ability to wield a blade and end lives."
Now to talk about the characters. Feyre, her storyline was not, this will sound weird, but not the main one of the book. She was a bit of a bystander to the main characters arcs going on. A Court of Mist and Fury had been Feyre's big story arc of finding herself, now she gets to watch others do the same. Sure, Feyre was involved, but her storyline was not nearly as BIG as others, because she didn't change at all. I loved Feyre in this book, but she just wasn't quite as interesting in comparison to the other big changes happening in other characters.
"But this is war. We don't have the luxury of good ideas-- only picking between the bad ones."
Rhys, one out of the many of my favorite characters from this book, seemed to be a bit of a disappointment. I was excited to see my lovely, sassy most powerful high lord again. Instead, similar to Aelin in Empire of Storms, he's burdened and has very few quips. Sure, war is a very big burden and can do a lot to serious a person up... But this Rhys didn't even feel like the Rhys I'd come to know and love. He almost felt like a supporting or background character instead of the male lead of the story. Like I said before, he's one of my many favorites and still is, I just wasn't convinced by his portrayal in this book. He felt rather out of character. And then there's the fact that he kind of let Feyre walk over him a bit. I get that Sarah's trying to hammer in that Rhys is not like Tamlin, he lets Feyre do as she wants, even if it puts her in danger. In previous books though, he walked the line of letting her do as she wants, but if it put her in too much danger, he wouldn't let her go alone or would do what he could to protect her. In this book? Feyre basically just goes off and does whatever and Rhys is just eh. There, I guess. It's hard to explain. You'll see what I mean when you read the book.
"I figure it's time for the world to know who really has the largest wingspan."
I really did love seeing more of the inner circle, even with them falling apart from each other a bit. Or should I say especially? They couldn't have been stuck together for 500 years with those different personalities and not argue at all. Cassian, always a favorite, played a lovely role in the story. I think we all know who I ship him with, and his interaction with that character was perfect. It was anything but instalove. And seeing as I hate instalove... Anyway, I loved seeing more of Cassian, especially as we get to see how he felt about the events at the end of the last book. You really get to see how loyal he is, and how much he cares for his family. UGH. I can't express how much I love Cassian.
Then there's Azriel and Mor. Azriel, we get to see more of him in this book. And it was really cute seeing another side of the brooding shadow singer. Though, people have started a new ship with Azriel and I AM NOT ON BOARD. Sorry to all you people on that ship, it's just not going to happen. I ship that person with someone else. Mor, her part in this book felt somewhat lacking. She kind of faded in and out of the narrative, being there but not really doing much. And then there's this big reveal about her, and I just didn't really feel convinced about it. Like... yeah sure, but the way it was portrayed/ how it was described didn't feel convincing to me.
Nesta and Elain. It was really interesting to see how each handled the transition. Well, at first I was kind of along the lines of NESTA STOP BEING SUCH A COLASSAL BITCH, but then as she mellowed out (as much as mellowed out as Nesta can get), I started to like her again. Especially with her dynamic with Cassian. That was just *sighs* absolutely perfect. As mentioned in the previous book, the Cauldron made Nesta something new, something powerful. I was really disappointed with the route Sarah took with that, I just didn't feel like we got enough of it. If I had to stand to guess, I'd say we'd go deeper into it in the next books, still though, it was important to the storyline and we didn't really get to see much of it in action, or even understand what her power really, truly was.
Then there's Elain, wonderful sweet Elain. Lucien's mate. Wow, these two deserve the world. I enjoyed the sweetness and innocence of her character, and yet I could not become fully attached to her. While she was a vital player in the story, she herself didn't really have much of a big part in it.
Since I mentioned my love, I might as well get into my thoughts on his portrayal in this book. Lucien. I was really looking forward to seeing more of him, especially since we barely saw him in the previous book. Lucien was easily my favorite character in A Court of Thorns and Roses, and I was excited to be reunited with him. While Feyre was in the Spring Court, I enjoyed the progression of his and her relationship, but after she left the Spring Court, I wish Feyre still remained involved (not in a romantic way) with Lucien. Despite having new friends, Lucien was her first friend in this world, and he... He just deserves the world. And I really hope he gets it one day. If I had to guess who the next (or at least one of the next) book was about, I'd have to say Lucien. Why? So much was revealed about him in this book, and so much was left unresolved. One of those really unsatisying plot holes left in the story.
