ACOSF Thoughts - SPOILER WARNING
(ACOTAR series, ACOSF, and Kingdom of Ash spoilers are all below along with my thoughts after finally finishing A Court of Silver Flames!)
Was SJM trying to get me to hate Rhysand in this book? And kind of Elain and Amren? Even a teensy bit Feyre? Don't get me wrong- I love Rhys. ACOTAR and ACOMAF Rhys is one of my favorite characters and my literal favorite book boyfriend EVER. So could someone please draw me a map to where the hell he went because that Rhys was NOT IN THIS BOOK?!?!?
Rhysand in ACOSF was every bit the territorial fae bastard in this book that Tamlin was in ACOMAF. He lied to Feyre about something HUGE. Nesta shouldn't have told her like that, but someone needed to tell her. And the way he treated Nesta sucked.
And Feyre was every bit the pretty bride who blushed and had lots of sex and had a male who shielded her from what was really going on (you know, her impending death?) that she accused Tamlin of wanting to make her into. What the fuck was happening with them in this book? It's great to make Feyre a High Lady, but then she should be treated like one, not lied to?!? It's fine to make her more domestic, she deserves peace and happiness, but not at the expense of her autonomy.
And while we're on it, I kind of hated Feyre's pregnancy storyline. The thing about writing immortal characters is that you have so many chances to play with time. There is no reason that 500+ year old Rhys and 21 year old Feyre who were together for like one year?!?!? needed to have a pregnancy story here. They are IMMORTAL. Why can't they have time together, just the two of them, before introducing a pregnancy? What's the rush? They are immortal High Fae who will be alive for CENTURIES to come. Forget years, give yourselves a few decades together first! Your whole relationship so far has been 50% trauma-recovery and 50% saving the world/trying not to die!!!!
Feyre's pregnancy felt like the author showing through and overshadowing the characterization—I have to think some of this is SJM becoming a mother in the last few years and wanting to write that into their story, but still. (SJM also did this with Yrene and Chaol in Kingdom of Ash - is the eve of a huge war really a great time for a pregnancy? Wouldn't a healer know how to not get pregnant accidentally?) I also didn't love that a Feysand pregnancy was this huge part of Nesta's story. Can she not have five minutes of the spotlight? Feyre already got 3 books. (Sorta kidding.) (You know what I'm not kidding about? Not liking the name Nyx at all...but who cares I guess.)
If it's so well-known that Illyrian baby delivery is basically a death sentence for High Fae females, why would Rhys not be like 'omg Feyre, yes, let's have a baby, but let's not have sex while you're in that form which is optional for you like is he this 'the most cunning high lord' or not?!) (Also they wouldn't even have Feyre try shifting her body to give her Illyrian hips when otherwise she would FOR SURE DIE like try it?!) All that magic and no one's invented the cesarean?!?
(On a separate pregnancy note, y'all realize the Kingdom of Ash scene where Aelin falls through the worlds and sees a 'heavily pregnant' fae whose mate throws his night-like power towards her to slow her fall have happened during the timeline of this book, right?!? Wild.)
I love Nesta. I love her. I love her arc. I've loved her this whole time, but her coming to terms with herself was great. Her finding peace was great. I was already in the she doesn't need a redemption arc, she needs a therapist and time to herself away from her sisters camp before reading ACOSF, and I only feel more strongly after reading it.
I honestly think time away from her sisters and Rhys with people who weren't constantly judging her (Cassian, Azriel, Gwen, Emerie, Clotho, the House) was just as healthy and necessary for Nesta's healing arc (NOT a redemption arc, a healing arc) as giving up some of her more harmful vices like nonstop drinking and complete isolation was.
So much sex. Like as one of my friends put it, 'this book is filthy, y'all!' It was kind of overkill, like I was already sold on their relationship, but sure, why not. But if nearly all those scenes cut away instead of getting super descriptive, I would have liked this book just as much. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The part with the Mask and the kelpie was so good! It was crazy, and creepy, and her rising up with this army of the dead was so great. Also when they went to the prison for the Harp!!! So good.
A couple weird 'repeats' from ACOMAF... 1) Nesta 'knowing' that Cassian 'needed to hear' her say the exact phrase "You're mine" which is right out of the mating bond acceptance chapter from ACOMAF stuck out to me, especially combined with hearing that Nesta had never told another person she loved them as we found out in the scene where she saved Feyre at the end. I was expecting 'I love you,' especially with them starting out in a 'just sex' relationship.
2) That 'just sex' thing and how obviously Cassian was into her and she was into him but she says she wants 'just sex' also reminded me ACOMAF, when Rhys and Feyre are at the inn and she disappoints him/lies to herself let's be real by telling him she wants just "fun."
