Full Azriel Chapter
This includes the missing page, all in order.
All credit goes to Lola-hollin662 on reddit! My BAM edition still hasn’t come in the mail but the redditor was kind enough to post it.
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WHEN I TELL YOU I'M OBSESSED I MEAN IT!!
My elriel heart can't handle this😩🌺🦇
Art by @cosmikla on ig!! I just love her art❤️
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Azriel’s Secrets in ACOSF
A compilation of Azriel’s “little secrets” in ACOSF & the explanation of the secret in Azriel’s bonus POV.
No commentary. Just passages from the book.
“Cassian said tightly, ‘He says he’d rather stay up here than at the river house.’
That made two of them. ‘Why?’
‘I don’t know. He’s Az. He likes his space.’”
“Then he flew to the House of Wind, knowing that if he slept in the riverside manor, he'd do something he regretted. He'd been so vigilant about keeping away from Elain as much as possible, and had stayed up here to avoid her, and tonight...tonight had proved he'd been right to do so.”
“Azriel chuckled, shadows skittering. ‘Did you listen at all last night?’
‘At least you’re honest.’ Azriel smirked.”
“Elain sucked in a soft breath that whispered over his skin. His shadows skittered back at the sound. They'd always been prone to vanish when she was around.”
“The way he hesitated before he said learned said enough: he’d tortured it out of someone. Many people.
Nesta glanced at his scarred hands, and Azriel tucked them behind his back, as if he noted her attention.”
“...her face so trusting and hopeful and open that he knew she had no idea that he had done unspeakable things that sullied his hands far beyond their scars.
Such terrible things that it was a sacrilege for his fingers to skin, tainting her with his presence.”
“‘Can’t sleep?’ Cassian took up a fighting stance.
A shadow curled around Azriel’s neck, the only one brave enough to face the sunlight. ‘Something like that,’ he said, and settled into his own stance across from Cassian.
Cassian let it drop, knowing Az would have told him already if he’d wanted to share what had been hounding him enough to exercise at night...”
“Too many wants and needs left his skin overheated and pulling taut across his bones. So he only slept when his body gave out, and even then only for a few hours.”
‘Why don’t you sit?’ She leaned against the doorway beside the shadowsinger.
‘My shadows don’t like the flames so much.’ A pretty lie. She’d seen Azriel before the fire plenty. But she looked at who sat close to it and knew the answer.
‘Why did you come if it torments you so much?’
‘Because Rhys wants me here. It’d hurt him if I didn’t come.’”
“Shadows darkened his eyes, full of enough pain that she couldn’t stop herself from touching his shoulder. Letting him see that she understood why he stood in the doorway, why he wouldn’t go near the fire.
His secret to tell, never hers.”
“He left the rest unspoken. Because her mate was here, sleeping a level up. Because her mate had been in the family room and Azriel had needed to stay by the door the whole time because he couldn't stand the sight of it, the scent of their mating bond, and needed to have the option of leaving if it became too much.”
“Cassian’s heart strained at the pain etching deep into Lucien’s face as he tried to hide his disappointment and longing. Elain only shrank further into herself, no trace of that newfound boldness to be seen.”
“Azriel scowled. ‘I think Lucien will never be good enough for her, and she has no interest in him, anyway.’
“He’d been replaced in training by a stone-faced Azriel, who was more aloof than usual and wouldn’t even give her a smile.”
“He waited for Clotho's pen to finish writing. Your eyes are sad, Shadowsinger.
He offered her a grim smile. ‘I lost the snowball fight today.’”
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Okay but hear me out.
I think Elain likes Azriel. But Azriel, I mean he's clearly attracted to her, but I think his feelings stem from 2 reasons
1. Elain's sisters are mated to his brothers. And he wants what they have. Her sisters chose his brothers! Mating bond or no mating bond, This male has been alone and aloof for 500 years, he just wants someone to want him forever. That brings me to my second point
2. Elain shows interest in him. This added to the first point makes him think she's the one.
I do not think Az's shadows disappearing infront of Mor or Elain is a good thing. They are a part of him. And these 2 females are someone their master has feelings for but (I think) they make the shadows uncomfortable.
And that's nooott a good thing. When we read the parts with Gwyn, there's just soo much chemistry there.
Point number 1. Az is hella competitive and so is Gwyn. Her challenging him is something he finds amusing.
2. Say what you want but I think unknowingly Az is comfortable around Gwyn. His humour comes out around her. She makes him feel lighter.
3. Shadows! His shadows literally touch her breath. And when he leaves her, they're singing. Singing!
On a side note. It's been repeatedly mentioned how Elain doesn't fit well in the Night Court. She's literally described as a Ray of sunshine. Sunshine belongs in the day court!!
Okay. Rant over.
Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.
