Feyre is badly injured after her first trial;
But worse than that was the growing panic— panic that the wound hadn’t stopped bleeding. I knew what it meant when blood continued to flow. I kept one eye on the wound, either out of hope that I’d find the blood clotting, or the terror that I’d spy the first signs of infection.
Feyre is given rotten food, and her health continues to deteriorate and she hopes Lucien will turn up to help again, but he doesn’t. This is definitely the part of the book that I found pretty harrowing. I was on such a high after reading the first trial, and then it’s like wait…how is she supposed to take on the next trials like this?
The door actually did move then— no, not the door, but rather the darkness around it, which seemed to ripple. Real fear coiled in my stomach as a male figure formed out of that darkness, as if he’d slipped in from the cracks between the door and the wall, hardly more than a shadow.
Rhysand was fully corporeal now, and his violet eyes glowed in the dim light. He slowly smiled from where he stood by the door. “What a sorry state for Tamlin’s champion.”
Noooooo why??? Go away!
Rhysand makes some comments about how Tamlin’s every move is being watched so he can’t come down here himself. I never fully understood why Rhysand’s every move wasn’t being watched unless he was just that trusted. I would have thought Amarantha would be suspicious of everyone.
He reveals that he was the only one who bet on Feyre completing her first trial and that she won him a lot of money. Some people find this romantic, but I find it about as romantic as when my husband bets on an unlikely outcome of a football match.
Rhysand examined the wound, a smile appearing on his sensuous lips. “Oh, that’s wonderfully gruesome.” I swore at him, and he chuckled. “Such words from a lady.”
Just when you thought Rhysand couldn’t become a more beloved character and the best love interest for Feyre, he offers to fix her arm if she’ll come to live with him for two weeks every month.
“Let’s say I walk out of here. Perhaps Lucien will come to your aid within five minutes of my leaving. Perhaps he’ll come in five days. Perhaps he won’t come at all. Between you and me, he’s been keeping a low profile after his rather embarrassing outburst at your trial. Amarantha’s not exactly pleased with him. Tamlin even broke his delightful brooding to beg for him to be spared— such a noble warrior, your High Lord. She listened, of course— but only after she made Tamlin bestow Lucien’s punishment. Twenty lashes.”
I kind of feel like we should have witnessed that scene. Also reading this a second time, it seems pretty important that we don’t get any scenes like this with Feyre in place of Lucien. Don’t get me wrong, I’m kind of glad about that because I could imagine those scenes being terrible, and I don’t want to go down the path of theorising how these scenes could have been done, but it seems noteworthy that Tamlin gets this kind of scene (off-screen) with Lucien. In a more exciting world, I would think it’s a first hint that Tamlin/Lucien could happen (PLEASE?), but it’s probably another hint that Tamlin is wrong for Feyre since he isn’t forced to beg for her safety.
Given what we know of Amarantha, though, I’m surprised she didn’t force Feyre and Tamlin into a scene similar to that, though? I mean, he’s watching her be tortured in the trials, but I’m still surprised that’s enough for this sadistic lady.
Rhysand continues to list all the reasons why this deal is fantastic, and finally Feyre agrees.
I was dying. I’d known it for some time now. And Lucien had underestimated my abilities in the past— had never quite grasped my limitations as a human. He’d sent me to hunt the Suriel with a few knives and a bow. He’d even admitted to hesitating that day, when I had screamed for help.
On the one hand, it’s good we have actual evidence as to why Feyre would doubt that Lucien is coming, but on the other hand, I feel like it was less about who he is as a character when he hesitated to help Feyre when the naga attacked her and more about having that happen so Feyre would agree to this deal now.
Feyre bargains a bit and gets it down from two weeks to one. Great! She gets another court where she can basically be a captive again. It’s just like in Beauty and the Beast when the second beast shows up and makes Belle spend part of her time in his cursed castle! I see the parallels.
Now that the deal has been made, Rhysand tattoos an eye onto her palm and some “swirls and whorls” of black ink on her arm. So Rhysand is Nxy and Feyre is Zoey?
Rhysand is smug because Tamlin is going to hate this, and Feyre has the sinking feeling Rhysand only helped her to piss Tamlin off.
Amarantha’s lackeys show up and give Feyre the impossible task of cleaning a room with dirty water. Failure results in death. So ya, Feyre fails to clean this room and dies obviously, the end.
Sorry but this is really the best Amarantha has got? Man, this book is really not holding up in the face of a close re-read.
