A Court of Thorns and Roses Chapters 37-39: All About Rhysand

Chapter 37

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.

Chapter 38

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.

Chapter 39

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.

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18 comments

  1. Cara

    I am… so confused by so much of this story. Drunken sexual abuse parties seem like a very weird way to break up the action of the trials.
    Anyway, that whole ‘flaunting his control over her to piss off the other guy’ thing is reminding me really strongly of some other fantasy love triangle that I can’t quite place. Vampire Diaries? Twilight? True Blood? Why is it only vampires coming to mind?

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    • 22aer22 Post author

      YES!!! I feel like that could have/probably did happen in all of the above.

      Side note: what’s come to my mind a lot in regards to Vampire Diaries is how when Damien sired Elena, they were like oooh is her love for him true or just because they’re bonded in this way? And we find out here in this series that Feyre and Rhysand are mates so I keep wondering if she’s going to basically be brainwashed to love him. I mean, we know Elena really does fall in love with Damien, but it made me think.

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  2. Andreas

    “Instead she has to separate lentils from the ashes? It feels very fairytale like …”

    It is not just “fairytale like”, in fact it IS from a fairytale. It’s one of the tasks the evil stepmother gives Aschenputtel (the german version of Cinderella) before she is allowed to go to the festival at the royal palace.

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    • 22aer22 Post author

      Amarantha’s lackeys learned from the best!

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      • Andreas

        I think it’s actually pretty nice how Maas put the scene in and changed it to fit her story. In Aschenputtel, the heroine gets help from birds (doves, in fact) to sort the lentils and here Rhysand decides that it’s time for a little bit of bird-themed shapechanging before he sorts the lentils.

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        • Anne

          Rhysand himself is a bit like Rumpelstiltskin in this chapter. He helps Feyre with a difficult, almost impossible, task in exchange for a future promise. Only he wants her one week of every month instead of her first born.

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  3. Rebecca

    Woo! Vomit! My most significant calling in life!

    So here’s the thing about Rhysand. He’s fucking smart. There’s a better way he could have done all of this, and looping back around, it does make negative sense that Amarantha lets Feyre be at the parties. Especially if Feyre is with the dude she’s banging? I’m relieved, at least, that the undertone of sexual abuse is addressed later, but in the meantime, the way Rhysand deals with this situation in hopes of pissing Tamlin off…I don’t think it was the best solution. I have more faith in him than this, and I don’t find possession or weirdly threatening moments attractive. I know Maas is going for the “hard choices” thing here, which is also her M.O., and I suppose Rhysand would do anything to protect what we later find out he’s protecting. But seriously, he’s smarter than Amarantha. Just…why rely on Tamlin’s anger?

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  4. callmeIndigo

    Hmm.

    I have…mixed feelings about a lot of this. I know I keep seeing mentioned in these posts and in the comments that this sketchy sexual stuff is addressed later, and obviously that’s better than the alternative, but I’m not sure that justifies its being here in the first place. I don’t have access to a computer right now so I can’t write another giant novel in the comments explaining why I feel this way, but I don’t know, I’m not sure this is a story that needs to have sexual abuse in it and I have to question the motivation behind its inclusion.

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    • callmeIndigo

      No wait I feel the need to explain, my fingers will just have to suffer

      Some of this, admittedly, is that I’ve read too many fantasy novels with female protagonists where there is a constant undertone of sexual menace if not outright abuse; I’ve reached a point of saturation where when I see it happening again I will complain out loud to an empty room and probably not finish the book. Like why do all female characters have to be threatened or assaulted sexually, can we just, like, not for once.

      But I’m also uncomfortable with it because it’s my understanding Rhysand is being set up as a love interest, and like…maybe you should not give your love interest a significant amount of screen time in which he sexually abuses the protagonist? Maybe don’t do that? Because even if it is addressed later, I cannot imagine ever trusting someone who did this to me even if he felt really bad about it later, even if he acknowledged his wrongdoing. That’s a big fucking leap.

      I wouldn’t criticize an actual person who had an experience like this and then forgave the perpetrator, because a person can react however they want to their abuse. But Feyre and Rhysand aren’t real people and Maas didn’t need to write them this way. Maas made the decision to have a love interest do this and I can’t imagine any reason for that decision that isn’t gross.

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      • 22aer22 Post author

        Agreeagreeagree. I hope it was clear my BUT HE IS SO SEXY AND REASONS comments were sarcastic. I’m not completely against a redemption arc, but from what I’ve seen so far (and granted I haven’t read beyond about 25-30% of the sequel), Rhysand is annoyed with Feyre for thinking he’s a monster for these things rather than remorseful. It seems like it’s being set up that we should be like OH FORGIVE HIM BECAUSE HE DID THIS FOR THE RIGHT REASONS, and maybe I’m wrong, but that doesn’t sit well with me. Either fully acknowledge what you did and feel terrible about it (especially given the sexual abuse he suffered himself) or have a character arc of transformation before you become a love interest.

        I’m with you completely, though, in that I don’t think it needed to be written this way at all. I mean, I guess it sadly reflects life that so many female protagonists confront the threat of sexual abuse, but it’s handled so poorly so frequently and normalized. I’m rambling a lot, but that’s what this book does to me haha.

