A Court of Thorns and Roses Chapters 21-24: Let the Controversy Begin!

It’s hard for me not to talk about what happens later when I’m discussing a lot of these scenes, but I’m really trying to focus on the book at hand rather than discussing these events in light of what happens in A Court of Mist and Fury. That being said, I can’t resist some lines about the future here or there, so I apologize.

Chapter 21

The super sexy, mysterious High Fae is described in detail. He follows the law of Sexy Male Characters and has “violet” eyes and a “magnificent” body. Also, his voice is “a lover’s purr”, which sounds like a weird way for someone to sound during a normal conversation.

What I found most interesting, though, is that Feyre repeatedly points out the bad vibes she gets from this guy rather than falling under the spell of his good looks.

For a moment, we said nothing. Thank you didn’t seem to cover what he’d done for me, but something about the way he stood with absolute stillness, the night seeming to press in closer around him, made me hesitate to speak— made me want to run in the other direction.

[…]

“And who are your friends?” He was still smiling at me— a predator sizing up prey.

[…]

“Their names?” He prowled closer, slipping his hands into his pockets. I retreated a little more and kept my mouth shut. Had I just traded three monsters for something far worse?

[…]

“Aren’t humans usually terrified of us? And aren’t you, for that matter, supposed to keep to your side of the wall?”

I was terrified of him, but I wasn’t about to let him know.

I remember how happy I was when I read this. I thought, “Wow, what a cool misdirect here. The hottest guy around is creepy AF and Feyre isn’t falling for it.” Those were the days.

To his credit, he leaves Feyre alone pretty readily when she says she doesn’t need him to escort her anywhere. Before he goes, she confirms he’s not from the Spring Court, and he tells her “all the monsters have been let out of their cages tonight.”

Given Feyre’s close call with the naga, I don’t understand why she doesn’t take anyone’s advice and stay away from this ritual when loads of scary faeries are there.

Lucien spots Feyre, freaks out, and carries her back to the manor. He explains more about the ritual and why she should stay away:

“Fire Night signals the official start of spring— in Prythian, as well as in the mortal world,” Lucien said. While his words were calm, they trembled slightly. I leaned against the wall of the hallway, forcing myself into a casualness I didn’t feel. “Here, our crops depend upon the magic we regenerate on Calanmai— tonight.”

The magic is generated by sexy Faerie fucking of course.

“Tonight, Tam will allow … great and terrible magic to enter his body,” Lucien said, staring at the distant fires. “The magic will seize control of his mind, his body, his soul, and turn him into the Hunter. It will fill him with his sole purpose: to find the Maiden. From their coupling, magic will be released and spread to the earth, where it will regenerate life for a year to come.”

Tamlin will hunt a white stag and then go to a cave where “faerie females” will be lined up waiting for him. After Tamlin chooses, it becomes a full-on faerie orgy. Apparently, the more faeries that fuck, the better for the land! Lucien then explains that if Feyre were there, Tamlin would have chosen her but that “it wouldn’t have been Tamlin who brought [her] into that cave.”

It made me sick— the thought of Tamlin forcing me, that magic could strip away any sense of self, of right or wrong. But hearing that … that some feral part of him wanted me … My breath was painful.

I gave this a lot of thought, and I like this. If magic were not involved, this would get a very different reaction from me. I’m not going down the path of metaphor here, like ‘couldn’t magic be a metaphor for alcohol?’ because there is actually alcohol in this universe, and my reaction would be different if it was alcohol.

Tamlin is under the influence of powerful (and, retrospectively, somewhat confusing) magic that is part of an important ritual for his people, and we get no inkling that any of the participants are there against their will. I think Feyre should have gotten more information sooner, but right now Lucien is being honest with her so she can make an informed decision to stay away from Tamlin.

But then there’s this part of Feyre that is excited by the fact that, woah, Tamlin really wants her. I liked the tension here and the fact that it gets one telling line rather than pages and pages of explanation.

Feyre wakes up later wondering who Tamlin chose for the ritual, feeling a bit jealous, and starting to admit that maybe she wants Tamlin (gasp!).

Feyre leaves her room, and this leads to one of the most hotly debated scenes of the book.

