I can never decide which series of Sarah J. Maas I adore more – her Throne of Glass series or this one. Whichever one I’m currently reading, I prefer, and that’s because they are both really strong on their own. The two stories never overlap, and I don’t think the two protagonists would be friends if they ever met. That is an amazing feat, to create two very different stories and still make both of them feel beloved. Reading books by Sarah J. Maas always fills me with excitement and warmth, as if you’re reading about good friends. To whom horrible, magical things keep happening.
A Court of Wings and Ruin is the conclusion to the trilogy about Feyre and Rhys, and I was very happy to hear a new trilogy would be forthcoming. I’m not ready to say goodbye to this world, even though the two protagonists deserve their trials to be wrapped up. I was even more excited to know it would focus on Nesta, who I adore. I can’t help it, I love that snarky woman. A big part of why I love Nesta comes into play in this book. This is where we first meet her as a Fae female, instead of the ordinary girl she had been.
Since rereading the series a couple of times, I’ve come to see that even though Nesta did let Feyre go out into the woods alone to care for their supper, Nesta too was only just a girl. Neither she nor Feyre knew what to do, and Nesta has always been held hostage by her rage. It was Elain for whom I had little patience this book. I have never really liked weakness and her inability to snap out of her misery annoyed me a bit – even though I praised Sarah J. Maas previously for letting Feyre’s depression linger so long. Perhaps because it’s (mostly) over a guy. And because I’ve never liked Lucien, nor considered Elain really relevant. She is the one who I never forgave for not helping Feyre. Nesta had her block. Elain just wanted to be cared for.
I really adored much of this book. The addition of Eris as someone who you can never really trust especially. He alludes to there being more to him than the guy who left Mor to die, brutalized and alone, and I’m guessing that’s true considering Sarah J. Maas introduced it without wrapping it up in book 3. We’ll see more of that, I’m sure. And of course the introduction of the other High Lords, their consorts and their delicious intrigue. I was cackling with glee all throughout the meeting at the Dawn Court.
I must admit the reveal there made Lucien infinitely more interesting. My one problem with this book (well, I have two. I’ll get to the other one) is that I can’t place Tamlin. I’m sure he is written to be ambiguous, his motives largely his own. But the going back and forth between the High Lords and the king of Hybern mostly made him seem flaky. What is the man’s deal? It’s as if Sarah J. Maas couldn’t decide what she wanted Tamlin to be – traitor or helper. His shades of grey don’t come across as consistent. Not in the way Sarah J. Maas manages with Arobynn in the Throne of Glass series. Or Jurian. Don’t you just learn to love that guy this book? I did.
There is a lot happening in A Court of Wings and Ruin, and Sarah J. Maas manages to pace it all very well. I think she could have done without Feyre’s largely underwhelming challenge of looking in the mirror (especially since she struggles with the same issues again in the novella to come). But the addition of Vassa’s little segue, a known faerie story, to give Lucien someplace to be was a nice one. The way in which players old and new ended up on the final battlefield was reminiscent of the armies ammassing on the beach in Empire of Storms, which she had written before this book.
The final battle is actually my second problem with A Court of Wings and Ruin. I generally don’t like big battle scenes in books because it is extremely difficult to do it justice. You usually end up not knowing what’s going on where, losing overview. It happens here as well. While I can see that Feyre’s mind-travelling across the battlefield is a nice solution to create said overview, it ended up being completely disorienting. I had no idea what was going on, through whose eyes I was seeing and how she got there. Only in the second reading did I understand what was going on.
The subsequent series of events by the Cauldron was also a bit too much stacking for me. First Amren betraying Feyre into facing the Cauldron alone in order to free her body, then her snuffing out. The Cauldron breaking in a way that was destroying the world, then Rhys helping Feyre. Then Rhys dying. Then Rhys being brought back (which was an amazing scene in and of itself, with Tamlin and the way Feyre forced all of them to be decent – so different from how she herself received their gifts). The overview scene, the death of Feyre’s father and the death of the king of Hybern… It was a bit much to say the least. That really could have benefitted from more even pacing.
Nevertheless, this is an amazing book and amazing things happen. It’s a really great ending to the trilogy and so much happens that I love. I’m taking a moment to specifically mention the first few chapters in which Feyre manipulates Tamlin’s entire household. It was epic and I bow down to the evil genius of it. And I’m also taking the time to honor the Suriel. I cried a bucket full when he died.
I’m going to be short: read the series. Sarah J. Maas is in the top 3 of my favourite authors and I have a very good reason for that. Read ACOTAR ánd TOG, because both series absolutely deserve it. This is a very worthy third book and the only way I was able to cope with wrapping up the series is because I know there is another trilogy forthcoming. Before I knew that, I was a wreck thinking about having to leave this world behind for good. I really enjoyed the third book a lot more knowing we’d continue.