An ode to… A Court of Thorns and Roses

When I originally decided to write this post, I wanted it to focus on my favorite in the series, book 2 – A Court of Mist and Fury.  I had Mr. Librarian read an early draft and his biggest critique was that I was spending so much time explaining and exploring book 1, that I should make the whole post about the series.  So here we are. 

This series was a surprise hit.  I’ll explain why:

I was first introduced to Sarah Maas by a student who recommended her other YA series, Throne of Glass (which you should definitely read… I’ll definitely be writing a post about this one too.) I loved Throne of Glass, but when I read about her new series, I went… eh… not for me – to fantasy-y.  You see, at this time, I was only beginning to get into the Fantasy genre – and only begrudgingly since my students loved this genre above all others.  And to me, the best part of Throne of Glass was that it doesn’t read like fantasy until you’re halfway through the first book and, by the time I got to the heavy fantasy, I was already sucked in.  When I read the description of A Court of Thorns and Roses, I thought – this sounds to fantasy-y for me.

There are currently 3+ books in the series:

Book 1: A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR)

Book 2: A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOMAF) (and my favorite!!)

Book 3: A Court of Wings and Ruin (ACOWAR)

Book 3+: A Court of Frost and Starlight (ACOFAS)*

*This one is more of a novella that bridges this first series to her next planned series which will star some of the side characters from this first series.  Read about the new release here

However, I was gifted a copy of the first book, A Court of Thorns and Roses (from now on referred to as ACOTAR) from the publisher (thanks Bloomsbury!) and once I dove in, I never looked back.  The turmoils of Feyre and the world of the Fae were so vivid, so engaging that I could NOT. PUT. IT. DOWN.

Just FYI – there will be SPOILERS!  You’ve been warned.

To protect her family, Feyre agrees to be taken prisoner by Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court.  Since is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, you may already get most of the first half of the plot.  He treats her terribly, all the meanwhile trying to break an enigmatic curse that no one will even discuss with Feyre.  As she draws him out of his rough exterior and he begins to show her kindness, she begins to fall in love with him.  At the halfway point, he decides to let her return to her family and set her free.  When she finally returns to Fae, she uncovers the curse and how much Tamlin sacrificed to get her out.  She hatches a plan to save Tamlin, prove her love, and save all Fae (and human) kind.  But, it goes very, very wrong. She combats a foe far greater than any Fae she has ever encountered and it takes all of her skill (and more skill and cunning from her allies) to save the day.

When I first read the book, I loved it.  Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my favorites – Belle is the first Disney princess who loved reading so how could love it?!? – but, the more I read of the series, the less I liked it.  I realized that I hate it when authors set up a plot in which one of the characters isn’t, well.. great.  The more I read, the more I realized that Tamlin is an abuser of the worst kind – and this becomes all too apparent when you start Book 2. 

However, it doesn’t diminish Book 1.  It just makes it a harder read.  Feyre probably could have used a huge dose of therapy and instead, she falls in love with Tamlin.  Although, that’s debatable. Does she really love Tamlin or does she really love the security that comes with a home and money (all of which was lacking in her human home)?  When she has to prove her love in the end, well, let’s just say traumatizes her in a way that leaves the door open to a very interesting sequel.

If those were the hard parts of the book, the best parts of ACOTAR were the fast paced plot and the side characters.  One of the things that I love about Sarah Maas is that she really plans out her books so that little bread crumbs she drops so casually in one book, turn out to be such important plot points in a later novel.  I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to dump too many spoilers but if you read on, there will be some major plot point bombs dropped.

After the roller coaster of emotions from ACOTAR, I would NEVER have believed that the second book would exceed the first one in every way.

A Court of Mist and Fury (from now on referred to as ACOMAF) picks up a few months after the end of ACOTAR, with Feyre suffering immensely from PTSD from her experience saving the world.  She has horrible nightmares, she’s lost massive amounts of weight, and Tamlin doesn’t seem to want her to leave the house – you know – for her safety.  She’s still planning her wedding to Tamlin but her heart isn’t in it – she feels completely broken.  On the day of her wedding, the ceremony is interrupted by Rhysand, compelled to call in his bargain with Feyre – one week she must spend with him in his Court of Night – and whisks her away.  Through his tenderness, tough love, and ultimate care, Feyre finds herself again and is able to decide what life she wants to live.

