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Series Review: A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Court of Thorns & Roses (from Goodreads):
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy; ACOTR
Author: Sarah J. Maas
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological (Books 4-6 are a different story arc)
Complete?: No, Book 4, will be published in 2020
Genre: New Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Faeries, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was a huge fan of Throne of Glass before it became mainstream. I loved the world Sarah J. Maas created but before I could move her from a “must-read” author to a “favourite author” I needed to read another series/book by her. So when I saw that she was releasing a 2nd series my reactions were this: 1) WHAT?! Write Throne of Glass faster! Not start a new series!; and 2) Yes please!

I love fairy tale retellings and Beauty and the Beast is a very popular one. So I really was expecting something out of the box with this book; especially because it focused on actual Fae, my favourite fantasy species. I also was expecting some fantastic world building, a strong heroine (or at least one who becomes strong) and a great romance. Some tall shoes to fill but I knew Sarah J. Maas could do it.

This book was everywhere before and after its release! ARC reviews were posted months in advance and there was so much hype that I was a little terrified to read this. I avoided all reviews (sorry everyone!) so I could go into it with a fresh mind and give it a fair shot.

The Concept / The World:

I loved the world Feyre lives in because I LOVE faerie stories! Doesn’t matter how many faerie books I read, each one has its own unique flare that sucks me in and this book is no exception. Maas does a great job building up the world and devotes the first half of the book really explaining how the faerie world works. And this could have been really dry but I felt like things moved along at a decent pace for the first half of the book so it didn’t bore me.

As for the Beauty and the Beast element, I liked that it didn’t follow the traditional conventions. The parallels are obvious but I felt like each had its own little spin on it. I thought it worked really well and I would have to say it is one of the best (if not the best) Beauty and the Beast retellings I have had the pleasure of reading.

The Plot:

So, don’t hate me, BUT, I felt like the first half of the book was really slow. It could easily just be due to the fact that I was reading it really early in the morning or late at night so I was more than a little tired. However, I feel like there really wasn’t much happening in the first half of the book besides building up the world–which is fine and all but not my personal cup of tea. I like action in my books and when it comes to faeries, I love their games.

Which is why I adored the second half of the book. It focused more on the faerie world’s political games, had more romance and had better character growth. I couldn’t put down the book once I reached the halfway point. And I knew that going into this book because Throne of Glass was written in the exact same way: slow and building.  So while I was expecting it, that doesn’t mean I was happy that that was the case.

The Characters:

What I loved about this series is that these characters made you work to like them. Feyre is jaded and initially hard to like because she really isn’t in a good place in her life. You really sympathize with her and I enjoyed watching her grow throughout the novel.

Tamlin–yeah, I wasn’t completely sold on him. I really didn’t feel like he was present much in this book enough for me to develop a crush on him. Sure, in theory he is everything a swoon-worthy hero needs to be: mysterious, charming and caring. It just didn’t work for me.–I’ll explain more in my romance section. I feel like he’ll have some great development in the sequel (that seems to be the trend in the Throne of Glass Series) so I’m hoping that will convince me of his “amazingness”.

All the other characters were great. Love ’em or hate ’em, they were all well developed and evolving as the story progressed which was great.

The Romance:

For a majority of the book, I wasn’t really sold on the romance between Feyre and Tamlin. A lot of their interaction isn’t narrated verbatim, rather it is just summarized by Feyre after it happens. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great scenes between them–because they’re are–I’m just saying it didn’t totally convince me their feelings were at that higher level. I could see why they would suit each other, I just wanted more scenes together that showed that.

For me, I couldn’t see why Tamlin had such deep feelings for Feyre when they really hadn’t talked all that much. They ignored each other at the start of time together (or at least is seemed like that because a lot of their interaction happens “off-stage”) and then BAM! His primal instincts are calling for her. It was a little too alpha male for me and I don’t like alpha male heroes.

Eventually, I warmed up to their romance and was totally rooting for them–it’s hard not to really given what happens in the last third of the book. It’s just that they won’t be gracing the top of my favourite couples list anytime soon.

I know that some people’s concerns with the Beauty and the Beast romance is the Stockholm Syndrome  situation. I definitely had those thoughts when I started reading and I could see why people would label it as that (I mean Feyre can’t really leave) BUT, I felt like these two would have connected even if they weren’t kept to his estate for the majority of their relationship.

Now, I feel like I have to say that is book is more like a New Adult Fantasy than it is a Young Adult Fantasy. While the sex scenes aren’t fully described (and there really isn’t a lot of them either)–they are sex scenes that don’t leave much to the imagination which isn’t really a YA characteristic. I found that refreshing because I don’t understand why sex should be so taboo in YA (I’m not saying full out, descriptive endless pages here)–it happens people so why should we ignore it!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really don’t know what to expect for the next book! While not everything is wrapped up in this book, I felt very satisfied in how everything is left at the end of the book. I’m not dying for a sequel though I really do want to read it. I have some worries because I fear that one of my least favourite romantic tropes is on the way BUT I’m putting my faith in Maas to deliver and totally shock me like she did with Crown of Midnight–no pressure though!

updates

–July 3, 2016– Book #2: A Court of Mist and Fury


I was really impressed with this book!

I enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses but somethings just weren’t on point for me, so it wasn’t an automatic 5 star read.

But what Maas does here is genius! The manipulation of the Beauty and the Beast story; the richness of the faery world; to Feyre’s character development–everything hits its peak here, making this one hell of a read.

While I still struggled to like Feyre, she definitely grew on me; as did the romance. The way everything interweaves and builds really helped with that.

I can’t wait to see what is in store for this cast of characters next!

–July 21, 2017– Book #3: A Court of Wings and Ruin

Oh dear, I’m in the minority for this one!

My rating hovers somewhere between 2-3/5 but considering the fact that I would have DNF’d this book at the 30% if it wasn’t the finale of the series (which it isn’t [ugh], but it is the end of the arc), I’m going to leave it at a 2.

Admittedly, I had high expectations. ACOMAF blew me away in every respect so it would be a hard book to top regardless. And the hype around any Maas book is so UNREAL lately. So I was a little scared to start this one.

This one just seemed painfully slow. Which sucked because it started so strong! Yet once I reached the 30% mark, it totally lost me. It just seemed slightly repetitive and monotonous to me. This book could have easily been 200 pages shorter and it would have delivered successfully. I needed more intrigue and action to keep my full attention.

So maybe seek an alternative opinion! Because others seem to enjoy it, but for me, this one fell flat and it has me thinking the next 3 books aren’t going to be for me.

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My Rating: 3.5/5

A Court of Thorns and Roses 4/5 | A Court of Mist and Fury 5/5 | A Court of Wings and Ruin 2/5

overall

This series starts slow, peaks in the middle and has a slower end. But if you want a series that keeps you guessing; is rich in characters and the world; and has a heroine who truly transforms from start to finish, you might consider investing your time in this one!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, faeries
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, don’t like jaded heroines, don’t like fairy tale retellings

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Series Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Throne of Glass (from Goodreads):

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined

breakdown

Series: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
# of Books: 7 (Full Reading Order Here)

There are five prequel novellas in the series. Find out more here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Action, Romance, Fantasy, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: August 2012 – October 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook & Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up:

I find that it is really hard to find a book with a strong female lead nowadays. And by strong, I mean a girl who doesn’t need a man to complete her, who can fight for herself and it helps if she can kick some literal butt. After completing the Vampire Academy Series, I have been on the search to find said leading lady. So when I read the promise of a female assassin in these books, I jumped at the chance and I am happy to say I think I found the girl for the job (or should I say “hit”? ;)).

Initial Impressions:

These books aren’t just straight action though. There is also a dangerous game of politics afoot as well as romance, mystery and drama so there is rarely a dull moment. There were also some plot twists along the way but I think a few were a little predictable (at least in Throne of Glass) so that is disappointing.

I only have two “peeves” about Throne of Glass. One “peeve” would be the lack of a particular character from the novellas in the novel–I just felt like said character played such an important role that they should have been mentioned more than they were in the book. My second “peeve” is the love triangle. I am not a fan of this “plot twist” so I would rather do without it; though I didn’t find it as “consuming” like it is in some novels. Basically, it isn’t the main focus of the book so bonus points there. I also want to say that Throne of Glass started a little slow and it did take me a while to get into it. Unlike the novellas that jump right into the action, this one takes a while to build so just be prepared.

I’m not sure where the next 5 books are planning on going, but I am excited to have another long-running, action packed series on my to-read list now. If only they could be released sooner!

updates

–December 7, 2013– Book #2: Crown of Midnight

I finished Crown of Midnight about a week ago and it’s taken me that whole week to grasp what just happened. When I said I wasn’t sure where the next few books were going I wasn’t lying. I didn’t see what happens coming and I am SUPER excited for the next book!

First, I have to say that the two peeves I commented on before are no longer an issue. Said character is mentioned more than enough to satisfy my requests and the love triangle is “resolved” for a lack of a better term. Unlike Throne of Glass that focuses on Celaena becoming the champion and kicking butt, this book focuses on the magic present in the kingdom and what is happening in their world. While there is still plenty of action, we learn a lot about all the major players and learn what game is truly afoot in this kingdom. Celaena especially has some great character development but still retains her kick-ass heroine status.

This book also hits the ground running. Lots of plot twists and developments that kept me guessing and putting off other aspects of my life just to read the next chapter. Definitely a strong sequel and the best book of the series so far!

–May 23, 2015– Book #3: Heir of Fire

I’ve never anticipated a book as much as I had Heir of Fire. So you can imagine my disappointment when Heir of Fire turned out to be…well…a slight disappointment. After waiting forever on my library’s waiting list, I tried to read this book in November 2014 and just couldn’t get into it. I got halfway through before I gave up in defeat and had to return it, vowing to try again later.