Loved getting more of the Night Court palace on top of the Hewn City mountain. Dream house. That bathtub. Swoon.
I may really be in the minority here, but I did not like that Cassian and Nesta are mates. Tamlin tells Feyre in ACOTAR that it's rare for people to have mates at all. And honestly, I see why accepting the mating bond was so hard for Nesta as someone who didn't want to be fae in the first place, and I do not think she needed Cassian to be her mate to choose him forever. I wish they had CHOSEN each other and not also been mates. I think it would have been just as strong, and healthier for Nesta. (And also...if not everyone is mates, why can't they just fall in love? He won her heart, she chose him. I was fine before they were mates. I also think that would have nicely set up Elain rejecting the mating bond later, which she clearly wants to do/has basically done (did y'all read the Azriel extra chapter?! Anyway)
At the end of the day, the Inner Circle (except Cassian/Azriel) bothered me with their treatment of Nesta, even the intervention at the beginning. Was Nesta in need of help? Yes. Were they kind? No, especially not Rhys/Amren. Elain was just as traumatized/self-destructive for a while. She hardly ate, she spoke to no one, she lay in bed all day, Nesta checks that the high windows don't open because she thinks Elain is suicidal, etc. Nesta is also traumatized, but her trauma presented more angrily, less beautiful/sad woman lies around being beautifully sad (like Elain in ACOWAR or Feyre in ACOMAF), and she's entirely condemned by the IC for it (and by a lot of this fandom, let's be real).
I love Cassian. Love him. Looooove him. He stood up to Rhys for Nesta, defended her, was honest with her, accepted her, forgave her for what she actually did wrong (belittling him for his background/hurting him on purpose), but told her she herself was not wrong or broken (@ Rhys, @ Amren, @ Feyre, @ Mor, are y'all taking notes? Cassian and I said she was not broken. Not in need of fixing or redemption.) He kept reaching out his hand.
Plot wise, I also loved that Nesta/Gwen/Emerie ended up doing the Rite! That twist surprised me in a good way. Devlon and any other Illyrians who doubted them can suck it. VALKYRIES!!!
And finally, I LOVED the Nesta/Gwen/Emerie friendship. It made the book (it Made it, y'all. Pun intended). I loved reading about Nessian and I love Cassian, but these three and their friendship was my favorite part of the book, hands down. So great. I love female friendship - it's so underrated as a concept - and this one was amazing, and I'm glad it was such a focus of the story.
This was long, so thanks for sticking with me if you did! Not really interested in angry discourse, but I'd love to hear y'all's thoughts!!!
44 notes · View notes
EVERYTHING SEEMS BULLSHIT
SUMMARY: Many things went on in Nesta's mind, before, during and after making a decision. Some bad, some good, some complicated.
After everything that happened between her and her sisters, the IC and Cassian, Nesta had to do something. Until there, some things became clear.
(Also posted on AO3)
This is bullshit. She heard it from Cassian once and heard five hundred more from her own head.
Everything seemed bullshit, Nesta agreed. How she transited moments that were written to be peaceful, those that are all and everyone is really well, until Nesta was present and spoke, when her silence was no longer allowed. It brought the coldness that permeated out of her and made everything unpleasant.
It took a while, the time Nesta needed to clear her mind, to realize that she was not the dictator of the universe. Things don't happen because of her. She would not blame herself for so many that were not really her fault, however treacherous her mind was insisting the opposite and, in the end, convinced her that it was a fair exchange.
No one is forced to have Nesta around, no one had to, but she never thought it would be at the level that no matter how far she went and let her sisters have their perfect lives, more how far would go to not hurt the others the minimum as could, and still hurting, cause is all what she do, it got to the point that she needed to be sent away.
Nesta grew up knowing it must be her own, but it felt more like a dream than reality. Nobody would dictate what Nesta would do, even when she used her own claws to hurt others, her greatest specialty. Feyre could be your equal in this long before they lost everything. If anyone hated her words with the same hatred, it was her. The always righteous and saint Feyre, who thought knew everything about everyone.
With her father, it was a silent argument, which was useless as a reaction on her part. Nesta hurt more than her empty stomach to see him immobile, believing that she was gone even though she knew she was still breathing. It hurt much more to see herself in the same situation, while staring at him from across the room as if he had forgotten that still breathing.
With or without Elain and Feyre, they were two empty carcasses leaving the fire in the fireplace, cut by Nesta herself in her worst form, warming them up. If Alvaro could see that what was inside her was also in it, could he connect all the dots? Get up out of your fucking chair and do something? Please just do something. Anything. She doesn't know what to do, you are the adult here.
