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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Book Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin (Book #3 in the A Court of Thorns and Roses Saga) by Sarah J. Maas


Right off the bat, I have to say that while I thought that A Court of Mist and Fury was a bit of chore to get through, and I ultimately didn’t like it very much, I thought that A Court of Wings and Ruin was definitely an improvement upon that book. However, even though I liked A Court of Wings and Ruin a little bit more than I liked A Court of Mist and Fury, there are still a lot of things about this book that I don’t like, and that I definitely found this book rather frustrating and disappointing in a lot of ways.

When I finished reading A Court of Mist and Fury, I have to admit that I wasn’t too crazy about the fact that the book ended with Feyre returning to the Spring Court in order to spy on Tamlin and the others, with the intention of bringing the Spring Court down. However, I ended up really enjoying how that storyline ultimately played out in A Court of Wings and Ruin. I’m really glad that Sarah J. Maas didn’t make it easy for Feyre to carry out her plan, and that she actually ran into some problems along the way, because I think that it would have felt incredibly contrived if Feyre had been able to carry out her plans without a hitch. I also love that Feyre ended up having to work with Lucien in order to carry out her plan, because I feel like that added a very interesting dynamic to that particular part of the book.

While the blossoming romance between Feyre and Rhysand in A Court of Mist and Fury was definitely one of the bright spots of the book for me, I thought that the writing for their relationship in this book was for the most part more frustrating and annoying than anything else. The way Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship was written in A Court of Mist and Fury made their relationship a relationship that I really enjoyed reading about and could root for, especially considering the way Rhysand really encouraged Feyre to better herself and gave her a greater sense of freedom; unlike Tamlin who really seemed to try to shelter Feyre. Sadly, the way Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship was written in this book really made their relationship come across as being incredibly shallow and primarily about sex and constantly flirting with each other.

Personally, I really hated the fact that there’s some kind of telepathic bond between Feyre and Rhysand. I didn’t keep count of how many times the phrase “down the bond” was used throughout the book when it came to Feyre and Rhysand flirting with each other, or just communicating with each other in general through the use of their telepathic bond; but I’m pretty sure that if people made a drinking game out of how often the phrase “down the bond” was used throughout the book, they would probably die of alcohol poisoning before they had even read a third of the book. If Sarah J. Maas had actually used that bond between Feyre and Rhysand for reasons besides it being a way for them to constantly flirt with each other, I might not have necessarily minded there being a telepathic bond between them. Maybe it could have been used to help progress the plot more often than it was; but the fact that Feyre and Rhysand’s telepathic bond for the most part really seemed to serve no other purpose aside from it being a way for them to flirt with each other, really annoyed me quite a bit throughout the book.



As weird as this might sound to some people, the shift in the writing for Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship in A Court of Mist and Fury compared to the writing for their relationship in this book felt very reminiscent of Sylvia Day’s writing for Eva Tramell and Gideon Cross’ relationship in the first book in the Crossfire series, Bared to You, and how it compares to the writing for their relationship in the four other books in the series that followed: Reflected in YouEntwined with YouCaptivated by You, and One with You. While I wasn’t 100% happy about the writing for Eva Tramell and Gideon Cross’ relationship in Bared to You, I still really liked them as a couple, and I was rooting for their relationship to work when I read that book. Unfortunately, I felt like the writing for their relationship only went downhill more and more with each book that followed Bared to You. When it comes to the books that followed Bared to You, Day really made their relationship seem like it was primarily about sex, so their relationship felt incredibly shallow in my opinion, despite the fact that Eva and Gideon were constantly talking about how much they loved each other.

Not only that, but one of the numerous other problematic things about Day’s writing for the Crossfire series is that the extremely strong emphasis on Eva and Gideon’s sex life caused the writing for the series in general to really suffer in a lot of ways. For example, I felt like the writing for Gideon really suffered from a serious lack of character development and the failure to truly flesh out his backstory throughout the course of the series. That being said, to be fair to Maas, while the writing for A Court of Wings and Ruin in general is rather flawed; I don’t think that the writing for Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship, and this book as a whole, is nearly as bad as Sylvia Day’s writing for Eva and Gideon’s relationship and the Crossfire series as a whole is, but I digress.

It seemed rather ridiculous to me that Maas paired up most of the characters with a love interest. When it comes to the romance aspect of A Court of Wings and Ruin, I kind of felt like Sarah J. Maas was being like Oprah Winfrey: “You get a love interest! You get a love interest! You get a love interest, and you get a love interest! You all get a love interest!”

