A Court of Mist and Fury Chapters 20:
Rhys takes Feyre to meet the Weaver in a forest in the heart of Prythian. He cautions Feyre about the danger she faces:
“…Here, there is no High Lord. Here, the law is made by who is strongest, meanest, most cunning. And the Weaver of the Wood is at the top of their food chain.”
Really? Because she sounds like an old lady running an Etsy shop out of her kitschy house in the forest.
“Amarantha didn’t wipe them out?”
“Amarantha was no fool,” Rhys said, his face dark. “She did not touch these creatures or disturb the wood. For years, I tried to find ways to manipulate her to make that foolish mistake, but she never bought it.”
- Are we talking about the same Amarantha who was clearly an idiot?
- Oh to be a fly on the wall while Rhys tried to trick her into infiltrating…the forest. ” “Hey…so what about those crazy woods, huh? You up for getting the Weaver of the Wood to be the Weaver Under the Mountain instead?”
Naturally, this segues into a discussion about how Feyre could sleep with Cassian if she wanted. It’s unclear if Rhys and Feyre are flirting or what is going on, but abruptly he does this:
I made to jump off the stone, but he gripped my chin, the movement too fast to detect. His words were a lethal caress as he said, “Did you enjoy the sight of me kneeling before you?”
I could not remember what he was talking about, but then I remembered earlier he helped her set her weapons up or something and this was apparently very significant. No idea why “his words were a lethal caress” in this situation, though. Is he about to murder Feyre in the forest because she jokingly said she was open to Cassian’s advances?
Feyre realizes that Rhys has been trying to distract her from how dangerous the task at hand is.
Mossy earth paved the way to the front door, already cracked slightly. A bit of cheese. And I was the foolish mouse about to fall for it.
This is a really striking metaphor because we know that ever since Cheddar Scallywag, the Pirate Mouse was killed, cheese and mice hold a deeper meaning to Feyre.
She begins to sneak into the house:
I avoided any leaves and stones, falling into a pattern of movement that some part of my body— some part that was not born of the High Lords – remembered.
It’s the human part, Feyre. No need to play coy with us.
Anyway, this part of Feyre starts to make her feel like a wolf and not a mouse, so I think we’re supposed to infer she’s feeling alive again thanks to this mission.
When she goes inside, the Weaver is singing a song about sisters murdering each other, so you can tell she’s got some shit going on in her head.
From the ceiling and wood rafters hung all manner of chains, dead birds, dresses, ribbons, gnarled bits of wood, strands of pearls
… A junk shop— of some immortal hoarder.
This poor creature is clearly suffering from mental illness and Feyre is breaking into her house and probably planning on filming an episode of Faerie Hoarders about her.
The fiber she fed into the wheel was white— soft. Like wool, but … I knew, in that lingering human part of me, it was not wool. I knew that I did not want to learn what creature it had come from, who she was spinning into thread.
It seems like every time bad shit is going down, Feyre is like, “I don’t want to know/you don’t want to know what it is exactly, but trust me, it’s bad!”
The Weaver continues to merrily sing her creepy song as Feyre locates Rhys’ mysterious object, a ring. She also takes this valuable time to have multiple epiphanies that come out of nowhere:
I scanned the shelves, the ceiling. Borrowed time. I was on borrowed time, and I was almost out of it. Had Rhys sent me on a fool’s errand? Maybe there was nothing here. Maybe this object had been taken. It would be just like him to do that. To tease me in the woods, to see what sort of things might make my body react.
I honestly can’t make heads or tails of the thought process here. How do we get from Feyre wondering if Rhys has sent her on an impossible and/or fake mission to her speculating on his teasing in the woods. Like this was all part of Rhys’ masterplan to flirt with her…in a forest…before Feyre snuck into a dangerous Faerie’s house…for no reason?
But it only gets more confusing:
And maybe I resented Tamlin enough in that moment to enjoy that deadly bit of flirtation. Maybe I was as much a monster as the female spinning before me.
But if I was a monster, then I supposed Rhys was as well. Rhys and I were one in the same— beyond the power that he’d given me.
It’d be fitting if Tamlin hated me, too, once he realized I’d truly left.
Okay, firstly, I forgot Tamlin existed. When is the last time Feyre thought about him? I obviously hate him and think he’s a shit because I’m supposed to now, but I think it’s weird Feyre doesn’t ever miss the things about him she used to love. It’s not even like she despises Tamlin now and forced him out of her thoughts. We see here she’s more concerned that she deserves to be hated by him. It just feels inconsistent to me.
Also, Feyre, why the fuck are you thinking about all of these random things now when you are in danger?
After Feyre grabs the ring, the Weaver abruptly stops singing its demented song.
The Weaver realizes she is being robbed and is none too pleased. She magically closes the door, and by design the windows and doors have no latches to open them. Do you think the Weaver built her house herself or had to have a very awkward discussion with an architect about the kind of design she was after? And how does she get out of the house?
