Foxeye: A Lucien ACOWAR Fic, Part 7

Setting: The Spring Court

Summary: An unexpected attack on the manor leaves Lucien questioning matters of honor.

Ship: N/A

Rating: T

Word Count: 2,333

A/N: This fic is relevant parts of ACOWAR from Lucien’s perspective. I may not do every single scene, but beware of spoilers if you haven’t finished ACOWAR! The following is Chapter 8 of ACOWAR. Trigger warning for violence and trauma.


“Sound the alarm!” The voices shouted down the corridor and
roused me from a shallow sleep. I was dressed and snatching daggers before the
call could be heard a second time. I raced down the stairs and encountered
Tamlin in the foyer.

“Naga,” he said through gritted teeth. I cursed in response.
Tamlin shifted into his beast form and bounded out the doors. I followed right
behind him, falling in with a group of sentries who were on duty. The nasty
creatures were loping through the gardens, destroying property and getting ever
nearer to the manor.

I almost halted in my tracks. “Feyre!” I exclaimed, looking
back over my shoulder.

“We already have guards stationed there,” another sentry,
Rohan, assured me. I nodded tersely and drew my sword, throwing myself into the
nearest cluster of naga that were assaulting the guards. They cackled and
squealed in delight as they spilled blood, and the sounds clanged through my
body as I remembered hearing them Under the Mountain. My muscles stretched in
tension and it took all my training to keep the panic from drawing away my
martial skill.

We were a well-trained unit, and it was easy to route the
naga with Tamlin leading the charge. But by the time we had stopped the threat
and found the biggest of the group clinging to the keys that had disappeared
from the barracks, we were all stressed and exhausted.

Tamlin raged about the lost keys—the ones he’d been informed
about but hadn’t taken the time to have found again. He swore to us all that
someone would pay dearly for it, and I saw the terror lighting the eyes of the
remaining sentries. Despite the fact that Tamlin knew I wasn’t responsible, I
couldn’t help but feel myself aligned with the sentries. I served with them, I
loved them like found family … and I hated to see what dawn would bring.
Instead of going back to my room, I returned to the barracks with the sentries,
listening to their fears, watching them try and sort through what had happened.
And I had been there when one of the younger sentries, Gareth, realized that
the set of keys that had gone missing had been his. He slumped down in his
chair, staring wide-eyed at nothing, and did not respond when the others tried
to snap him out of it.

“What have I done?” he murmured. “What have I done?”

Over and over again.

I didn’t leave his side all night.

I returned to the manor early enough that Tamlin didn’t
realize I’d spent the night in the barracks. He didn’t remark on the bags under
my eyes, but I didn’t expect him to. They were more common than not these days.
I couldn’t remember the last time I’d gotten a full night’s sleep.

When ordered, I followed him and Feyre, along with Ianthe
and the delegation from Hybern, out to the barracks, where the other sentries
had already bound Gareth to the whipping post. He had accepted his fate—I knew
he hadn’t struggled against them. But now, as he saw Tamlin prowling toward
him, I saw fear light his face again.

There was little preamble as Tamlin began the proceedings.
“You were entrusted with guarding this estate and its people,” Tamlin said.
“You were found not only asleep at the gate last night, but it was your set of keys that originally went
missing. Do you deny this?”

“I—I never fall
asleep. It’s never happened until now. I must have just nodded off for a minute
or two,” Gareth said. He had said as much last night, and I had asked the
others if he spoke the truth. They all told me that they’d never seen him shirk
his duty.

“You jeopardized the
lives of everyone in this manor.” Tamlin’s voice was cold and imperious. Bron
placed the whip into his waiting hand, stonefaced.

Beside me, Feyre
gripped my hand. I couldn’t look at her—my eyes had fixed on the whip in
Tamlin’s hand, and I was suddenly in another place and time. Under my shirt,
the lines across my back, bestowed by Tamlin himself, back to ache as though
they remembered. My throat was dried and my sleepless eyes burned.

I was drawn out of it
somewhat by Ianthe’s insipid voice. “Twenty lashes. And one more, for the
Cauldron’s forgiveness.” My stomach clenched—that could very well be enough to
kill him, with Tamlin’s strength. The other sentries shifted; they knew it,

“It was her,” Gareth suddenly said, his maple-brown eyes
turning to the priestess. “She took the keys.”

