Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Queen of Nothing (Holly Black)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 13 on My Book List 2021

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”All power is cursed,” I say. “The most terrible among us will do anything to get it, and those who’d wield power best don’t want it thrust upon them. But that doesn’t mean they can avoid their responsibilities forever.”

While “The Wicked King” was kind of slow, “The Queen of Nothing” certainly stepped up the game. I mean there were already some twists and turns right at the beginning of the book and to say they left me reeling would be an understatement. *lol* I certainly didn’t expect the book to head into this kind of direction when I started to read it but of course it was great! Holly Black knows exactly what she’s doing and this book was no exception to the rule.

So yes, this book was more fast-paced than its predecessor and the plot twists always caught me off guard. Like seriously! I never saw some of them coming! Still, since there was a war brewing there were less conniving and well-thought-out interactions between the characters and a lot of their conversations were rather direct and straightforward. Which was logical and understandable but since I’m a sucker for backhanded compliments, puns, evasive comments and back-stabbing moments I kind of missed the faerie-esque vibe in here. (Is that even a word?! *lol*)

Don’t get me wrong, this was still amazing, but for some reason it didn’t persuade me as much as the two other books. XD Maybe I can chalk it up to the last book syndrome? Like the author tries to end a series properly and in a good way and it happens but it also loses some of its magic because all the loose ends are tied but the sudden seriousness takes away some of the enjoyment? Okay, I think I’ll just call it “finishing-touch syndrome” and be done with it. ;-P Anyway! I still love all the characters and you can bet I’ll talk about them extensively now.

2
One more time we’ll head to faerie,
a human like you, you must be weary.
Don’t fret or fear the power of magic,
okay, well maybe this is going to be tragic.
I could spare you the pain
and spoil you just to stay sane.
Some spoilery knowledge,
is it what you want to gain?
Well, then take my generous offer or refrain! ;-P

Jude:

”The wool beneath me is soaked through with blood. Way more blood than I am ready to believe came from me. And around the edges of the cloak, I spot tiny white flowers pushing through the snow, most of them still buds, but a few opening as I look. I stare, not sure what I am seeing.”

If you look at the Jude of the first book and compare her with the Jude in the last one you probably won’t find any similarities anymore. This girl grew so much throughout the series and I love the Queen she’s become! Of course she was always my Queen but to see her grow into the role was just amazing. Jude started out as a weak mortal, turned into the secret power behind the throne and then took a leap to become the Queen ON the throne! Like wow! What a character arc! Also I loved that she finally realized that her love and compassion are no weakness and can be some strength instead. Despite all her fears and troubles as the Queen Jude was still savage and I kinda loved that. *lol* Still, her despair when Cardan was a serpent was so tangible and heart-breaking. To see her like that hurt and I’m just glad that Cardan came back. Also I love the symbolism of this because if you analyse it Jude had to kill a part of herself in order to become a true Queen and to make Cardan a great king. You might say she slayed the vile parts of them. Quite literally. ;-P

”Maybe it isn’t the worst thing to want to be loved, even if you’re not. Even if it hurts. Maybe being human isn’t always being weak.
Maybe it was the shame that was the problem.”

”We’re meant to advise you,” says Nihuar in her syrupy voice. “We are thought to be very wise.”
“Are you?” I ask, and the voice that comes out is honeyed malice, the exact tone Cardan would have used. It spills out of me as though I am no longer in control of my mouth. “Because wisdom ought to urge you not to court my displeasure. Perhaps a stay in the Tower of Forgetting will recall you to your place.”

”I don’t know how to break the curse,” I say, all the tears I haven’t shed welling up in my eyes. “If I could, do you think I would be at this stupid banquet? Tell me what I must slay, what I must steal, tell me the riddle I must solve or the hag I must trick. Only tell me the way, and I will do it, no matter the danger, no matter the hardship, no matter the cost.” My voice breaks.

”And if the serpent grows in monstrousness and corruption, if it poisons the land of Elfhame itself, then let me be the queen of monsters. Let me rule over that blackened land with my redcap father as a puppet by my side. Let me be feared and never again afraid.”

Cardan:

Cardan glances toward me, as though for help. When I am silent, he frowns, annoyed with both of us. “Although I am wearing the cloak Mother Marrow made me, the one that will turn any blade, I still promise to run, tail between my legs. And since I have a tail, that should be amusing for everyone. Are you satisfied?”

I love Cardan so much and I will never get enough of him! This boy is just awesome! ❤ In “The Wicked King” he showed us his cunning and clever side and in “The Queen of Nothing” we were finally able to see his vulnerability. I just loved how he announced that Jude is his wife! *lol* The interesting thing about Cardan was that he might have shown his weaknesses to Jude but he was still strong on the outside. Maybe because he finally trusted someone and as we all know this can change a lot in the grand scheme of things. Still, for Cardan to admit that he loves Jude… it took a huge leap of faith to be so open with her and to admit his feelings. Also the foreshadowing was strong in this one and I should have known the moment Cardan told Jude that he believes she would be able to stop him. XD I’m gonna be honest here, I expected to happen a lot of things, but I certainly never expected Cardan to turn into a fully grown serpent! *lol* That was… unexpected and totally caught me off guard. I was like: WHAT??!!! Let’s hope Jude and Cardan will have a couple of quiet moments from now on.

”Whatever can you mean?” Randalin says. “She’s –“
“She is my wife,” Cardan says, his voice carrying over the crowd. “The rightful High Queen of Elfhame. And most definitely not in exile.”

”I never minded being a minor villain, but it’s possible I might have grown into something else, a High King as monstrous as Dain. And if I did – if I fulfilled that prophecy – I ought to be stopped. And I believe that you would stop me.”

”Seelie and Unseelie, Wild Folk and Shy Folk, I am glad to have you march under my banner, glad of your loyalty, grateful for your honor.” His gaze goes to me. “To you, I offer honey wine and the hospitality of my table. But to the traitors and oath breakers, I offer my queen’s hospitality instead. The hospitality of knives.”