Now that we've mentioned Lucien, I can no longer avoid Tamlin. Where do I stand on him? Well, I think we can call him a tool, after all he proved that he actually does have some use. He did have a bit of a redemption arc, though, there was an action after that that still proved him a tool. *slight spoiler* I wished there was a scene where he and Feyre sat down and talked, but it never happened... *spoiler over*
There were a plethora of new characters introduced, and I have to say, I am interested to see more of these characters in the coming books. I am especially interested in seeing more of the high lords, they all have been hinted to having a complicated back story. Then there's Eris, Lucien's older brother... I saw a hint of redemption in him, and I want to see more of him.
Then there's a new character named Vassa, whose description is extremely detailed... A little too detailed for her part in the story actually. Like for me it was another one of those "set ups" that just took up too much space when there wasn't enough space for actual important plot points. I didn't really care much for her, I have a feeling when the book comes out about her, I'll be very into her (she was Celaena reminiscent).
Not to be super repetitive, but I really need to hammer in the point that I ACTUALLY DID REALLY LIKE THIS BOOK. It's just a whole lot easier to pick out the criticisms over the amazing perks, I guess. I think once we get into the spoilery discussion, you'll see that yeah, I actually really did love this book and was fingerling 99.99% of the time whilst reading it. Hopefully my score of the book will also hammer in the point that it was really good, despite its flaws-- 9/10 stars. Yeah it was that good. Sure, not perfect, but really there are few books that are. Anyway, I hope you read the book and tell me what you think! Do you agree or disagree with my points? I, like so many of these characters, am a dreamer, and these books will stay with me forever. (And I'll be forever be rereading them as well.)
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 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.
Now for the discussion... (SPOILERS BELOW FOR A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN)
By far, the best scene in the entire book for me was when Cassian and Azriel showed up to save Feyre from Eris & the other Autumn Court Princes. Just... That had to be the best scene ever. I'll never forget my excitement. Seriously, just thinking about it has me squealing in excitement. Cassian flying down from the sky, and smashing into the ice looking all dark and warrior like with a burning anger in his eyes? Swoon and faint because OMG I was so excited. A little disappointed Rhys wasn't involved, but hey, the scene was still phenomenal.
I'm not really sure how I feel about the whole Spring Court take down. It wasn't what I'd expected-- I'd expected to see her take them down from the inside and then reveal herself before Rhys comes swooping in and they just winnow off together or something. That would've been brilliant, but what actually happened was pretty brilliant as well, the subtle take down. I was a little disappointed there was no big reveal, but whatever I guess. Tamlin really did show how much of a bad partner he is through his jealousy to an extreme when Feyre was with Lucien.
Another thing I'm not really sure how I feel about-- the way Feyre treated Lucien while they were in the Spring Court. She was using him, when he really didn't deserve that. It was really obvious that he felt remorseful for not standing up for her more, and even though he suspected her story wasn't true (my clever baby), he still protected her. Then Feyre still uses him... I liked that they kind of grew closer, but still she was using him and I didn't like that. I loved when they got the Bogge to go after Brannagh and Dagdan, though, it was fantastic. I was laughing so hard when Tamlin was freaking out at them and they were both like eh, they deserved it.
Then there's Brannagh and Dagdan... These guys were one of those instances where the idea was introduced, and it was intriguing, but there wasn't quite enough time for them. This seemed to happen a lot in this book-- like with the other high lords, but that's getting a little off topic. Save that for later. I was actually really interested in these twins, their relationship, their powers etc. It seemed like there was a whole gigantic storyline that they were going to be involved in, but no... They actually got killed off pretty quick, before you even really got to know them well. A good villain is one you understand and can almost sympathsize with... I'll be the first to admit that this series doesn't have the best big villains. I was also surprised that they were able to be killed off by Lucien and Feyre-- babies compared to them. I dunno, guess I'm just a little disappointed that they weren't used for more when they had so much potentional. As soon as Feyre and Lucien left the bodies behind I was like OMG don't do that, they're just going to be brought back through the cauldron and be blood thirsty. Yep, nope. They were gone for good.
