The Most Spoilery Discussion You Will Ever Read on ACOWAR
PSA: This discussion post will contain spoilers for A Court of Thorns & Roses, A Court of Mist & Fury and A Court of Wings & Ruin.
You have been warned, Wonderlings. Welcome to the most spoilery discussion I will ever write in my life. If you haven’t read the trilogy, are in the process of reading or will want to read it in the future and want to go in blind, turn away now. This is the third warning. If you continue on and then complain about spoilers, I swear I will send a hoard of dragons to blast you to smithereens.
And without further ado, let’s begin!
So on May 2nd, after much hmm-ing and ahh-ing, I took the night off work due to A Court of Wings & Ruin’s release day. This is the first time I’ve ever taken a day off work just so I can binge read a book, but boy am I glad I did. First off, it’s the first ever conclusion Sarah J Maas has ever written and published. I was nervous. I was terrified. I was giddy, ecstatic but it was all completely overshadowed by impending doom.
How do I feel about this series, after eighteen hours of straight up reading? (It would’ve been shorter, but I kid you not, I had to put the book down a few times and go outside and breathe the fresh air and thank the Lord I am alive. Also the dog always seemed to need to pee whenever I got to the exciting parts.) How do I feel after feeling every feeling possible in such a short space of time? When I finished ACOWAR, I went to bed and slept for thirteen hours straight, so there’s your first clue.
I am destroyed.
This post is going to be long. It’s going to be messy. It’s uncensored word vomit straight after reading the book, so I hope you don’t expect to read a masterpiece because you ain’t getting one. I am obliterated. Sarah can write one hell of a finale.
A Court of Wings & Ruin begins pretty much straight after A Court of Mist & Fury. Feyre is in the Spring Court as a secret agent, gathering information on Tamlin and his plans to join the King of Hybern in the War. For those of you who may have forgotten, the King of Hybern wants to destroy the wall seperating the Fae realms and the human world, invade, and take back what he believes is rightfully the fae’s.
Fun fact: I’d completely forgotten why Hybern was the bad guy, and why we were supposed to hate Jurian until the characters rehashed the plot of ACOMAF.
I loved the scenes in the Spring Court and am absolutely gutted that we didn’t get more. Once the Hybern twins arrive, thousand year old warriors who fought in the Great War, it all goes tits up. I love, love, loved Feyre conniving against Tamlin by semi-convincing him she’s sleeping or at least sexually interested in Lucien. I loved how she put on the mantle of Feyre the Cursebreaker and practically made herself a saint so Ianthe lost all credibility. THAT SCENE, YOU GUYS. THAT SCENE DESTROYED ME. It reminded me why I loved Feyre in A Court of Mist & Fury. Because she has brains, and she is not afraid to use them. I was living for Feyre’s and Rhysand’s shortlived communication when she updated him on the plans. Every time he said, “When are you coming home?” I DIED INSIDE.
For a heartbeat, I pitied him.
Pitied that not only Lucien had lied to him, but Alis as well. How many others had seen the truth of my suffering– and tried to spare him from it?
Seen my suffering and done nothing to help me.
One of the things I loved about this trilogy was the unending loyalty of the courts in regards to their respective High Lords. In ACOMAF, we all saw Feyre battling with PTSD and depression, and we all saw how alone she was. No one was there to help her, to lift her up when she was down, but everyone thought of their High Lord, Tamlin, and did everything in their power to protect him. That loyalty bit Tamlin in the ass, because Feyre was whisked away to the Night Court after one particularly gritty scene in ACOMAF, but nevertheless, we knew the Spring Court was beyond salvation. If they couldn’t see the cracks that lay within their own court, how could they possibly save the world? It’s why I wasn’t all that surprised when Tamlin bargained with Hybern to get Feyre back. It’s precisely the sort of thing he would do to prove his love to her.
It all started going a bit awry for me, though, when Feyre reveals her plans to sneak off during an inspection of the Wall, and return to the Night Court. In this particular scene, Feyre has travelled miles down the Wall with Ianthe, Lucien, the Hybern twins and a handful of guards. The Hybern twins were spectacular, and I wish we’d seen more of them, because wow. There’s a book I want to read.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Feyre decides to sneak off, but overhears Ianthe trying to sexually assault Lucien. If you’ve read ACOMAF, you will know that Ianthe is the ickiest, slimiest, worst character Sarah J Maas has ever created. Not only does she constantly try it on with Tamlin, but she also makes advances on Lucien — advances that are not reciprocated. They want nothing to do with her, sexually, and so the scene where Ianthe ties Lucien to a tree? I saw red. It was so unfair, so awful, and I am so very glad that Feyre tortured her. Fuck Ianthe. Her ending didn’t come soon enough.
But during this badass moment, Feyre battles the twins of Hybern. Battles them, and kills them in one fell swoop. It was so unbelievable, such a lucky hit, that I was honestly gobsmacked when the twins were confirmed dead. Because they were thousands of years old. Because they’d trained to fight their entire existence. Because they fought in the War and survive. And yet Feyre kills them? What? It made no sense to me.
I feel like so much more could’ve been done with Feyre in the Spring Court. It was a prime opportunity to really infiltrate the Court and take it down from the inside, but unfortunately we don’t get much action. What we get is a lot of simpering, dirty thoughts sent down the bond to Rhys and half-arsed plans that surprisingly worked.
Lucien, though. Lucien. This is where I started to love him. Not only does he help Feyre escape, but he also decides to go with her back to the Night Court. Even though, as the enemy, he would very likely to die on the spot for even entering the realm, Lucien shoves it all aside in the hopes of seeing his mate, his soul-bonded, only once. He was willing to die in order to see Elain just once in his miserable life. *swoon* I– I was never a huge fan of Lucien. I admired him for his loyalty to Tamlin, for his sacrifices in the past, but he was never a favourite character of mine. He was so far down the favourite character list that I didn’t know what to do with myself or him. I sometimes forgot he existed. But Lucien’s redemption in ACOWAR is something I am living for.