”It’s you I love,” he says. “I spent much of my life guarding my heart. I guarded it so well that I could behave as though I didn’t have one at all. Even now, it is a shabby, worm-eaten, and scabrous thing. But it is yours.” He walks to the door to the royal chambers, as though to end the conversation. “You probably guessed as much,” he says. “But just in case you didn’t.”

3
Jude & Cardan:

”Cardan steps in front of me, pulling his cloak up. The metal needles glance off the fabric, falling to the floor. For a moment, we stare at each other, wide-eyed. He looks as surprised as I am that he protected me.”

Okay, but seriously: This is legit the best enemies-to-lovers and love-hate relationship I ever read in a book! Holly Black outdid herself with Jude and Cardan and I can’t help but ship them together! Like they are afraid of their love for each other but they also can’t be without each other and that makes it impossible to ignore their feelings! ADASDKFASDKFAJSFKASDFJK! The chemistry between those two is off the charts and I could spend the rest of my life just reading their conversations. *lol* I loved how much they trusted each other in here and that they finally realized what they mean to each other. They were fiercely protective and I lived and breathed for their brutal honesty. For once they put all their cards on the table and I was so ready for that to happen! And then when Cardan turned into a serpent, Jude couldn’t find it in herself to kill him. After all this time she wanted to be with Cardan so badly that it hurt. T_T I kinda loved her for deciding to respect his wishes and to try to kill him in the end. It certainly would have been better than to live his life as a bridled puppet by her side. Still, to decide to kill Cardan was no easy choice and my heart bled for her. And boy was I happy when he stepped out of the carcass of that huge serpent! *lol* I really hope those two will finally have some time to deepen their relationship and to live happily ever after! ;-P

”It was terrifying,” he says, “watching you fall. I mean, you’re generally terrifying, but I am unused to fearing for you. And then I was furious. I am not sure I have ever been that angry before.”
“Mortals are fragile,” I say.
“Not you,” he says in a way that sounds a little like a lament. “You never break.”

”I didn’t mean to hurt you.” He grabs my hand, possibly to keep me from hitting him again. Our fingers lace together. “No, it’s not that, not exactly. I didn’t think I could hurt you. And I never thought you would be afraid of me.”
“And did you like it?” I ask.

”Mock me all you like. Whatever I imagined then, now it is I who would beg and grovel for a kind word from your lips.” His eyes are black with desire. “By you, I am forever undone.”

”What was it like?” I ask. “Being a serpent.”
He hesitates. “It was like being trapped in the dark,” he says. “I was alone, and my instinct was to lash out. I was perhaps not entirely an animal, but neither was I myself. I could not reason. There were only feelings – hatred and terror and the desire to destroy.”
I start to speak, but he stops me with a gesture. “And you.” He looks at me, his lips curving in something that’s not quite a smile; it’s more and less than that. “I knew little else, but I always knew you.”

Jude & Madoc:

”I wonder what Taryn would ask for herself and the baby in her belly. Safety, I’d wager, the one thing Madoc believes he has already given us, the one thing he can never truly provide. No matter what promises he would make, he is too ruthless to ever keep anyone safe for long.”

This is still one of the most twisted father-daughter relationships I ever saw. I really didn’t expect Madoc would actually try to kill Jude but wow, he definitely wasn’t above hurting her so who knows what would have happened if the others wouldn’t have stopped him in time. Jude got almost killed by his sword blow so it’s easy to assume his rage and anger would have probably been sufficient enough to actually kill her. And this even if he would have regretted it afterwards. Even though Madoc is both, a person that thinks ahead and acts as well, I still think he might have gotten carried away and gone for the killing blow. At the end they seemed to have made their peace with each other but I doubt they’ll ever be close again. Heaven knows I wouldn’t trust a father that almost killed me because he wanted to seize the throne my husband and I are sitting on. XD

”And if I am particularly kind that evening, particularly deferential, if I laugh particularly loudly, it is because I know I will never do this again. I will never have him behave like this with me again. But for one final night, he’s the father I remember best, the one in whose shadow I have – for better or worse – become what I am.”

He gives me an incredulous look. “Will you defy me to the last? When I get ahold of you, I am going to keep you in chains.”
“I never wanted to be your enemy,” I say. “But I didn’t want to be in your power, either.” With that, I take off through the snow. I do the one thing I told myself I would never do.

Grabbing the cloak, he winds it around his hand, hauling me toward him. The ties choke me, then rip free. His sword sinks into my side, into my stomach.
I look up at him for a moment, eyes wide.
He seems as surprised as I feel.
Somehow, despite knowing better, part of me still believed he would pull a killing blow.”

Jude & Taryn:

”I know there are a lot of things I ought to have told her and a lot she ought to have told me. I know we haven’t been kind. I know she’s hurt me, more than she can guess. But for all that, she’s still my sister. My widowed, murderer sister with a baby on the way.”

Now that was a plot twist right at the beginning of the book that totally caught me off guard! When I read that Taryn killed Locke I was like: You gotta be kidding me!! Like OMG! I expected so many things to happen but Locke’s death definitely wasn’t one of them! We all knew Taryn wasn’t all too happy about Locke being unfaithful to her but OH WOW! I never pictured her actually killing him. So yep, still blown away by that revelation. It’s kinda weird that Locke’s death brought the two sisters together again but then again I suppose he was the only thing that truly stood between them during those last two books. Mhmm… I dunno if I would have forgiven Taryn as easily as Jude though. I mean Taryn wronged Jude in a lot of ways and I’m kind of bitter about the fact she gets away with it all because she killed Locke and is pregnant now. >_<

”While I walked the path of daggers and poison, she walked the no-less-fraught path of desire.”