Tamlin grabs Feyre as she’s having a snack (as my very British husband said, “The grabbing thing, that’s not on”, and I am also outraged he knocked a cookie out of her hand), and tells her how much he wanted he that night. Feyre tells him to let go, but he doesn’t, and she tells us how aroused she is.

Also, this:

I couldn’t escape. I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to.

He tells Feyre he would have been gentle with her, and she’s very sassy about how she doesn’t want someone else’s leftovers.

He grabbed my hands again and bit my neck. I cried out as his teeth clamped onto the tender spot where my neck met my shoulder.

I couldn’t move— couldn’t think, and my world narrowed to the feeling of his lips and teeth against my skin. He didn’t pierce my flesh, but rather bit to keep me pinned. The push of his body against mine, the hard and the soft, made me see red— see lightning, made me grind my hips against his. I should hate him— hate him for his stupid ritual, for the female he’d been with tonight …

His bite lightened, and his tongue caressed the places his teeth had been. He didn’t move— he just remained in that spot, kissing my neck. Intently, territorially, lazily. Heat pounded between my legs, and as he ground his body against me, against every aching spot, a moan slipped past my lips.

So I know that the way the body responds does not mean that what’s happening is consensual. That being said, at the end of the day, I have to follow Feyre’s lead on this one, and we get every indication that she wants to be there, and giving intentional physical signs like her grinding her hips against him. Even after when Tamlin yuckily tells her not to disobey him again, and she’s telling him off for bossing her around and biting her, she tells us this:

More— I wanted the hardness of his body crushing against mine; I wanted his mouth and teeth and tongue on my bare skin, on my breasts, between my legs. Everywhere— I wanted him everywhere. I was drowning in that need.

But nothing else happens between them now, Tamlin leaves.

It would be really easy for me to just say that Tamlin is bad and this scene was wrong, but my gut just doesn’t feel that way. What bothers me is that the problematic parts of the scene aren’t addressed, which I’ll get into more in the next chapter.

Chapter 22

The next day, Feyre cheerfully meets Lucien and Tamlin for lunch. When Lucien asks about the bruise, Feyre is like, “TAMLIN!”

What pisses me off is that Tamlin isn’t apologetic at all! He just blames Feyre for not listening to them. I get it’s annoying when you warn someone about something, they don’t listen to you, and then blame you. This is not the equivalent of, “Feyre, you shouldn’t have worn that sexy nightgown.” But couldn’t he also be CONCERNED over whether what he’d done was unwanted or not? Apologize for grabbing her?

“While I might not have been myself, Lucien and I both told you to stay in your room,” Tamlin said, so calmly that I wanted to rip out my hair.

I couldn’t help it. Didn’t even try to fight the red-hot temper that razed my senses. “Faerie pig!” I yelled, and Lucien howled, almost tipping back in his chair. At the sight of Tamlin’s growing smile, I left.

But it’s played for laughs? What?

This was an opportunity for something better here. I actually like that the scene’s complicated and makes me think, but I don’t like that it’s laughed away! I know it’s between Tamlin and Feyre, and if that’s how they interpreted what happened, okay, but that aspect feelswrong to me and like it would have made me believe in them even more if they had laughed but also had a real conversation about it. (Given the direction the second book takes, maybe this was intentional, but I stand by my point. If it was intentional, why not have Feyre just reflect on it even briefly?)

Feyre goes to paint and thinks how happy she is that Tamlin isn’t under the magical orgy spell anymore. They both apologize at dinner later, which is good, but there’s no dialogue (we’re just told by Feyre). That night she sleeps more peacefully than ever before.

This is why I’d forgotten about Tamlin’s initial reaction before this re-read. Everything transitions so quickly into fun and happiness, and I got so caught up in everything that happens later.

Feyre wears a sexy dress to dinner the next day, and Lucien quickly flees so he does not have to witness Tamlin and Feyre flirting. She then shows Tamlin her paintings, some of which are about her life before. One alludes to her and Isaac, and Tamlin expresses some jealously:

“It was the only escape I had.” Truth. I wouldn’t apologize for Isaac. Not when Tamlin had just been in the Great Rite. I didn’t hold that against him— but if he was going to be jealous of Isaac—

Tamlin must have realized it, too, for he loosed a long, controlled breath before moving to the next painting.

I love that this is how the jealousy on both sides was handled. It felt so adult!