As they travel between courts, Lucien constantly puts his life in front of Feyre’s in order to protect her. Sneaking through the Winter Court, he gives her his cloak, even if it meant freezing to death. He fights his own brothers almost to the death, in order to give Feyre a chance to escape.
AND THEN AZRIEL AND CASSIAN ARRIVE AND I AM DEAD. At the end of ACOMAF, Azriel has been shot and Cassian’s wings are shredded. We get confirmation at the beginning of ACOWAR that they’re both fine and recovering, but seeing them swoop down from the sky and obliterate Lucien’s brother was… was… *screeches to the skies* It was AMAZING.
But this is where it started going downhill for me. I am not afraid to say that, wow, I was bored for a good 400 pages. I was bored, and tired and cranky. I was so over Rhys’ and Feyre’s lovey-dovey bullshit. I was over their weird sex scenes. Like — the sex scenes themselves contributed absolutely nothing to the plot. In ACOMAF, and even ACOTAR, every sex scene was written with complete and utter abandon. I was immersed in the love the two characters partaking felt. I was overwhelmed by the words they whispered to each other, and just by how much they worshipped each other. In ACOWAR, however, the sex scenes were… stagnant. Which is an awful word to use when describing the, uh, ‘coupling’, so to speak, of two people, but they were so repetitive. And I mean, when you’re presented a blowjob scene during a battle, and the next paragraph begins with “only a few more people died that night” it’s certainly a clue that these sex scenes were gratuitous at best, and gave the plot absolutely nothing else to contend with.
If Feyre had ended up pregnant, and Rhys had died, then maybe, maybe I would’ve felt differently. If Rhys died and the only thing he left her was a baby on the way, man, I would’ve utterly destroyed myself, but nothing like that happened, and so the sex scenes were easily skimmed over. And that’s the other thing too: I started SKIM-READING. I have never skim-read an SJM book in my life. I have never skipped scenes or entire chapters in order to get back to the action. I feel like Sarah shoved a lot of plot in 200 pages and then needed 400 pages of filler in order to pad it out.
The best scenes we get are Nesta and Amren training together, Feyre learning how to fly (!!!) with Azriel’s training (I sobbed so hard when Azriel tells Feyre that he’s the best one to learn from because he learned so late in life and therefore remembers the training better than anyone) and Cassian and Feyre training. The best scenes were all about training. Yeah. Let that sink in.
I was over the writing. Sarah J Maas is a phenomenal writer, but ACOWAR felt like fanfiction. Well written, concise fanfiction, but fanfiction nevertheless. She constantly used the same words over and over. Feyre and Rhys forever talk about each other as “my mate”. They introduce each other as “my mate.” It got to the point that I was ready to take a shot whenever the words were used, but I’d be hella drunk, and I wanted to be sober in order to finish the book. I ran a search to see how many times it was used and 196 times is a lot for any book.
Due to the way ACOWAR was written, SJM made Feyre so very martyr-like in this book and I felt like she undid a lot of the progress she’d made in ACOMAF. I mean, yeah, what Feyre went through was horrible, but she had to fight for, like, a week whereas everyone else in this novel had to fight for fifty years. Five decades they fought against Amarantha. And yet, everyone pats Feyre on the back for a job well done and molly-coddles her because aw, poor baby had to face the big bad bitch. What about the Winter Court? Twenty-four children were slaughtered. What about the Autumn Court? The Dawn Court? All these courts who sacrificed and fought against her, as much as they could, and yet Feyre gets all the glory. It’s unfair. In ACOMAF, she fought against the martyrdom once she was with Rhys. She bettered herself. She became worth fighting for. Yet, in ACOWAR I spent a lot of time wondering if I’d even care if she died a slow and miserable death.
Another point I want to bring up real quick is Rhysand’s sudden personality change. I’m a huge fan of antiheroes, the dark and brooding, the ones whose morals are a little grey. Rhysand was my favourite in ACOTAR and ACOMAF because he was that character you just want to know more about. What are his motives? Is he truly evil? Is this all for show? ACOMAF-Rhys still navigated the gloom, still presented himself as a controversial, grey character and even though Feyre falls in love with him, he still makes questionable decisions and is easily disliked for the things he does. In ACOWAR, however, he does a complete 180 and starts to resemble a cute puppy. I was so pumped to see that this book opens up with a chapter in Rhys’ point of view, but it absolutely sucked that he was a completely different person after that first chapter.
Sometimes, ACOMAF-Rhys reappeared (at the weirdest of times) and it was glorious to see the High Lord of the Night Court in action, but overall, he was disappointing.
This post is already over 2k words, and I’m quickly running out of things to say. My heart does not race at the thought of this book, nor does it plunge into the murky depths of sadness. I feel almost… apathetic. Although the last 150 pages, roughly, gutted me and set fire to my feelings, the rest of the book can only be described as “meh.”
ACOMAF remains my favourite book of the trilogy, with a nod at ACOTAR in second place (whatever happened in that book, it was magical and lyrically written and… wordporn, guys. Word. Porn). I don’t know whether I’ll ever reread ACOWAR, or if I’ll pretend this book didn’t exist, but one thing I’ll say is: Sarah can write a kickass climax, but I do hope that the editor actually edits the next books, because it was lackluster at best.
For now, I’ll leave you with my favourite ever reaction video, filmed by the lovely @whittynovel. Watch it, and die laughing, because R E L A T A B L E.
Have you read A Court of Wings and Ruin? What did you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below! Lord knows I need someone to talk about this with.