4
This was a good ending for a great series! “The Queen of Nothing” might not have blown me away as much as the other two books of the series but it was still a great and suitable ending for “The Folk of the Air”! I really enjoyed the Jude and Cardan moments and if things would have gone my way I would have wanted even more of them. XD This said I’ll definitely watch out for Holly Black’s next book! 😉

Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Wicked King (Holly Black)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Book 9 on My Book List 2020

”The three of you have one solution to every problem. Murder. No key fits every lock.” Cardan gives us all a stern look, holding up a long-fingered hand with my stolen ruby ring still on one finger. “Someone tries to betray the High King, murder. Someone gives you a harsh look, murder. Someone disrespects you, murder. Someone ruins your laundry, murder.”

I wish I could disagree with Cardan but he’s right! *lol* All this book is about are intrigues, machinations, power games and murder and tell you what? I’m so here for it! Like SO here for it! XD Holly Black knows how to write her faeries and I’ll never get tired of her books. There’s just something about them that keeps me on my toes and forces me to be on my guard. ;-P It’s rare to find this is a book and I appreciate her even more for it.

This said, I’ve to admit that for some people this book might seem to be pretty slow. There is a lot of build-up and it takes a while until the storyline gets into motion. Or rather it’s set into motion right at the start of the book but it kind of trickles in the background. You know something is brewing but you can’t put your finger on it and the more the story unfolds the more you get that feeling of uneasiness. The feeling that something is wrong and the awareness that you’re missing something crucial. 😉

I think this made for a super intriguing atmosphere and my urge to continue to read fought a constant battle against the connoisseur within me that wanted nothing more than to savour this book. XD Especially the Jude/Cardan scenes almost caused me to throw all caution to the wind. *lol* I didn’t give into the temptation though and considering THAT ending I’m glad I took my time to analyse every single sentence. I have theories! A BUNCH of them and I’ll make sure to go into detail in my characters section. 😉

2

Take my hand and follow me,
To the land of faerie,
Where I will spoiler thee.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you in advance,
Come enjoy the revel and let us dance.
You and I, we shall have some fun,
And if you’re scared,
Well, now is your last chance to run! ;-P

Jude:

”Watching his fear ripen fills me with an almost voluptuous satisfaction. I, who have had little power in my life, must be on guard against that feeling. Power goes to my head too quickly, like faerie wine.”

Jude Duarte is one of those characters I can’t help but adore. I love this girl so much! She’s cunning and intelligent which is always a dangerous combination, but she’s also compassionate and even though she tries to hide it, it always shows. Like for instance when she tried to prepare Heather for what would happen in Faerie. Still, Jude has become a force to be reckoned with and I’m in awe of all the strings she pulled. She’s become a formidable faerie which is probably the biggest compliment you can pay her and by running an entire kingdom in the background she’s grown as well. It’s not about gaining power anymore but about holding it (like Madoc pointed out so nicely) and considering it all she’s doing a great job. Or she did until she got betrayed by the Ghost and was spirited away to the Sea. >_<  I couldn’t believe it went into this kind of direction and I think her month as a captive of queen Orlagh changed her profoundly. She was reminded of her limits and she was willing to play along in order to save herself. I guess in some way it made her realize that she’s still so very powerless when it comes to the machinations of the courts. And for our reckless Jude this must have been quite a damper. Cardan at her disposal or not, they could have killed her easily. I think what it will always come down to is that she craves the power to be her own master and as long as she hasn’t achieved that she won’t be able to rest. Speaking of which: OMG!!! That ending! She’s the Queen of Faerie now but no one knows and she’s exiled!!!! WTF??!!!  Jude better come back because I need a happy ending! T_T

”You want to know what I did to make him raise me up?” I ask, leaning toward her, close enough that she can feel the warmth of my breath. “I kissed him on the mouth, and then I threatened to kiss him some more if he didn’t do exactly what I wanted.”

”I hate the way I cling to him, the nails of one hand digging into his back, my thoughts splintering, and the single last thing in my head: that I like him better than I’ve ever liked anyone and that of all the things he’s ever done to me, making me like him so much is by far the worst.“

”Sometimes, when lying on the cold stone floor, I wonder if there’s a limit to what I will let them do, if there is something that would make me fight back, even if it dooms me.
If there is, that makes me a fool.
But maybe if there isn’t, that makes me a monster.”

”I imagine what it would be like to have my own crown, my own power. Maybe I wouldn’t have to be afraid to love him. Maybe it would be okay. Maybe I wouldn’t have to be scared of all the things I’ve been scared of my whole life, of being diminished and weak and lesser. Maybe I would become a little bit of magic.”

Cardan:

Cardan leans forward as though they are sharing a jest. “Oh, tell me the rest. I like tricks and snares. Even ones I was nearly caught in.”

Okay, Cardan lounging on his throne is my new aesthetic! XD Also that one earring dangling from his ear! Ahh, did anyone else imagine him as the 8th member of BTS? *LOL* Anyway! Let’s talk about my precious boy who became more and more intriguing! I never thought I could be even more obsessed or besotted with him but “The Wicked King” certainly proved me wrong. I love this new calculating Cardan and I was kind of happy to see that he grew into his power. He played them all! And he did it masterly! Every gesture, every move he made, and every single word that left his lips, it was calculated and deliberate. The sings were all there and they became even more pronounced after Jude returned from the Sea. The way he commanded the situation with Queen Orlagh was amazing and it was really surprising to see how clever and skilled he is. I could see it from miles away but what truly gave his game away was the moment when he held council about how to proceed with Queen Orlagh. Cardan acting reasonable and making sense was such a dead giveaway. *lol* I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do now but I’m also kind of worried about him. Without Jude by his side things will get even trickier. >_<

”When he becomes drunk, his subjects become tipsy without knowing why. When his blood falls, things grow. Why, High Queen Mab called Insmire, Insmoor, and Insweal from the sea. All the isles of Elfhame, formed in a single hour.”

”Now, Queen of the Undersea, we will have a truce as you had with Eldred, as you had with Mab. We will have a truce or we will have a war, and if we fight, I will be unsparing. Nothing and no one you love will be safe.”

