I want to start by saying that this review will contain major spoilers from the entire A Court of Thorns and Roses series, including this book. I will also be mentioning a few of the other Maas universes so read at your own risk.
Okay I have a ton of thoughts, theories and questions regarding this book. I spent the time this past month rereading the original trilogy and the A Court of Frost and Starlight novella, so I was so ready to get into this one and let me tell you, it was so worth it.
Okay let’s start here. The plot was a mix of a million different things and constantly kept me on my toes. We started the book out by dealing with Nesta and her trauma. While this plot continued throughout the entire book, it wasn’t the only thing happening either.
Nesta’s healing story was super important in this book. Personally, I never hated Nesta. I knew that she’d had some serious trauma that she was dealing with and yes, she was a cold person, however, she hasn’t been all bad. In A Court of Thorns and Roses, we see Feyre come back to the human lands when Tamlin sends her away, Nesta listens to Feyre’s story, “My sister didn’t smile, but a light shone in her blue-gray eyes. “Tell me everything that happened,” she said – an order, not a request. So I did. And when I finished my story, Nesta merely stared at me for a long while before asking me to teach her how to paint.” and this was the moment when I realized I didn’t hate Nesta. Yes, she was unreasonably cold to people, and yes, she should have helped Feyre instead of forcing her younger sister to go out and hunt animals in the freezing cold at age fourteen, but we see her admit her faults once again in A Court of Silver Flames. “I should have found a way to save us before then. Save Elain and Feyre when we were poor. But I was so angry, and I wanted him to try, to fight for us, but he didn’t, and I would have let us all starve to prove what a wretch he was. It consumed me so much that… that I let Feyre go into that forest and told myself I didn’t care, that she was half-wild, and that it didn’t matter, and yet… I close my eyes and I see her that day she went out to hunt the first time…” Nesta admits to all of her faults. She knows she’s done wrong, she was angry and she made mistakes and nobody can be perfect which is what makes this book a beautiful story of heartbreak, and healing.
While Nesta is healing for all of the things that she’s done in the past, her family is helping and pulling her back up. The story begins with Feyre forcing Nesta to move out of her rundown apartment and into the House of Wind, training with Cassian for two hours each morning and spending the rest of the day in the Library underneath the mountain, working with the priestesses there. Nesta is able to meet Emerie who we were briefly introduced to in the A Court of Frost and Starlight novella. Emerie runs a shop down at the Windhaven camp and the two of them are fast friends. We are then introduced to Gwyn, a priestess who works at the Library under the House of Wind. The three form an adorable group that I honestly can’t get enough of.
The three of these girls end up training with Cassian every morning and bring in techniques from an ancient group of warriors called the Valkyries. They grow into beautiful warriors by practicing daily and it centers them to become a group that can’t be defeated.
As a huge Feysand fan, I can’t keep my mouth shut about the fact that FEYRE HAD A BABY. This is a whole other part of the story and to be honest, i can’t help but be overjoyed about it. While there were certainly some serious complications in terms of this, I can’t help but be super happy for them. Feyre and Rhysand have endured so much and they honestly deserve the world.
While this is happening, there’s another whole plotline going on involving one of the mortal queens and Koschei, the death lord that holds Vassa captive. This plotline focuses on Nesta’s power and the fact that she was “Made” by the Cauldron. This part of the plot is a little complicated, so bare with me here. Briallyn is the youngest of the queens, and she went into the Cauldron hoping to be blessed with eternal youth and immortality, however, since Nesta stole something from the Cauldron, Braillyn was punished and turned into an immortal old crone. This sets off a whole chain of events until we learn about the “Dread Trove”, three magical objects that pretty much rule the world. The mask can raise the dead, the harp can open any door, physical or otherwise, the crown can influence anyone, even piercing through the mightiest of mental shields.
These three objects are what Briallyn is looking for throughout the book, hoping to bring down Prythian, with Koschei, the death lord, at her side. This is an intense story line and kind of brings a ton of mysterious elements in, including what they’re going to do with the Dread Trove afterwards??
Okay time for my first theory. When explaining the three Dread Trove objects, Amren specifically states, “The harp can open any door, physical or otherwise. Some say between worlds.” and is this Maas’ way of bringing Throne of Glass and Crescent City all together? We already know, and it’s been confirmed, that all three of these worlds do connect. We also see in Kingdom of Ash, the last book from the Throne of Glass series, that when Aelin falls through worlds, Rhysand helps her. “…Passed over one of those mountains, where a winged male stood beside a heavily pregnant female, gazing at those very stars. Fae.” If this doesn’t mean the worlds are colliding then I don’t know what does! Along with this, we see in the Starfall scene in A Court of Silver Flames that there was a “red star” that fell from the sky that put Rhys on edge and I bet you that’s Aelin falling from the sky!!