Sure, I know that not every single character actually ended up with somebody by the end of A Court of Wings and Ruin, and I’m honestly glad that not everybody ended up in a romantic relationship with somebody; because I already thought that the number of romantic pairings in this book was rather ridiculous. Even though not every single character in this book ended up with somebody, the absurd number of romantic pairings in this book still really annoyed me. That being said, while I do think that the number of romantic pairings in this book is pretty ridiculous, I still kind of wish that Tamlin had found love with somebody else by the end of the book. Sure, Maas did kind of ruin Tamlin as a character in A Court of Mist and Fury, but I feel like he ultimately redeemed himself to a certain extent in this book, so I do want him to be happy.

While I do have a lot of problems with A Court of Wings and Ruin, I definitely have to give Maas kudos for genuinely surprising me and subverting my expectations quite a few times throughout the book. There were a variety of plot developments that either completely surprised me, or things played out in a way that was very different from the way I was expecting them to. Given the fact that the Bone Carver appeared to Feyre as her future son with Rhysand, a big part of me was really expecting Feyre to find out that she was pregnant at some point. That being said, I was really glad that Feyre ultimately didn’t end up finding out that she was pregnant at some point in the book, because I feel like if Maas had done that, she could have easily had Feyre experience a supernatural pregnancy where the baby grows really fast and is born shortly after Feyre had learned that she was pregnant. That to me would have been incredibly dumb, and it most likely would have felt rather reminiscent of the last book in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight SagaBreaking Dawn, and I definitely wouldn’t have viewed that as a good thing.

One thing that really bothered me about this book is the fact that the portrayal of Feyre’s fae powers felt very inconsistent with how they were portrayed in A Court of Mist and Fury. I felt like Maas had really built Feyre up as being this incredibly powerful, badass fae in A Court of Mist and Fury, and yet in this book, she oftentimes either didn’t use her powers at times when they could have been very useful to her and the other characters; or she acted like she didn’t think that she was powerful enough to do what needed to be done. I just thought that was really frustrating, and I really wish that the writing had been more consistent in regards to Feyre’s powers (As well as a lot of other things, too, but especially the use of Feyre’s fae powers).

On the more positive side of things, I was happy to see Maas redeem Tamlin to a certain extent in this book. One of the things that bothered me the most about A Court of Mist and Fury is the fact that I felt like Maas basically assassinated Tamlin as a character in order to prop up Rhysand as a character, and get the readers to root for a romance between Feyre and Rhysand; instead of simply having Feyre and Tamlin’s relationship end in a more organic manner. After really hating the writing for Feyre and Tamlin’s relationship, as well as Tamlin as an individual character in A Court of Mist and Fury, I definitely appreciated the fact that Tamlin helped bring Rhysand back to life after he was killed, and he was dead for a brief part of the book.

While I definitely found a lot of the action that took place outside of the parts of A Court of Wings and Ruin that focused on Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship much more interesting than the parts of the book that actually focused on their relationship; I did think that there were quite a few times throughout the book where the amount of action that was going on got to the point where the book just felt too chaotic and insane at times. There were times throughout the book when certain plot points that probably should have taken about half of the book, or at least a large portion of the book in order for it to be executed well only took a chapter or two of this book to happen and be resolved. That often led to the overall pacing of the book feeling rather uneven. It also caused the book as a whole to come across as if Maas had made a checklist of things that she felt needed to happen in order to end Feyre’s portion of A Court of Thorns and Roses series, and it was like she was just trying check each item off the list. Personally, I feel like A Court of Wings and Ruin could have been a lot better if Maas had taken some of the plot points from this book, and had written an additional book or two for the part of the series that focused on Feyre, only those plot points would hopefully be much more fleshed out and less rushed if she had done that with some of the things that happened throughout this book.

The parts of the book featuring Feyre’s sisters, Nesta and Elain, were kind of interesting. However, I was also really frustrated by the fact that they ultimately never really came to accept the fact that they are now fae, or at least started to accept it by the end of the book. I think that if Maas had expanded upon the parts of the book featuring Nesta and Elain, and had them both show more character development and growth in this book, that I might have enjoyed the parts of the book that featured them a little bit more than I did.