”When my father sent me away, at first I tried to prove that I was nothing like he thought me. But when that didn’t work, I tried to be exactly what he believed I was instead. If he thought I was bad, I would be worse. If he thought I was cruel, I would be horrifying. I would live down to his every expectation. If I couldn’t have his favor, then I would have his wrath.”

”I wasn’t kind, Jude. Not to many people. Not to you. I wasn’t sure if I wanted you or if I wanted you gone from my sight so that I would stop feeling as I did, which made me even more unkind. But when you were gone – truly gone beneath the waves – I hated myself as I never have before.”

Cardan shakes his head and drinks another cup of tea. “We show her that I am no feckless High King.”
“And how do we do that?” I ask.
“With great difficulty,” he says. “Since I fear she is right.”

Vivi:

”Revenge is sweet, but ice cream is sweeter.” She goes to the freezer and removes a tub of mint chocolate chip. She brings that and two spoons back to the sofa. “For now, accept this delight, unworthy though it is for the Queen of Faerie in exile.”

I can’t believe Vivi truly thought that Heather would come out of Faerie unscathed and I really disliked her for her actions. At first she didn’t tell her the truth and then she added insult to injury by glamouring her after things went downhill. No wonder Heather moved out of their apartment. If someone would have done the same to me I would have moved out as well. I think Jude was right with everything she said about Vivi not being able to understand what it means to be a human in Faerie. She’s a faerie and she never seemed to care all too much about Taryn and Jude’s struggles. So I don’t know if Heather will come back again but if Vivi wants her back she’ll have to do so much better than she did before.

3

Jude & Cardan:

”I wondered if it wasn’t you shooting bolts at me.”
I make a face at him. “And what made you decide I wasn’t?”
He grins up at me. “They missed.”

ADKASDLFKAsDJFASKDFJASDFLKASJDFAKLSDFJASLKDFJSDfH!!! Okay, sorry, but that just needed to get out! *lol* Now I feel better and can write about it! XD So first things first: I love them! Their love-hate relationship is legit one of the best things about this series and I ship them so hard it almost kills me to read their scenes! <333 Their chemistry is off the charts and I just can’t get enough of them. This said: I guess in some way Cardan finally got his revenge for Jude forcing him on the throne. *lol* Well, he certainly did a number on her by exiling her from Faerie! I don’t think it was about revenge though. I don’t even think it was about power. I’m sure he had completely different motives so hear me out and let me explain! I DO believe that he meant every single word he said before he married her and he wasn’t lying because faeries can’t lie. So I think his main reason to exile her was to keep her safe. When she was abducted and imprisoned in the Sea he realized how much he truly loves her and that changed everything. She’s his weakness, the only thing that could be able to hurt him and he’s not holding on to power for himself but for her sake. I mean he trusted her so much that he gave Taryn what she wanted because he thought it was her. His love and trust for Jude will be his downfall and it was the reason why he exiled her even though he loves her. So he tricked her out of her hold over him and now he’s free to do what needs to be done in order to protect her. Which was a pretty clever move on his part. Still, I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY MARRIED AND THAT JUDE IS THE QUEEN OF FAERIE NOW!!! OMG! That totally caught me by surprise and I was speechless! *lol* So whatever happens between those two in the final book, I’m so ready to read it! <333 Give me all that love and hate, because apparently it’s both in their case. ;-P

Cardan steps close to me, his gaze devouring. I am not sure I can bear his cutting me down again. Luckily, he seems at a loss for words.
”I hate you,” I whisper before he can speak.
He tilts my face to his.
“Say it again,” he says as the imps comb my hair and place the ugly stinking crown on my head.

”You believe I planned your humiliation?” He laughs. “Me? That sounds like work.”
“I don’t care if you did or not,” I tell him, too angry to make sense of my feelings. “I just care that you enjoyed it.”
“And why shouldn’t I delight to see you squirm? You tricked me,” Cardan says. “You played me for a fool, and now I am the King of Fools.”

He shucks his cuffed white shirt over his head in a single elegant gesture, revealing bare skin and scars. My hands are shaking. He captures them and kisses my knuckles with a kind of reverence.
“I want to tell you so many lies,” he says.

”But how did she make you agree?” I demand. “She has no power. She could pretend to be me, but she couldn’t force you –“
He puts his head in his long-fingered hands. “She didn’t have to command me, Jude. She didn’t have to use any magic. I trust you. I trusted you.”

”Faerie suffered with us at each other’s throats. You attempted to make me do what you thought needed to be done, and if we disagreed, we could do nothing but manipulate each other. That wasn’t working, but simply giving in is no solution. We cannot continue like this. Tonight is proof of that. I need to make my own decisions.”

Taryn & Locke:

”But you know me too well to bother.” She shakes her head. “When I’m with him, I feel like the hero of a story. Of my story. It’s when he’s not there that things don’t feel right.”

I said it once and I’ll say it again: Those two were conspicuously inconspicuous in. I always waited for their involvement but they made sure to act in the background and not to show their true motives. To be honest I didn’t expect anything different. I knew sooner or later they’d make their move and I was right! XD The way Taryn betrayed her sister. Just WOW! I’m curious if we’ll see more of them in the next book because I kind of missed Locke’s machinations. Yes, he made Jude the Queen of Mirth but that was about everything he did (aside from trying to get her killed) and it certainly wasn’t enough. He can do better than that and I really hope I’ll get more of the cunning fox in the next book.

”I am done with being polite. We’re not going to play word games or make up riddles. Humiliating the High King is a bad idea. Humiliating me is a terrible idea. Running around my sister is just dumb. Maybe you thought I was too busy to take my revenge? Well, Locke, I want you to understand that for you, I will make time.”
His face pales. He’s obviously not sure what to make of me right now.

