I just finished A Court of Wings & Ruin. I admit it took some time to get through, mostly because of work and life, but I enjoyed every minute of it. As I’m starting to write this post, I don’t know that I have it in me to go through every moment. This took all of the internal, emotional rollercoaster of the last novel and made it an external, unrelenting fight for everyone involved in this ending to the trilogy. I’ll be very interested to see what the second trilogy focuses on now that Feyre and Rhys’s story is complete (according to SJM).
Heading in to the quickish summary, I know I’m going to miss a lot, so I apologize in advance. There was SOOOO much that happened, and the threads of it all are a mess in my head after the last few chapters.
As always, look away, spoilers ahead.
Feyre spends six or so weeks at the Spring Court, working with all of her sneakiness to deceive Tamlin, Ianthe and the visitors from Hybern. She basically sets off a series of events that makes Tamlin’s court crumble, plus she kills a couple of Hybern royalty, makes Ianthe smash her own hand to oblivion, and barely escapes north–with Lucien. Jurian, who was also in the Spring Court, disappears. Meanwhile, Feyre and Lucien have lost all magic due to being poisoned with faebane, so Feyre cannot contact Rhysand through the bond… leaving them utterly exposed and vulnerable.
They travel through the Autumn Court, escape from his brothers, travel through the Winter Court… and while on the ice, they are nearly captured by Lucien’s brothers again, but thankfully a flicker of power returns, Rhys relays their location to Az and Cassian, and the Illyrians save the day. Everyone returns to the Night Court, and Rhys is there in a heartbeat to welcome back his mate. And there is much rejoicing.
Meanwhile, Elain is thin and frail and heart broken. Nesta is strong-willed and testy. Cassian is fully healed, including his wings, and Amren is as snippy as usual. Plotting begins, training begins, and also surprise attacks from Hybern including an attempted kidnapping of Nesta (and incidentally, Feyre) in the library in Velaris. Turns out the King of Hybern wants Nesta back for what she took from the Cauldron.
There is an attack on the Summer Court (which is likely my favorite of the battle scenes), and even though Rhys, Feyre and Amren all have the whole blood ruby thing to worry about with bounties on their head, they all travel to Adriata to aid the soldiers and save the day. I think at this point Lucien is off on the continent looking for the sixth mortal queen, Vassa, to seek her aid. After Adriata, Rhys moves up the meeting of the High Lords, and though they are unsure if they will all come, ultimately they all do show up. Including Tamlin, whom they believe is working for Hybern, so no one wants to talk plans around him. Plus he’s being rather rude and snarly. But he says he is on their side, and shares all the intel he has in offering. It’s a pretty tense affair. And we find out that Nesta can sense the Cauldron as she begins to feel something is wrong…
The wall is shattered. There’s another attack on Adriata in the Summer Court, leading to another grand battle. Followed by an attack around the border of the Autumn/Winter Courts (if I’m remembering that correctly), which has far greater casualties, including a nearly fatal injury to Cassian. Feyre visits the Suriel in the Middle to get some answers, and ends up nearly caught by Ianthe and Hybern soldiers (who kill the Suriel), but she leads them to the Weaver, and hears their screams as she makes her way back to the dying Suriel. She’s unable to save it, and Helion, the High Lord of the Day Court, catches up to Feyre and they go back to the war camp. Based on the Suriel’s information, they summon Amren away from Velaris with the Book and scrying tools for Nesta. Nesta uses the tools and her connection to the Cauldron to find the real Hybern army’s camp, but it goes a little bit wrong when the Cauldron can feel her presence, and Feyre has to enter Nesta’s mind to pull her back.
Everything seems okay aside from the fact that the army is massive, but now they know where it is and can make a plan. Until the Cauldron steals away Elain, calling her to it in the middle of the night, and bringing her back to the Hybern army. Feyre and Azriel go to get Elain back with Feyre disguised as Ianthe, and Az disguised as a shadow (because that’s what he does best.) Jurian makes another appearance, helping to smooth over the appearance of Ianthe/Feyre, and also helps her save a girl that was being tortured in the camp. They are nearly caught in their escape, as Az now has Elain and a random tortured girl to carry, plus Feyre isn’t so great with her wings… Tamlin appears with a mighty roar and starts to fight their pursuers to give them time to escape. They do escape, and so does Tamlin, though we don’t know where he went exactly. He just winnows away once they are outside of the wards of the camp. Az is heavily injured in his wings.
It is utterly exhausting to think about the rest of the book, so suffice it to say, there is a huge HUGE battle where many people die, especially with the Bone Carver, the Weaver and Bryaxis on the playing field, plus Vassa turns up as a firebird with her army, and Drakon and Miryam show up with their army and the Seraphim, but even still Hybern is incredibly strong. They nearly get wiped out by the Cauldron, then by the King and the Cauldron again, the Bone Carver dies, their father reappears with the soldiers (and Vassa) but is killed by the King, Elain stabs the King from behind with Truth-Teller, and Nesta finishes the job by beheading him while Cassian is basically bleeding out on the ground with broken wings.
Amren betrays Feyre, but then doesn’t really betray Feyre, and asks her to release her. Which happens, and Amren is unleashed upon the battlefield, assuring a quick victory. Then the cauldron is split in three, and starts to leak out a void of contents, and so they realize they must remake the Cauldron because it is tied to the existence of the world. So Feyre, who is Made, uses her power and Rhysand’s power to remake the Cauldron. Only, she uses ALL of their power, which kills Rhysand.