I stared at Ianthe, wanting to rage—but there was not enough
evidence. I could believe Gareth all I wanted to, and I knew the other sentries
were likely to believe him. But Tamlin? Unlikely, especially given that she
hardly batted an eye at the claim. “Why should I take the keys? I warned you of
the attack.”

“You were at the barracks—I saw you that night,” Gareth
said. His voice was thin and pleading, and my heart ached for him. It would be
all too easy for me to believe that Ianthe had orchestrated this. I wanted to
tell Gareth that he was doing well, that this would pass, but … I couldn’t
promise that. My scars still lingered, after all.

“I would have thought one of your sentries, Tamlin, would
have more dignity than to spread lies to spare himself from some fleeting

I wanted to bare my teeth at her. Fleeting pain? Had she ever laid beneath the sting of a whip
wielded by a High Lord? Twenty-one lashes were not fleeting. It would be enough to rip open his back raw and bloody.
It might even bare his spine if the whip cut deep enough—and judging from
Gareth’s thin frame, it was a very real possibility. I opened my mouth to
demand if Ianthe knew what in the Cauldron’s name she was talking about, when
Feyre said, “I will hear his story.”

I closed my eyes in silent relief, but I forced them open
again before I would be unable to. Feyre released my hand and stepped forward.
Some of the sentries regarded her with gratefulness. None of them wanted to see
their brother-at-arms dishonored.

“With all due respect, milady, it is not your judgment to
make,” Ianthe said, and Rohan cast her a glare. She was Feyre Cursebreaker,
Cauldron-Blessed. She was not merely some pretty thing on Tamlin’s arm. The sentries,
who had been trapped Under the Mountain with us, had not forgotten.

Feyre simply repeated, “I will hear your story.”

“You’ll take the word of a sentry over that of a High
Priestess?” Ianthe blurted, showing a slight break in her composure. Looking at
Rohan, Bron, and Hart, I knew it was enough for them. Enough to prove that she
had framed their brother.

I reluctantly looked at Tamlin, and I saw the realization in
his face, too. Would it be enough?

Feyre approached him with upturned palms. “Perhaps it was a
mistake. Don’t take it from his hide—or his honor. Let’s hear him out.”

Then another voice joined the tense air of the barracks.
“Pathetic,” Princess Brannagh scoffed. I could hazard a guess that in Hybern,
Gareth would be dead already.

I cursed silently as I saw the resolution settle onto Tamlin’s
face. He would not be proved weak in front of the royals, in front of Jurian.

“There are laws to be obeyed,” Ianthe told Feyre in a tone
that could be called soothing. “Traditions. He has broken our trust, has let
our blood be spilled for his carelessness. Now he seeks to accuse a High
Priestess of his failings. It cannot go unpunished.” As she spoke, the decision
set more firmly on Tamlin’s features. “Twenty-one lashes, High Lord.”

My heart stopped for a moment. How dare she? How dare she gives orders to a High Lord of Prythian? I
wanted to throw her out of this coat on her pert ass, and I could tell the
other sentries felt the same.

Feyre, also, seemed appalled. “Please. Just listen to him.”

There was an awful moment of silence as her request hung in
the air. But then Tamlin turned once more to Bron. “Put the bit in.”

I stiffened as I watched Bron shove the strip of leather
between Gareth’s teeth. My body remembered it so keenly it was as though he was
shoving it between my teeth again, like I was the one strung up between those
poles. From the look in Bron’s eyes, I knew he’d be begging Gareth’s
forgiveness for years to come.

I was startled when I suddenly felt Feyre back into my
chest. I didn’t look at her. My eyes were fixed solely on Tamlin, lost in the
horror of the past and the present. My hands rested on her arms to steady her,
but it was to steady myself just as much.

Gareth’s choked cry as the first lash struck him was like a
fish hook in my gut. With every lash that followed, my back burned in memory.

These were not scars that would easily fade.

The damage to Gareth’s back was nearly as bad as I expected.
Despite the determination to endure that had lit his eyes early one, he had
passed out little more than halfway through. I didn’t blame him. None of us

Bron’s eyes were glassy with tears of rage as he helped Hart
carry Gareth back inside. Now that the grip of panic had faded, I could
remember—Gareth had been Bron’s protegee when he’d first come to the estate
thirty years ago. He was perhaps the youngest sentry, and he had come despite
knowing that Amarantha was breathing down the court’s neck, despite knowing
that he might be called to give his life across the wall. Bron had trained him
personally, and now …

The older sentry sat in the corner, unable to be near the
young male he cared for so deeply. Feyre had stayed—of course she had. She now
aided the healer, who was slowly mending Gareth’s back. The healer, Asa, was
good, but she wouldn’t be able to restore Gareth completely. There would still
be scars, like mine.