Nicasia & Cardan:

”Would you marry me, then? Tie the sea to the land and bind us together in misery?” Cardan gazes at her with all the scorn he once reserved for me. It feels as though the world has been turned upside down. But Nicasia does not back down. Instead, she takes a step closer.
“We would be legends,” she tells him. “Legends need not concern themselves with something as small as happiness.”

As it seems Nicasia is still in love with Cardan, but unfortunately (or fortunately, always depends on your POV) he doesn’t seem to reciprocate her feelings. I guess her try to force him into a marriage only made him dislike her even more and those two definitely won’t become a couple anytime soon. That horse is definitely out of the barn. *lol* I think Cardan wants love and the fact he chose Jude tells us everything we need to know. So I’m sorry Nicasia, but you’ve lost the game. 😉 #SorryNotSorry

Jude & Madoc:

”You don’t believe that I could care about you, even after you betrayed me?” He watches me with his cat eyes. “I’m still your father.”
“You’re my father’s murderer,” I blurt out.
“I can be both,” Madoc says, smiling, showing those teeth.

I know this might sound weird but I’m still down for this twisted father-daughter relationship! *lol* They have such an interesting dynamic and the fact they both seem to care about each other yet still don’t give each other an inch is just awesome. When an opportunity arises it is seized no matter the consequences or what kind of repercussion it might entail for the other.  They obviously respect each other though so I wonder if there actually might be a happy ending for those two. As opaque as Madoc is, the genuinely seems to care about Jude and I’m pretty sure she considers him to be her father too, no matter what she tells him. XD Ahh I like them. Guess we’ll find out what will happen in “The Queen of Nothing”.

”I’ve been glamoured and carried into a revel, weeping and alone. As far as I can tell, the only difference between tonight and all the other nights when I endured indignities without complaint is that those benefited you, and when I endure this, it benefits me.”
Madoc looks shaken. “I didn’t know.”
“You didn’t want to know,” I return.

”Does he know?” Madoc asks, grinning in a slightly terrifying yet paternal fashion. “Does our High King have any idea how good you are at running his kingdom for him?”
“Keep hoping he doesn’t,” I say, trying for a breezy confidence that I don’t feel when it comes to anything to do with Cardan or our arrangement.

”Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.”

”Orlag and the Undersea we will vanquish together. But when they are gone, it will be us staring across a chessboard at each other. And when I best you, I will make sure I do it as thoroughly as I would any opponent who has shown themselves to be my equal.”

4

This was perfection and I enjoyed “The Wicked King” even more than I thought I would, which is no easy thing to accomplish! I lived and breathed for all the backstabbing and cunning in this book and I can’t wait to see what will happen in the next one. Considering all the scheming and plot twists we witnessed in here (oh what a pleasure!) I’m pretty certain Holly Black will have no mercy in the final book as well! I’m ready, Holly! Destroy me! 😉

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin (Sarah J. Maas)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

“Only you can decide what breaks you, Cursebreaker. Only you.”

I really enjoyed this third and last instalment of the ACOTAR series BUT (and there always seems to be a “but” when it comes to “A Court of Wings and Ruin”) I still think that it’s the weakest book in the entire series. Even after rereading it and appreciating the little details that were dropped throughout the entire story I couldn’t help but see the weaknesses of it too. Yes, Sarah J. Maas wrote a great book, but it lacked something the first two books had. Something important that every book should have: A good ending. *lol*

It’s as simple as that! As much as I appreciate all the different threads of the story coming together at the end, the way to get there and how the ending was executed just didn’t do it for me. A huge part of the book has its focus on the war and how to either prevent or to win it, people are persuaded to join ranks, a few surprise guests make their appearances, there are some fighting scenes and a meeting with Feyre’s and Rhy’s allies. Well, and then there’s the war and the final battle. See, it only took me a few sentences to convey the main plot of the book. Don’t get me wrong, there actually happens a lot but many of the things that happen ultimately don’t seem to be important for the overall storyline, which is a shame.

There were so many topics I would have liked to explore, yet Sarah never digged any deeper. All this build up, all those revelations and at the end everything is dealt with in a couple of pages. No matter if it’s the Mor/Cassian/Az dynamic, Lucien/Elain, the Queens from the continent, Rhys long lost allies, etc. Or my favourite:

spoiler

Feyre’s father!!! I mean WTH??!!! Let him come to their rescue even though he apparently never gave a shit about his daughters before, let him name his freaking merchant ships after them and join their forces and then for good measure let us kill him and wrap it up with a bow! Yes, that’s exactly how you dispose of a storyline you would have never been able to explain otherwise. Let it be buried and dead. No questions asked, except of that I have a million of questions and will never get any answers!

So yeah, was this book good? Yes, it was! It kept me glued to the pages and I wanted to know what would happen to my beloved characters. I think we can all agree that Sarah J. Maas can write and that her characters are intriguing and complex. Still, despite all that I can’t help but be salty when it comes to the ending. I wanted a little bit more and I didn’t get it. >_< Which is the reason why this only gets 3,5 paws rounded up to 4 from me. Am I being petty? Maybe, but it is the way I feel and I stand by it. *lol*

This said let’s head to my characters section! There are a lot of things I need to talk about and as expected the GR word limit didn’t suffice! So here I am posting my essay on my blog! 😛 Buckle up!

2

Welcome to my spoilery spoiler section! If you haven’t read the book you better turn around and leave this path as soon as possible. To everyone else who already read ACOWAR: Be my guest and enjoy the ride! ;-P

Feyre:

”I suppose that in the past weeks, I had crafted my demeanor as intricately as one of these paintings. I suppose that if I had also chosen to show myself as I truly wished, I would have been adorned with flesh-shredding talons and hands that choked the life out of those now in my company.”