But then Lucien’s mom shows up and helps Feyre because she saved Lucien earlier in the story.
BUT THERE IS ANOTHER WACKY, IMPOSSIBLE TASK!
“Servant spilled lentils in the ash,” one of the guards grunted, tossing me a wooden bucket. “Clean it up before the occupant returns, or he’ll peel off your skin in strips.”
I’m going to go against my better judgement here and say…what if one of these impossible tasks had real consequences? What if Tamlin had to do something awful to Feyre and that trauma is what started to drive a wedge between them?
Instead she has to separate lentils from the ashes? It feels very fairytale like but like such a departure from the legitimate torture and horrors happening here. At least maybe Feyre will figure out some clever way to complete this task:
“As wonderful as it is to see you, Feyre, darling,” Rhysand said, sprawled on the bed, his head propped up by a hand, “do I want to know why you’re digging through my fireplace?”
Nope. Rhysand shows up to save the day. First they have a discussion about how Rhysand had lied when he said he hadn’t seen Feyre before and also what he was doing out at Fire Night:
“She let you out for Fire Night. And you somehow got out to put that head in the garden.”
“She asked me to put that head in the garden. And as for Fire Night …” He looked me up and down. “I had my reasons to be out then. Do not think, Feyre, that it did not cost me.” He smiled again, and it didn’t meet his eyes. “Are you going to put down that poker, or can I expect you to start swinging soon?”
Hmm I am intrigued to find out more about this in the next book actually. I also wonder if they’ll address the sexual abuse Rhysand has suffered in this book as “Amarantha’s whore.” But that’s a discussion for another time.
For some reason, they also talk about how all High Lords can shape shift, and Rhysand grows wings and talons. I still struggle to picture any of this shapeshifting.
Feyre hilariously and smartly tries to get Rhysand to tell her the answer to the riddle, but of course he can’t. This had to be addressed, though, or we’d all wonder why she didn’t ask him.
“There. A gift— for having the balls to even ask.”
I gave him a flat stare, but he motioned to the hearth.
It was spotless— and my bucket was filled with lentils.
Out of context it just sounds like he gave her a bucket full of lentils, which is spectacular.
I wish Feyre had figured out a way to do this on her own, but I did like how this scene played out.
Rhysand orders Amarantha’s minions to stop giving these fucking stupid tasks. Thank fuck. Were they doing this of their own accord? Amarantha should fire them.
Feyre thinks more about the riddle whose answer is obviously “love”. I don’t even consider this a spoiler since I think we all figure it out almost immediately.
After four days of being alone in her cell, just listening to the sounds of screaming in the dungeon, two High Fae females show up and take Feyre upstairs and start painting her body.
Things only worsened when they painted more intimate parts of me, and it was an effort to keep from kicking one of them in the face.
They dress Feyre in revealing clothes that make her very uncomfortable. Rhysand shows up and says he needs an escort to the party.
“Is this necessary?” I said, gesturing to the paint and clothing.
“Of course,” he said coolly. “How else would I know if anyone touches you?”
He approached, and I braced myself as he ran a finger along my shoulder, smearing the paint. As soon as his finger left my skin, the paint fixed itself, returning the design to its original form. “The dress itself won’t mar it, and neither will your movements,” he said, his face close to mine. His teeth were far too near to my throat. “And I’ll remember precisely where my hands have been. But if anyone else touches you— let’s say a certain High Lord who enjoys springtime— I’ll know.” He flicked my nose. “And, Feyre,” he added, his voice a caressing murmur, “I don’t like my belongings tampered with.”
Oh my gosh, but he’s just doing this for REASONS THAT WILL BE EXPLAINED AT SOME POINT AND IT’S OKAY HE’S SO SEXY!
Things continue this way as they enter the party:
Rhysand didn’t touch me, but he walked close enough for it to be obvious that I was with him— that I belonged to him. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d attached a collar and leash around my neck. Maybe he would at some point, now that I was bound to him, the bargain marked on my flesh.
Why is there even a party? Why is Rhysand allowed to bring Feyre to this party? Did he get this approved by Amarantha to piss Tamlin off? This place is so confusing.
They approach Amarantha, and she seems surprised by Feyre’s presence, but keeps her cool as Rhysand reveals the whole bargain he and Feyre made. Why is Amarantha not immediately suspicious? If they made this bargain for Feyre to come live with him after the trials…wouldn’t she suspect he might be prepared to help her? She just tells them to enjoy the party even though she has definitely clocked that Rhysand expects Feyre to beat the trials.
