A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
Here it is, guys.
And wow, what an ending it is! This is the first time we’ve gotten to see how Maas would conclude a series and as much as I love her, even I was nervous. It is so easy to ruin a spectacular series with a disappointing ending (I’m looking at you, Veronica Roth *cough* Allegiant *cough*) and I couldn’t bear to face that with my beloved ACOTAR series. But once again, Maas did not disappoint and while I wouldn’t say it tops ACOMAF (my baby, my sweet precious angel baby) it’s undoubtedly deserving of the series.
If you haven’t read the other two yet and are for whatever reason creeping for spoilers of the first two, this is your last chance to look away. You’ve been warned.
When had our hearts broken and throats turned hoarse (from the angry and sorrowful screaming) at the end of ACOMAF, Feyre, the freaking High Lady of the Night Court, returned to the Spring Court to pay the role of traitorous bastard Tamlin’s docile blushing bride and destroy his court from the inside out. ACOWAR picks up a few weeks later and follows her ultimate Spring Court take down, her return to Rhysand, and the final showdown against Hybern.
I don’t want to say too much about the storyline because saying literally anything will ruin the surprise–and with this one, even the very minor surprises are worth going in blind for–so I’ll give only a brief run through. There is no shortage of action or conflict, featuring hostility between not only the Night and Spring Courts or the Faerie Courts and Hybern but internal conflicts and conflicts with other courts members as well. Beloved (and less beloved) characters and creatures make returns in unexpected ways, as do new ones make their fascinating debuts. The battle is LONG but it incorporates every loose end and unexplored avenue, and draws on even the most seemingly insignificant details from not only one but all three books–just the way it should. ACOWAR indeed.
There are points when the plot seems slow and I didn’t always agree with what Feyre or Rhysand were doing but it was overall very well done. And honestly, with Maas’ kick-ass and empowering style of writing, it’s hard to be too angry with slow progression because even when nothing is happening, the words pack a punch.
One deterrent for plot progression was, surprisingly, the romance. In ACOMAF there was a lot going on between Rhys and Feyre–or, rather, a lot coming off–but it rarely if ever halted the story’s forward movement. Instead, the two complemented each other, propelling the main story and the love story forward simultaneously. In ACOWAR, though, the two stop what they’re doing and scramble at every given opportunity to rip each others’ clothes off. Don’t get me wrong, if Rhys was my husband I’d be just as eager, but in this case it sometimes was kind of…excessive? There’s less kissing, less flirting, just a lot of detailed sex. Full supporter–but it would have been better to balance the descriptive bits with some less detailed scenes. It’s enough as a reader to get a little detail and to know what’s happening instead of stalling the story bits for wing spans and orgasms.
Though the scene when Feyre arrives in the Night Court is priceless. That much I can’t argue–Cassian, you’re my f***ing hero.
I was surprisingly impressed by the diversity in Maas’ conclusion. It’s no secret that the nature of the mythology drawn on is very Eurocentric, featuring reference to Russian folklore and Greek mythology to name a few (I stumbled across apagewithaview’s ACOWAR reference sheet the other day, here if you’re interested). While fascinating, this doesn’t exactly leave much room for ethnic or racial diversity and as much can be seen in the earlier books where the most significant claim to ethnic variety is the flippant mention of skin as “tan.”
Wild! Exotic! Revolutionary!
But I give Maas credit–ACOWAR saw a greater effort made to include a variety and the introduction of the rest of the High Lords provided the perfect opportunity for this. The Summer Court’s Helion–oh how I love him!–for instance, is explicitly black. We’ve also got biracial characters and descriptive words other than the aforementioned ‘tan.’ I know a lot of people are still complaining and I know the effort isn’t perfect, but I’m glad Maas is trying.
In terms of sexuality…three cheers for sexual diversity! We’ve got same-sex High Lords, a heroic lesbian couple, a bisexual revelation–probably more I can’t member. Point is, various sexualities are presented and accepted in scenarios that don’t simply account for the stereotypical gay-best-friend trope. Moreover, the world itself accepts it–meaning the likelihood of more in the future ACOTAR novels is probably high.
Like ACOMAF, ACOWAR saw the introduction of a plethora of new characters: Viviane, Miriam, Drakon, Kallias and Helion, I love you all; Eris, you’re up to something and the next book had better tell me what; Beron, go die in a hole. Additionally, it thoroughly reintroduces characters from the first one–like Lucien (!), Alis, and certain humans–and minor ones from the second–Varian, Vassa, and Tarquin to name a few. It is a merging of characters past, present, and future–and it is glorious!
I can’t wait to see what Maas does with Nessian and Elucien (especially with Vassa and Azriel in the mix). Oh, and Amren and Varian too! We don’t get tons of them to ship (especially in Elain and Lucien’s case) but it’s enough. God, is it enough.
And here I am, hopelessly loving them all.
ACOWAR is the ending of Feyre’s story but not the end of the series–there are three more books that connect to the series that could be anything from prequels to sequels from other POVs. As such, there is a lot that’s left open and a lot that’s started but not finished. Even so, the conclusion properly concluded the way it needed to–to close the Feysand/Hybern story while leaving it open to continuation. It was very well done.
Suspenseful, beautiful, tear-jerking, heart-breaking, sweet, swoon-inducing–ACOWAR will mend your heart and break it all over again, just to put to pieces back together again at the very end. It is a fitting end to a fantastic series. Feyre, Rhysand, the ACOTAR gang–I will love and remember you forever ❤
Click here for the book synopsis on goodreads!
So while trying to put my thoughts together enough to write this review and, well, move on I semi-spontaneously resorted to YouTube. I wasn’t going to post this but I figure what the hell. If you want to watch me get over-excited about ACOWAR in my poorly-lit bedroom, you can find my video here.