What can I say about the Feyre in ACOWAR? Well, let’s be honest, shall we? I still feel conflicted about her character in this one. I loved how strong she became by the end of book two and I’m all for more independent and badass female characters, yet I’m still not happy about the way her character arc proceeded in this book. It’s like she lost some part of herself along the way. A part I loved and adored: her compassion! I get why she wanted to destroy Tamlin and his court, but she never even thought about the innocent people that still lived at his court. She just didn’t think about the consequences of her actions and this ultimately led to her regretting them in the end. Which is good because I would have been really mad if she would have been called out on it and wouldn’t have given a damn. *lol* Still, to be strong and self-determined doesn’t mean that she had to treat others the way she did. For instance Lucien. I get it, she has a new family and she’s super content with them, but urgh you can still be happy with your new life and appreciate the good parts of your old one. Truth be told, her behaviour towards Lucien and how she spoke about him with Rhys really made me dislike her A LOT. But oh well, I’ll talk about this in my “the relationships & ships” section and you can bet your lovely behind on the fact that it’s going to be a long, long rant! *lol*

”I will use these powers – my powers – to smash Hybern to bits. I will burn them, and drown them, and freeze them. I will use these powers to heal the injured. To shatter through Hybern’s wards. I have done so already, and I will do so again. And if you think that my possession of a kernel of your magic is your biggest problem, then your priorities are severely out of order.”

Rhysand:

”I was willing to lose my mate to another male. I was willing to let them marry, if it brought her joy. But what I was not willing to do was let her suffer. To let he fade away into a shadow. And the moment that piece of shit blew apart his study, the moment he locked her in that house…” His wings ripped from him, and Lucien started.

It’s kind of funny but I think Feyre’s lost compassion was somehow added to Rhys character instead. *lol* Now that we know about his true feelings and have seen the real Rhysand he seems to be more and more human and we get to witness his weaknesses as well. He is still cunning, sassy, caring and all the other adjectives I used to describe him in my review of ACOMAF, but there’s a soft core to his character now and you can see it shine through. His actions and everything he does, it’s way easier to understand the mind behind it all. And we see how truly broken he was while he had to serve Amarantha during his time under the mountain. What it did to him to do her bidding, what he had to sacrifice in order to keep others safe. Quite honestly, I have no idea how he even managed to keep his sanity. 50 freaking years! T_T I’m can only agree with Feyre here: I love every single part of him. Okay, well, except of the part that dislikes Lucien. *LOL* (Also is it just me or did Rhys actually become too good to be true? No wonder everybody wants a bf like him. XD)

”Rhys sacrificed his legion in the process, got all of them captured and tortured afterward. Yet everyone insists Rhysand is soulless, wicked. But the male I knew was the most decent of them all.”

Lucien:

Lucien sat against a nearby tree, folding one booted ankle over another. “Whatever you’re planning, it’ll land us knee-deep in shit.”

I LOVE HIM WITH ALL MY HEART!!! <333 Yes, I’m obsessed with Lucien but really, how is it possible I’m the only person who loves this man?!! Why is everyone so mean to him?! I don’t get it! The inner circle is weary of him and doesn’t really trust him, even worse Feyre and Rhys talk bad about him behind his back and this even though he went through hell and back!!! It’s like Sarah created his character just to torment him. My poor boy is like a kicked puppy and no one is even willing to lend him a hand. WHY??!!! After everything he did for Feyre: he got whipped and tortured because he helped her, he almost died because Amarantha wanted him to pay for it, he tried to talk some sense into Tamlin and got hurt because of it, he got raped and abused by Ianthe because he did what Tam couldn’t in order to keep the spring court alive. His own family hates him and wants to see him dead, his best friend isn’t talking to him anymore, his freaking mate can’t even be bothered to look at him!!! ARHKADFKASJDFAKSDFJASDFK! Sarah I ask you: When will you finally have enough of torturing my boy?! And now to add even more fun to it, it’s revealed that he’s Helion’s son! My heart broke so often for him in this book. Like every single moment when Elain didn’t look at him, when he was surprised about the children in Velaris, when Tam ignored him… I swear if he doesn’t get the spotlight and a HEA after this I’m going to riot and won’t continue to read the other three books of ACOTAR. I mean it!

”Would you want it – your father’s crown?”
“No one’s ever asked me that,” Lucien mused as we moved on, dodging fallen, rotting apples. The air was sticky-sweet. “The bloodshed that would be required to earn that crown wouldn’t be worth it. Neither would its festering court. I’d gain a crown – only to rule over a crafty, two-faced people.”

At last, Lucien looked at me. At us.
He said, “There are children laughing in the streets.”
I blinked. He said it with such… quiet surprise. As if he hadn’t heard the sound in a long, long time.

”And you love him. And he – he truly does love you.” Lucien dragged a hand through his red hair. “And all these people I have spent my centuries hating, even fearing… they are your family.”

My friends glanced to each other. Mor said, “It will be – very dangerous.”
A half smile curved Lucien’s mouth. “Good. It’d be boring otherwise.”

Cassian:

”Good,” Cassian said, glancing at Nesta. “If I end my life defending those who need it most, then I will consider it a death well spent.”

Cassian really grew on me in this one and I’m glad he’s part of Rhys inner circle because he actually seems to be the only one who dares to call Rhys out! *lol* I loved that he confronted him with the fact that he always wants to save everyone and doesn’t even think about the possibility that people feel the same way about him. His character has so much potential and even though we got to see more of him in ACOWAR I still feel like I don’t really know him. I need more of his character and I’m pretty sure that we will get a lot of him in those next three books. Well, at least I hope so! XD

”So you’re allowed to be mad about our choices to protect you – and we’re not allowed to be furious with you for your self-sacrificing bullshit?”

”I’m a warrior. I’ve walked beside Death my entire life. I would be more afraid for her, to have that power. But not afraid of her.” He considered, and added after a heartbeat, “Nothing about Nesta could frighten me.”

Mor:

”I hate war.”
“Likewise.”
“Not just for the death and awfulness,” Mor went on. “But because of what it does to us. These decisions.”