Anyways, while there’s those three plotlines, I’m living for this one; Nesta and Cassian’s story. This book was what A Court of Mist and Fury was for Feyre and Rhysand. Reading A Court of Silver Flames made me adore it the same way I adored A Court of Mist and Fury. Cassian and Nesta had an intense story from the beginning and this only grew with the close proximity of living in the same house and training together for two hours each morning. This was the plotline that I was reading the book for.
“Nesta had loved Cassian since she’d first laid eyes on him. Had loved him even when she did not want to, even when she had been swallowed by disrepair and fear and hatred. Had loved him and destroyed herself because she didn’t believe she deserved him, because he was all that was good, and brave, and kind, and she loved him, she loved him, she loved him-”
I’m going to start with the characters first and then go into their relationships because there’s a lot to talk about here!
I have a lot to say for these characters, but let’s start with Nesta. I never hated Nesta. I acknowledged that she had done some seriously horrible things, but I still never hated her. She tried to get to Feyre when she was taken to Prythian against her will in A Court of Thorns and Roses, she helped Feyre when she had to go back to Prythian to save Tamlin, she cared for Elain throughout it all, she hugged Feyre when she saved Elain from Hybern in A Court of Wings and Ruin. Nesta is someone who is cold on the surface because she’s dealing with a lot of stuff! First she loses her riches, then she’s forced to live in a cottage with no money, she has to watch while her sister is taken away by a Faerie, their most feared enemy, she’s forced into a Cauldron and turned High Fae, and then she has to watch while her father dies and she can do nothing about it. That’s just a few of the things she’s had to go through. Nesta is completely overlooked as a character and that’s just before A Court of Silver Flames.
In A Court of Silver Flames, we’re able to see Nesta dealing with all of these issues. She’s undergone some seriously traumatic things. The death of her father haunts her every step, and she can’t even hear a fire cracking without thinking it’s the sound of her fathers neck breaking. She regrets everything she’s done and in turn, she lashes out despite that. Nesta is dealing with her problems in the only way she knows how; shutting everybody out. At the beginning of the book we see Nesta still living in the apartment in the “slums” of Velaris, just like in A Court of Frost and Starlight. Nesta is constantly spending her time at taverns, sleeping with males, everything to just block out the roaring in her head. While we believe she’s going to the taverns for the men and alcohol, it’s actually for the music. As we later learn in the book, Nesta loves music. It’s like her escape. It blocks out everything in her head. As usual, I love that SJM makes her main character love some form of art. Feyre has painting, Aelin has piano, Bryce has dance, and Nesta now has music. It’s a beautiful way to escape reality and it’s her coping mechanism.
Later in the book, Nesta is finally becoming whole again. Her training with Cassian everyday is giving her a purpose. Nesta is healing. I think this entire book is Nesta healing from the difficulties that her life has had and it’s a really beautiful story. It shows that everyone copes in a different way and that’s okay! Trauma isn’t dealt with by one method, it’s not easy as that. There’s ups and downs and wrongs and rights and there’s a million things that could happen to trigger something and you’d have to start all over again. Nesta’s story brought us into her head and showed us exactly what her trauma was, and she found ways of dealing with it. It was a beautiful story full of self-hatred to self-love, and healing.
Onto the next character, let’s talk about Cassian. I fell in love with Cassian from “Come on, Feyre. We don’t bite. Unless you ask us to.” in A Court of Mist and Fury and since then, I couldn’t get enough. Cassian is such an underrated character and we see a lot more of that in this book. Cassian was literally abandoned as a child. His mother was forced to give birth to him in the dead of winter in the middle of a flimsy tent, and he was eventually forced to find shelter and fend for himself or else he’d die all alone. He let’s none of this show, and yes, he has had over five hundred years to get a hold of himself, however, he’s a strong general that doesn’t let things get to him that often. Cassian is incredible and I can only speak highly of him because he’s endured so much and he deserves the world. He’s a beautifully written character and I adore him!
Okay, now that we’ve got the two main characters out of the way, let’s talk about the Inner Circle. We don’t see half as much of the Inner Circle in this book than we did in the original trilogy and the novella which did kind of upset me, but it definitely showed me what it’s like to be outside of the Inner Circle. Nesta’s point of view of the Inner Circle was certainly interesting to see. We’re able to see Rhysand in particular in a whole new light, since we aren’t biased by Feyre’s point of view of her mate. Rhysand is definitely different than in the original trilogy but I still love him. He’s overprotective of Feyre which causes him to be cruel to anyone who is a threat to her.
I think my only issue with Rhys in this book was that he had a shield around Feyre. At the beginning of the book I felt like it was kind of the opposite of what Feyre would want. It’s kind of like a cage and Feyre always had a trauma when it involved being trapped or caged, however, I did see the reasoning a bit later when we find out Feyre is pregnant and Rhys is doing it to protect his mate and child. Other than that, Rhys stayed the same for me. I adore him still and he’s probably one of my top book boyfriends!