The Weaver can also generously be described as a butterface:
Above her young, supple body, beneath her black, beautiful hair, her skin was gray— wrinkled and sagging and dry. And where eyes should have gleamed instead lay rotting black pits.
Feyre strongly suspects the Weaver is going to eat her, and panics:
I lunged for the sole candle burning on the table in the center of the room. And hurled it against the wall of woven thread— against all those miserable, dark bolts of fabric. Woven bodies, skins, lives. Let them be free.
The Weaver is blind, so this candle seems like an extremely unnecessary hazard and her downfall easily could have been avoided with some basic safety prep.
Feyre then tries to escape through the chimney. At first, she gets stuck, but then she remembers she’s super strong now and smashes shit up, throws a brick down in the Weaver’s face.
I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal.
I was a survivor, and I was strong. I would not be weak, or helpless again.
I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.
This is objectively a great realisation for Feyre to have, but it’s hard for me to feel any joy right now since the execution of everything leading up to this has fallen really flat.
Feyre escapes and when she finds Rhysand, he winnows them back to Velaris. The gang is there waiting, wanting to know what happened. In response, Feyre vomits everywhere, which seems like an appropriate reaction to everything that’s gone on.
She is also furious with Rhys for not helping her, and she realises that he was testing her:
“That’s what this was also about,” I spat. “Not just this stupid ring,” I reached into my pocket, slamming the ring down on the table, “or my abilities, but if I can master my panic.”
Amren agrees with this approach, while Cassian tells Rhys he’s a prick. Feyre decides to train with Cassian.
“Well? Have I proved myself?”
But he merely picked up the ring and gave me a nod of thanks. “It was my mother’s ring.” As if that were all the explanation and answers owed.
“How’d you lose it?” I demanded.
“I didn’t. My mother gave it to me as a keepsake, then took it back when I reached maturity— and gave it to the Weaver for safekeeping.”
Oh my gosh, the poor Weaver! She didn’t do anything wrong in this situation and got burned and had a brick smashed into her face!
“So I wouldn’t waste it.”
Nonsense and idiocy and— I wanted a bath.
It’s obvious there will be More to This Story and that it’s not nonsense, but damn if I do not agree with Feyre right now! Also, anyone wondering if Rhys is going to propose to Feyre with this ring in the future or some such? If I were Feyre, I’d be first give it back to the Weaver, apologize, and make Rhys go and retrieve it again with an apology fruit basket in hand.
Rhys abruptly flies Feyre back to his house so she can have a bath. He uses a tantalizing piece of information – why he hates Ianthe – to convince Feyre to practice breaking down his mental shields.
Once Feyre succeeds, she’s in Rhys head/seeing everything through his eyes. He traps her in the memory so she’s forced to stay for the entirety of the memory. A naked Ianthe tries to seduce Rhys, and he’s furious.
Icy wrath crept through me— him— as he debated the merits of splattering her on the walls, and how much of an inconvenience it’d cause. She’d hounded him relentlessly— stalked the other males, too. Azriel had left last night because of it. And Mor was about one more comment away from snapping her neck.
She explains they could have very powerful children, and somehow Rhys is not swayed by this sensual argument, so Ianthe tries a different tactic:
“You have no idea what I can make you feel, High Lord.”
She reached a hand for him, right between his legs.
His power lashed around her fingers before she could grab him.
Tears of agony ran down her face— the effect wasted by the hatred lighting her eyes. “You will regret this,” she hissed.
He laughed softly, a lover’s laugh, and a flicker of power had her thrown onto her ass in the hallway.
It seems like most of the drama in this story is driven by women wanting revenge on men who have sexually denied them. Amarantha cursed Tamlin for this reason, and now Ianthe has threatened Rhys for the same reason. On the one hand, it’s interesting that the roles have been reversed with the women being the sexual predators. I like that it highlights men can be victims too, but I find myself having the same frustration that Matthew described really well over in the world of Calendar Girl earlier this week:
At the same time, sexual assault in books and other stories has become sorta… passe? Which is a problem insofar as we see a lot of stories nowadays use it as a gritty shortcut to realism, and that it runs the risk of conflating character development with characters that exist for the sake of suffering. (Further reading that fleshes out these criticisms here and here)
Just because we’re making women the predators instead doesn’t mean we’re getting around the problematic ways these stories are being told. There is a lot of storytelling potential here from Tamlin and Rhys, and also Lucien who Feyre realizes has likely been Ianthe’s most recent victim based on all the issues he was having with her back at the Spring Court. Only time will tell if this is all addressed in a compelling way that enriches the characters and the story.
Only fifty years later, Amarantha had come. And done exactly to Rhys what he’d wanted to kill Ianthe for.
Definitely seems promising!
The chapter ends with Feyre mulling things over in the bath.