My mother would know what to do... I am as cowardly as you are. Where was this man who took these three ships when we were dying at the cabin?
Cassian was just another one who had to deal with Nesta. It was a battle that she was willing to fight when it gave her freshness. He would light a spark inside and then make her tired. Lately, that tiredness was losing its value.
Cassian was someone different for a kind of man that Nesta has seen in droves - mens ready for battle in their greatest casualness, in their simplest routine. Protector, arrogant, always full of reason, wanting what they through could simply get, internally or not. Nesta was not always ready for this battle. It was a thought that she scolded at the time, but that persisted like a shadow.
Nesta was all that, except that she knew that can't own anything for a long time, but was Cassian? With his friends? With your family? With her? Because what he said stayed with her wherever she went. His worlds became mental ghosts, joined by the words of her sister, Amren, , Thomas, Rhysand, all of them, and they stuck in Nesta as if it were her own haunted house. They dragged her down and there was no reason to stop herself from sinking.
As Thomas was different from him...
As Thomas thinked too much about her, he claimed her as if he could. As if Nesta will consent. She never wanted, she had to remember.
There was a time when Nesta was so tired of the arguments and the lack of words between them that were not about sex, that the spark she should have felt lost the pleasure - if it ever was. After all, there didn't seem to be anything. Cassian didn't deserve her, and somehow she paid for it.
Somehow, too, Nesta managed to question that thought as if she were going against the law, and yet she did.
But, after those 4 months, Rhysand was still not her Grand Lord and she was still as miserable as before.
Nessa wasn't sure if that could be bullshit either. If let him walk side by side, it could influence him to become as sharp as she was. None of his friends would endure her few words directed at them, just as they could not endure her silence, either in the same roof, in her own, old and now demolished, house, or in the taverns she used to frequent.
Cassian, not so much to her surprise, but a truth that she finally took like a fact, has changed his way of acting as if there were two Cassians that Nesta knew. The one he was with his family and the other when he was alone with her. One of them gave Nesta gifts in private, the other waited for everyone to go out and have an intimate conversation. The two looked at her body like a sculpture and decided that only he could touch it. Would take for everywhere as an achievement for anyone who wanted to see it. The attention he attracted, no matter how aroused Nesta impatience, infected her. Cassian didn't know her, but he knew how to deal with it.
Not even that could force herself to feel. The time to clear her mind also made the vision about Cassian clear, as if Nesta digging slowly until really found him deeper than he ever tried to do in her. And persisted as hard facts, without needing to question further to feel guilty for doubting someone who should want her good so badly. That fire between them wasn’t there, it was just the irritation Nesta felt since the first time Cassian saw her, invading her space and talking about her as he wished in front of everyone.
Even if that fire made her tired and she made him tired, Nesta needed to save that attraction, no matter how much it hurt her. Was so blind as a moth flying straight into the light without thinking the risks, and there was nothing that hurt her ego more than realizing that had been wrong for so long. Worse, as Nesta saw that the heart itself has moved beyond the place where it must always reside untouchable. It started to fill with more hatred, and there was plenty of space for more hatred.
Hate that Cassian, IC and Feyre knew. Now Gwyn and Emerie also knew Nesta and that relentless feeling that was the energy for this pathetic existence. She warmed up, content to admit that didn't want Cassian anymore, but it was only a matter of time before the effect came and found herself with nothing again, in a hangover of an inner strength to supply.
These are the times when Nesta gave in to the heat of alcohol, giving back the acidity of the taste with the hole that seemed to open up in her soul more and more and not knowing what else to do with it.
At least, there were recipes that improved hangovers. None would improve your abstinence. Only the hidden wine she got from the womens in the library when they met in conversation circles around a fire, far as she can be from the flames, on nights of weekends - she gave up trying to buy one without anyone noticing, Cassian would smell it if she hid it in her room. As can feel if she had symptoms of abstinence, these were the worst days.
Nesta took discreet sips, remaining in cold silence while the conversation continued between priestesses. Only with Gwyn does she speak, only when asked. It was with Emerie that Nesta started to initiate conversations.
It was thanks to Emerie and Gwyn's insistence that Nesta went back to writing. Small poetry, kept under lock and key between books. She let Azriel read it once, but only because he asked. Nesta didn't care if Cassian wanted to read it or not.
Some poetry became so long that it became a short story. The kind she saw at fairs in the village, when she wandered through the tents and read the stories on a holiday. Nesta would write to whenever she could, sending the bird to the skies safe from the route she would take to Emerie's home. Each letter a replica of the poem she wrote.