Feyre was also present in this book and it was nice to see her from a different person’s eyes. She’s so sweet and kind and you could tell her intentions were good from the beginning. Feyre has never let me down and I don’t think anyone could call her a weak protagonist either. She literally went under the mountain to save a race of people that she has been raised to hate. She died for them, suffered from serious mental illness, got away from a toxic relationship, all to find her mate, her family and her place in the world. Feyre is stronger than a lot of people give her credit for and I admire her strength and courage.
Okay so let’s talk about Mor. I feel like something is going on with Mor that we haven’t been told yet. Mor was away in Vallahan for most of this book and we only saw brief glimpses of her here and there, however, Eris was pretty present. Eris kept hinting at something that happened that night that he left Mor on the edge of the Autumn Court territory and I can’t help but think that there’s something SJM isn’t telling us!
On that note, Eris was… interesting in this book. He’s one of those characters that you just can’t like. In A Court of Wings and Ruin, we meet Eris properly and I hated him from the beginning. Since then, he’s been in allegiance with the Night Court and he certainly hasn’t tried to make me like him at all. He’s just so mean all the time and his insults to Cassian make me really mad. I just can’t like him, even if he did do something good for the Night Court.
I also want to talk about Azriel. Wow. Azriel, azriel, azriel. I love Az, and he’s one of those characters that you know is just incredible. He’s also undergone some serious things as a kid and totally deserves better. I have to mention his bonus chapter though, and what was that about?! I’ve never been a fan of Azriel and Elain being together because I figured Az deserved better than Elain, however, I love love love the idea of Azriel and Gwyn.
Speaking of Gwyn, she’s a new character that was introduced in this book and I adore her. Her bubbly personality constantly made me laugh and it was clear that while she’s suffering from some trauma, she’s also a beautiful person who loves deeply and wants the best for people. I absolutely loved her and I love how SJM brings Gwyn and Emerie into the book to let us see people outside of the Inner Circle as well.
Emerie was introduced in A Court of Frost and Starlight and I love her. She’s so adorable and I really admire her strength throughout this book because none of it was easy.
Let’s start with the three “sisters”. Emerie, Gwyn, and Nesta were so adorable. This trio is probably one of my new favorite friendships and I love how it kind of includes the “found-family” trope. The three of them have all suffered from something in their own way, however, they don’t judge each other and they hold each other up. They’ve trained together and they’re such a powerful trio and I adore them! I nearly cried in certain parts throughout the book when the three of them would come together and say something like “our stories are worth telling”, or “it’s what sisters do.” and they were just such an adorable and powerful trio that made the book a million times better.
Obviously we’re here for the Cassian and Nesta content and let me tell you, I could not get enough. They’re such a beautiful couple! From the moment that they met each other in A Court of Mist and Fury, to Cassian crawling for Nesta in Hyberns Palace, to “I have no regrets in my life, but this. That we did not have time. That I did not have enough time with you, Nesta. I will find you again in the next world- the next life. And we will have that time. I promise.” in A Court of Wings and Ruin, I was hooked on this couple. I knew they’d be powerful, but I didn’t realize how strong they would be. Cassian was always a strong character and he’s always known what he wants. It was no surprise that Nesta was the exact same. The two of them and their banter continued throughout the entire book, both of them holding their own opinions of each other. Honestly, they’re one of my new favorite couples and I can’t get enough. I need more Nesta and Cassian content. The smut level was amazing, the banter was hilarious, and the romance broke my heart and put it back together a million times over again.
“For it was music between their souls. Always had been. And his voice was her favorite melody.”
Onto other relationships, I gotta mention Feyre and Cassians friendship. They’re so cute! Feyre is like the sister that Cassian never had. She pokes fun of him but also makes sure that she’s okay. I just adore it. It’s adorable and I’m living for it!
Okay just quickly I have to mention Azriel. In the bonus chapter, we see Azriel and Elain nearly kiss. While I don’t particularly like that relationship, I want Azriel to be happy, and later in the chapter we see him speak to Gwyn. The two of them are like opposites in a way with Azriel being super quiet and Gwyn being loud and bubbly. I’d love to see them develop their relationship, even if they do just stay friends.
We got to see Velaris all throughout the year in this book and if you’ve read my reviews of the original trilogy then you know how much I love Velaris. It’s the city of dreams and it’s as beautiful as it sounds!
We’re also fortunate enough to see Feyre and Rhysand’s river house which was so cool! I feel like it was decorated exactly as I expected. Feyre’s paintings everywhere, a place for each member of the Inner Circle. It was honestly just perfect.
As you can probably tell, I love SJM’s writing. I was hooked from the first word and I couldn’t put it down! I love love loved it.
This was incredible. I loved meeting all of the new characters and seeing a new side to each of the characters that we already knew and loved. I definitely have a ton of questions and I’m not sure how I’m going to wait a whole year for the next book, but Cassian and Nestas story is something I’ll never forget. These characters hold a special place in my heart and I can’t get enough of them so I can’t wait until the next book comes out and I can obsess over them all over again!