Hey, everybody! I’m back from vacation! Guess it’s time to see what all happened in Calendar Girl while I was out, right after I take this large sip of wa-
Ok, wow, never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad I’m only writing about A Court of Mist and Fury this week.
A Court of Mist and Fury: Chapter 53
The chapter kicks off with an actually cute little joke where Mor joins in on Feyre’s painting.
Mor stayed overnight, even going so far as to paint some rudimentary stick figures on the wall beside the storeroom door. Three females with absurdly long, flowing hair that all resembled hers; and three winged males, who she somehow managed to make look puffed up on their own sense of importance. I laughed every time I saw it.
It’s entirely possible I mostly think this is cute because a character in this book is literally painting the other characters as basic archetypes.
The chapter is mostly a check-in on how Feyre’s feeling. Her solitude at Mor’s surprisingly normal house allows her to start picturing her own future with these people, and she starts dreaming about what she wants out of life, like opening up her own studio in Velaris.
Not to sell my work, but to teach others. Maybe teach the others who were like me: broken in places and trying to fight it – trying to learn who they were around the dark and pain.
Wait, I would actually love this for Feyre. About time we read a book on this blog where a character’s understanding of therapeutic work is actually about mental health and not about another character explaining the plot to them.
And there it was.
A future. […] A direction, and a goal, and an invitation to see what else immortality might offer me. It did not seem so listless, so empty, anymore.
And I would fight until my last breath to attain it – to defend it.
So I knew what I had to do.
The sentence that immediately follows this is basically the closest I’ve ever seen to a book going “jk lol”
Five days passed, and I painted every room in the cottage.
THERE’S ALMOST ONLY A HUNDRED PAGES LEFT. TIME’S A WASTIN’
So in retrospect, I want to walk back some of my criticism that “nothing” happened in this book. It’s pretty obvious now that ACOMAF is first and foremost a love story, and I don’t want it to sound like I’m saying a story about people’s feelings is “nothing”. Although now I have no idea what role the impending war atmosphere and rando covert ops heist mission were supposed to have in this narrative? You can definitely do love stories set during war, but by now we’re at 500 pages of the war never feeling very serious, like this book was shooting for Empire Strikes Back but somehow settled on You’ve Got Mail.
A Court of Mist and Fury: Chapter 54
As inevitable as the sun setting in the west, Rhys finds where Feyre has been.
Rhys explains that Mor didn’t tell him where she was, but he figured there were only so many places where Mor would take her. Feyre decides to let him in.
“You must be hungry. I’ll heat something up.”
Rhys straightened. “You’d—make me food?”
Ugh, this isn’t just gonna be about a nice gesture, but some kind of fucking faerie lore, isn’t it?
“It’s an … important moment when a female offers her mate food.”
Jesus Christ, spare us, ACOMAF.
“It goes back to whatever beasts we were a long, long time ago.”
The 1950s weren’t that long ago.
Anyway, Rhysand has finally shown up after Feyre spent a few days away from him because she was mad at him, so would you be surprised to learn the rest of this chapter is… Rhysand infodumping even more of his backstory?
“I was captured during the War. By Amarantha’s army.”
Why? Why is this the conversation they apparently need to have right now? I’m sure you’re as tired as I am of yet another scene devoted to how much Rhysand has suffered, so I’m gonna try to only go over the important parts, but – wow – ACOMAF does not make it easy to tell what’s “important”.
During the war (yeah, we’re starting there; brace yourself), Amarantha captured Rhysand and held him and his legion prisoner for weeks. She would torture and kill his warriors to try to make Rhysand give up information about the Night Court army.
“Only I didn’t break,” he said roughly, “and they were too dumb to know that I was an Illyrian, and all they had to do to get me to yield would have been to try to cut off my wings”
“My captors only tortured and murdered my men, but they didn’t threaten to dismember me! What fools!” Yeah, no shit. Props to this book for somehow turning loss of limb into something only an Illyrian would feel uniquely threatened by. Everyone else in Prythian apparently running around like “lol fuck my legs, am I right?”
Rhysand comes up with a plan to kill Amarantha, but before he can act, she ends up facing Jurian (still no idea who this is btw).
“she slaughtered him. I watched her rip out his eye, then rip off his finger, and [she dragged] him back to the camp. Then I listened to her slowly, over days and days, tear him apart. His screaming was endless.”
Amarantha was so distracted with torturing Jurian that she was caught unprepared when Rhysand’s father arrived. She murdered Jurian and fled, and Rhysand’s father angrily delayed Rhysand’s medical treatment to punish him for getting captured in the first place, so Rhysand had to sit out the remainder of the war.
