Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4)
by Sarah J. Maas

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she's struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can't seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.

The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre's Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta's orbit. But her temper isn't the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.

Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.

Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other's arms.

I didn't read ACOTAR until two summers ago, so I was very late to the party! However, I devoured the entire trilogy - including A Court of Frost and Starlight - within a week. I couldn't believe I'd waited so long to start reading the series, but I'm happy I was able to read them all at once (waiting would have been torture, especially with some of those cliffhangers). Like everyone else, I couldn't wait for the continuation of the series and Nesta's story. She wasn't my favorite character in ACOTAR, but she did grow on me throughout A Court of Silver Flames

Stop reading here if you haven't read the first three books in the series! Small spoilers ahead. Nesta is struggling with the loss of her father and what she sees as her personal failure to prevent his death. On top of all that, she's dealing with how she felt about him her entire life and how awfully she treated Papa Archeron. He never had anything but love for his daughters, and he proved that love in a big way at the end of A Court of Wings and Ruin. We get to see how his words and actions during the battle with Hybern deeply affected Nesta and her mental health. She doesn't know how to forgive herself or others, with the former being more of an issue than anyone realized. Only Cassian never wavered in his beliefs, or his desire to help Nesta heal. Obviously, her actions affected him and made him feel terrible, but he kept reaching out his hand like Amren said. He loved Nesta - the good parts and the bad - and his actions always reflected that.

One of my quibbles with this book was the lack of Cassian. Yes, he's present throughout the entire book, alternating perspectives with Nesta, but we don't really learn anything new about him or his history. Everything he shares with Nesta is something we learned throughout the previous books. I wanted him to open up and share new information with her, things that were deeply personal and not often discussed with the others. I think it would have helped them form a stronger bond and allowed us to see how he's changed over the last 500 years. I think what he shared about the Valkyries was new, but it also felt familiar. Everything about the Valkyries was interesting! I wish there had been more.

A lot of people are upset by how "graphic" the sex scenes were, which I find to be immensely frustrating. ACOTAR should never have been marketed as a YA series, since Feyre was an adult throughout most of the books. It's also not fair to place human standards and expectations on mythical creatures like the fae. They don't follow the same rules or have the same limitations. I think Maas did a wonderful job with Feyre's story, and I think she perfectly conveyed Nesta's personality as well. People seem to forget that Nesta is the eldest Archeron, which definitely makes her adult. I'm happy this series received an 18+ recommendation, but I also don't think Maas simply wrote "smut" for the hell of it. Sex was a release for Nesta - a way to get herself out of her head - and wine and music provided similar distractions for her nightmarish thoughts. It was how she chose to deal with her demons, and that's not uncommon. It's okay for Nesta to enjoy sex. It's okay for Nesta and Cassian to enjoy rough sex. It's okay that Maas was descriptive about those encounters. It's okay that sex was a big part of Nesta's story. Nesta is her own person with her own problems, so she obviously has her own way of dealing with things. Nesta's book is somewhat separate from the original trilogy, but it's also a continuation of the previous books. I do not agree that they should have been marketed separately or as something new, but I do believe all of the ACOTAR books should be shelved as Adult Fantasy. 

Another thing people seem to be worried about: teen readers. I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous. If I'm being completely honest, I learned most of my information regarding sex from books. I sure as hell didn't learn about it in school or from my parents. There's nothing wrong with books having "graphic" sex scenes, and I don't think we should put so many limitations on what certain people can read. Shielding teenagers - especially young girls - from sex, typically does more harm than good.

I absolutely loved Gwyn and Emerie! I thought they were lovely, amazing friends, and they were exactly what Nesta needed in her life. They've all been through hell, and I think those experiences bonded them in a way nothing else could. They also trained together, learned to really live together, and are still struggling with what happened to them in the past. No one was magically healed by the end of the book, and it's obvious they will still need time to work through everything that haunts them. It was authentic and realistic, and I like that Maas didn't try to rush their healing or give them quick solutions to their problems. They had to work hard in order to grow, which they managed to do both together and alone.

"...and Nesta's breath rushed from her in a wave she didn't realize she was holding..." This sentence might be worded differently, but why do authors insist on including it (and others like it) in their books? Why doesn't anyone know they're holding their breath??? Seriously, there are websites dedicated to how many times this sentence gets used in books. 

I also didn't like that Rhys and the others opted to keep something from Feyre, especially when it impacted her the most. After everything she's been through, they didn't think she could handle it? They didn't think it would be a good idea to have her also working towards a possible solution? It felt wrong to me, and very unlike the characters I remember. Mor's absence was very noticeable as well, and I wish she'd been more present throughout the book. Nesta and Cassian's "big fight" was way too similar to what Feyre and Rhysand fought about. The should have had their own unique conflict to work through.

Highlight for spoilers: Additionally, why didn't anyone just winnow the baby out? Madja had her hands up there to turn the baby around, so Rhys or Mor could have touched it and winnowed, right? Did anyone else think that? Even Az could have used his shadows. I just feel like they didn't really exhaust all of their options, and I'm still not 100% sure how Nesta managed to do what she did. I'm also a little miffed that she didn't get to make it to the top of Ramiel despite everything she went through. Briallyn interfered, so it shouldn't be held against her. She also had to give up all of that power right after fully unleashing it for the first time. It would have been nice to know more about who used the harp last and what their final act with it had been. I wish Nesta had somehow been able to reverse what happened to all of those fae. Maas is definitely setting something up! (★★★★☆)


  1. I'm so interested in how Maas uses sex to capture a bit of Nesta's personality. I've heard a lot about this book and in an interview I guess she had to cut out some scenes.

    That's too bad that Cassian isn't featured as much.

    1. Cassian was there the entire book, but it's definitely Nesta's story. I felt like Feyre's books developed the secondary characters, while this one focused on one person. I wish we'd seen more of other people, and had their stories expanded on as well (especially Cassian's). Sex for Nesta was a way to lose herself and shut her brain off. She was able to simply enjoy the feelings sex gave her, and then she would fall asleep. No thinking necessary. It's hard to explain... but I hate that people are shaming Maas for how she wrote Nesta, when there's nothing wrong with wanting (and liking) sex.


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