How is it possible that Mor is such a wise and strong woman but completely insecure when it comes to other things? I hated to see her get all weak in front of Eris, Beron and her father. She hides it well, but deep down within her she’s still so very broken. What they did to her… No one should have to experience anything like that. >_< Poor Mor! Still, after everything that was revealed in this book I can’t help but feel very conflicted about her character. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Mor, but urgh seriously Sarah, how could you?!! This is the worst, I repeat: THE WORST bi rep I ever read about in my entire life. In fact I’d even go as far as to say that this is the reason why people think that you can’t have a serious relationship when you’re bi. Urgh! Just urgh! Right now I have no words and that’s really, really rare!!! Let’s hope I’ll be able to write something coherent in the “relationships & ships” section. >_<

”We’re all broken,” Mor said. “In our own ways – in places no one might see.”

”I do find pleasure in them. In both.” Her hands were shaking so fiercely that she gripped herself even tighter. “But I’ve known, since I was little more than a child, that I prefer females. That I’m … attracted to them more over males. That I connect with them, care for them more on that soul-deep level.”

Azriel:

Again that dry, quiet smile. “Why do you think Illyrians are so fit?”
“Why did no one warn me about this cocky side of yours?”

Let’s move on to more pleasant themes, like for instance Az! I really began to appreciate his character in this. In ACOMAF he was always the silent presence in the background and we didn’t get to see an awful lot of his character. This time around however, more facets of him and his life were revealed and I loved every single one of them. ❤ Azriel is such a sweet character and in the right company, when he feels secure enough to open up, he’s even pretty funny. *lol* I really hope to see more of him in the next 3 books and considering his particular situation with Elain, I’m pretty sure my wish will be granted. XD

Azriel, wreathed in shadows by the front door, chuckled quietly. Cassian shot him a glare. “I don’t see you sprouting poetry, brother.”
Azriel crossed his arms, still smiling faintly. “I don’t need to resort to it.”

Amren:

”You should kill Beron and his sons and set up the handsome one as High Lord of Autumn, self-imposed exile or no. It will make life easier.”

I always knew why I love Amren! *lol* For that sentence alone she would have gotten in my good books. XD I think after this book we all know how she feels about Rhys and his inner circle. 😉 I always knew it, but it’s good I was proven right! To hear about how she got out of the prison was heart-breaking though and I can only imagine how she must have felt living in her new body. So much raw power trapped in that small form of hers. I was really shocked when I realized that she betrayed Feyre but she did it for a good reason and after everything that was revealed I can’t hold it against her. Also her and Varian!!! <33 I loved those two and I wanted to see more of them! Varian has guts! Boy, does he have guts to pursue a relationship with her! He’s my hero and once again a character I’d love to see in those other three books! 😉

”You did not fit – the mold that they shoved you into. The path you were born upon and forced to walk. You tried, and yet you did not, could not, fit. And then the path changed.” A little nod. “I know – what it is to be that way. I remember it, long ago as it was.”

”I yielded my grace – my perfect immortality. I knew that once I did… I would feel pain. And regret. I would want, and I would burn with it. I would… fall. But I was – the time locked away down there… I didn’t care. I had not felt the wind on my face, had not smelled the rain… I did not even remember what they felt like. I did not remember sunlight.”

”I wasn’t entirely sure how Varian managed to walk them out of the tent while still kissing her, Amren’s hands dragging through his hair, letting out noises that were unnervingly like purring as they vanished into the camp.”

3

Feyre & Rhys:

”I’m grateful,” he said after a while, as the camp beneath us stirred in the building light. “To have you at my side. I don’t know if I ever told you that – how grateful I am to have you stand with me.”

Their relationship is still solid and wholesome! ❤ I love how they respect each other and talk things out. They don’t have any secrets (well at least none regarding their relationship) and they are the equal of each other, which makes for a really nice relationship dynamic. A lot of YA books have that alpha male vibe going on so it’s refreshing to have a counterweight with Sarah’s books. If there is one thing I feel an urge to point out, then it’s the fact that they are almost too good to be true. *lol* They finally found each other in ACOMAF and they somehow became an inseparable item in ACOWAR. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where Feyre ends and Rhys begins. XD I know that’s some sort of weird criticism but I feel like both of their characters lost their independence and a part of what made them… well them, because of their relationship. It’s something I already noticed in Sarah’s “Throne of Glass” series and it happened in here again. Maybe that’s because Sarah is such a fan of all consuming and encompassing love? Yes, you’re allowed to call me a bean counter. I won’t hold it against you. ;-P This relationships is still one of the best in the entire YA genre so there’s that. XD

“I see all of you, Rhys. And there is not one part that I do not love with everything I am.”

Feyre & Lucien:

”This situation is terrible,” I said, and it was the truth.
A low snort.
I knocked my knee against his. “Don’t let Jurian bait you. He’s doing it to feel out any weaknesses between us.”

Well, yes Feyre, what was your grand plan for Lucien? He would have been fine? Really? IS THAT REALLY WHAT YOU THINK??!! Fine while Ianthe rapes and abuses him, fine while Tamlin hurts him, fine while his only home is destroyed? Nope, no he wouldn’t have been fine and you know it! I think it’s exactly the other way around; Lucien is a better friend to her than she ever was to him! Also Feyre’s holier-than-thou attitude! She’s disgusted by the idea of Lucien being intimate with Elain, because her sister is such an oh so precious flower and he’s got autumn fire in his veins? Really? Seriously? You and Rhys romp around the entire book and you’re disgusted by the idea Lucien might have sex with Elain?!! WTF?! And all that talk about Lucien’s mind being a miserable place to be? Well, you certainly didn’t give him any reason to feel better! GRRRR!!! I’m just angry, really angry at Feyre and I still think Lucien deserves a better friend than that! #FightMe! #I’llNeverGetTiredOfDefendingAndLovingLucienVanserra

”Well? What was your grand plan for me before Ianthe interfered?”
I pulled at a stray thread in the bedroll. “You would have been fine,” was all I said.