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i’m tired of people trying to paint azriel as the bad guy. you can ship whoever you want with whoever you’d like but i draw the line when y’all are purposely twisting and/or changing his actions and the meaning of them when it comes to elain just to fit the narrative for your crack ships. make all the cute headcanons you want but don’t try to, as i’ve already said, twist and change what actually happened in the books. a couple of examples:
azriel sees elain as a s3x toy. just because one time we see that he is attracted to her. after books of build up that showed us how deeply they care for each other. after we saw that elain is the only person azriel ever gave truth teller to, after he was willing to die for her when she was kidnapped, after feyre literally said “i’d never heard such a sound, deep and joyous” when azriel laughs after elain gave him a gift, ffs i could go on for days. where was this energy with rhys or cassian? it’s also really disrespectful to talk about elain like that but sadly i’m not really surpised.
azriel’s mental health. oh my god. it’s so disgusting when i see people exploiting such an important topic just because they want azriel to end up with a person that is not elain. argue all you want but that’s exactly what you’re doing. it’s just so funny how basically every character in the books went through some harsh shit but i’ve never heard that they can’t end up with another character because of it. it’s even funnier that his mental health suddenly doesn’t matter when it comes to gwyn. what disgust me even more is seeing how some people freaking compare other people traumas (elain and gwyn) to “prove” who would be more suited (gwyn) to “help” azriel. how fuckd up is that?
another thing i’d like to point out is how y’all just blatantly ignore what elain wants.
elain with azriel: “offer and permission”
elain with lucien: “elain only shrank further into herself, no trace of that newfound boldness to be seen”
again, if you want to ship elain with lucien, be my freaking guest, but while doing so do not try to change the fact that, from what we’ve seen so far, it’s azriel the one she trusts and the one she’s the most comfortable with.
my point with all of this is: you can say you’d like to see elain with lucien or az with another woman that is not elain without saying that azriel is creepy, possessive, obsessed or whatever bs y’all invented just because your internalized misogyny (yes i went there) makes you hate a soft and feminine character and you need to come up with dumb excuses to demolish elriel as a couple. make theories/headcanons/whatever but leave elain or az out of them and don’t. twist. what. really. happened. you don’t need to, we’re literally talking about fictional characters, you can ship elain with a freaking unicorn who cares. just don’t make shit up.
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there is really compelling, really strong textual evidence for elriel, gwynriel, and elucien. there is foreshadowing for each of them. can y’all stop bullying each other about who’s most correct for one second? you’re all right. it’s all there. that’s kind of the point, since sjm is writing a series and has to build suspense to keep sales up. no one is more right. it’s all there. stop fighting and go touch some grass.
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Azriel & his scarred hands
Azriel is obviously insecure about his hands. He feels like his work (torture) makes him unworthy. He’s self deprecating.
But Elain called his hands beautiful (and Azriel blushed). She shivered under his touch, even if his hands were scarred and did “bad” things.
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I don’t know why some people are acting like Azriel tried to regift a scented candle or a fruit basket and it’s no big deal. It’s not always the case, but jewelry is usually romantic in nature, but especially in this case. Azriel wants Elain, and took the time to pick out a gift he thought she would like and bought it for her, a necklace that specifically represents Elain (flowers have ALWAYS been synonymous with Elain, and roses in particular). Even the way he describes it sounds like Elain, how at first glance it’s small and easy to overlook but when the light hits it, you can see it’s true beauty. (It’s been said that nobody really sees Elain or understands her but Azriel is one of the only people who does, and she’s about to get her moment to shine and then everyone will see)
And then to say, “well Elain didn’t really want it and gave it back so it’s Gwyn’s now.” I’m sorry but…no. She did want the necklace. It wasn’t like he tried to give it to her and she said “thanks but no thanks.” She thought it was beautiful and asked him to put it on her so she could wear it immediately…and then wanted to kiss him. This is in direct contrast to the Feysand POV where it’s specifically mentioned that Elain doesn’t wear the gloves Lucien gifted her. It’s anecdotal evidence that’s a way of showing Elain’s feelings towards the two men. She wants one and not the other.
The ONLY reason she gave it back was because of a misunderstanding. Elain thought he stopped the kiss because he didn’t want her and THEN returned the necklace. She was hurt. She doesn’t know that Rhys interrupted the kiss and then issued an order for Azriel stay away from her. What do y’all think she’s going to do when she finds out? And why even assume Gwyn wants the necklace in the first place or would be ok with it? I’m sorry but when a man buys a necklace meant for another woman, one that he specifically bought with her in mind because he has feelings for her, it is a very big deal. That necklace was meant for Elain and belongs to her. She’s getting it back.
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Gw#nriels: Lol stay mad because our ship had more dialogue in one scene than your ship did in the entire series!
Darling, we’re not angry. We’ve got :
To name just a few of the scenes we have. If that quality of dialogue is so important, ya’ll can keep it. I think I’ll stick to our scenes of him actually wanting to rescue her, her making him laugh like his friends have never heard before and you know him canonically being physically attracted to her.
Maybe that’s just me.
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Cassian: Az, Truth or Dare?
Cassian: Kiss the prettiest person in the room
Gwyn *blushing*: Yes?
Azriel: Can you move? Elain's behind you
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Just leaving this here to show that Azriel’s shadows skitter when he’s happy!
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Why I Cannot Ship Azriel with Gwyneth Berdara
TW: SA, r*pe, assault, kidnapping, abuse, child brides, pa*dophilia
Please only share this post via re-blogs or the URL; do not share screenshots.
Please see below the "read more" for a 5/5/21 note in response to Gwyn's age being clarified.
What this post is absolutely not:
This is not anti Gwyn. Gwyn has been a great character, and I wish her all the best.
This is not meant to shame anyone who currently ships Az with Gwyn, or who thinks they'll be endgame. Please don't feel attacked.
This is not an accusation against those who want to see them together, as I understand that you read her character differently than I did.