Personally, I was rather disappointed by the whole revelation about Mor being bisexual. It felt rather random and forced on Maas’ part to have Mor reveal that she’s bisexual in this book. There hadn’t been any indication or hinting at the possibility of Mor being bisexual in A Court of Mist and Fury, so the whole thing felt like it had been completely shoehorned into this book. I haven’t read any books from Maas’ Throne of Glass series yet, so at this point in time, I can only base my assessment of her writing on the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. That being said, from what I’ve heard other Sarah J. Maas fans say about her books, one of the common criticisms that people have apparently had about her books is the lack of LGBT characters in them. Perhaps the revelation about Mor being bisexual was Maas’ attempt at trying to include some diversity in her books, but it ultimately just didn’t work for me personally. Being bisexual myself, I felt like the fact that Mor had apparently been stringing Azriel, Cassian and Andromache along for years, simply because she prefers women the most, pretty much put people who’re bisexual in a bad light. If Maas’ really wanted to establish Mor, or any of the characters in the series, as being bisexual, I really wish that she had portrayed bisexuality in a more positive way than she did; because the way she handled it just didn’t work for me personally.

Considering the fact that A Court of Wings and Ruin is the conclusion to Feyre’s portion of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, I really feel like the stakes should have been a lot higher in this book than they actually were. Throughout the book, there were constantly times when characters’ lives were in serious danger, and yet they somehow miraculously survived; or in some cases, characters actually died, only to quickly be brought back to life. By constantly having characters survive extremely dangerous situations, or die, only to be brought back to life good as new, I feel like Maas really cheapened a lot of the action and emotional stakes in this book. I might feel at least a little bit better about characters being brought back to life in this book, if a character had to sacrifice something in order to bring another character back to life; or if a character wasn’t exactly good as new after they had been brought back to life. Unfortunately, Maas didn’t do either of those things when characters were brought back to life, which was just really frustrating and stupid, if you ask me.

Even though I definitely like A Court of Wings and Ruin a little bit more than A Court of Mist and Fury, I’m honestly not entirely sure that I want to continue reading the A Court of Thorns and Roses series at this point; since I found both A Court of Mist and Fury and this book rather frustrating and disappointing in a lot of ways. A big part of why I would be okay with not continuing with the series at this point is due to the fact that this book is the conclusion to Feyre’s story, so if I decide to not continue with the series at this point, at least I can walk away from the series knowing how Feyre’s story ultimately ends. As far as I understand, the A Court of Thorns and Roses novellas that Sarah J. Maas is going to be writing are going to focus on completely different characters in terms of who the protagonists of those novellas will be. It’s entirely possible that the novellas will be focusing on some of the side characters from the first three books in the series. If that’s the case, I might be interested in reading those novellas depending on who the focus of the novellas is, but that’s definitely a very tentative “might”. That being said, while I’m currently on the fence about whether or not I want to continue with the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, I definitely still want to check out Maas’ Throne of Glass series in what I’m hoping will be the near future.

All things considered, I definitely think that A Court of Wings and Ruin serves as a decent ending to Feyre’s story for the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, even though I have a lot of issues with this book. While I found a lot of the action in this book fairly interesting, I feel like Maas tried to do way too much in this book. A lot of the pacing for the book felt rather off, and there were various storylines that were ultimately very rushed, and quite a few characters that felt rather underdeveloped.

Sure, I definitely got the impression that Maas was trying to incorporate some character development into this book, but in a lot of cases, it was handled rather poorly; especially when it comes to the whole revelation about Mor being bisexual. There are quite a few things that happened in this book that I think could have been featured and expanded upon in an additional book or two before wrapping up Feyre’s portion of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. It also didn’t help that quite a bit of the action that took place in this book came across as being rather ridiculous and frustrating due to the stakes coming across as ultimately not being very high in this book. There should have been some genuine loss and character deaths that weren’t rendered pointless due to them being resurrected without any long-term consequences, but there sadly wasn’t really anything like that in this book.

Personally, I think it’s really sad that I found the writing for Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship in A Court of Wings and Ruin so ridiculous and frustrating, since their relationship was one of the rare bright spots of A Court of Mist and Fury for me personally. Their relationship really felt like a relationship that I could root for in A Court of Mist and Fury, but their relationship ultimately comes across as being incredibly shallow, eye-roll inducing due to Feyre and Rhysand constantly flirting with each other, and mostly being about sex in this book. That made their relationship suddenly become a relationship that I had a really hard time getting truly invested in, and caring about as I was reading this book.

While I definitely still want to check out Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, A Court of Wings and Ruin has currently left me feeling incredibly undecided about whether or not I want to continue with the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. I absolutely loved the book A Court of Thorns and Roses, but I definitely found both A Court of Mist and Fury and this book rather frustrating and challenging to get through for various reasons; which makes me rather sad since I felt like this series started out on a very strong note.


That being said, my final score for A Court of Wings and Ruin is 6.5 out of 10.

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