When Feyre was sneaking off and she caught Ianthe with Lucien, I was just. ANGER. I mean seriously, we already all hate Ianthe, but this book just magnifies that hatred times two million. I didn't even know that was possible. Like the way she... on Lucien... NO. JUST NO. No one gets to do that to my baby and get away with it-- and she didn't. *laughs evilly*. I'm so morbid, I enjoyed that hand smashing wayyyy too much. But then when Lucien wanted to come with her, I didn't entirely believe it. I guess his and Tamlin's relationship was strained, but I didn't believe that he would just leave, no message, no nothing. I get it, the mate thing is strong, but still... Lucien knew that would ruin his relationship with Tamlin and still left. And yet, I loved this slight bonding time for Feyre and Lucien, when they had to huddle together and he put his cloak over her *squeals* he's so cute.
And that is exactly why I ship Elain and Lucien and NOT Elain and Azriel. I'm sorry, I see a growing group of people shipping Elain and Azriel and I just... can't. I know not all mating pairs are right and it actually extremely worries me that they talked about that A LOT in this book, but... I've been shipping Lucien and Elain ever since A Court of Mist and Fury, and I'm not about to let that go. I can just see it, Lucien's gone through so much, Elain could be the light in his life, kind of like how Feyre is the light for Rhys. They're just... AH perfect. I can see Sarah starting to create a love triangle, and NO! I'm not feeling love triangles, especially not here. Elain and Azriel can be really good friends... but Elain and Lucien forever. And for all y'all shipping Lucien with Vassa... How? How has this ship come about? They've been shown talking for like five seconds and suddenly there's a ship for them... Ha.. It's almost like we're all back in middle school or something (or my high school).
I felt a little bit weird about the way Feyre and Rhys were reunited... Like first off, it's very Rhys style to have a big entrance, and he doesn't exactly have that. And secondly, the first thing they do is have sex. Like that seemed really forced, they haven't seen each other in a long time, and they just go at it. I don't know, that left me feeling weird. A lot of the sex scenes actually felt kind of forced to me in this book, while in a Court of Mist and Fury it was perfect. There was so much buildup, there were just sex scenes splattered randomly around the book which left me feeling like... what was the point?
Once Feyre gets back to the Night Court, she just basically drops Lucien, I get it, her other family is there, but that doesn't really give her the right to forget about Lucien, who really does care for her and is a good friend. Then Lucien just disappears for the second half of the book and reappears at the very end... That felt choppy and weird. Like I don't know, it didn't seem right to have him disappear completely-- that's an example of how the first person was a bit of a disadvantage in this book. You don't get to see what's going on with Lucien, which is actually kind of vital to the story of the war, and you don't get to see anything happening with Tamlin. Yeah, guys don't murder me, but I kind of need a story from TAMLIN'S POV through this book, when he realizes Feyre has betrayed him, and then still deciding to turn on Hybern and then deciding to bring Rhys back.... I need Tamlin's views on it. Like when he saves Feyre at the camp, too. There's just so much open space there, I need to see what was going on in Tam's mind. While he actually had a redemption arc that I enjoyed, it was a bit erased when he didn't forgive Lucien at the end because Lucien was wearing Illyrian fighting gear. LIKE LUCIEN HAS BEEN YOUR COMPANION FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS YOU DICKWAD. I'm expecting to see a scene between Lucien and Tamlin at some point. Especially since I'm expecting at least some of these spin off books to be about Lucien-- you can't just reveal his father is Hellion and do nothing with it.
While some of the tension between the inner circle did feel a little forced, most of it I appreciated. Like I said before, it shows their flaws which makes everything feel all the more realistic. Though, I know there's a ton of controversy about Mor coming out, and here's my stance on it. I totally accept that Mor's bi, I have nothing against that. What I'm a little bothered by with is the way she came out with it. There's just something about it that feels weird to me (if you haven't noticed, I'm having trouble putting a lot of my feelings about this book into words.) I guess it felt like it was thrown in as kind of a hasty afterthought. It didn't feel carefully worded and thought through like a lot of Maas' other works. I'm also kind of upset that Mor and Azriel are never going to be a thing now... Especailly since that makes Azriel open to Elain.