They talk about their lives some more, and Tamlin tells her he feels she’s the only person he’s ever met who he feels can really understand what it’s like “for me to care for my people, my lands. What scars are still there, what the bad days feel like.”

That wrathful jealousy faded away like morning dew as he smiled at my painting. “This reminds me of it.”

“Of what?” I breathed.

He lowered the painting, looking right at me, right into me. “That I’m not alone.”

Shit, I got a little teary here. Yup, this was definitely why I moved on so quickly from the events of the previous chapter. It’s not perfect, but fuck these two broken people get each other.

Chapter 23

Tamlin and Feyre spend more time together on a magical date that is very sweet. Tamlin gives Feyre some magic so she can experience the world in a richer way.

Chapter 24

It turns out that Tamlin has also removed some sort of glamour he’d cast over Feyre so her adjustment to the Faery world was easier. She doesn’t even recognize Alis at first, and there are SHIT TONS of other Faeries around the Spring Court that were there the whole time that she couldn’t see! What the fuck? Why didn’t he just make them look different like he did with Alis rather than making them invisible? How did Feyre not bump into anyone?

It is a little hilarious when Feyre confronts Tamlin and Lucien, and they tell Feyre the night she chased after the puca and she thought no one was around, there was a huge audience. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s awful! But it’s a little funny. Tamlin also explains that anyone outside his court he couldn’t glamour…so I don’t get why he needed to glamour his court since Feyre was exposed to scary Fae from outside it anyway. I never understood what this added to the story, really.

Anyway, the chapter ends on a much more sinister note as Feyre finds a severed head stuck to a pole outside the manor. Lucien and Tamlin think it was the Lord of the Night Court. They explain that the Night Court is full of eeeeevil!

Tamlin and Feyre also have another heart to heart about how happy he was when humans were freed and how ashamed he is of how they were treated in the past. He seems like a good egg here.

2+
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9 comments

  1. Rebecca

    I totally agree about the transition from that slightly weird scene–just moving so quickly back to happy, Feyre is hot for Tamlin, etc….it’s kind of jarring. But yeah, I didn’t really notice it either, because I got too wrapped up in Feyre falling for him, I guess. And the way she processed that scene, I was like, okay, it’s not so bad. She at least gives him shit for acting like an animal, although not nearly enough.

    Our first meeting with Rhysand, knowing what happens in the second book, I also have things to say–but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I’m sort of not sold on her having “alarm bells.” That whole piece of characterization seems to vanish later, and I’m not sure why she ever was so suspicious of him. Unless he was like, manipulating her to feel that way? I actually think that might be possible as I type it.

    Finally, knowing things about the second book, I can see Tamlin’s “don’t disobey me” thing for what it ends up being. But as their love story progresses (I don’t know who will get the chapter, but I hope it gets pointed out) there’s a single line of dialogue that I remember so specifically, because as soon as I started the second one, I was like, what the fuck? It’s like Tamlin completely forgot what drew him to Feyre in the first place, and after everything she does, it doesn’t feel genuine.

    2+
  2. Rebecca

    I also think it’s important to note here that Tamlin is like “I want someone who understands my struggles” because this portion of his characterization vanishes into thin air later.

    2+
  3. Krista B

    What’s the line? I want to know!

    I get annoyed when characters (usually men) give some order without saying why. If I understand why it’s a good idea to stay in my room, I’m much more likely to do it. Plus, maybe explain the situation and make a recommendation but let her decide. That actually annoyed me way more than the rapiness. As you pointed out, she seems very into it.

    Does anyone besides me have trouble picturing this sexy bite? It’s very vampire-esque. Plus it seems to last forever. I just don’t get how a bite lasts that long and stays sexy. Maybe it just isn’t my thing.

    I’m biting my tongue so much for the next book. There are lots of things I didn’t like, but I was willing to get on board with the romantic direction much more than it seems like others were. I like revisiting this scene to see it a little differently now… I can’t wait to discuss!

    3+
    • Rebecca

      Okay I have the hardest time figuring out how to reply on here so if this posts as its own comment, I’m sorry. I hit reply and it never works, lol!

      The line is “No, you don’t” from Tamlin when Feyre says, “I don’t need a keeper!” I get that people don’t always mean what they say, and things change, whatever–but it’s like in the first book he acknowledges her agency and likes her for being independent and defiant, and then she does things and yay happiness, and he just totally forgets who he is. Someone on here a few weeks ago called it a character assasination, and that shit is astute.