“He’ll never be the same,” Bron said to me hoarsely. I’d
brought him a quart of ale, knowing it was the least I could do. “He has worked
so hard to pass through training, to make a name for himself.”

“Not one of you thinks less of him for this, do you?” I
said, fixing my gaze on Bron.

“Of course not,” Bron rasped. “But he’ll think we do. Won’t
matter what we say.”

I went quiet and watched Feyre and Asa work. Eventually, Asa
told Feyre there was nothing more she could do. Bron stood and walked toward
her before I could say anything. “Allow me, milday,” he said, offering her his
arm. She nodded solemnly and accepted it. Hart joined him in escorting her back
to the manor. My eyes fell on Gareth, laid out on his stomach while his cleaned
back slowly healed. The fears Bron had shared with me resonated in my mind, and
I stood from my stool in the corner. I wavered on my legs a little, but the
wave of exhausted passed and I stalked across the room toward him.

Gareth looked up at me with bleary eyes. “Please, Lucien,”
he said in a hoarse voice, “Don’t disgrace yourself with me. It was bad enough
that Lady Feyre did.”

“It is no disgrace,” I said sharply. “Not a single one of
your brother-at-arms blames you for what happened. They see the truth.”

“I’m not even sure I know the truth anymore,” Gareth
murmured. “The only thing I know is that I am dishonored—I’ll be leaving for my
father’s house as soon as I can move.”

“Not if I have anything to say about it,” I said. He blinked
at me. “You forget that you’re not the only one Lord Tamlin has whipped.” My
face was grave as I pulled off my shirt and turned around in front of Gareth,
baring my ugly red scars before him. The young sentry blanched.

“That—that wasn’t the same. That was Amarantha—”

“I was not to blame for that, just as you are not to blame
for this,” I insisted, turning around again. “Your honor is not determined by
those in whose name your serve, but by those among whom your serve. Your
brothers-at-arms, your fellow citizens—those who know you best.” I grimaced as
I pulled my shirt back on. “If my honor was determined by the former, I would
have never found a place in this court. I’ve been a dishonor to my family my
whole life. That is not what matters. I was given a place here, a chance to
prove myself and earn the trust of those around me. You have earned the trust
of these sentries, Gareth. A conniving bitch of a priestess will not be able to
take that away from you.”

Tears slipped from Gareth’s eyes. I wished I could comfort
him, but he was still in far too much pain. “Thank you, Lucien,” he rasped.

“Bron is proud of you,” I said. “Andras would have been,
too. Don’t leave—you’re sorely needed here.”

Gareth’s throat bobbed and he nodded as much as he could
without jarring his back.

“Get some rest and heal as much as you can,” I instructed. “We’ll
get you back on duty as soon as you’re fit.”

Gareth let out a shuddering sigh, but he was too tired to
form words. I carded my fingers through his hair once, and then I left him
alone to rest. Though he feared his honor lost, I knew he had earned my
respect. And I wouldn’t let him forget it.


replied to your post “ACOWAR Re-Read: Chapters 78-82”

Awww, Sarah boo I feel ya! It was a highlight for me to see the tattoos thing. I was really hoping SJM would give Feyre back the old one and give Rhys one to match. But I do miss *how* I wrote it, not gonna lie. Ahhh this book!! So many ups and downs!!

I miss how you wrote it, too! Being totally real, I miss how a lot of fic writers wrote some of the ideas in this book (not even talking about me, though there were some of those moments, too). But that’s what fic is for and we can always revisit and recreate! Though I’m definitely going back to read your fic for me now. ❤

ACOWAR Re-Read: Chapters 78-82

Last installment! Wrap-up post to follow in the morning.

Amongst the sprawling field of corpses and wounded, there was one body I wanted to bury.

Except then you burn his body, so … WHAT IS THE TRUTH?!

“Well, I never want to fight in another battle as long as I live, but … yes, I’m in one piece.”
A faint smile bloomed on Elain’s lips. But Lucien noticed that scorched patch of grass behind us and said, “I heard—what happened. I’m sorry for your loss. All of you.”
I just strode to him and threw my arms around his neck, even if it wasn’t the embrace he was hoping for. “Thank you—for coming. With the battle, I mean.”