This is not suggesting, at all, that survivors of SA are not worthy or deserving of love, romance, and/or sex. If a romantic and/or sexual relationship is something that Gwyn one-day wants, I want her to have it.
What this post will be:
This will be an honest discussion about why I, and many others, cannot consider Gwyn as a romantic possibility for Azriel, even without taking into account his current feelings for Elain, until we have more information about her age, and Azriel's position of power over the priestesses he trains.
This will have supporting text.
This will be RESPECTFUL.
If you cannot read this in good faith, please move on.
I acknowledge that I might have misinterpreted her character, and if that is the case, I would no longer have this issue with a potential Az/Gwyn relationship.
If you must leave a comment, please remember that actual human beings are behind each account, and words affect us all. BE KIND.
Okay; here we go. Once more, if any of the above trigger warnings apply to you, please don't click to read more.
EDIT (5/5/21): In the recent live with SJM, she clarified that Gwyneth Berdara was actually a young adult fae, so of course this removes age as a barrier for me being comfortable with this ship, as I said it would.
I would just like to reiterate, though, that I said I read Gwyn as equivalent to a 16 or 17 yo human - not a child, and I never accused anyone of writing or supporting pa*dophilia, as I specifically said that I knew you had read her character differently than I had. I clearly internalised the comments that she was "young," and "just a girl," more than SJM intended.
I'm not going to delete this post; firstly, because I believe that would be dishonest, and secondly, because I stand by my point that Azriel currently holds a position of power over the priestesses that he trains as part of them overcoming their trauma - a relationship with any of them would be an abuse of that power, until the dynamics had changed.
I'm glad so many in this fandom enjoyed the live, and I know we're all looking forward to ACOTAR 5. I know I can't wait to see how the story goes. Stay healthy everyone, wherever you are - drink lots of water, and wear your masks. 💜
EDIT (TL/DR): I, for the reasons I will outline below, am personally uncomfortable considering a romance between Azriel and Gwyn at this time, because I interpreted her as being comparable 16 to 17 year old human.
Could I be wrong? Absolutely. But until I am shown, beyond all doubt, that Gwyn is not considered a minor by fae standards, and until Az no longer holds a position of power over the priestesses he helps to train as part of their healing from assault - which includes Gwyn, I can't imagine them together.
I am not accusing SJM of writing pa*dophilia, as I don't think she intends for Gwyn and Azriel to have more than a mentor-student relationship... and if she does, that Gwyn will be considered an adult.
This is honestly not intended as an attack against those who do see Gwyn and Az together, or an attempt to fuel a ship war; I understand that you read her character differently, and that these fundamental differences are on what we base our opinions of what is appropriate - these are purely my own personal thoughts.
In the most recent addition to the ACOTAR series of novels, ACOSF, we met Gwyneth Berdara, a young priestess who has spent the last two years at the library under the House of Wind, which was set up by Rhys and Mor to act as a shelter for women who have experienced violence. Gwyneth Berdara's age is an extremely controversial topic in the ACOTAR fandom right now - mostly, I assume, due to the fact that some people have considered her as a potential romantic pairing for Azriel.
Full disclosure - I did not personally read any of Az and Gwyn's few in-text interactions as remotely romantic, though everyone will read and interpret a book in a slightly different manner, so please don't think I'm accusing anyone of not properly comprehending the text. I could be wrong in this; we won't know until SJM speaks out, or we get further information in the next book.
Gwyn is 28 years old and, while that would classify her as a fully-fledged adult if she were human, we have to remember that she is fae; as far as she knows, she's three quarters High Fae and one quarter river nymph.
For the record, by winter solstice in ACOSF, Feyre is 22 years old and pregnant; Elain is approximately 24 years old, and Nesta around 25 years old. They were Made into high fae at almost 20, and approximately 22 and 23 years old, respectively, so the Archeron sisters are probably equivalent to a High Fae of around 100 to 150 years; for all intents and purposes, they were of legal age according to a modern, Western world, and well and truly of an age to be married in the human lands below Prythian. Elain was engaged to be married to Graysen, a young human man, and would have been, had she not been kidnapped and Made.
Rhys, Cassian and Azriel, all somewhere between 536 to 540 ish years old as of solstice in ACOSF, are somewhere around their mid to late twenties, in a human equivalent age. I would assume that this relates to both maturity and brain development, as well as physical development, with the end result being that the Bat Bros are older than the Archeron sisters, but not significantly more mature, especially Cassian to Nesta, and Azriel to Elain. For the sake of simplicity, and the purposes of this post, we will accept that "human equivalent age" is a concept for the fae-born characters, otherwise we would be reconsidering every potential Archeron sister romance in the books - except for Elain's failed engagement.
From the first book in the ACOTAR series, we are given material that suggests that, while fae may be capable of becoming pregnant when they are considered young, as any human with a uterus can once their bodies have matured enough, they are not considered to be adults until they are closer to a century old.
Alis, a "lesser" faerie living and working in Tamlin’s Spring Court estate, informed Feyre that her nephews, for whom she is a guardian, and who are at minimum 50 and 55 years old (their parents were killed 50 years before, when Amarantha first invaded), will not be considered grown until they're 75 years old - I read "grown" as equivalent to an 18 year old human. This is just after she clarifies that her species age like the High Fae.
