Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3
Published by Bloomsbury Childrens Books on May 2, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic
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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 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.
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’m not sure why I decided to pick up A Court of Wings and Ruin, since I didn’t really enjoy A Court of Mist and Fury. But one does not simply start a series without getting some closure, so here we are. At this point, I think most people have accepted that these series can be terribly problematic, only featuring people who are heterosexual, white and cishet with barely any diversity. It’s definitely still a favourite for a lot of people though, and I can see why – Sarah J Maas has a flair for creating immersive fantasy worlds with vivid characters, and this series is no exception.
While reading A Court of Wings and Ruin, I actually quite enjoyed it in some parts, especially after my distaste from reading ACOMAF. However, it was definitely long, draggy and drawn out, with so many unnecessary scenes padding out its length. The more I reflect about the book, the more it annoys me, so it’s time for me to share what I hated about the book.
1. Feyre is still the biggest special snowflake
You’d think after reading
three four books in series, that I would get over the way Feyre’s characterisation and just how special and precious she is. Unfortunately, her special status seems to have been exemplified, the more the book goes on. She has multiple males fighting over her, she learns to fight and to fly and to harness her fae powers as easily and swiftly as the next person and what’s even more annoying is she’s now the High Lady of the Night Court – and she knows it. Not a few pages will go by where she will remind you of how strong, powerful and strong and powerful she is, and oh gosh does it grate on me oh so much. You’d think she would be doing something with all this power that she’s been granted, but instead she spends most of the time bonking her mate, which I talk about in the next point.
2. So many bad sex scenes
It’s not the fact that there are sex scenes thats the problem – it’s that all her and Rhysand seem to do is have sex. Not only do they have sex, but they seem to have the GREATEST SEX IN THE WORLD™ every single time it happens. Not only does every single scene end in earth shattering convulsions for the both of them (if I didn’t know better, you’d think they would be having some sort of heart attack), but some of it is just so grotesque. I mean how many wing stroking, neck grazing, bed thumping scenes do we need? This is just badly written smut at this stage – and to be honest, I skip the scenes half the time.
3. Rhysand is the perfect guy
If Feyre can do no wrong, then of course her mate is going to be incredibly flawless. Oh perfect Rhys, I wish there was something about you that I could complain about. Instead, you’re such a perfect character that there’s seriously nothing I can mention. First, you let Feyre do whatever she wants and you happen to tell her, multiple times in the book, because you’re such a respectful gentlemen (not like that controlling guy Tamlin). Even when she makes a decision that almost results in her being killed, you still can’t tell her off. Lucky there’s other characters who can act like the bad cop in your place because sadly *snore* you two are too boring to have any conflict.
4. How anti-feminist it is
If this is meant to be a feminist book, about a woman breaks free from her oppressor, then why are there so many broken females (and only 1 broken male – who also happens to be the guy that was oppressing her in the first place)? In amongst all the strong, testosterone filled males who love telling females what to do, where they should be and what they should wear (*coughRHYS*), you’ve got the meek, slightly insane Elain and Nesta who is a huge bitch. You’ve got Amaranth who has sex slaves, Mor who leads people on and Ianthe who is just evil. Not only is the portrayal of every single female, except for Feyre problematic, it seems like it’s the women who get type-casted into these terrible roles – just look at how many females in here who are hateable, in contrast with the males. Unless you are strong and powerful, you’re portrayed as incredibly weak whereas males can lose their shit and do whatever posessive, problematic shit they want, even become a sex slave for good, or emotionally manipulate people for good, and they’re still flawless.
5. Romance is the be all and the end all
It’s no secret that these books are primarily romances set in a fantasy world, but the romance in here grates on my nerves so much. Firstly, every single character in here somehow needs to be paired off, and it’s insulting why some of them remain single (which I talk about in the next point). It’s like…people can’t possibly be happy when they’re not in a relationship, or when they’re on their own. Like they’re somehow incomplete if they’re not in a relationship. I’ll just leave you with this lovely comment, that received some backlash before the book was released:
Dagdan and Brannagh had listened to her fawning with enough boredom that I was starting to wonder if the two of them perhaps preferred no one’s company but each other’s. In whatever unholy capacity. Not a blink of interest toward the beauty who often made males and females stop to gape. Perhaps any sort of physical passion had long been drained away, alongside their souls.
Just because these characters don’t find Ianthe sexually attractive, does not mean that they are soulless. It’s okay if you don’t appreciate someone else’s beauty, either because you’re asexual, or because they’re not your type. But not according to this problematic quote, apparently.
6. Treatment of bisexuality
In all of the books that Sarah J Maas has written, A Court of Wings and Ruin is probably the one that features the most diversity. But when it comes to queer identities, namely two characters being bisexual, one is incredibly promiscuous and the other treats it like a huge secret which has started to become hurtful to others. Bisexuality is used as a convenient plot twist here to explain why Mor and Azriel haven’t gotten together, even though Azriel is so obviously in love with her, like there couldn’t possibly be a reason why Mor wouldn’t be interested…unless she was bisexual and preferred females.
This is so insulting, not only because it shows that there needs to be a valid reason why you don’t like someone, but because she’s been leading him on for centuries which is a hell of a long time to play with someone’s feelings. Also, why the hell is it anyone else’s problem what Mor wants to do with her love life? The way that Feyre goes off at her about not getting with Azriel, you’d think she had nothing better to worry about like the impending war. It’s like people asking you why you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend, or why you don’t have kids – it’s none of their business, so don’t do it.
Check out my rant review below of ACOWAR on Youtube:
7. The mating bond is just a bad excuse for posessiveness
I’ve always had a problem with the concept of a mating bond, which is pretty much like finding your one and only “soulmate”. If the mating bond is so incredibly rare, then why does EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE INNER CIRCLE (save for a few) have a mate? While these fae males are already possessive and overprotective, let’s just add in a mating bond to make them utterly insufferable. This mating bond is just a bad excuse for them to lay claim over females, because they’re “mated”.
In the case of Lucien and Elain, I was so disgusted with the way the mating bond was used to try and create some conflict between them. In fact, Feyre uses the mating bond as an excuse to shove Lucien in front of Elain, her sister who happens to be depressed and ill, just because he’s her mate – completely disregarding her mental state, and also her own wishes (as Elain is betrothed to someone human).
8. Picture perfect ending
How does everything wrap up so picture perfectly when you’ve got a war happening with such high stakes? These fae are so powerful, so untouchable that apparently even the greatest war since fae’s existence can’t even touch them. Sadly becuase I already knew that no one was going to die at the end of the book – that took all the fun and excitement out of the book because I knew everyone was going to survive.
While I always enjoy Sarah J Maas’s writing in books, I can definitely start to see some harmful patterns in her series when it comes to the lack of diversity, feminism, the ‘be all and end all’ romantic bonds and possessive males which dominate the storylines. I think it’s important to be critical of what you read, and recognise when it’s problematic, but of course there is nothing wrong with enjoying a story that contains these themes. While these are only my thoughts on ACOWAR, I’m aware that many people love and enjoy this series and that’s absolutely fine – we all bring our own perspectives and experiences to reading, that’s the beauty of it.
Content warning: graphic sex scenes, violence, domestic abuse, ace-phobia, possessive males
Rating: 2 out of 5
Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a review copy of the book.