“I’ve got one hell of a story to tell you,” he said, squeezing me tightly. “And don’t be surprised if Vassa corners you as soon as the ships are sorted. And the sun sets.”

MY FOX SON IS BACK!!!! *bursts into tears* NOT SOON ENOUGH!!!

“For someone who was just dead,” I said tightly, “you seem remarkably relaxed.”
Rhys smirked. “I’m glad you’re bouncing back to your usual spirits, Feyre darling.”

I’m just going to state for the record that there was not nearly enough “Feyre darling” in this book. I was actually stunned by the shortage.

But Lucien remained standing with us as Tamlin found his place in the sitting room to our right. Did not glance at his friend even once.
Lucien wasn’t foolish enough to beg for forgiveness.


Mor clicked her tongue. “Some would consider that joke to be in bad taste, Amren.”
“I saved your asses. I’m entitled to say what I want.”
And with that Amren stalked out of the house and into the city streets.
“The new Amren is even crankier than the old one,” Elain said softly.

Okay, this is cute.

TBQH, there is not good reason for the Rhys POV in Chapter 81. It doesn’t really add anything to the conclusion–he doesn’t even reflect on being dead. It should have been cut, honestly.

He startled when he actually looked at me, then huffed a laugh against my shoulder.
“I should have known.”
“The shop ladies gave it to me for free. As thanks for saving them from Hybern. Maybe I should do it more often, if it gets me free lingerie.”
For I indeed wore that pair of red, lacy underthings—beneath a matching red nightgown that was so scandalously sheer it showed them off.

hehehehe my inner Feysand trash is pleased … 

I pinched his arm hard enough that he laughed and batted away my hand. “I couldn’t let all you ladies take the credit for saving us. Some male had to claim a bit of glory so you don’t trample us until the end of time with your bragging.”
I punched his arm this time.

… aaaaaaannnnndddd it’s gone. I already yelled about this quite loudly. I was on the verge of making an image of a headstone for Rhys’s Feminism with this quote on it as cause of death. Like, I still might because it bothers me SO FREAKING MUCH. I know it’s supposed to be funny, but it’s NOT. And to have this in the very last chapter? It left such a sour taste in my mouth. I’m still not happy about this at all.

I looked down to find another tattoo there—the twin to the one that had once graced it, save for that black band of the bargain I’d made with Bryaxis. He’d modified this one to fit around it, to be seamlessly integrated amid the whorls and swirls.
“I missed the old one,” he said innocently.
On his own left arm, the same tattoo flowed. Not to his fingers the way mine did, but rather from his wrist to his elbow.
“Copycat,” I said tartly. “It looks better on me.”

SO MANY MIXED EMOTIONS. HIGH THEN LOW THEN HIGH AGAIN. *sigh* @illyriantremors wrote me an amazeballs fic for Christmas in which this happens, and I really just love it (the fic and the idea so much). ❤

Rhys leveled out, sent a thought into my mind, and grinned broadly as I summoned wings.
He let go of me and I swept smoothly out of his arms, basking in the warm wind caressing every inch of me, drinking in the air laced with salt and citrus. It took me a few flaps to get it right—the feel and rhythm. But then I was steady, even.
Then I was flying. Soaring.

Guys she’s literally flying in her red lingerie right now. THIS IS SO STUPID?! It reads like SJM just forgot what her character was dressed in two pages before. *frustrated choking noises* 


*sigh* I’ll do a wrap-up post tomorrow morning with final thoughts, but as you all can probably tell, this has been quite the roller-coaster. Thanks for all your patience and I hoped you enjoyed reading my semi-coherent thoughts throughout this process. Good night! 😉

ACOWAR Re-Read: Chapters 71-77

Below the cut!

“Chain me to a tree, Rhys,” Azriel said softly. “Go ahead.” He began checking the buckles on his weapons. “I’ll rip it out of the ground and fly with it on my damned back.”

Most badass line in the book goes to Azriel!

“Three centuries ago, we had some trouble on our borders and set up a glamour to keep the island shielded. Tied to—you know. So that anyone who approached would only see a ruin and be inclined to turn around.” He winked at Rhys. “Miryam’s idea—she got it from you and your city.” Drakon winced a bit. “Turns out, it worked too well, if it kept out both enemies and friends.”

This is a rather annoying twist. What’s the point, even? I am curious what this magic item is on Cretea that brought Miryam back to life and guarded their island …

And there, sailing at the front … I beheld the names of those ships.
The Elain.
And leading the charge against Hybern, flying over the waves, unyielding and without an ounce of fear …
The Nesta.
With my father … our father at the helm.