If they both could achieve what was good about Nesta, buried in so much rot that she never knew existed, they would understand, and understood, when Nesta's next step would be far from Illyrian camp. Inner circle whether like or not. Cassian whether or not going after her. He could understand the message that was given to him or just on any given day hear the violent flapping of wings flying over the skies beyond her head.
What if Cassian doesn't go after her? A puncture pierced Nesta's heart only thinking about. He always seemed to go after her, even when it was in his time. It's fair that Nesta still expected this after what she did? If he gets upset, it was the consequence that she had to deal with, minus one person with her. Who looked at her like few looked at it?
It's fair to feel any regrets after what he did to her? The closest thing Nesta had to Cassian was in bed. Anxious to touch her, in all his masculinity, leave Nesta under his body, and allow herself to be fragile in his presence. A few minutes with a single synchronized thought. His arms around, adoring her, the only physical contact they had in months. At least, what Cassian thought, that she hadn't been touched since Velaris, except the fast sex that Nesta got when went to the city.
But would she leave him behind, in the past, along with their story? It may be fair... For whom? It's fair with them still being in that cycle? For Cassian force does things that he really doesn't wanna, just for his great dignity over her and everyone who underestimates him. It's fair with Nesta head, who was already tired of so many things in her life, for wanting something, even though she may be so bad for had the right to want something. Would it be more logical to continue?
Nesta did not allow it to continue even with her own family. Who in the world could see Nesta more than Elain before all change. How true was Feyre's view of her, and how to judge? Nesta made terrible mistakes, it was the most unpleasant one without caring if she could do otherwise. In her past... Still, she could see that anger as if it were yesterday.
Feyre and her discussions with Nesta have never changed until now, and didn't act the way she thought she did when they were in their only room. Feyre was not the entirely good person she thinks and neither is now, but she refuses, as Nesta refuses to see certain things that Feyre too had to call her out.
Only this time there was nothing about Nesta that could speak to Feyre, no insult because she already knew how her insults from her, and Nesta knew hers. Who still sees that perfect Feyre if they see how really was with them in those years. Who was worse with who.
Feyre will always think she knows everything and about everyone - with that power of mind reading, even more - she will have more ways to be arrogant in her expensive dresses and a husband, mate, whatever, even more arrogant, in your side, and nobody to hit your head and put your feet on the ground.
This time, Nesta will be arrogant in her way, pampered in worn dresses, precary appearance and a bottle in one of your hands. Elain will be there, and Nesta will not have to wait for the moment when she takes some action in her life, and see that people don't deal with things in the same way.
Sometimes, and some screwed people, scratched each other, spat out facts in the most brutal way without thinking at the time if it was going to be insensitive, and then hit themselves when they were alone. Some, or Nesta, were not silent as they wanna pretend, that was one of their greatest fates. Nobody deserved to endure the scratches, even if not was proposital. A scratch still is a scratch, just don't come for nowhere. Nobody had to bear these scratches, but not to think that they should be tamed.
If it was this warmth Nesta expected from Cassian, that she was so desperate to feel, it was just a tavern, a few minutes of conversation and there would already be someone between her legs. But Cassian was Cassian. There should be a greater meaning when even the connection created between them was not enough. She got a good sex for less and already had great ones, as incredible as it somes kind too.
Don't let them know anytime soon to save herself from some comments, more than they already give. Nesta looked for that warmth too much to stop. There were many men, there was a woman for the first time, equally pleasant and much more courteous, and there with some that at first she was not sure if they had a gender, but it didn't matter. Nesta knew since as human that it no longer mattered what was between the legs and if there a gender. Not only she but Cassian, in his heart so big and different from hers, must have realized that there was nothing else.
How he must realize that she didn't want to train, that she couldn't bear to hold a weapon and pretend that it felt powerful, without remembering what did in the war. In the violence that took over her body when decapitated a head.
If Cassian noticed, he didn't speak, but insisted that the train would help. He had this way of seeing things that can't serve the same way as the rest. That everything was a battle and that was the only thing Cassian knew, and didn't have interest in knowing how Nesta works despite joking with her. Nesta doesn't wanna be a warrior, despite still training a little bit with Gwyn.
Not even on their walk home, when they camped day and night from Velaris, hardly a word was exchanged. If Azriel already thought about it, he also didn't think that a train would be the best way to deal with it. But still, didn't say anything. If Rhysand thought that a woman could only defend herself like that, that was his problem. If he think that was helping her, fuck him.
But if Cassian only knew and she was sure to tell him, believing that wouldn't make fun of her, how much she couldn't bear to see people training and hear the fire crackle would he really stop? Since it seemed to add more to her nightmares?