I think I made that recap mostly spoiler free, but no more.  Now, we shall have SPOILERS of ACOMAF.  You have been warned! 

This plot was just so compelling!  I could NOT put this one down either.  And seriously, when I’ve had a run of mediocre books or I’m not feeling any of the other books I’m reading or I just want to talk to an old friend, this is the book to which I turn.  This book amounts to a warm, fuzzy blanket or a soft comfy pillow.  It’s the one I read when I want to just feel good.    

I just LOVE Rhysand.  I love everything about him.  I love that he makes Feyre come back to herself by trusting that she can handle things on her own.  He never pushes her, he always listens to her, and he doles out the tough love.  He’s willing to bury his own feelings so that she doesn’t feel pressure to love him the way he loves her.  I was so glad that he ended up being her mate, and NOT Tamlin (since that was one abusive relationship, seriously.)  He is everything you hope that your partner will be.  A true PARTNER.  And the fact that he was willing to never tell Feyre about their connections.  Swoon.  I mean, swoon.  I seriously LOVE this male.  He is my original Book Boyfriend!

On top of that I LOVED his cadre of friends.  They are all such wonderful characters and I have a hard time deciding which one is my favorite!  I loved Cassian’s snark, Mor’s bravado, Amren’s sternness (and her love of jewels,) and Azriel’s steadfastness.  Rhysand’s greatness, I think, directly corresponds to his close relationship with his cadre of friends.  I’m nervous and excited that the next ACOTAR book will focus on them.

The end of book – well I won’t really spoil it, but MAN.  I was just shocked.  That Feyre would make a sacrifice of that kind.  That she and Rhys planned the whole thing and told no one.  Well.  At that point, I could wait for book 3.

A Court of War and Ruin (now ACOWAR) was by far, one of the most anticipated releases for me (up there with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows {ok, ALL HP books}, and Mockingjay) and the day it was released, I completely devoured it.  

What I can say about ACOWAR is that the more I’ve read it over the years, the more I like it. Initially, I was disappointed.  This seems to happen a lot in finales – that the plot is wrapped up in a nice bow.  In fact, this is one of my major criticisms of Sarah Maas, that you spend most of the book thinking that someone important will die and well, there are complications with that.  It is completely frustrating and unnecessary.  Why spend the whole series, expecting that something is going to happen, only to pull back at the pivotal moment?  Regardless of this annoying plot device, the end of the first series is satisfying and the more I separate ACOWAR from ACOMAF, the more I like it.  You’ll definitely want to read it.

The 3+ – well, this one is interesting.  

It is a short (relatively speaking) novella that is supposed to bridge the gap between this first part of the ACOTAR series – the part from Feyre’s perspective – to the new series that will focus on some of the side characters.  Specifically, Cassian and Nesta (one of Feyre’s older sisters.)  This book isn’t the best in the series, by far, but it is lovely to see the aftermath of the war that raged throughout the series.

The plot revolves around Feyre trying to get her circle together for Winter Solstice (a Christmas-like holiday that coincidentally happens to be her birthday.)  Not a lot happens.  She shops a lot.  She tries to get her sister, suffering from depression to get help.  She starts an art therapy center to help her and her people recover from the trauma.  And that’s about it.   It is nice, for once, to see Feyre and compatriots trying to lead normal lives, get back to normal.

So, by the length of this post, you can probably tell that I’m kind of obsessed with this series.  I highly recommend it and I can only say that I’m waiting with baited breath for January 2021.

A Court of Thorns and Roses, published 2015

A Court of Mist and Fury, published 2016

A Court of War and Ruin, published 2017

A Court of Frost and Starlight, published 2018

Compilation set of all three original books

A Court of Silver Flames, expected release date: January 26, 2021

2 thoughts on “An ode to… A Court of Thorns and Roses

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