Called it.

“You gave everything, Rhys. You went through that hell for us, for fifty years.” He’d never addressed it—not fully. “You think I don’t know what happened? I know, Rhys. We all do. And we know you did it to save us, spare us.” He shook his head, sunlight glinting off that dark, winged helmet. “Let us return the favor. Let us repay the debt.”
“There is no debt to repay.” Rhys’s voice broke. The sound of it cracked my heart.
Cassian’s own voice broke as he said, “I never got to repay your mother—for her kindness. Let me do it this way. Let me buy you time.”

Listen, there is some quality Rhys/Cassian is this book and I am thrilled. And that sound in the distance? Just my heart breaking, no big deal.

Then he took that face in his broad hands, faster than she could move, and snapped her neck.
It might not have killed her. The Weaver was a death-god—her very existence defied our own. So it might not have killed her, that cracking of her spine. Had the king not tossed her body down to the two naga-hounds snarling at the foot of the hill.
They ripped into the Weaver’s limp body without hesitation.

Again, super underwhelming?! What good is having death-gods on your side when they’re so easily defeated?

Amren had lied. She did not plan to leash the king or his army with the Cauldron and the Book.
And whatever trap she had set … I had fallen right into it.

This didn’t even worry me on the first read-through. Despite everyone fearing Amren, I never pictured her becoming a turncoat. I did imagine her manipulating things for her idea of what was best, and I knew that’s what this was. So the impact was lost on me.

It was a thing of nightmares. Nothing human or Fae in it. It was a creature that lived in black pits and only emerged at night to hunt and feast. The face … it was those creatures that had been carved into the rock of the Court of Nightmares. That made up his throne. The throne not only a representation of his power … but of what lurked within. And with the wings …

I’m not satisfied by this description! I wanted less vagaries and more concrete description, because I still, for the life of me, cannot picture Rhys’s beast form, and that annoys me.

Time seemed to slow and warp. The dark power of the king speared toward us. Toward that clearing where I was neither seen nor heard, where I was nothing but a scrap of soul carried on a black wind.

I’m kind of irritated by this POV cheat, not gonna lie. It just seems like an uncreative way to solve this problem (and believe me, as someone whose entire series is multi-POV, I sympathize with the problem). From a craft perspective I just don’t think this is the best technique.

Our father snarled, “Don’t you lay your filthy hands on my daughter—”
I heard the crack before I realized what happened.
Before I saw the way my father’s head twisted. Saw the light freeze in his eyes.
Nesta made no sound. Showed no reaction as the King of Hybern snapped our father’s neck.

All of these things are happening so quickly and without proper closure! The Bone Carver, the Weaver, their father … dead too quickly! If they have to die, fine, but write it so that we feel more impact with these deaths instead of offing everyone left and right!

He’d already drained them before coming here. Was exhausted.

That’s not even an excusable sentence fragment! 

Cassian grunted in pain, but lifted his bloodied hands—to cup her face. “I have no regrets in my life, but this.” His voice shook with every word. “That we did not have time. That I did not have time with you, Nesta.”
She didn’t stop him as he leaned up and kissed her—lightly. As much as he could manage.
Cassian said softly, brushing away the tear that streaked down her face, “I will find you again in the next world—the next life. And we will have that time. I promise.”


Elain stepped out of a shadow behind him, and rammed Truth-Teller to the hilt through the back of the king’s neck as she snarled in his ear, “Don’t you touch my sister.”

I LEGIT SHRIEKED when I read this the first time! And it’s still damn satisfying, even if it totally implausible on so many levels. Elain, sneaking up on the King of Hybern? It’s just as silly as the Bone Carver and the Weaver being offed so easily. But DAMN is it fun to read.

She spread those wings, flame and light rippling to encompass her, no more than a burning behemoth that swept down upon Hybern’s armies.
They began running.
Amren came down on them like a hammer, raining fire and brimstone.

I actually like Amren’s reveal enough, but it’s another reason why I don’t like Vassa being included in all of this. The fact that she’s a firebird makes Amren seem repetitive, and that’s unfair to Amren’s story.

He looked at me like I was the insane one as he said, “Remake the Cauldron. Forge it anew.”
“With what power?”
“My own.”
“You’re—you’re drained, Rhys. So am I. We all are.”
“Try. Humor me.”