Well, the 2nd time was the charm! Despite getting halfway through the last time, I started Heir of Fire right from the start. This one starts slow and it’s been so long since I read Crown of Midnight that despite my killer book summary (I write down what happens in each book), it took me a while to get back into the groove of things.

I guess I expected it to be like Crown of Midnight which had me from the first word. This one was just a lot of wallowing and it was a tough time for Celaena, so it was a little depressing to read. The critic/analyst in me understands the need to slow things down and let things develop in this book but it just bored me; especially when I was expecting high action given the ending of the last book. But once I got past the halfway mark, it really was non-stop and I had a hard time putting it down.

Overall, I liked how things developed and I am SUPER SUPER excited to see what happens next. I feel like this book was the little speed bump that usually happens in book 2 of trilogies and I don’t discount the need for it in the grand scheme of things: it just wasn’t what I was expecting initially but it definitely improved as I read!

Catch my spoiler filled rant on Heir of Fire Here!

–October 9, 2015– Book #4: Queen of Shadows

I was terrified the hype monster was going to kill this one for me so I dutifully ignored all reviews of this book before I read it. I’m glad I did because I went in with a fresh mind and was really able to enjoy it.

Queen of Shadows has much better pacing than its predecessor, though the page length really got to me. I was in it right from the start, felt a little drag in the middle but really felt like it pulled it socks up at the end. It still doesn’t beat Crown of Midnight for me in terms of a favourite, but it’s pretty close.

I really liked the plot twists and LOVED the character development. I also really liked that characters who were prominent in the novellas finally were brought in. More so than in the previous novels, the plot was really tied to the prequel novellas. It almost makes me wish I had read them more recently than when they were first published because all these characters would have been fresher in my mind.

Can’t wait to see where this story goes next! My faith has been officially restored in this series!

–October 25, 2016– Book #5: Empire of Storms

So I went from having my faith restored to being more than a little bored with this instalment…

I felt like the first 60% was filler–which makes for a slightly dull read when this book is 576 eBook pages long. While the plot does move forward in that time, it definitely dragged while doing so. It’s been a long time since I read the previous instalment so trying to get all those details page in my head (despite the killer notes I took when reading Queen of Shadows), specially the family trees (I swear everyone’s name starts with a G or an A or an E), didn’t make this enjoyable for me.

The last 30% was great! We get more action; the greater plot schemes get revealed and we finally get some drama! And I’m glad to see how the prequel novellas tie into this novel! Made me glad I read them all those years ago.

I’m excited to see how everything wraps up!

–March 23, 2019– Book #6: Tower of Dawn

It wasn’t that this book was bad per say: I just wonder about the necessity of it. I think we can all agree that the lead needed some major redemption after the last few books so it was nice to get that. However, could we have achieved that in half the amount of pages? You betcha! This could have been condensed considerably and still made an impact in the series.

I skimmed most of it, especially in the first half when it was so repetitive. Maas does have a beautiful flow to her writing (it’s not a hard book to read by any means) but she adds far to much detail and monotony to her work. Honestly, if I hadn’t invested so much time in this series over the years, I would have just skipped this.

–May 16, 2020– Book #7: Kingdom of Ash

I have never had a book take me this long to read. I think I took it out 4 separate times over the last 8 months and finally pushed my way through to finish it over the last 3 months.

I think I just outgrew this series. As the books got longer, I stopped caring about the characters. This story has come so far from what the inaugural title was and I’m not sure I really loved its progression in the end (I think its points for originality waned when you look at the similarities to Court of Thorns and Roses).

Maybe if I read the books closer together I would have enjoyed the last few better. But as more characters got introduced, I found it harder and harder to keep up. And the writing just felt repetitive at times (if I never see the word “mate” again it’ll be too soon).

I can appreciate the world and vision but at the end of the day, I think I outgrew this series and that was why I struggled to get through this final novel.

When to Read the Novellas:

I am of the camp that recommends you read the novellas before you pick up the first book in the series. By doing so, I feel like you get a get a better understanding of the world and why Celaena acts and thinks the way she does. I think if you don’t, you might think her character is a little too jaded (which can be irksome) and you won’t understand why she does the things she does. Sometimes that little bit of a background story makes all the difference in your impression of a character.

But I most definitely recommend you read the novellas prior to Queen of Shadows–because there are a lot of allusions there that you won’t understand until you read the novellas.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Throne of Glass 5/5 | Crown of Midnight 5/5 | Heir of Fire 3/5 | Queen of Shadows 4.5/5 | Empire of Storms 3/5 | Tower of Dawn 2/5 | Kingdom of Ash 2/5

overall

If you enjoy convoluted worlds with lots of characters and even longer novels, try this series out!

Read if You Like: strong heroines, ruthless characters, fantasy
Avoid if You: don’t like long series or long books

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