I was so excited for the release of A Court of Wings and Ruin that I accidentally pre-ordered it twice. Then when it arrived at the beginning of May, I had to wait to start reading because I had a lot of uni deadlines. But once I finally handed that work in, I immediately picked up ACOWAR.
A Court of Wings and Ruin is the third in a trilogy by Sarah J Maas – you can find my previous review of A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury here.
I forget surprisingly easily the effect Sarah J Maas has on me between books. I had partially forgotten the feeling I had reading the others first time around – the nausea, the stress, the joy, the love for these characters. The three books in this series have very different tones to them – although they’re all fantastical adventure-romance, each one winds up another gear of tension. The focus slowly shifts further from the romance side of things to the adventure side.
ACOWAR had the most relentless pace of the three – while they all left me on the edge of my seat, this final installment leaves the least room to catch your breath. I read it in three major chunks, the only reason I put it down at all being exhaustion or work. I could say that this book made me laugh and cry, but I’d be leaving out a lot more reactions: gasping, snorting, growling, sobbing. My heart was hammering for three days.
[Spoilers from here]
The character development really caught my attention in this book. Feyre’s is perhaps the most dramatic across each book. She begins ACOTAR as a vulnerable young woman, who acts only on a need to survive, and then blossoms as she becomes able to live for herself and her own desires rather than obligation, and then finally chooses to fight for what she loves – she chooses not to be passive in her own life. ACOMAF sees her recovering from trauma, finding her way into a new version of her life; defending her ability to live by that choice she made, seeking agency in her choices. By the end of ACOMAF she has that agency, reinforced by her own arsenal of power and control. Crucially, she gains what she has not had before – she has a life she wants to return to. She knows what she wants in her life, beyond just a person or a level of security.
Feyre is the reason I love this series so much – her resilience, moral compass and creativity are things I admire, and am drawn to reading about. So I was always expecting her development in ACOWAR to line up with what I hoped for, which it did. A character whose development actually surprised me was Tamlin. I started this book in a similar mindset to Feyre where Tamlin was concerned; for all of Part I – Princess of Carrion, I was cheering her on to bring him and his court down.
But Maas made his resolution more complicated than that – Tamlin is not all one thing or another. And I appreciate that, although none of his actions make his behaviour in ACOMAF forgivable in any way. If he had shown some comprehension of his faults, things might be different, but overall I feel his duality was left quite ambiguous – Maas has not joined up all the parts of his development yet. In a lot of ways, I resent Tamlin being handed control over Feyre’s happiness at the end of the war – the second book was majorly hinged on her escaping his controlling behaviour, and even if he was kind in that moment, handing him that choice rankled with me. But perhaps this tangle will be unknotted a bit by the further three books Maas is writing set in Prythian.
I can’t quite sum up into words how much I love this series – I could ramble on for another six hundred words about character arcs and plot intricacies, but the bottom line is that they’ve become some of my favourite things to pick up when I want to escape. They’re fun to read, fun to revisit, and they make me smile (and sob, growl, etc). They offer me some perfect, pure escapism, into a fantastical world which is more horrific, and more beautiful, than any real one. And for that I absolutely adore it, and I’ll keep on and on revisiting.
Sorry for my disappearance from this blog the last few weeks! I had a lot of work going on, and while I was writing blog posts I just wasn’t happy enough with any to actually post them. I am now trying to get back to my normal posting schedule.