“Only you can decide what breaks you.”Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Wings and Ruin
Summary: 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.
Disclaimer: Normally I do try to keep this relatively spoiler free but this is the third book in a series and therefore I have to reference things that happened in the last book so there may be some spoilers.
My initial reaction to reading this book swirled around confusion, discontent, and disappointment. I just have one question; what happened? What happened to the strong plot lines and beautiful character development? What happened to Feyre’s powers? Lastly, what happened to consistent characterization?
Starting at the top, this book contained so much promise. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Feyre’s infiltration of the Spring Court because she had thought out this plan well and I liked seeing Tamlin get what he deserved. Here, he’s consistently portrayed as he was at throughout the second book which adds to the enjoyable nature and readability of the first 150 pages or so. After that, after Feyre has torn apart Tamlin’s court and returned back to Velaris, that’s when the story starts to sputter and stall a little bit.
For the final book in a trilogy, there was too much going on and too much of it was still an introduction. After Feyre’s sisters get turned into High Fae, I thought they would be a large part of discovering how to destroy the King of Hybern, but they’re not? Elain, I understand, she lost her fiance and suddenly became the very thing that she hated. But Nesta? She’s often portrayed as strong but I felt as though she spent the entire time sulking until the very end where she plays more of a role in bringing down the King than Feyre? How does that make sense? From page 150 to about page 600, it just felt like I was watching them all run errands and while all of these errands found their way back to being useful in the end, I still would’ve preferred shortened version of much of this.
The battles felt so underwhelming. The entire time, I questioned what Feyre’s purpose was? She’s supposed to have these incredible powers and yet, she sits on the edge of almost every battle. I suppose that’s Maas keeping with what Feyre wants, but this is very shaky. One moment, she’s a strong warrior and has these amazing powers and the next moment she’s basically useless. This trilogy went from containing a strong female protagonist to one that just lets the men fight for her. Mor, is woefully underwhelming considering she’s supposed to be this fierce warrior. She sits on the sidelines with Feyre while they both basically do nothing. What happened to consistent characterization of these two? I was so excited to see how they’d contribute, but they were just boring.
In keeping with inconsistent characterization, what happened to Tamlin being a vicious monster? Maas portrays him as an abuser and a villain for the better part of this series and then suddenly, he’s a good guy? I just don’t think that it works. He can’t be both and you can’t argue that he’s just complex when his personality just shifts between two extremes without warning. If there were signs that he was meant to be a good guy throughout all of this, then why did lock up Feyre and refuse to help her hone her powers? There’s also not much closure between Feyre and Tamlin, just a “be happy, Feyre,” and then he disappears. That doesn’t effectively wrap up anything.
Then, there’s the fact that Mor is suddenly bisexual without so much as a warning that she was? There were no hints, nothing more than Feyre talking about how she wasn’t sure if Mor should end up with Cassian or Azriel. What’s the point of all this build up if you’re just going to throw in a bisexual character when it doesn’t further the plot or make sense? Continuing with the inner circle, nothing happens to them. They don’t die or end up with anyone and all the sexual tension between these characters and their supposed love interests is absolutely wasted. I got really tired of reading about mated Feyre and Rhysand because we all knew that they were in love and that fact wasn’t going to change. So, why not focus on the other characters and for that matter, why not focus on making a believable ending for all them?
In the final battle, Feyre really does continue to prove absolutely useless. I’m happy that Nesta’s character was able to the kill the King of Hybern as she promised, but all Feyre does is watch while holding on to the Cauldron. The only role Feyre plays in the entire battle is letting Amren out of her form so that Amren can win the war for them? So again, the main character doesn’t do anything and doesn’t even interact with the King again. What’s the point? Then Feyre rebuilds the Cauldron but uses Rhys’s powers to do so? She’s supposed to be extremely powerful so why doesn’t she sacrifice herself especially when she spends much of the book saying that she doesn’t want Rhys to sacrifice himself? The whole thing was just extremely garbled.
The writing here took a turn for the worse for just absolutely no reason. The biggest issue that I had was the interchangeable use of Hybern. Sometimes, she referred to Hybern in terms of the King or the army or the kingdom and I couldn’t keep up except for relying a little too heavily on context clues. Also, the repetitive writing continued to build to the point where I thought I re-read the same scene four times. She also employed too many clichés and I felt myself rolling my eyes more times than not.
I’m so truly disappointed in the conclusion of this part of the trilogy because apparently there’s supposed to be more but I’m not sure where she can go with this series/plot anymore. There’s still one more novella that I will probably read because it’s supposed to connect the two parts of this trilogy but I’m praying that this doesn’t become a Mortal Instruments like failure where they push past the original trilogy at the detriment of the original series. I think this book is apt foreshadowing to where the series is headed, but I’m a little too invested in some of the characters to stop now.
TLDR: An overall disappointing conclusion to two wonderful books, filled with character inconsistencies, plot holes, a protagonist who serves as nothing more than a narrator and writing that leaves you with the same headache that Feyre always seems to have.