Even after she said several times that she didn't want to train? It would be bullshit if he knew how afraid every time she closed the eyes and saw your father face just before he died, and Hybern's head in her hands and the fire around her and when she and her sister were taken and when Feyre was taken and knew what happened to her because Nesta was a coward, and when she and Elain were taken by the guards listening to laughter and mockery and jokes and tugging and when was forced into the Cauldron and been something that she grow hating and learning what they did with the humans how much they destroyed them how much they was affected by them while remembering the sensation of the water entering and sinking and sinking and sinking and everything darkened and her pathetic life ended, who once wanted to travel the world...
Nesta woke up. Sweating and alone. Spent hours in bed when it was the middle of the night. In the morning, she went down to breakfast before everyone else woke up.
If only she could tell him that. Knowing that he would listen as Emerie listened attentively, only with her had the comfort to tell, but still something. If she didn't change her mind remembering when Cassian made fun of her when was hurt from stumbling and commented on her body.
Nesta concluded that she didn't feel comfortable talking to Cassian about those things, any more than he already realized.
She missed that warmth in those months, to feel something, and Cassian did for a while. He was crazy about insisting so much. After all, how will it be for a man so protective to endure a rejection? But a broken heart was a broken heart, and it happens to everyone. Was with her. He is not going to be the only one. Cassian no longer felt the bond as before.
As how that word was just a word to Nesta. It was not a concept she learned growing up, but Cassian disagreed. The man Nesta would lose his life with said that. Because Nesta really felt something for him, at some point in the past, and stayed behind.
The bond was weak, without flames, and would cease to exist without the two of them realizing it. Still, Cassian didn't want to give up. He must have liked to have sex with her a lot. But there was no angry sex to make up for it. Illyrian was a vivid nightmare for her to have one every night. In her mind, she was still at war, still saw her father dying.
There was nothing he could do for Feyre but wait. As far as it goes. What will happen to her in this new world. So young, so naive, surrounded by centenarians, thinking she had everything.
As far away from Rhysand as possible, from the lethal mind that could destroy hers in a snap. From the smile to her when managed to control. Never again. It was never a choice around him. How stupid felt for a second to believe that there really was a choice. Not the ones he allowed, but anyone. Never again.
Nesta faced the sun appearing in front. She would laugh to contain the anguish.
Damn, what had she become? How bad was she to get through this?
If she deserved more, she started to doubt. Fuck false modesty.
She could feel Lucien's gaze on her at times, as if guessing how much her thoughts were in turmoil. She made no mention of any doubt, perhaps out of fear of her words, or to give the necessary silence and focus on going to the Exiles mansion. Stepping on the lands that were once home to her.
While she Nesta could not be fooled, again, she discovered that Lucien really was a different company.
If the years of her hostility in adolescence, the mistakes of her life, that even Elain could not defend, and she knows that there were several that committed, resulted to be trapped in that farce, a expulsion from her own home resulted and the stealing of her free will by her sister, supported by her friends, and forced into that world, that body and that routine, because of a law that didn't even exist, and those were its consequences, Nesta didn't know what else to expect.
Only anger, when found out that Amren lied about that law, breaking any remaining affinity, permeating her vision and whole being. When she broke up with Cassian in a single exhausting night and didn't stay to have the excuses of the next day and start the cycle over again. Emerie kicked her out earlier and threatened if she didn't send them letters telling her how she was.
In that case, she hoped that life could punish Rhysand arrogance. At least open Feyre's eyes and get out of her bubble where everything about her, her mate and her friends was perfect. That at least Elain grows out of someone's wings.
If there was anything healthy about Nesta now, Gwyn said, it was that she deserved to give herself a chance, just as her story deserved to be told.
The crowing of a raven flew over Nesta and Lucien, piercing a sky that was taking on a darker lilac from the opposite direction they came from, where stars began to form and the moon shone brightly. The sun could be seen without risks, half to the other side of the world and the other shining orange. The raven flew forward in its flight faster than the pace of riding. If Cassian were there, he would be faster than that bird, not at all affected by the weight of Nesta's still thin body in his arms.
A part of her still wanted it, but another, a second wish that had nurtured in the past few months, when decided she was going to leave Illyrian, she preferred it that way. In the silence of the forest, she was pinned to the ground, rocking the body with the horse walk and beating the gentle breeze on her face. With Lucien in a silent company most of the time, it came to be comforting in a way that she decided not to know how. for now.
Nesta no longer felt the need to look back when they saw the mansion of the Exiles in the distance, when she received her room, wrote the first letters to Gwyn and Emerie and rested.
12 notes · View notes