Feyre heard them giggling as they followed her around the Spring Court - unseen, as Tamlin had hidden them for safety; when she finally turned to see who was sniffing at her, she came face to face with "a weathered statue of two merry, bounding lambs;" that's a metaphor for 50 year old children, if I've ever heard one. Feyre also noted what appeared to be children's books in the library, so, at somewhere between 55 and 75, these two boys are still young enough to be acting like human children, and reading children's books.
"Ah, some are like you [humans] and can breed as often as rabbits, but there are kinds - like me, like the High Fae - who are rarely able to produce younglings. The ones who are born age quite a bit slower. We all had a shock when my sister conceived the second one only five years later - and the eldest won't even reach adulthood until he's seventy-five." - Alis, ACOTAR
Tarquin, a High Fae who is around 80 years old - an exact age is unavailable, is mentioned as being young for a High Lord. His lack of social and political graces are noted by - and irritate - his cousins, and he is also full of a lot of what might be considered, in some societies, youthful ideals, such as compassion and a wish for equality among all Fae-kind. My interpretation is that Tarquin at 80 years old would be comparable to a 19 year old human; this would be almost equivalent in age to Feyre, who is still essentially a 20 year old human, having been Made for under one year at this point.
"I am a young High Lord," he said. "Barely eighty years old." So he'd been thirty when Amarantha took over. "Perhaps others might call me inexperienced or foolish, but I have seen those cruelties first hand, and known many good lesser faeries who suffered for merely being born on the wrong side of power..." - Tarquin, ACOMAF
The Lady of Autumn, another member of the High Fae, and one who sadly remains nameless - though, knowing SJM, there will be a reason for this - was married to Beron, the current High Lord of the Autumn Court, at 20 years old. We don't have an age for Helion, the High Lord of the Day Court (and the secret biological father of her youngest son, Lucien) who once loved her and, we assume, still does. We do know that he loved her before her engagement was announced to Beron, but he considered that she, at least, was too young for marriage. Whether he was also too young, we don't know; it's hard to tell, without an age range. What we do learn is that Helion believes that the Lady of Autumn was "sold" in marriage to Beron to gain power for her family, that Beron considers her his "possession," and that she was "still young" at approximately 40 years old.
"She was still young - though she'd been married to that delightful male for nearly two decades. Married too young, the marriage arranged when she was twenty." The words were clipped. And twenty - so young. Nearly as young as Mor had been when her own family tried to marry her to Eris." - Helion and Feyre, ACOWAR
Mor, who is around the same age as the Bat Bros, had only just begun her cycle a few days after she turned 17 - something that in humans begins, on average, at around 11 to 12 years old - when her family arranged her marriage to Eris, the oldest son of Beron and the Lady of Autumn. While marriage at the age of 17 is illegal in many modern countries, and would probably also be considered too young for humans in the ACOTAR universe, for a High Fae she was essentially a child bride, much like the Lady of Autumn.
It is telling, then, that the two courts - the Autumn Court, and the Court of Nightmares - who appear to accept forced marriages of people so young are also depicted as two of the most brutal and backwards in Prythian.
"But then I began bleeding a few days after I turned seventeen. And the moment my first blood came, my power awoke in full force, and even that gods-damned mountain trembled around us. But instead of being horified, every single ruling family in the Hewn City saw me as a prize mare. Saw that power and wanted it bred into their bloodline, over and over again." - Morrigan, ACOMAF
This fits with the evidence that both the Autumn Court and the Court of Nightmares treat women (females) as chattel; possessions who can be bartered for political and/or magical power. The fact that Mor and the Lady of Autumn were to be married at such young ages cements the fact that their home courts behaved abominably, not that they were actually mature enough to consent to marriage, either mentally or physically.
Rhys even questions his own relationship with Feyre in ACOFAS, when he acknowledged how young she was.
“She’s turning twenty-one. Twenty-one, Cassian.” “So? Your mother was eighteen to your father’s nine hundred.” “And she was miserable.” “Feyre is not your mother. And you are not your father.” - Rhys and Cassian, ACOFAS
Now, back to Gwyn, who we remember is, apparently, three quarters High Fae and one quarter river nymph. Given her lack of river nymph features (the webbed fingers/toes and moon-pale skin that her fraternal twin, Catrin had been described as having), we will assume that she ages at a similar rate to High Fae such as Mor, and the Lady of Autumn. The following will comprise a discussion of the textual evidence that makes me, personally - and other people, too - uncomfortable with the idea of a romantic relationship between Azriel and Gwyn, as I read her as having a human equivalent age of around 16 years old, 17 at the most.
Two years prior to ACOSF, a 26 year old Gwyn was considered too young to take part in the Great Rite (Calanmai), a festival that is based around fertility and sex, at her temple in Sangravah.
“I hadn’t yet participated in the Great Rite, and we were so remote up there that I never had the chance to lie with a male... - Gwyn, ACOSF
The latter portion of that quote, that they were remote, so she hadn't yet "had the chance to lie with a male" could be - and has been - interpreted as meaning that she was old enough to consent, but many real-world countries have differing levels of legality and consent when it comes to minors having sex with minors, as opposed to minors having sex with grown adults. Most people tend to stick with similarly-aged partners, at least when they first start out; if Gwyn is, in fact, comparable to a human 16 year old, Azriel absolutely does not fit into this category, even if we take him back to his human equivalent age of being mid to late twenties.