This build-up seems lackluster to me. And why does it have to be Rhys’s power? Feyre’s got a lot of her own, even if she’s drained, too. But wait, we know why, because FORESHADOWING.

The mating bond.
It wasn’t there. It was gone.
Because his own chest … it was not moving.
And Rhys was dead.

SEE?! Big surprise. But also, I’m miffed about this thing with the mating bond? We’ve been told since the beginning that it is supposed to last beyond death! How can it just be gone?

For there … the torn scraps of the mating bond. Floating on a phantom wind inside me. I grasped at them—tugged at them, as if he’d answer.
Stay. Stay, stay, stay.
I clung to those scraps and remnants, clawing at the void that lurked beyond.

This bothered me on the first read-through. When Feyre died, before the bond was even properly forged, Rhys described it as a solid tie binding him to Feyre–not scraps or remnants. It’s inconsistent and goes against everything we’ve been told the mating bond is! Yes, it sounds more emotional, but you can’t just throw out established rules for drama!!!

Tamlin stood there. Staring down at me. Those green eyes swimming with some emotion I couldn’t place.
“Be happy, Feyre,” he said quietly.
And dropped that final kernel of light onto Rhysand.

I don’t feel like this moment is earned for Tamlin. We haven’t gotten to see his arc, his development. All we’ve gotten to see is him being awful to Feyre, doing all this double-crossing, and showing up at the last minute to help. We have nothing to show us why he made this decision or what those unplaced emotions are. 

A hand brushed my back.
Then Rhys groaned, “If we’re all here, either things went very, very wrong or very right.”
Cassian’s broken laugh cracked out of him.
I couldn’t lift my head, couldn’t do anything but hold him, savoring every heartbeat and breath and the rumble of his voice as Rhys rasped, “You lot will be pleased to know … My power remains my own. No thieving here.”

I know some people liked it, but I really can’t stand that this is how Rhys wakes up–cracking jokes immediately. I wanted him to pause, realize what had happened, acknowledge his mate, and really make this a heartstopping moment. The tension is just kind of ruined when he’s so cavalier immediately. For me, it feels like a letdown after a whole book of foreshadowing and Feyre’s emotional torment in this chapter.

“She was there,” Rhys said. “When the Cauldron was sealing. Going … wherever we go.”
Amren sputtered water, vomiting onto the rocky ground. Mor thumped her back, coaxing her through it.
“So I reached out a hand,” Rhys went on quietly. “To see if she might want to come back.”

Likewise, I really would have liked it if Amren had died or gone back to her world. None of the Inner Circle died, just all these side characters! While I’m happy they all survived, it just doesn’t seem like much of a war if there aren’t these deep, personal consequences. Ugh, idk. This all could have been so good, but this last battle was a letdown in several key ways. 😦

ACOWAR Re-Read: Chapters 66-70

Below the cut!

And that wind he’d sent … I’d never seen him use such a power.
The Nephelle Philosophy indeed. The weakness that had transformed into a strength hadn’t been my wings, my flying. But Tamlin.

Yeah no. I don’t think that’s what the Nephelle Philosophy is about.

Kallias’s army was still winnowing in supplies and units of warriors, his court made up of High Fae with either his snow-white hair or hair of blackest night, skin ranging from moon pale to rich brown.

Yay, not all white people!!

White foxes scuttled about underfoot, bearing what looked to be messages strapped to their little embroidered vests.


OKAY … I’m just going to stay away from the whole Mor thing because it’s being discussed in great detail all over the fandom right now, and I don’t think I have anything more to contribute to it. I’ll state that I’m reading her as bisexual homoromantic, but with the full acknowledgement that this is only one reading, and this doesn’t make it the best one, nor the one that’s most helpful for wlw readers. I’ll let others handle this because they’ve done it so much better than I could.

Rhys braced his hands on the table, his sable hair sliding forward as he studied the map.

Rhys Lean Count: 8 (half a point for this, rounding up to a full number again)

I knew he’d give everything before any of us could offer it. Knew he’d try.
It was as much a part of him as his limbs, this need to sacrifice, to protect. But I wouldn’t let him do it—not without trying myself.

*attempts to duck foreshadowing hit* *fails* *curls into fetal position on ground*

Crawling down the snow-kissed wall, a massive beast of claws and scales and fur and shredding teeth inched toward the floor. Toward me.
I kept my breathing steady. Did not let it scent a tendril of my fear—whatever it was. Some guardian of this place, some creature that had crawled in through the cracks—
Its enormous paws were near-silent on the floor, the fur on them a blend of black and gold. Not a beast designed to hunt in these mountains. Certainly not with the ridge of dark scales down its back. And the large, shining eyes—
I didn’t have time to remark on those blue-gray eyes as the beast pounced.