She begs the high lords to help, to do what they did for her. It takes some convincing, but all of them step forward, save one at first… Tamlin. She begs Tamlin, offers to give him anything in her desperation. But he says something like “Be happy, Feyre.” as he gives a kernel of his power to Rhysand. Which, I’m sorry Tamlin haters, fully redeems him. Rhysand is restored, having held onto the mating bond tether, even in his brief moments of death, just as Feyre had when she was slain by Amarantha.
And the rest is all tidying up the loose ends, celebration, and love.
From a 700 page book to a few paragraphs, yes, there is a LOT missing, but I think I have the major plot points in place. This is going to be one that I need a re-read on. I remember being mad at Amren’s attitude repeatedly, and then the betrayal came and I wanted to throttle her… but then that turned out to be okay. The Tamlin moments were bittersweet, especially at the meeting of the High Lords, then when he fought to protect her again in the Hybern camp, and his final wishes for her. To just be happy with her mate. This book was just full of pain and anguish and tension. Thankfully there were moments of humor and love where they were needed most. And thankfully Feyre was a strong, if not still a bit naive, High Lady that made as many sacrifices as she could to ensure victory. Whew. Honestly, I was crying at the end in relief.
The couple of this book?
All of them. Well mostly. This book had a lot of ships. Feyre and Rhysand, who are even more in love now, if that is possible. Cassian and Nesta, who have an ongoing tension and building reveal as Nesta makes her feelings rather subtley known, followed by a moment on the battlefield that was absolutely beautiful. Lucien and Elain, who are technically mates, but Elain is having a really hard time… in the end, I think they MIGHT decide to get to know each other. Azriel and Morrigan – well, we learn a lot about them finally, and sorry to all the ship fans here, but it’s not going to happen. I know, it made me sad too, but also happy with the explanation. Amren and Varian – who knew that they had it in them? We also got to meet Kallias (HL of the Winter Court) and his mate Viviane, Drakon and Miryam, and many others.
Aside from Feyre and Rhysand, I would say my favorite pair was definitely Nesta and Cassian. It was the one that I thought was most likely to NOT happen, but as things clicked more and more into place, I was utterly satisfied with their special moments. And Mor– oh Mor. I loved her deepening friendship with Feyre, and her truth. I hope she gets a happy ending in one of the books or novellas to come.
My two current favorite moments:
1 – When Rhys gave his speech to his Inner Circle:
I believe everything happens for a reason. Whether it is decided by the Mother, or the Cauldron, or some sort of tapestry of Fate, I don’t know. I don’t really care. But I am grateful for it, whatever it is. Grateful that it brought you all into my life. If it hadn’t . . . I might have become as awful as that prick we’re going to face today. If I had not met an Illyrian warrior-in-training,” he said to Cassian, “I would not have known the true depths of strength, of resilience, of honor and loyalty.” Cassian’s eyes gleamed bright. Rhys said to Azriel, “If I had not met a shadowsinger, I would not have known that it is the family you make, not the one you are born into, that matters. I would not have known what it is to truly hope, even when the world tells you to despair.” Azriel bowed his head in thanks.
Mor was already crying when Rhys spoke to her. “If I had not met my cousin, I would neer have learned that light can be found in even the darkest of hells. That kindness can thrive even amongst cruelty.” She wiped away her teas as she nodded.
I waited for Amren to offer a retort. But she was only waiting.
Rhys bowed his head to her. “If I had not met a tiny monster who hoards jewels more fiercely than a firedrake . . .” A quite laugh from all of us at that. Rhys smiled softly. “My own power would have consumed me long ago.”
Rhys squeezed my hand as he looked to me at last. “And if I had not met m mate . . .” His words failed him as silver lined his eyes.
He said down the bond, I would have waited five hundred more years for you. A thousand years. And if this was all the time we were allowed to have . . . The wait was worth it.
He wiped away the tears sliding down my face. “I believe that everything happened, exactly the way it had to . . . so I could find you.” He kissed another tear away.
2. Cassian speaking to Nesta, broken and bloodied, and all that followed.
“I have no regrets in my life, but this. That we did not have time. That I did not have time with you, Nesta. I will find you in the next world – the next life. And we will have that time. I promise.”
Overall, I thought this book was stunning. It was such a labor of love to read at times as it’s brutality and plotting certainly slowed the pace at times, plus there were so many characters and so many possibilities for failure every step of the way. But it was everything I hoped for, with few exceptions. I likely need to do a full re-read to see what signs there were that were already apparent in the first two books, but it was a satisfying end to the trilogy. Unfortunately I didn’t care that much when the father died, as he was such a minor character, and I felt like he was brought in at a time when it made sense but in a cheap way. And because we didn’t ever really care about him, it was kinda ‘eh’. That still doesn’t keep me from giving it 5 stars though. Loved this book. So much.
I think this is our first complete series by SJM, as the next ACOTAR isn’t focused on Rhys and Feyre, so I think this gave me hope that ToG will have a happy ending as well next spring.
I do feel a book hangover swirling around the back of my mind… it’s going to be hard to choose the next book.
Have you finished ACOWAR yet? Did you love it, or did you have something let you down?