“They made the Treaty. [Amarantha] would go unpunished. […] the King of Hybern would go unpunished. […] Even my father gave me an order to let it go – to build toward a future of co-existence.”
Unsurprisingly, Rhysand still planned on murdering Amarantha, but was
such a terrible tactician, I mean, come on, I’ve been paying attention to this stupid book so blinded by his desire for revenge that he was tricked along with all the other High Lords into… drinking a poisoned drink. Wait, did we already know this? Is that seriously all it took for Amarantha to steal magic power from every single High Lord? Not one of them thought, “hm, this person who I fought against in the last war just offered me a drink. I should probably not drink this”???
Rhysand explains that he spent the next fifty years as Amarantha’s whore, magically blocked from harming her, losing hope, until suddenly he started having Magic Fate Dreams™ featuring a human hand holding a paintbrush, which gave him new hope. Yeah, for some reason he couldn’t start his story here. There were very important reasons for Rhysand to include everything else he said in this conversation they need to have at this precise moment about his feelings and/or mate status that he lied about. For instance, Sarah J Maas forgot to include it literally anywhere else.
The dreams continue, and Rhysand figures out the human woman in them arrived in Prythian. He manages to convince Amarantha to let him go to the Spring Court celebration “to spy on Tamlin”, and Amarantha was so close to the curse’s deadline that she was paranoid enough to agree to this.
“You looked at me,” Rhys said, “and I knew you had no idea who I was. [You] had no interest in me whatsoever, and I knew that if I stayed too long, someone would see and report back, and she’d find you. So I started walking away, thinking you’d be glad to get rid of me. But then you called after me, like you couldn’t let go of me just yet, whether you knew it or not. And I knew […] Right then, deep down, I think I knew what you were.”
He goes on to say he didn’t know she was with Tamlin and staying at the Spring Court until Amarantha sent him that one day and he found her there.
“There you were. Living in my second-most enemy’s house. Dining with him. Reeking of his scent. Looking at him like… Like you loved him. […] And I decided that I had to scare Tamlin. I had to scare you”
For a 600-page book whose entire plot is “person A stops loving person B when he becomes a dick and falls for person C who it turns out isn’t actually a dick after all”, it’s not been doing a very good job of the “actually” part.
Rhysand does, importantly, have to recontextualize something that really did make him seem morally unsalvageable: giving Amarantha the girl whose fake name Feyre gave him,
Cheddar Scallywag the Pirate Mouse Clare Beddor.
“[I had] to make my performance complete. I told Amarantha the name of that girl, thinking you’d invented it. I had no idea… […] I broke into Clare’s head when they brought her Under the Mountain. I took away her pain, and told her to scream when expected to. So they… they did those things to her, and I tried to make it right, but… After a week, I couldn’t […] So while they tortured her, I slipped into her mind again and ended it. She didn’t feel any pain. She felt none of what they did […] But I still see her [and] the others that I killed for Amarantha.”
Two tears slid down his cheeks, swift and cold.
Rhysand assumed that’d be the end of it, but then the rest of A Court of Thorns and Roses happened.
“I was in the back of the throne room that day the Attor brought you in. And I have never known such horror, Feyre, as I did when I watched you make that bargain. […] And then – then I learned your name. Hearing you say it… it was like an answer to a question I’d been asking for five hundred years.”
Rhysand continues to summarize A Court of Thorns and Roses and interject “but I was actually sad the whole time”, basically.
“that last night, when I found you [and Tamlin] in the hall… I was jealous. I was jealous of him, and pissed off that he’d used that one shot of being unnoticed not to get you out, but to be with you […] When [Amarantha] started torturing you, something snapped in a way I couldn’t explain […] It broke me at last. And I knew as I picked up that knife to kill her… I knew then what you were. I knew that you were my mate, and you were in love with another male, and had destroyed yourself to save him”
We learn that Rhysand telepathically convinced the other High Lords to come together and save Feyre’s life, and afterwards he spent the next three months desperately trying to convince himself he was wrong about Feyre, but by then the bond had been strengthened and he was feeling all her feelings too. So he decided… basically the dumbest decision, really:
“When you finally came here… I decided I wouldn’t tell you. Any of it. […] your hatred was better than facing the two alternatives: that you felt nothing for me, or that you… you might feel something similar”
Ok, are we at the end of this chapter yet?
“You had been through so much already. I didn’t want you to think that everything I did was to win you […] I couldn’t stop being around you, and loving you, and wanting you. I still can’t stay away.” […]
“You love me?”
And I wondered if love was too weak a word for what he felt, what he’d done for me. For what I felt for him.
I set the bowl down before him. “Then eat.”
Oh good, the payoff on that “female serves her mate food” thing was 4000% as dumb as expected.