New Adult, New Adult Romance, YA Fantasy

My Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3): by Sarah J. Maas

Publish Date: May 2nd, 2017
Number of Pages: 699 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Genre(s): YA Fantasy, New Adult, New Adult Romance

***This review contains major spoilers from the previous books, so continue reading at your own risk. You’ve officially been warned!***

To see my review of book #1 – A Court of Thorns and Roses – Click HERE

To see my review of book #2 – A Court of Mist and Fury – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast for the series – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 3.25 Stars

When I first read the book back in 2017 when it was first released, I was once again blown away and majorly entertained by yet another book title released by Sarah J. Maas—if you’d read A Court of Mist and Fury, you were probably just as excited—but looking back into it all these years later leaves a bitter taste in my mouth…

You guys, this book was pretty disappointing…

I think what happened was that I was so excited, so anxious to see what happened next after ACoMaF; to see Feyre and Rhysand reunited once again now that they’re officially mated and she’s now the first ever High Lady in the history of Prythian. That, along with wanting to see the how the final battle played out, and to see if all the couples that fellow fans shipped would finally get together or not. We all wanted to see what would happen in those regards, that maybe some of us skimmed over everything else that was actually wrong with this book. Once we had time to soak it all in and get what we wanted, we could go back and see for ourselves more and more things that weren’t handled well, and we were left disappointed in the outcome. Some people were able to catch them right away, but not me…consider me initially fooled.

Part of me feels guilty that I didn’t catch a lot of the issues right off the bat, even if some of them are issues that only a specific group of people were offended by, but the fact that I first saw nothing wrong with the story aspects that were called out, but then again, is anyone the same person they were three years ago? I’ve read so many books since then, broadened my horizons, grown as a young man since graduating college, and have developed a stronger critical eye for writing and the books I choose to read. Plus, my world views have changed and have seen the real world and how it works, so case in point…I’ve changed. There’s no use beating myself up over not being informed enough then, but accept what I know now moving forward and being able to recognize it in future stories.

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

What I Liked:

  1. Feyre’s Antics Back in the Spring Court! Going off the perfect ending to A Court of Mist and Fury, Feyre has been brought back to the Spring Court with a delusional Tamlin, and everyone there expects things to go back to the way they were, except for one major change: Feyre’s now secretly the freakin’ High Lady of the Night Court. Like a Trojan Horse, she’s going to infiltrate enemy territory and cause a little—or a lot—of chaos. Some of her acts are pretty great, like in Lucien’s bedroom…but I wish SJM had some more fun with this part of the book.
  2. Supernatural Battles! ***Spoiler Alert***……………………In the final battle for the fate of the realm, Feyre and the other courts get a little help from some supernatural baddies: The Bone Carver, The Weaver of the Woods, and a shadow known as Bryaxis. I don’t know if they’re just otherworldly monsters or if they’re considered “old world gods,” but their addition was a really cool touch. I wish they wouldn’t have died so easily, when Nesta and Elaine seemed to be able to kill the King almost too easily….but for what it was, I enjoyed their addition to the battle.
  3. Bryaxis! What a fun monster he turned out to be! I love the fact that we never actually see his true form, and the mystery surrounding the monster in general, but even Cassian was afraid of this…thing that lurks in the shadows at the bottom of the library, and the way he was introduced was fun too! Really creepy.
  4. The Worldbuilding (Again)! For this book in particular, I may mean that with the supernatural aspect of it it all. With creatures like Bryaxis, The Suriel, The Weaver of the Woods, The Bone Carver, the Ouroboros, and even Amren, gave SJM’s book a darker and creepier vibe that I really got into. Now, what she didn’t need to do was backup, chicken out on it, and try to humanize them. She should’ve just kept them as sadistic and ominous monsters, to be honest, and let their chaotic evilness reign supreme.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Back to the Beginning…While I enjoyed some of Feyre’s antics and schemes while she was back in the Spring Court, not a whole lot else happens. Actually, not a whole lot happens in the first major chunk of the book except for all the major planning and strategizing for the major war ahead. While that can sometimes be an interesting driver of the story itself, it wasn’t the case here.
  2. Major Plot Inconsistencies…***Okay, so major spoilers in this one, so seriously consider skipping over if you haven’t read it yet*** ………..but I’m talking about when Rhysand dies and is resurrected by Feyre and the other High Lords (much like she was in the first book). It’s been said how the power of the High Lords is passed down through generation to generation, and Rhysand is supposed to be the most powerful out of all of them…so how is that possible, exactly? Each High Lord has their own specific power, and it manifests into their heir, so how is he more powerful than the others? Also, if he was resurrected like Feyre, how come he didn’t inherit their powers like she did? Also, what exactly is Nesta’s power? Death? Among other things, I did start to notice that maybe the magic system could’ve used some fine tuning, because it became a plot convenience.
  3. Random Coming Out of the Closet…***Another spoiler ahead***…….so yeah, a character reveals that they are actually queer, and it’s handled just so poorly. It was treated like an afterthought, purely for cheap shock value. Yes….I do mean Mor and Azriel. Not that I’m upset that a possible hetero couple didn’t work out for once, inaction and avoidance of the confrontation that needed to happen has led to casting Mor into a less than stellar light. Stringing Azriel along and giving him a false sense of hope isn’t cool, and he deserved more than that. I get the fear of showing vulnerability, and accepting/revealing this part of yourself as identifying as queer is a big thing, but for how long she’d known him (500 years?), maybe their relationship wasn’t as strong as we’d like to believe it was if she felt she could never confide in him or let the guy off easy. I recognize that SJM has obviously listened to her fans included more LGBT characters, and she did make it so that homophobia—for the most part—wasn’t a thing to worry about. Unfortunately, a character who turned out to be bi/pansexual (it’s never fully clarified) was handled rather poorly too. Basically, they’re the horny individual who wants to have sex with everyone of both genders, and usually at the same time. It’s kind of a stereotype, and I thought it was hot at first, but hearing from others that this was poor representation made me change my mind.
  4. The Underdeveloped Villain…Who even is the King of Hybern outside of his scheme to take over the realm? Hardly any personality, hardly anything is revealed, or even told through reputation…I would’ve rather had Ianthe, Tamlin, or even the Bone Carver ending up being the big boss villain in the end.
  5. The Romance/Sex Scenes…Yes, a lot of us can agree that SJM isn’t the greatest at writing a sex scene, but I feel like that’s not entirely her fault, so let me explain. I feel like she can go further with this aspect of her writing ability, but it was more how limited based off the fact that she’s trying to include smut in a YA novel, and words like cock, fuck, vagina, clit, etc. can’t really be used for the younger reading level. She was threading a delicate line with this is in her book, and obviously wanted to write it more through the actions of a full grown adult rather than through the eyes of a teenager, which is the main fanbase that this book was marketed towards. I don’t need to go into the other words/phrases she used instead: the devouring and feasting that occurred, even after a treacherous battle and witnessing many others die before their eyes…I feel like that’s been poked to death by plenty of other readers. Think back to The Hunger Games movies, and how a lot of people said they would’ve been better if they were rated R, but were PG-13 instead to make more money? It kind of reminds me of that, so maybe she has the ability to write these scenes well, it was more how she did what she could with the materials she was limited to use.
  6. The Under-usage of Amren as a Character…I was disappointed with how little we saw of Amren, and how she became more of background character who stayed behind and simply read books to give the group answers while she sips on blood in a wine glass. Also, was anyone disappointed when it’s finally revealed what she is? I was expecting more there…
  7. Not Everyone Needed to End Up with Someone…It’s becoming a similar theme in all of SJM’s books, but almost all major players have to end up with someone, or there’s major hints at two people getting together later on. While I’m a hopeless romantic at heart and love seeing people finding their soulmate, but….there’s also nothing wrong with being single. It’s beginning to feel like in SJM’s worlds, you need to end up with someone in order to matter or be happy. This can go into the acephobia criticism the book has gotten, but I feel like others can explain that better than I can, so I’ll leave it to them.
  8. More People Needed to Die For Higher Impact…***Major Spoilers***…………This sounds unsettling I know…but I think more major characters should’ve died in the final battle. It feels too safe that they all made it out in the end…not completely unscathed, of course, but the book would’ve had so much more emotional impact if say… Mor died before she could’ve had that conversation with Azriel, Amren died after her true form saved them for the moment, Tamlin got killed for his one little spec of a moment when he wasn’t a total piece of trash, or if Rhysand had stayed dead. Make things feel dangerous and unpredictable, that literally ANYONE could wind up dead at any moment! It’s part of what made Game of Thrones such a blatant success when it was running during it’s first few seasons: so many character deaths, including major players like almost every Stark Royal, Joffrey, Tywin, The Direwolves, Khal Drogo, the Direwolves, plus many more…some of these I’m still not over.

Conclusion:

A shiny new toy that I absolutely adored when I first got my hands on it back in 2017, going back into it all this time later leaves a bitter taste in my mouth as I’ve noticed more and more things about this book that I’d either ignored, or hadn’t even realized I didn’t like it at the time. I feel like I’ve become a much different reader and overall human being since the time I first read this, and I can take note more things to call out on in whatever books I choose to read.

I’m torn on how SJM and Bloomsbury have decided to rebrand this series and rerelease it as an Adult level Fantasy Genre series. While It’s been one of the most popular series in recent memory amongst YA readers, there’s no doubt that there’s been some major controversy over some of the more mature themes it presents. I’ve always known it be more New Adult than Young Adult, although I’m conflicted about the new cover designs…I wasn’t crazy about the original covers, but I don’t necessarily fangirl shriek in anticipation of these new ones either…Here’s a comparison below for those that don’t know what I’m talking about:

The original Young Adult Covers:

The rebranded Adult Covers:

Don’t let my many criticism’s fool you, I do still enjoy the book, and will continue to read on as the stories get released. I was just disappointed with its execution and the direction SJM decided to go in on certain aspects of the story. I really enjoy the characters and look forward to reading more into others now that I feel like Feyre and Rhysand’s story is pretty much done. My impression is that the other books being released will be more like a spinoff, and other characters will get their own books, but I am nervous about continuing if my main reason for holding on rests solely with them. The next book, A Court of Frost and Starlight, is a novella instead of a full length novel, and will act as more of a bridge between the two era’s of this world created by SJM.

Thanks For Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

3 thoughts on “My Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3): by Sarah J. Maas”

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