Cassian and Nesta. *Sighs* now that was fantastic. I love how he constantly teased her with Nesta just angrily snapping back, but you could feel it. The tension there. And then when Nesta was constantly worried about him, but not willing to admit it, after he'd been fainting. *Cries* those two deserve the world.
"Why should I be scared of an oversized bat who likes to throw temper tantrums?" HOW CAN YOU NOT SHIP THIS? IF YOU DON'T YOU'RE LYING TO YOURSELF.
"I'm a warrior. I've walked beside Death my entire life. I would be more afraid for her to have that power. But not afraid of her." LOVE GUYS, LOVE.
Just, I don't understand how everyone can't be absolutely in love with Cassian. Like he's just... perfect. It killed me when he was talking to Feyre about how he felt with her sacrificing herself.
“Because … because as his mate, you were still … his to protect. Oh, don’t get that look. He’s yours to protect, too. I would have laid my life down for you as his mate—and as your friend. But you were still … his.”
“And as High Lady?”
Cassian loosed a rough breath. “As High Lady, you are mine. And Azriel’s, and Mor’s and Amren’s. You belong to all of us, and we belong to you. We would not have … put you in so much danger.”
“This is between you and me. And trust me, Rhys and I had … words about this.”
“You didn’t think you were essential. You saved our asses, yes, but … you didn’t think you were essential here.”
“I’ll never forget it, you know,” he said, blowing out a breath. “The moment when he spoke to us all, mind to mind. When I realized what was happening, and that … he’d saved us. Trapped us here and tied our hands, but …” He scratched at his temple. “It went quiet—in my head. In a way it hadn’t been before. Not since …” Cassian squinted at the cloudless sky. “Even with utter hell unleashing here, across our territory, I just went … quiet.” He tapped the side of his head with a finger, and frowned. “After Hybern, the healer kept me asleep while she worked on my wings. So when I woke up two weeks later … that’s when I heard. And when Mor told me what happened to you … It went quiet again.”
AHHH Cassian... just my perfect baby.
The whole tension waiting to see who would die... Ah it killed me. I was entirely convinced Cassian would die, so every battle I was just crying inside, waiting for the killings blow to take my darling out. And then I knew Rhys would die, because he said a ton of things like "we'll both survive this" and like "I'm gonna live" and then the whole stay with the high lord.. .Yeah. His death was obvious. Though, I knew he was going to be brought back. I don't know how, I guess it was from the suddenness of the death, that I knew there was no way he was dead for good. I like the whole full circle idea of Feyre getting the other high lords to bring him to life after he got all the other high lords to bring her to life, but that ending felt SO rushed. Like I didn't even have time to mourn Rhys before he was alive again. Same with Amren.
The scene that actually impacted me the most during the final battle was Cassian and Nesta against Hybern. Just AW. He knew he would die but was willing to die protecting her... What? I'm not crying. I just have a book in my eye... Then when he told her to run and she stayed with him? AH. They kissed and I just died. Cassian and Nesta are just about the most shipable ship in this book. Rhys and Feyre? Of course I ship them, but they're already together so... CASSIAN AND NESTA FOR THE WIN.
I was actually a little disappointed by Ianthe's death... Like, could we get an extra scene of her dying in detail? Haha. But seriously though. She killed the Suriel... After that I was sooo ready for her to have the absolute worst, most painful death ever.
The Weaver's death also felt a bit rushed to me... Like she's an immortal GOD and she dies from getting her neck snapped and then her body being eaten by dogs... Okay then.
The mirror, sorry this review is so choppy, I'm just bringing things up as I think of them. I was so disappointed by everything with the mirror, like that was one of the best RUSHED examples. There was so much lead up to that mirror, and then only a few paragraphs were actually dedicated to looking into it.
I actually really liked that Jurian was actually good. Like that was a great twist and I actually ended up wanting to see more of him. I didn't really get why Miryam and Drakon still disliked him after they found out he was on the good side... like why? It's not like he actually wanted to hunt y'all down and kill you.
Vassa, I'm sure some of the spin off books are going to be on her. I mean, she was described in too much detail for them not to be. The big BAD keeping her though, that has to be the Weaver and the Carver's brother, right? I'm pretty sure...