I really, really hope this is Feyre’s beast form, because that’s BADASS.

My knife clattered to the stones and snow. And I looked into the mirror.

Okay, so this was a really, really promising idea, but I’m livid that SJM pulled another one of her cutaways, because I needed to see this. I needed to see Feyre confront the things that she had done wrong, the bitterness in her heart, her thirst for revenge, her lack of empathy and mercy, her selfishness … I feel like I’ve been totally robbed of the climax of her character development! Like, writing this I’m actually really mad. I feel like I’ve been cheated, and that’s not the way I should feel this close to the end of the book! SJM was building up neat little moments of regret or uncertainty in Feyre throughout the book, but she didn’t tie them together and didn’t show us Feyre’s reconciliation of this. I feel like this deserves all its own post, but let’s just say for now that I’m really, really disappointed.

Rhys lifted a brow. Would you like to go into that wagon for a few minutes, then? It’s a little cramped between the weapons and supplies, but I can make it work.
The humor—as much for me as it was for him.

This is just so cute in an awkward way? Rhys …

He surveyed them all again—and held out his hand to Cassian. Cassian took it, and held out his other for Mor. Then Mor extended her other to Azriel. Azriel to Amren. Amren to Nesta. Nesta to Elain. And Elain to me. Until we were all linked, all bound together.
Rhys said, “We will walk onto that field and only accept Death when it comes to haul us away to the Otherworld. We will fight for life, for survival, for our futures. But if it is decided by that tapestry of Fate or the Cauldron or the Mother that we do not walk off that field today …” His chin lifted. “The great joy and honor of my life has been to know you. To call you my family. And I am grateful—more than I can possibly say—that I was given this time with you all.”


It was, perhaps, the one thing I would never show him. Anyone. How I had cowered and raged and wept. How I had vomited, and screamed, and clawed at the mirror. Slammed my fists into it. And then curled up, trembling at every horrific and cruel and selfish thing I’d beheld within that monster—within me. But I had kept watching. I did not turn from it.
And when my shaking stopped, I studied it. All of those wretched things. The pride and the hypocrisy and the shame. The rage and the cowardice and the hurt.

This is not enough. I needed that scene.

An unearthly, female shriek broke from deep in the Hybern forces. A sister’s warning—and pain. Just as that white light slammed into the Bone Carver.
But the Carver … I could have sworn he looked toward me as the Cauldron’s power crashed into him. Could have sworn he smiled—and it was not a hideous thing at all.
There—and gone.
The Cauldron wiped him away without any sign of effort.

That’s really … anti-climactic, to have the Bone Carver gone just like that. 😦 

ACOWAR Re-Read: Chapter 61-65

Below the cut!

He’d just reached Elain’s tent when Helion sent word he’d found me. Using whatever gift he possessed that allowed him to sense such things. And was bringing me back. Vague, brief details.


The words were casual, but that was panic in his eyes. Not—not the controlling fear Tamlin had once succumbed to, but … genuine terror of not knowing where I was, if I needed help. Just as I would want to know where he was, if he needed help, if he vanished when our enemies surrounded us. “I’m sorry,” I said. To him, to the others.
Mor didn’t so much as look at me.
“You have nothing to be sorry for,” Rhys replied, hand sliding to cup my cheek.

But yeah, actually, she does? This is another moment where I would have liked Rhys to hold Feyre’s feet to the fire a little bit–not to totally dismiss what she did in making them all panic. In lying to them. Feyre needs to feel the consequences of this decision, even if the outcome was good. 

“Your guts were hanging out, you stupid prick,” Rhys snapped. “Az held them in for you.”
Indeed, the shadowsinger’s hands were caked in blood—Cassian’s blood. And his face … cold with—anger.
“I’m a soldier,” Cassian said flatly. “It’s part of the job.”
“I gave you an order to
wait,” Rhys growled. “You ignored it.”


“You and your damned theatrics on the battlefield nearly got you killed.” And even as Rhys spat the words—that was panic, again, in his eyes. His voice. “I’m not pissed. I’m furious.”
“So you’re allowed to be mad about our choices to protect you—and we’re not allowed to be furious with you for
your self-sacrificing bullshit?”
Rhys just stared at him. Cassian stared right back.
“You could have died,” was all Rhys said, his voice raw.
“So could you.”

