For those of you who’ve been waiting for anything to happen in A Court of Thorns and Roses that isn’t “Beauty and the Beast but it’s got faeries, it’s sort of got furries, and there’s no Gaston”, today is the day!
Feyre arms herself with every weapon she can use before departing Tamlin’s house. Spoiler: not a single one of them gets used. Alis takes her out into the forest and leads her to a secret shortcut “once considered sacred, but no more” that’ll lead her to where Tamlin is held captive. Alis points out once more that she’s 100% going on a suicide mission, but Feyre holds firm to her resolve despite her fear
I loved Tamlin, and I would go to the ends of the earth to make it right, to save him, but if Amarantha was worse than the Attor…
Alis gives Feyre parting advice not to trust anyone, not even Tamlin, once she gets there. She also mentions there’s another part of the curse that, of course, the curse prevents her from actually telling Alis about, so she has to look out for… whatever that will be. Feyre tells Alis that if shit hits the fan, she should take her family and flee across the border to her family, and her sister Nesta knows what’s up and will help them out.
Once in the secret underground cave, Feyre realizes this was maybe not her best decision and gets captured pretty quickly by the Attor.
The Attor takes Feyre to a court, full of leering faerie faces and Amarantha herself.
Though lovely, she wasn’t as devastatingly beautiful as I had imagined […] while her ebony eyes shone, there was … something that sucked at her beauty, some kind of permanent sneer to her features that made her allure seem contrived and cold. To paint her would have driven me to madness.
It’s probably pretty obvious that I’m not as big a fan of this book as Ariel is at this point, but goddamn “To paint her would have driven me to madness” is an enticing description.
Feyre notices Tamlin is sitting right by Amarantha’s side, but unmoving and reacting nonchalant about everything. Feyre quickly guesses that she must be too late and that Amarantha’s curse must have set in. I honestly would never have figured this out, since this sounds pretty much just like Tamlin to me.
Feyre declares she has “come to claim the one I love”, which Amarantha finds fairly amusing. Tamlin continues to be “impassive”. Thankfully, Amarantha is more than a compelling enough character to make up the difference.
“Oh, [Tamlin], you are delicious. You let me torture that innocent girl to keep this one safe? You lovely thing! You actually made a human worm love you. Marvelous.” She clapped her hands, and Tamlin merely looked away from her, the only reaction I’d seen from him.
Tortured. She’d tortured—
Feyre comes face to face with the consequences of the false identity she gave to Rhysand.
There, nailed high on the wall of the enormous cavern, was the mangled corpse of a young woman. Her skin was burned in places, her fingers were bent at odd angles, and garish red lines crisscrossed her naked body. I could hardly hear Amarantha over the roar in my ears.
“Perhaps I should have listened when she said she’d never seen Tamlin before,” Amarantha mused. […] “Though her screaming was delightful. I haven’t heard such lovely music in ages.”
Feyre does realize she’s not without fault here.
This was what I’d done to her, by giving Rhysand her name to protect my family.
My insides twisted […]
“Do you still wish to claim someone who would [let this happen] to an innocent?” Amarantha said softly – consolingly.
I snapped my gaze to her. I wouldn’t let Clare’s death be in vain. I wasn’t going down without a fight. “Yes,” I said. “Yes, I do.”
This would probably mean a bit more if we’d ever… you know… seen Clare. I wonder how she feels about this whole dying in vain thing.
Speaking of characters who’ve never actually appeared in the book…
She fingered the bone hanging from her necklace and looked at the encased eye upon her hand. “I suppose if anyone can appreciate the moment,” she said to the ring, “it would be you, Jurian.” She smiled prettily. “A pity your human whore on the side never bothered to save you, though.”
Jurian— that was his eye, his finger bone. Horror coiled in my gut. Through whatever evil, whatever power, she somehow held his soul, his consciousness, to the ring, the bone.
Jurian was a human general who Amarantha’s sister fell in love with during the war, then he betrayed her when he got information and killed her, but the advantage was short-lived and this is apparently what his fate was. Again, chilling, but it’s a little frustrating how we’re only learning how ruthless Amarantha is in terms of all these characters we have no emotional attachment to. Where the fuck is Lucien right now?
Amarantha strikes a deal with Feyre. She has to complete three tasks to prove “how deep that human sense of loyalty and love runs”. Feyre ensures that she means the curse will be broken and everyone will be free immediately. And as a… bonus, I guess, Amarantha tells Feyre she’ll give her a riddle that will let her bypass the whole thing if she can solve it.
She accepts as Tamlin looks on in horror. Also The Attor beats the shit out of her. Just because, I guess.
We learn where Lucien is! Sorta! Feyre wakes up in a prison cell without her weapons, when Lucien unexpectedly slips into her cell. He’s amazed and horrified she’s here at all, and she fills him in on what she knows of the curse and the situation.
“I just… I had to tell him that I love him. To see if it wasn’t too late.”
Lucien sat back on his heels. “So you know everything, then. […] Well, at least we don’t have to lie to you anymore.”