”I wish I had been there to stop it. I should have been there to stop it.” I meant every word.
Lucien squeezed our linked arms as we rounded a hedge, the house rising up before us. “You are a better friend to me, Feyre,” he said quietly, “than I ever was to you.”

Lucien loosed a heavy sigh and slid an arm around my waist, the other threading through my hair to cradle my head. “I’m sorry,” he murmured. “I’m sorry.”
He held me, stroking soothing lines down my back, and I calmed my weeping, those seawater tears drying up like wet sand in the sun.

Mor, Az & Cassian:

”And … I think it might shatter him if I revealed afterward that… I’m not sure I can give me entire heart to him that way. And… I love him enough to want him to find someone who can truly love him like he deserves. And I love myself… I love myself enough to not want to settle until I find that person, too.”

And since I’m already in such a ranty mood I’ll tackle the next topic that made me angry af! *lol* I do understand why Cassian is Mor’s and Az’s buffer and as it seems he doesn’t really mind to be in this particular position, what I really disliked was the fact that Mor strung Az along for centuries! CENTURIES! Guys, we’re not talking about only a few months or years here, we’re talking about centuries!!! O_o Just because she was scared to tell him how she felt?! That she’s bisexual and likes both female and male? And what the hell is all this bullshit about not being able to give her entire heart to him?! She didn’t even TRY!!! What if they would have worked out?! What if they would have been happy? I love Sarah’s books but this is such a bad bi rep that it makes me feel sick to my stomach. Just because you like both that doesn’t mean that you can’t be in a serious relationship with only one!!! Just say that you don’t see him as the person you want to spend your entire life with. There’s no shame in admitting that you love a person but don’t love her/him THAT way. If there ever was an example of “how not to do bi reps” it certainly would be this one. Reps like that are the reason why everyone thinks we only want the good things from both sides and can’t settle down. Why people think we can’t be in a serious relationship. Sure sooner or later you’ll have to decide but if it’s the right person it’s not even a decision it’s just LOVE!!! No matter the gender! *sighs deeply* Okay, I’m done with my rant. If you’re an author and read this: Make sure to reach out to beta readers that represent the characters you want to portray. I think this could have been prevented if anyone would have counter-checked the bi rep. (Also bisexual Helion – as much as I love him – was portrayed as a person who only wants fun and can’t have a serious relationship. Ouch, just ouch.)
I’m not okay with Sarah using Mor’s bisexuality in order to explain why she strung along Az for centuries. I’ll never be okay with this. Period! *shakes head*

Elain, Azriel & Lucien:

”It has never failed me once,” the shadowsinger said, the midday sun devoured by the dark blade. “Some people say it is magic and will always strike true.” He gently took her hand and pressed the hilt of the legendary blade into it. “It will serve you well.”

Haha! Okay, as it seems I’m still not done with my rant because here comes the next topic that left a nasty taste in my mouth. (Can we just agree that the relationships in this were kind of maddening? *lol*) I hate how Elain treated Lucien and I’m not okay with Sarah introducing Az as a possible love interest. Not because I think they’d make no good couple, believe it or not, I think they’d make a way better couple than Elain and Lucien, but because this love triangle is so unnecessary! If Sarah wanted Elain to be with Az, why not go in this direction right from the beginning? Does Lucien really need another reason to feel unwanted and unloved? Was it really necessary to hurt that poor man even more? Elain and Az have a harmony Lucien and her will never have, because they are both quiet and rather introvert characters. I’m all for Azriel and Elain, but not at the cost of Lucien’s feelings! And I swear if Lucien doesn’t find another mate and gets a decent HEA I’ll be soo mad! Gosh, I just want him to be happy, is this too much to ask for?!!! T_T

”Well, I never want to fight in another battle as long as I live, but … yes, I’m in one piece.”
A faint smile bloomed on Elain’s lips.

Nesta & Cassian:

”Cassian’s eyes did not leave Nesta’s; nor did hers leave his. There was no warmth, no tenderness on either of their faces. Only that raging intensity, that blend of contempt and understanding and fire.”

And welcome to ranty round four! *lol* I think we can all agree that Cassian deserves better than her, right?! Why does Nesta of all people have to be his mate?! Yes, I know no one ever confirmed that she is his mate but seriously, after all that icy chemistry I’m about 99,9% sure that she is. Or will become in the following books. I just hope that Sarah will give us an amazing and most of all believable character arc, because otherwise I won’t be able to ship this ship! If Nesta doesn’t change her attitude and stays the way she is right now, I don’t see myself boarding this ship. Ever. I know to redeem her character will take a lot of work and I sincerely hope that Sarah is up for this challenge. I want to ship them… the way things are at the moment I can’t though. But hey, miracles happen! So let’s see if this will be the case here. ;-P

”You went off to battle for a court you barely know – who barely see you as friends. Amren showed me the blood ruby. And when I asked you why… you said because it was the right thing. People needed help.” Her throat bobbed. “No one is going to fight to save the humans beneath the wall. No one cares. But I do.” She toyed with a fold in her dress. “I do.”

Cassian grunted in pain, but lifted his bloodied hands – to cup her face. “I have no regrets in my life, but this.” His voice shook with every word. “That we did not have time. That I did not have time with you, Nesta.” She didn’t stop him as he leaned up and kissed her – lightly. As much as he could manage.

4

I really hoped that I’d love this more after my reread, but if anything to read ACOWAR a second time around only helped me to be able to point out its flaws. I’m glad I decided to go for a second round though. There were so many details that got lost when I read it for the very first time because back then my focus was rather on paging through the book instead of appreciating its many details. This said ACOWAR was a fun ride with quite a few flaws and even though I love most (if not all) of the characters I still believe that a lot of things should have been handled differently or at least could have been done better. It’s just my opinion though and who knows? Maybe Sarah will work on all those flaws in the next three books? I’m definitely ready to find out! ;-P