What are your thoughts on why Azriel’s shadows disappear around Elain? Cause I see a lot of people claiming it’s romantic that he doesn’t need them with her while others say it hints at something more sinister like Dark!Elain. I can’t see either one tbh cause his shadows are a part of him. He’s had them to protect and guide him so why would they disappear around Elain if she was a threat? And why do they swoon and dance with Gwyn if Az and Elain are possibly romantic? My thought was maybe it’s because Elain and sunshine may be closer than we think which makes shadows disappear, but idk. Like maybe her seer power was tapping into her mate’s power without realizing it cause they’re bound? Is this one of those things where we’re reading too much into it when it’s just SJM just being herself and nothing is that deep? Help me Obi Les Kenobi, you’re my only hope.
I love youuuu I lol’d at the end of this. It got pretty long so part of it is under the cut.
Okay so this is going to be my whole half-assed attempt at talking about his shadows. I’m not going to get too deep with it because we have 3.5 books of his shadows doing their thing and that is TOO MUCH for me to sort through. However, I do have an idea.
(as usual, idfk what other people are saying about this, I’m just basing these ideas off of my reading and my previous thoughts about the characters.)
The first thing that came to mind is that Azriel’s shadows know not only what he needs, but what the people around him need. I know that sjm said that we won’t find out if they are sentient until we get his book story, but I think they are a bit of both - an extension of him, not totally in his control but privy to his needs and thoughts in a way nothing and no one else is.
In acomaf, Azriel tried right away to make human Elain comfortable, for pragmatic reasons - they needed to use her house, and Nesta would be convinced if Elain could be convinced. “Elain can convince anyone to do anything with a few smiles”, Feyre tells Rhys, Cassian, and Azriel right before they all meet for dinner. Enter handsome, non-threatening Azriel, the nice little bat boy who would never hurt a fly (which we know is a lie, but Elain doesn’t need to know that, ever). He creates a persona for her that he know will be convincing. Elain is convinced. She talks to Nesta. They all get the mortal queen meeting Chez Archeron.
Tl;dr for this whole post if no one wants to click is that Azriel can be himself around Gwyn, to the point of sharing personal secrets. He can’t be himself around Elain, and his shadows are a part of him. But read on for more explanation.
During this meeting, Feyre also notes, and is grateful, that Az’s shadows are nowhere to be found. This would fit the idea of them being an extension of him and knowing what he and the people around him need. Fae shadows? Will be creepy to humans. Best put them away.
Okay, just glancing through acomaf I noticed that Elain is getting married to Graysen five months after Feyre returns. That means that she met Az, and then four months later slept with Graysen, and then months after that was still mourning him. Just saying.
So based on that reading, and the way that Azriel generally fades into the background until he is needed to put on one of his “personas”, the shadows play a big role in which “Azriel” people get to see. Azriel met Elain with his shadows hidden because he needed to appear non-threatening. As best they can, they continue to stay away from her when Az is around.
In acosf I know that people are hung up on the fact that the shadows seem to want to protect Elain when she and Nesta are fighting. Now we know that Nesta would never truly, mortally hurt Elain. No matter how mad they are at each other, there was no real danger there. It was either a gross overreaction, or Az is actually overstepping his bounds. He acts the same way around Mor, too.
So people have noted that generally, the shadows disappear around Elain, yes? Elain, light personified, who basks in the sun, whose main personality trait is “likes outside and gardens”, wouldn’t be comfortable if Azriel’s shadows were around constantly. It’s kinda what you said, anon, I think it’s to do with Elain thriving in light, and Azriel’s shadows, which are a huge part of him, threatening that light.
Az and the shadows are aware of that. She’s still the sister of his High Lord and High Lady. She deserves respect. She deserves to be at ease, especially given what she has gone through. It’s a perfectly normal thing for us to have a persona around one person, but then to be open and free and our full selves with other people. I notice this difference in myself even among my friends.
While I don’t think this means that anyone, Gwyn or Elain, are evil, I think that Az cannot be his full self around Elain. He told Gwyn, “I AM a shadowsinger”, which means that there is a whole piece of him that does not feel comfortable in Elain’s presence because it would make her uncomfortable. I don’t think that it’s fear, or her being secretly evil, or anything beyond the shadows’ (and by extension Azriel’s) acknowledgement of the fact that he has a persona or role to play with Elain, and he must maintain that.
Re: Elain - Azriel can’t be himself around her. She doesn’t know the full extent of his job or the torture, and he tries to make his shadows less threatening, too.
Now, Gywn! Our little Carynthian Valkyrie.
I’ve seen an idea that Azriel’s shadows dance to her lure???? Like????? His shadows have done nothing except protect him, and so if there was anything wrong with Gwyn, the shadows would have warned him.
I see the way that the shadows react around Gwyn as indicating basically the opposite of what it indicates for Elain. Azriel is comfortable around her to the point where his shadows don’t feel the need to observe, to be defensive. They are playful, which is something that we never seen from Azriel himself, and so I am now headcanoning that eventually their playfulness will rub off on him?
And then in this scene Az reveals something intensely private about himself. This is about 130 pages before the end of the book and there is never a change in behavior from him or the shadows. (Sidenote, Elain asking Az if he can fly is NOT the same, I love her but what a stupid fucking question, he has giant ass wings. And that’s not something about himself that he would try to guard from the rest of the world, it’s pretty obvious.)
So anyway, I hope that all makes sense. I’ve never really put thought into his shadows before and I based this on what the book says, rather than trying to created some extended interpretation that relies on interpretations of interpretations of theories etc etc. I might add onto it as I think of more things! I could go more into the whole Az persona thing if people want. I’m kinda enjoying this whole being able to share my thoughts about him! Since for the past four years I knew I’d get hate for it.
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