Lucien magically heals up Feyre’s injuries as much as he can without raising suspicion. Feyre points out that he didn’t have magic before, and Lucien’s explanation… really just gives me more questions about what anyone’s doing right now…
“She gave me back a fraction – to entice Tamlin to accept her offer. But he still refuses her.”
“Oh, YEAH? Well! How about… if I give your friend some of his magic powers back! Ha! Now will you love me? No? Huh, I totally thought that’d sway you for some reason. Oh well, guess I’ll let him keep his magic and not really keep tabs on what he’s doing with that. Or what he’s even doing here. Not like he has any allies hanging around in the dungeons that I know about.”
Lucien also tells Feyre more about Jurian’s backstory, pointing out that he’s pretty lucky that Amarantha didn’t do the same thing to him. Seriously, it’s Tamlin that Amarantha’s in love with? Not this other dude she keeps doing these favors for? Is she secretly in love with Lucien or just incompetent?
The best answer we get for why she’s letting Lucien hang around comes later in the chapter when Feyre’s brought before the court again. Amarantha wants to learn Feyre’s name, which she refuses to share, and begins torturing Lucien until she reveals it. Also surprising, Rhysand kind of slyly helps out Feyre…
Amarantha lifted her brows. “Is this the girl you saw at Tamlin’s estate. […]
His violet eyes held boredom – and disdain. “I suppose. […] Humans all look alike to me.” […]
I didn’t believe him for a second. Rhysand knew exactly how I looked – he’d recognized me that day at the manor. […] Either toying with Amarantha was a joke to him […] or… it was just more court scheming.
Hmmm my “evil character is secretly not so evil” senses are tingling. Also my “well, I bet these two are gonna fuck later” senses are tingling. (I mean, seriously, we have no reason to understand why he’d be even a little on her side, so clearly he’s going to become more prominent later.)
Amarantha also gives Feyre the get-out-of-jail-free riddle she’s giving Feyre for some reason.
There are those who seek me a lifetime but never we meet,
And those I kiss but who trample me beneath ungrateful feet.
At times I seem to favor the clever and the fair,
But I bless all those who are brave enough to dare.
By large, my ministrations are soft-handed and sweet,
But scorned, I become a difficult beast to defeat.
For though each of my strikes lands a powerful blow,
When I kill, I do it slow …
Is it The Bachelor? Watching that show is the first thing that comes to mind after “When I kill, I do it slow”.
You might recall a mere 35 chapters ago that Feyre is an accomplished hunter, before the book became mostly about her succumbing to Stockholm Syndrome in a wolf-man’s castle. SO ARE YOU READY FOR FEYRE TO FUCK SOME SHIT UP AGAIN?
I beheld the exposed labyrinth of tunnels and trenches running along the floor. The crowd stood along the banks […] The faeries cheered, and I saw gold flash between spindly, multi-hued palms. Betting on my life – on how long I would last once this started. […] Amarantha had only to raise a hand and the roaring crowd silenced. […]
“The first task is here. Let us see how deep that human affection of yours runs. […] I think you’ll like this task […] Rhysand tells me you’re a huntress,” she said, and my heartbeat faltered. […] “Hunt this.”
Feyre gets violently thrown into a labyrinth of muddy tunnels full of a vile stench and a giant worm with a mouth full of rows and rows and sharp teeth, which begins chasing her. FUCK. YES. ACTION. TIME.
Feyre realizes she can barely outrun the worm, so she certainly can’t sneak up behind it in the labyrinth, and things get worse when she ends up in a pit of bones that are definitely from the worm’s past victims. And at one point Lucien straight up shouts “TO YOUR LEFT” allowing her to avoid a fatal sneak attack (again raising the question of… why Lucien is allowed to be doing things right now…). But she learns from watching the crowd that the worm is blind and hunting her by smell.
I paused to roll on the ground. Every inch of me had to be covered. Every damn inch. […]
“What’s it doing?” the green-faced faerie whined again.
A deep, elegant voice replied this time. “She’s building a trap. [It] relies on its scent to see,” Rysand answered, and I gave a special glower for him as I glanced at the rim of the trench and found him smiling at me. “And Feyre just became invisible.”
It’s actually a really good action scene, and my summary is not gonna do it justice no matter what I do, so, uh, it’s… like… It starts off like this…
And then it’s like this.
I swung my arms as I careened down, aiming for the spot I’d planned. [The] worm plummeted into the pit. It hit the earth and lashed its massive body to the side, anticipating the strike to kill me, but a wet, crunching noise filled the air instead […] impaled on the bone spikes.
The faeries cheer, apparently just thrilled someone got killed in the fight regardless. Amarantha is less pleased.
Her lips were thin, and she no longer grasped Tamlin’s knee. Tamlin. My Tamlin. […] “Well,” Amarantha said with a little smirk. “I suppose anyone could have done that.”
I took a few running steps and hurled the bone at her with all my remaining strength. [It fell at her feet].
She smiled slowly. “Naughty,” she said. […]
Someday – if I lived through this – I would skin her alive.