Aside from a direct comparison to earlier descriptions of how the High Fae - and some races of lesser faeries - age, further evidence for interpreting Gwyn's age as equivalent to a human 15 to 16 year old is provided in the way Nesta (and Cassian) described her as young, multiple times, throughout ACOSF.
She was young—almost coltish, with her slender, elegant limbs. - Nesta, ACOSF
“Gwyn’s doing well,” Cassian said, nodding to the archway where the priestess had disappeared. “She’s a nice girl.” Nesta had learned that Gwyn was twenty-eight—indeed, just a girl to him. - Cassian and Nesta, ACOSF
The second quote, that Gwyn was "just a girl" to Cassian, was the main reason I was so surprised to learn that people were considering Gwyn and Az as a potential romantic pairing. Once again, Azriel is a year older than Cassian, with an apparent human equivalent age in his mid to late twenties; Cassian had said Gwyn was a "girl," not a "female," (the way in which fae refer to adult women), and I had read Gwyn as equivalent to around 16 or 17 years old. Nesta internally doubling down on Cassian "indeed" considering Gwyn a girl was, to me at least, significant.
Furthermore, Gwyn's words and behaviour often suggest that she is younger/less mature than Emerie or Nesta - and I do not mean this in a bad way, she'll get there! Nesta and Emerie seemed to be peers, while I read Gwyn as a sort of younger sister to them both. Here she is shown as responding to a question that wasn't directed at her, with an answer that is something I would have thought up in my mid-teens - one I might have thought was inspired but, looking back, sounds contrived. Anyone who's ever written anything knows the embarrassment of finding your work again, even a couple of years later, and realising how far you have come, precisely because you had matured in the meantime.
But he [Cassian] just said to her, “If you were to name a sword, what would you call it?” Gwyn answered, though she hadn’t been asked, “Silver Majesty.” Emerie snorted. “Really?” Gwyn demanded, “What would you call it?” Emerie considered. “Foe Slayer, or something. Something intimidating.” “That’s no better!” - Cassian, Gwyn, and Emerie, ACOSF
Gwyn is written as a little louder, and more excitable in general, than any of the Archeron sisters, Emerie or even Mor, who epitomises bright and cheerful. This could just be Gwyn's personality, but when read in the context of the rest of her character, and what we have previously learnt about ageing among the High Fae, she once again appears "young" to me.
Gwyn whispered to the room, “What’s your favorite book?” One thumped on the table beside Emerie’s cake, and Gwyn squawked in surprise. But then rubbed her hands together. “Oh, this is delightful.” “That smile means trouble,” Emerie said. Gwyn’s grin just widened. - Gwyn, ACOSF
Gwyn also mentioned that she and her sister, Catrin, used to make friendship bracelets; the last time I made one, I was definitely under the age of 14... my friends and I went through that phase at maybe 12 years old, though of course others may have been different. Not only that, but the act of wishing on the charm, and believing it would come true once it fell off, also seems childish, even in this world of fae and magic.
“My sister and I used to braid bracelets and put these little charms on them full of wishes for each other.” She lifted a sack, dumping a few silver coins into her palm. They were no larger than her pinkie nail, and as thin as a wafer. Her voice grew soft. “We believed that the wish would come true once the bracelet fell off.” - Gwyn, ACOSF
When Nesta and Emerie are bonding over their love of smutty romance novels, Gwyn mentioned her love of adventure and mystery novels, which took me right back to my love of Tamora Pierce's books from around 13 years old. Romance novels weren't even on my radar, I wanted to read about Lady Knights and Wild Mages... and I still do, if I'm honest! There is nothing wrong with these genres. Emerie appeared to know this, too, and offered to bring a "milder" romance for Gwyn to read (as in, a YA style of book), before winking at Nesta. This read to me as a two friends (Emerie and Nesta) acknowledging Gwyn's younger age.
“You must read her books. You must. I’ll bring the first one tomorrow. You’ll stay up all night reading it, I swear.” “Smut?” Gwyn asked, catching Cassian’s muttered words. There was enough hesitation in her voice to make Nesta draw up straight. Nesta glanced at Emerie, realizing the female didn’t know about Gwyn—her history, or why the priestesses lived in the library. But Emerie asked, “What do you read?” “Adventure, sometimes mysteries. But mostly I have to read whatever Merrill, the priestess I work with, has written that day. Not as exciting as romance, not by a long shot.” Emerie said casually, “I can bring one of Drake’s books for you, too—one of her milder ones. An introduction to the wonders of romance.” Emerie winked at Nesta. - Emerie, Gwyn and Nesta, ACOSF
Finally, aside from the fact that Gwyn's character can be validly interpreted as much too young for Azriel, Az himself holds a position of responsibility over a group of women - the priestesses in the library - who have experienced violence, as he helps them to regain a sense of power in their lives. If one of his adult students was to leave the library, and they revisited a potential relationship at some point down the road - after their dynamic had balanced, that's one thing, but it would be beyond terrible, in my humble opinion, for him to effectively take advantage of his role as it stands. Gwyn canonically returned to the library at the end of ACOSF, which can be interpreted as her not being ready - yet - for life in the "real world," as Nesta put it. And honestly, after what happened to them in Illyria, I don't blame her. You could argue - and people have - that Cassian was in a similar position of power with Nesta; the only thing that saved their relationship, in terms of a power imbalance, is that their personal relationship and feelings for each other predate the events of ACOSF by a good two years.
