The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas is amazing. Seriously. Read it, if you haven’t. It has a kick butt female assassin, conspiracies, coups, magic, elves–everything I could want in a fantasy. It’s the kind of series that you want to hole up and binge read. I am eagerly looking forward to the next book, almost as much as I’m looking forward to my kids going back to school.
So when I read A Court of Thorns and Roses, the first book in a new series by Sarah J. Maas, I felt let down.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
It started off well, with the heroine, Feyre, hunting to keep her father and spoiled sisters alive. A sort of bad-ass Cinderella story. But when she accidentally shoots a faerie that has changed into wolf form and is taken hostage to the faerie lands to pay for her transgression, the story goes downhill. Feyre shows a couple of signs of rebellion, but in general she spends a lot of time longing, languishing, and being mostly spineless. The faerie lord, Tamlin, who captures her is, of course, damaged and brooding, and so despite the whole kidnapping thing, now he’s super-attractive.
This is not the Sarah J. Maas I know. In Throne of Glass, he would be dead by now, with perhaps a wee bit of dancing on the corpse. Who is this spineless girl, and what is she doing in Maas’ book?
When Tamlin gets kidnapped, Feyre grows back a little of her spine and sets off to rescue him, but a lot of that rescuing involves being half-naked and allowing another faerie lord, Rhysand, to paw at her. I don’t understand how this character is passively accepting drugging and sexual assault in one scene, and then turning into a ninja in another. There’s so little of the butt-kicking I was hoping for.
When the second book in the series, A Court of Mist and Fury, was released, I pretty much ignored it. Why would I want to read more about wimpy Feyre and her obsession with the overly possessive faerie lord? But then I read someone’s Facebook post about how book two far outshone the first and decided to give it another shot. Wow, am I glad I did.
A Court of Mist and Fury opens with Feyre planning her wedding to the original faerie lord, Tamlin, trying desperately to be the good prospective bride, annoyed that her husband-to-be is essentially keeping her locked up “for her own safety,” and being smothered by preparations for a wedding that seems to have nothing to do with what she wants–and everything to do with forcing her to fit a mould of proper hostess, perfect lady, and good behaviour. The bargain she found herself forced into, in order to rescue Tamlin, ends up being her saving grace. She spends a week of each month with Rhysand who considers it a given that she will make her own decisions, doesn’t shelter her like a house pet, and in general treats her like a person instead of an ornament.
A Court of Mist and Fury delves into independence, healthy relationships (both friendly and romantic), and self-esteem. It gets into slut-shaming, racism, and corruption. It shows how abuse doesn’t have to be physical. I felt like Maas gave a little too much of a justification of Feyre being attracted to another man so soon after leaving a relationship (It’s a mating bond. This makes my sexual attraction okay!), but otherwise I was so much happier with the story. And, as is necessary from Sarah J. Maas, Feyre kicked so, so much ass.
So, basically, read the first book knowing the second is coming, where she’s going to kick Tamlin to the curb and own her power. And then curse me, and impatiently wait for book three.