Tamlin remains silent, but grips his seat furiously.
Rhysand forces Feyre to drink wine, even though Alis warned her not to, because “she’ll need it.”
Feyre is sick the next day and can’t remember much of the night before. Lucien shows up, and tells her what happened. Feyre has marks in the paint from where Rhysand touched her, and Lucien says he was doing it to get a rise out of Tamlin, but his plan didn’t work.
I get that maybe we’re supposed to read that as a bad thing, but I was so impressed by Tamlin’s restraint. I found it refreshing that he seemingly saw through Rhysand’s game and knew he had to stay calm and level-headed.
Lucien let out a sharp breath, running a hand through his red hair. “He had you dance for him for most of the night. And when you weren’t dancing, you were sitting in his lap.”
Then he guilts her for accepting Rhysand’s deal and not waiting for him to come. When was he going to come??
“I risked my neck for you during your task. Was that not enough?” His metal eye whirred softly. “You offered up your name for me— after all that I said to you, all I did, you still offered up your name. Didn’t you realize I would help you after that? Oath or no oath?”
I still have no idea when he was going to show up, but damn it, I love their friendship.
Feyre brings up the lashings that Tamlin had to give him:
“It’s why I couldn’t come sooner,” he said, his throat bobbing. “She used her— used our powers to keep my back from healing. I haven’t been able to move until today.”
WAIT SO HE ACTUALLY COULDN’T HAVE COME IN TIME???? Why was he giving Feyre shit???
“Wait,” I said. “Is— is Tamlin all right? I mean … I mean that spell Amarantha has him under to make him so silent …”
“There’s no spell. Hasn’t it occurred to you that Tamlin is keeping quiet to avoid telling Amarantha which form of your torment affects him most?”
No, it hadn’t.
“He’s playing a dangerous game, though,” Lucien said, slipping out the door. “We all are.”
I had totally forgotten Feyre thought Tamlin was under a spell or something. My heart broke a tiny bit here, partially because it’s such a hopeful way Feyre asks that and also Tamlin is trying to do what he can to protect her even if it means he’s barely a character in the story right now. HIS SILENCE SPEAKS VOLUMES.
For some reason, every night Feyre has to keep doing the same drinking/dancing/touching routine.
…memories— of dancing between Rhysand’s legs as he sat in a chair and laughed; of his hands, stained blue from the places they touched on my waist, my arms, but somehow, never more than that. He had me dance until I was sick, and once I was done retching, told me to begin dancing again.
BUT HE ONLY TOUCHES HER WAIST AND ARMS AGAINST HER WILL WHILE SHE IS BLACKOUT DRUNK. A gentleman indeed!
And when I again entered that throne room, I was allowed only a glimpse of Tamlin before the drug of the wine took hold. But every time, every night, just for that one glance, I didn’t hide the love and pain that welled in my eyes when they met his.
I’m not ashamed. I welled up a little too.
Rhysand shows up eventually and tells her that her second trial is tomorrow night. They bicker a bit, and you get a glimpse into the fact that Rhysand feels a lot of pain over the Night Court being under Amarantha’s control because Feyre can now feel it thanks to her tattoo.
“You saved my life.”
“And through your life, I saved Tamlin’s.”
“Why?” He winked, smoothing his blue-black hair.
“That, Feyre, is the real question, isn’t it?”
I still wish the answer involved Rhysand and Tamlin getting together. Wouldn’t this series become 1000 times more interesting if Rhysand/Tamlin or Tamlin/Lucien were a thing? I mean, there are a lot more books to go, so you just never know.
Anyway, there’s no party tonight:
A brown-skinned High Fae male was sobbing on the floor before the dais. Amarantha was smiling at him like a snake— so intently that she didn’t even spare me a glance. Beside her, Tamlin remained utterly impassive. A beast without claws.
Is this a moment of diversity? Is this rare, diverse character immediately killed? Yup. He tried to escape and now Rhysand has to read his mind (and in the process he seems to lie about the Fae working alone to protect someone else) and then mind crush him.
We get some very clear signals that Rhysand is pretty tortured by all this and then he gets drunk with Feyre at the end.
I didn’t include this in the rest of the summary, but shoutout to Rebecca who is keeping track of how many times vomit is mentioned in this series: “He stalked closer with that feline grace and dropped into an easy crouch before me. He sniffed, grimacing at the corner splattered with my vomit.” Also, “Everything was spinning so badly that I barely made it to the corner before I vomited.” So we have 3 counts of vomiting this post.