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        • callmeIndigo

          Oh yeah, I definitely read you as sarcastic, I was just so profoundly skeeved I felt compelled to write an essay

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    • Rebecca

      Honestly, the thing that pissed me off in reviews for the second one (no spoilers, really) is that people were like, “If you think Maas is just going to ignore what Rhysand did and make it okay, that does not happen.” And then it fucking DOES happen. Maas addresses it directly, but Feyre never has a conscious thought about what he did to her, because she’s too busy agonizing about other shit. Rhysand’s like, “I did it because of these reasons” and Feyre is like “OTHER STUFF.”

      I’m at least relieved to see a man with the harrowing sexual past this time, instead of the woman. I’m satisfied with that trope being turned on its head.

      But yeah, I agree with you. There’s an undercurrent of discomfort at this being a plot point, because there were other ways to make what he was shooting for happen. Honestly, it was already in motion because of what Amarantha is doing to Feyre. Rhysand probably didn’t need to be involved at all.

      Maas has a boner for “hard choices,” though. We’re going to be seeing a lot of this crap.

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      • 22aer22 Post author

        Yeah!! I’ve seen so many mixed things on this where some people are like, ‘It explains everything and he’s perfect it’s all good.” And others who are like, “Well, it’s not really fully addressed, and he’s just now so perfect we’re supposed to all just love him and be okay with it.” I can’t wait till we start actually blogging ACOMAF in a couple weeks and my reaction is more in real-time, although the re-read aspect to this has been fun too.

        “Maas has a boner for “hard choices,” though. We’re going to be seeing a lot of this crap.” At least please tell me some of them are not like, “He has to threaten sexual violence and humiliate her for the greater good.”

        “I’m at least relieved to see a man with the harrowing sexual past this time, instead of the woman. I’m satisfied with that trope being turned on its head.” Yeah, I agree! I was interested in seeing how all this played out for all the characters. I mean the book ends on SUCH a bittersweet note, which I loved. It felt so desolate with like the tiniest bit of hope, and then it’s not given the same treatment in ACOMAF. It’s just used to push Feyre to the Night Court.

        Also, Outlander did the above really really well. Oh my lord, I cried so hard at fucking Outlander!!!

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        • Rebecca

          “At least please tell me some of them are not like, ‘He has to threaten sexual violence and humiliate her for the greater good.'” There is a scene where there is a sexual element to what he’s using her for–BUT he explained it to her beforehand, she agreed to help him, and they’re both like “our bodies are just reacting this way, let’s not assume anything.” Honestly, I’m interested to talk about that scene, because I think it was done well, but people often pick out things I never would. Except it’s another one where Feyre’s god damn over explanation of whatever is happening with Tamlin just grinds the narrative to a halt.

          Speaking of, I just read above that you know Feyre and Rhysand are mates! I was wondering if you’d looked into that. I do think their love story felt more like Elena and Damon in that it wasn’t just the bond, so I’ll be interested to see how you feel about it.

          “I mean the book ends on SUCH a bittersweet note, which I loved. It felt so desolate with like the tiniest bit of hope, and then it’s not given the same treatment in ACOMAF. It’s just used to push Feyre to the Night Court.” No fucking joke. To be honest, though, I was glad they had that bond when he rescued her from the wedding. Not that I agree with all the lead up to how she ended up in that position, but I was glad, at least, that someone felt her distress, if we’re being forced to think that’s who she was at that place.

          Super impatient for the continuation of this project! 🙂 I’m having so much fun!

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          • Krista B

            I love when he shows up at the wedding. Such drama!

            I get really torn about how I feel about Rhysand and Feyre under the mountain. I didn’t find the abuse of Feyre by Rhysand quite as upsetting as maybe I should. I’m kind of sensitive about this – every time “Baby, it’s cold outside” comes on, I tell whoever I’m around it’s a rape song and, if I have control of the music, it changes. That said, I actually thought Maas downplayed what happens a lot. I think it wasn’t as upsetting to me because we aren’t really there. It’s just some flashbacks and not super specific. I’m not sure why this doesn’t bother me quite as much as other people.

            With regard to the scene with a sexual element, I’m excited to discuss that too… That scene actually annoyed me somewhat. On the one hand, I thought it was pretty hot, but on the other, it just seemed completely unnecessary. I just didn’t think they had to do that to make a distraction. Seeing Rhysand in that element turned me off to him more than the parts with Amarantha.

            So excited for book 2 on this blog!

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  5. Krista B

    I was always confused during the book about what the rules were under the mountain. Feyre’s in a dungeon, but faeries can just come in and talk with her and then float her out and dress her in skimpy costumes. It was just confusing.

    I really like your idea of Lucien / Tamlin and Tamlin / Rhysand. I like Lucien / Tamlin the best, though.

    I also think Amarantha would have been crueler to Feyre and Tamlin, given what we know of her. I think some of your ideas for making Tamlin would have shown Amarantha’s cruelty and given more reason for them growing apart. Good thinking!

    PS – Did you count Feyre vomiting while drunk? I think that’s one more vomit for the post.

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    • Rebecca

      I think I might start a spreadsheet for the vomiting. You’ve read book 2–you know what I’m talking about.

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