      I actually probably agree with you on the romantic direction of book 2–I was okay with it. I think it was done a little disingenuously, and I was really tired of Feyre telling me how to feel about it, but I liked them as a unit.

      3+
      • Krista B

        Interesting what stands out to different people. That line didn’t strike me in particular, but I agree. Tamlin is completely different in the second book. I can maybe buy that the whole experience changed him, but they don’t really do a good job with that idea. It drove me crazy how Feyre kept saying that she had changed and didn’t need to be protected anymore like she had before and that’s what the problem was. Ummm. The whole book was Feyre going off on adventures and being tough and clever and independent. Feyre rode all around the property and did all kinds of things without Tamlin interfering. Then in the second book SHE supposedly changed. I didn’t buy that at all.

        1+
        • Rebecca

          See, that’s what bugs me too! It’s like, okay, they both basically have PTSD. Things are hard and different. But Feyre NEVER wanted someone to watch out for her. She didn’t want or need anyone to take care of her, and Tamlin recognizes that in this book. I get, in ACOMAF, when she’s talking about someone taking her away from her life and reminding her how to do things for herself, instead of other people–great, interesting motivation. But after everything she did for those damn faeries, who the hell would ever think SHE needs protected? Not Tamlin–she saved his ass, right?

          The thing that drove me nuts when she would constantly talk about her feelings in 2 is that it really felt like the author explaining it to herself, over and over again, and then it getting missed in editing for repetitiveness. This is a near and dear thing to my heart, because an earlier draft of my first book, my main character is like “THIS IS HOW I FEEL” all the time because of some bad editing advice I got and took like a lil desperate puppy. When I re-edited my book and took all that out, the character felt so much more genuine–because readers don’t need to be told constantly what to think, for exactly the reason you stated. They’re not going to buy it just because the author SAYS it. We both read these books and know Feyre as a character. Maybe not as well as the author, but if we’re not getting something, it’s likely not because we didn’t read it right–we can only see what the author shows, after all. And when the author just tells feelings instead of showing in tandem, or directly contradicts what WAS shown, it’s like…really difficult to buy those motivations as genuine and compelling.

          Okay, long diatribe over. 🙂

          1+
    • Emily

      Yeah, I can not imagine this bite being sexy. Lol. I really imagine it more like he’s a giant leech just latching onto her shoulder for a minute.

      I think I’d be more on board with how the romantic direction went in the last book if I felt like Tamlin’s character wasn’t completely changed to make it happen. I feel like it could have been more interesting if Feyre had more conflict over what happened, but the character change just made everything far too easy for her and for the reader.

      4+
  4. Emily

    It’s so interesting reading these recaps after reading the second book. It almost feels like it takes place in a different universe … the disconnect is so jarring. I feel like the characters, their actions, and their motivations are presented drastically different between the books.

    These chapters really demonstrate some of why I liked this book… Feyre and Tamlin’s relationship is interesting. Oh… don’t get me wrong… when I say it’s interesting, I don’t mean it’s perfect. Some things that happen are definitely problematic, perhaps even downright wrong, but that makes it all the more interesting When I read this book, I’m not sure if I like Tamlin, and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to. He’s good, but he does some bad things, and I like that those bad things aren’t completely explained away. He’s complex, and it’s interesting to read and think about. Rhysand was the same way. He seems legitimately sinister in this book, but he does some good things that are really intriguing and make you wonder about his motivations.

    This ambiguity in characterization is gone in the next book. I was bored. Everyone who is supposed to be good, only does good things. Everyone who is supposed to be bad only does bad things. In the first book, I felt like the characters were purposefully painted as complex, and not all good and bad, but in the second book, I felt like every act by the main protagonists was justified like crazy, and every act by the antagonists was condemned like crazy. Everyones motivations were overexplained and there was no moral gray area. Feyre’s relationship was perfect… and boring.

    6+

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  5. courtshippers

    I don’t understand why people hate Tamlin for being sexually agressive but they seem to ignore that Rhys drugged and humiliated Feyre Under the Mountain and touched her against her will, even if it wasn’t between her legs or whatever.

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