I am not suggesting that Gwyn is not worthy of a romantic relationship - if it's what she wants, I want her to have it! However, if I am correct in reading her as 16 or 17 years old, then it needs to be with an appropriately aged partner. My prediction, for what it's worth, is that Gwyn could find a potential love interest in Balthazar, the young Illyrian who helped Nesta save Emerie during the Blood Rite. They are similarly aged, and Gwyn never met him, so a "meet cute" could happen in one of the next books, when she's not dealing with being kidnapped and thrown into a Battle Royale. He was also described as having a "boyishly charming face." SJM loves her parallels, so it could very well be intentional that Gwyn was described as a girl, and Balthazar a boy.
While all of the scenes that I interpreted as Gwyn behaving "young" could be excused if they existed in isolation, when added together, then taken into context with both Cassian and Nesta describing her as young, or a just a "girl," with the nuggets we have about High Fae ageing slower than humans, it lead me to personally read Gwyn as equivalent to a 16 to 17 year old human, tops; this in turn makes me personally uncomfortable, and unable to ship her with Azriel, who is equivalent to a human in his mid to late twenties.
So, that's it! Thank you for keeping an open mind while you read this. Once again, no hate was intended, either towards Gwyn, or people who want her to have a romance with Azriel - again, I understand that our fundamental interpretation of Gwyn's age is different, and that no one who wants to see them have a relationship approves of an age or power imbalance. The whole point of reading fiction, to me, is for fun, so ship whomever you like. This post was purely an attempt to put into words why that particular relationship combination makes me uncomfortable, and not meant to insinuate that Gwyn doesn't deserve love. She does. Everyone does.
This in-depth post by the lovely @hacawijo further explores Gwyn's age.
A huge thank you goes out to @chthonicgardens and @silverlinedeyes for their help with this, I appreciate it!
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A carved rose hidden by shadows, placed next to the Mother.
A secret (almost) kiss between Elain and Azriel with only the Mother to witness it.
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On my way to Prythian to save Azriel and Elain. I don’t give a fuck anymore.
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I’ve read so many adult books and I’ve recently got into dark romance. If you compare Azriel to those men, he’s a baby. Azriel in the pov was nothing and majority of people knew acosf and the rest of the books were now NA and were going to be filled with smut . Azriel acted exactly like Rhys, cassian, Rowan,hunt, and lorcan do. All of those men are very sexual and have had fantasies. Some have touched themselves to though of their partner which is what Azriel did. Rhys was jealous of feylin which he admitted to, cassian was jealous of feysand which he also admitted to in acosf, and now Azriel is jealous of what his brother’s have which is very normal. Rhys couldn’t think of a future with feyre because she was with tamlin. Cassian said he never thought of Nesta and he couldn’t be with her because of Nesta, and now Azriel can’t be with Elain because she has a mate and Rhys forbade them from seeing each other. Rhys avoided feyre for 3 months, cassian avoided Nesta for almost a year, and Azriel avoided Elain for months and moved out of his house because of her. All three bat boys save their girls and put them on a pedestal and yet I only see Azriel being hated for it . All three bat boys are going overprotective of their girls and Azriel is the only one being hated on for doing it with Elain (protecting someone show’s you care for them). All three batboys have called feyre,Nesta, and Elain perfect but when Azriel does it, its a problem and it’s toxic.All three of them have sexual thoughts and Azriel is the only one being hated on for it. Azriel acted exactly like how his brothers do and he acts like the tog men but since Azriel does it, it’s a problem which is very hypocritical. I don’t see anyone talking about Rhys and Cassians behavior, and saying it’s unhealthy and toxic. The whole point of the pov to show Elriel’s sexual attraction and plot for the next book and the antics decided to turn it into diagnosing Azriel with things he doesn’t have and calling him abusive even though there is no evidence of that. If they have a problem with all of this they shouldn’t read sjm books. She writes morally grey men who are protective and will put their girls above anyone else . If it really bothers them than sjm books is not for them . Sorry for the long Anon, the antics just frustrate me with their twisted narrative.
Never apologise for long asks! I totally understand and relate to your frustration!
I genuinely don't understand why people have the audacity to complain about Azriel's thoughts in his chapter because as you've mentioned, SJM made it known that her books are now marketed as NA and even then, there was nothing wrong with his thoughts. Last time I checked, Cassian was also revealed to have sexual thoughts about Nesta in Wings and Embers, so why is it any different for Azriel? Because his thoughts are about Elain and not Gwyn, the character they want him to be with so badly :)
Honestly, I just find it ridiculous. As you said, basically all SJM men have been protective and possesive over their love interests, and just because Azriel is the same with the character they hate, they've decided to diagnose him with some kinds of mental health issues and call him "toxic".
Apparently, Azriel calling her perfect and immaculate means that he's putting her on a pedestal and if she'd ever dare to do something that he'd disapprove of, his perfect image of her would be ruined. I just find it so funny because despite the fact that all the men love their women, there's a lot of situations where their lovers have went against their wishes, but it doesn't mean that anything becomes "destroyed" between them?
However, I must admit that the funniest thing I've seen is how apparently Azriel wouldn't be like this with Gwyn and how she'd teach him "true love"😭If Azriel has been "so toxic" with Mor and Elain, why do people think it'll be any different with Gwyn? I can bet that if he started calling her perfect and immaculate, it'd be a completely different story because Gwyn is a character they actually like.
Here are some excuses that I've seen them use for Elriel moments:
Azriel fantasising and masturbating when thinking about Elain shows that he only lusts for her.
Azriel only saved Elain because she's his High Lady's sister
Azriel is only interested in Elain because she's the 3rd sister
Remember when Elain made Azriel laugh so much because of the headache powder she gifted him? According to some antis, he was actually laughing at her naiveté...
Apparently the necklace was a very generic and badly thought out gift for Elain
And so on and so on...
These continuous "reasons" why Elriel is wrong for eachother just shows how they're reaching to look for any sort of proof why they may not work out. Deep inside their minds, they see that SJM has been building this ship up for a long time now, but they're in denial.
Why do you think they shipped Emerie with Azriel after ACOFAS? It's not because there was any potential, but because they wanted to be rid of Elain. The situation is the exact same with Gwyn.
If they're really trying to psycho analyse a toxic ship, I think they should go back and reread ACOTAR when Feylin was still a thing...
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The state of things (post-ACOSF)
NO FIGHTING IN THE COMMENTS AND REBLOGS
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I’m getting too irritated with these people who say that Azriel is only lusting over Elain as if Cassian wasn’t only lusting over Nesta back in Acomaf, Wings and Ember proves that. The double standard when the woman your fave is simping over is the character that you can’t self-insert💀
I mean... it’s just silly to expect a romantic declaration in a chapter that a very small number of readers can get. It’s just as silly to say that Nesta and Cassian’s dynamic is so different from Elain and Azriel’s so therefore, Azriel doesn’t feel as deeply for Elain. If you read closely enough, Azriel’s feelings for Elain are quite clear in the bonus chapter and throughout ACOSF. I’ve compiled all the hints in the book here and here.
Nesta and Cassian are loud, rough, and passionate. Elain and Azriel are quiet, soft, and intimate. Nesta and Cassian circle each other like predators. Elain and Azriel do a quiet dance and slowly drift towards each other.
Both couples are like night and day.
Given that, there are a lot of parallels and similar themes...
These may be totally out of order but... You get the jist.
Wings and Embers
And in those blue-gray eyes, he could see the thoughts swirling in her as if they were smoke under glass. The cunning mind at work behind that face—the one he hadn’t been able to get out of his head these weeks.
Az tried not to look at his scarred fingers as they took the gift. She hadn't bought her mate a present. But she'd gotten Azriel one last year -- a headache powder he kept on his nightstand at the House of Wind. Not to use, but just to look at. Which he'd done every night he’d slept there. Or attempted to sleep there.
Wings and Embers
Cassian leaned toward her, and Nesta found herself tipping her head back, exposing her neck, granting him utter access as he grazed his nose against her throat.
So he’d just . . . moved.
And then Nesta had tipped up her chin, allowing him access to her throat.
Azriel's hand slid up her neck, burying in her thick hair. Tilting her face the way he wanted it. Elain's mouth parted slightly, her eyes scanning his before fluttering shut.
Offer and permission.
Wings and Embers
“It’s easier, isn’t it,” Cassian breathed, crossing the distance again, not caring who saw them standing in the bay window. “To wield the words and the coldness as armor to keep everyone from seeing where and who you failed and how you did not care until it was too late.”
Only hatred gleamed in her eyes, no hint of that slumbering lust that had addled his senses.
“Well, I see it, Nesta Archeron. And all I see is a bored and spoiled girl—”
Something must have shown on her face, in her scent.
Because his annoyance vanished—no, it shifted. Into something else, something . . . Rage.
That’s what stilled Cassian’s face. Pure, burning rage.
It robbed her of breath, of any sort of sense that she might indeed have the upper hand as he ground out, “Who.”
Lie. Well, the second part was a lie. He didn't need his shadows to read her tone, the slight tightening of her face. She'd waited until everyone was asleep before venturing back down, where she'd leave her gift amongst his other, opened presents, subtle and unnoticed.
Elain's large brown eyes flickered, well aware of all that. Just as he knew she was well aware of why Azriel so rarely came to family dinners these days.
Wings and Embers
Soft—her skin was so soft; so fragile. He could scent the mortal blood rushing just beneath. Cassian breathed in the smell of her into his lungs, stirring his cock as it latched onto some intrinsic part of him and sank its talons deep.
Nesta Nesta Nesta
Her eyes drifted closed, and a small, breathless sound came out of her as Cassian brushed his lips over where his nose had touched.
Letting scarred fingers touch her immaculate skin. Letting them brush the side of her throat, savoring the velvet-soft texture. Elain shivered, and he took a damn long time fastening the clasp.
Wings and Embers
It hit him in the gut so hard he could barely focus, and it took five centuries of training to make himself meet her eyes rather than let his own roll back into his head.
Every instinct in his body came roaring to the surface, so violent he had to choke them with a brutal grip or else he’d find himself on his knees, begging her for a touch, for anything.
But he leaned in, and grazed the tip of his nose along the side of her neck.
Her arousal drifted up to him, and his eyes nearly rolled back in his head at the sweet scent. He'd beg on his knees for a chance to taste it. But Azriel just stroked her neck again.
Wings and Embers
His knees nearly buckled as her slender hand dug into his fighting leathers. He tried not to think of what that hand would feel like on other parts of him. Gripping him; stroking him.
He needed to know what the skin of her neck tasted like. What those perfect lips tasted like. Her breasts. Her sex. He needed her coming on his tongue --
Had only allowed his hand to fist his cock and think about her then, when even his shadows had gone to sleep. How that beautiful face might appear as he entered her, what sounds she'd make.
Wings and Embers
“I’ll mail the letter tomorrow morning.” Nesta paused with her hand on the knob and looked over a shoulder. “You know nothing about who I am, and what I’ve done, and what I want. And while we’re on the subject . . . Send someone else next time. If I see you on my doorstep, I’ll scream loud enough for the servants to come running.
“Snarl all you want." Rhys leaned back in his chair. "But if I see you panting after her again, I'll make you regret it.”
ACOMAF Chapter 39
I assumed seeing Nesta went about as poorly as could be imagined, because my lesson the following morning was longer and harder than it’d been in previous days. I’d asked what, exactly, Nesta had said to him to get under his skin so easily. But Cassian had only snarled and told me to mind my own business.
ACOSF Chapter 59
Three days passed with no word from Cassian. He’d been replaced in training by a stone-faced Azriel, who was more aloof than usual and wouldn’t even give her a smile.
Both chapters make it clear that there is some intense sexual attraction but also - Cassian can read Nesta and see through her. Azriel doesn’t need his shadows to read Elain. He knows her.
Cassian clearly feels something for Nesta. As does Azriel. But they are two very different male leads who will express those feelings very differently.
As a side note, SJM did not know if Nesta and Cassian would get their own book so I think she purposely made their chapter more overt in terms of romantic/sexual undertones. She found out that she would get to write their book after ACOMAF was published.
SJM has also left enough breadcrumbs throughout ACOSF to assume that Azriel is most likely in love with Elain. He’s tormented, he’s upset, he can’t sleep, something is eating at him. I mean it’s right there.
If he just had sexual feelings for Elain, he’d take Rhys’ suggestion and go to the pleasure house. Why risk all the trouble for a quick fuck? Why get so upset over that? It’s never stopped him before.
Sorry for the soliloquy, I’ll stop talking now 😅
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A lot of people have talked about the Azriel POV, but I've mostly seen people focus on the Elriel/Gwynriel content, which is totally understandable. But I feel like we need to talk about what we learned about Az's shadows.
The way Azriel's shadows are talked about here suggest that they are separate from him, at least to some extent. They talk to him, and he listens and responds to them. It seems that he can have conversations with his shadows. He also says that they keep him company. This implies that the shadows are their own being, and they don't come from within him. Additionally, in ACOMAF, Rhys implies that the shadowsinger gift came to Azriel while he was locked up in his father's keep, that "perhaps he’d taught himself the language of shadow and wind and stone."
We also can't forget about the part where Az says he waits until his shadows are asleep to think about Elain. This part, to me, is extremely telling. Azriel and his shadows don't go to sleep at the same time. Just because Az is awake doesn't mean the shadows are, and Az being asleep doesn't equal to his shadows being asleep either. Again, this suggests that Azriel's shadows are their own, separate being. The wording of this part is also interesting. The shadows are talked about as if they are alive. Otherwise, why would they need to sleep? If something is a true part of you, it can't leave you, but Azriel's shadows do leave him when they go to sleep.
Additionally, the amount of control Azriel can exert over his shadows is limited. This is evident by the way they react to Gwyn. In the excerpt above, when Az's shadows dance with Gywn's breath, it's something that his shadows do on their own. He didn't make them do that. This indicates that the shadows have a mind of their own and are capable of exerting their own will, at least to an extent. This is also evident by the part where Azriel says his shadows peek over his wings at Gwyn, which he also didn't control.
It's very important to note that in Az's POV, when he's with Gwyn, a lot of the emphasis is placed on how Azriel's shadows react to/feel about her. In contrast, when he's with Elain, the emphasis is on how Azriel himself reacts to and feels about Elain. I think this was purposeful, and to me, it's an indicator that Elriel will be endgame.
We've been talking about Azriel's shadows as if they are a part of him, but his POV shows that they aren't. Azriel's shadows aren't intrinsic to him, they don't come from within him. Azriel's shadows seem to be their own being, and they don't belong to him. Azriel's shadows are not part of him, but his ability to control them is. This also means that the argument that Azriel's shadows disappearing around Elain is a bad thing because they're a part of him is not valid.
If Azriel's shadows were truly just a part of him, their will would reflect his own, and they would be asleep when he's asleep and awake when he's awake. He also wouldn't be able to have conversations with them like he does. Azriel's shadows are also referred to as his companions, and that alone implies that they're their own being.
Of course, I might be completely wrong and interpreting this the wrong way, but the way Azriel's shadows are described here, it's as if they're their own creature, not just another part of Azriel himself. As always, thank you for reading, and I'd love to hear your guys' thoughts!
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Lucien is sweet and kind in a way that none of the other male characters of Acotar are. All of these horrible things have happened to him, his friends and family have betrayed and thrown him aside multiple times, and he still wants to help. He still wants to fight for those who are even weaker then him, and just be a good person regardless of how it could benefit him.
He has nothing and no one and he still tries.
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