THIS. This is the sort of exchange I needed between Rhys and Feyre just now. They can understand and support each other all they want, and that’s awesome, but things aren’t automatically going to be okay just because they’re mates. Rhys and Cassian are like brothers and they still get angry with each other–even if it doesn’t last. I needed this moment between Rhys and Feyre, too.

Mor didn’t smile. Not as she said, “You lied.”
She stormed for her own tent, and with
that comment … I had no choice but to follow her in.
The space was mostly occupied with her bed and a small desk littered with weapons and maps. “I didn’t
lie,” I said, wincing. “I just … didn’t tell you what I planned to do.”
She gaped at me. “You nudged me to
leave you, insisting you would be safe at the camp.”
“I’m sorry,” I said.
Sorry?” She splayed her arms. Bits of mud flew off.
I didn’t know what to do with my own—how to even look her in the eye. I’d seen her mad before, but never … never at me. I’d never had a friend to quarrel with—who cared enough.

GOOD. HOLD HER ACCOUNTABLE, MOR. It bothers me how so much of this seems to slide off of Feyre, how little of it she seems to internalize. Lucien, Tarquin, Tamlin, Mor … even when people have legitimate criticisms of her (when I mention Tamlin I’m thinking of her shortsightedness in wrecking his court), she doesn’t seem to let it sink in enough to change her behavior. 

“You want to talk about lying?” I didn’t even know what came out of my mouth. I wished I’d killed Ianthe myself, if only to get rid of the rage that writhed along my bones. “How about the fact that you lie to yourself and all of us every single day?”
She went still, but didn’t loosen her hold on my arm. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Why haven’t you ever made a move for Azriel, Mor? Why did you invite Helion to your bed? You clearly found no pleasure in it—I saw the way you looked the next day. So before you accuse me of being a liar, I’d suggest you look long and hard at yourself—”
“That’s enough.”

Major dick move, Feyre. Seriously, I have had a lot of trouble rooting for her throughout this book because she’s been really awful to a lot of people. And Rhys generally enables it. It’s really, really disappointing to not feel like I can support the hero of the series anymore, and mostly because of bad writing.

And from the way Rhys lightly mussed his hair as he strode to the other side of the desk … That wound, too, had been patched up.


“Three stones for the faces of the Mother,” Amren said upon seeing Nesta’s raised brows. “Four bones … for whatever reason the charlatans came up with that I can’t be bothered to remember.”

Okay can SJM maybe not use the Three-Faced Goddess again? It’s so prominent in ToG that is just seems lazy to bring it up here. And I could rant even more about the nonsensical theology of this world, particularly the Cauldron, but I’ll refrain. And why are we suddenly getting this whole different kind of magic in here? Bone scrying? Why? It just seems so unnecessary because there are probably other ways to do something like this with the magic systems already in place.

The Cauldron seemed to sense us watching. Sense us there.
I felt it stir—like it would lunge for Nesta. I grabbed my sister and ran.

See, I like the sentient Cauldron. It’s cool. But is it a god itself? Is it just some divine object? How much agency does it have? What’s the balance between creator and destroyer? There are all these questions that are never answered and I think it’s because SJM never bothered to ask them herself. 

And none of us dared to speak as Varian dropped to his knees before Amren’s chair, took her shocked face in his broad hands, and kissed her soundly.


Nesta was already moving, sprinting for where we’d heard that voice. Luring Elain out.
I knew how it had done it.
I’d dreamed of it.
Graysen standing on the edge of camp, calling to her, promising her love and healing.

I’m miffed that Feyre’s dreams of foresight never become important. It makes it especially odd to me that Elain is the seer, because Feyre has literally being seeing the future in her dreams since ACOTAR. *sigh*

I still can’t really believe that I predicted Elain was going to get captured. Of all things …

And what Hybern would do to Elain, might already be doing—
From the shadows near the entrance to the tent, Azriel said, as if in answer to some unspoken debate, “I’m getting her back.”

It never says if Elain was winnowed off to Hybern’s camp or what. Like, if she just wandered off, then you just catch her on foot. But that clearly didn’t happen, so how was Elain abducted, exactly? And as much as I love Azriel for this … the rescue should have been Lucien’s. I think it was somewhere around this part of the book that I started crying angry tears that Lucien hadn’t come back yet.

“You do not fear,” Rhys breathed. “You do not falter. You do not yield. You go in, you get her, and you come out again.”
I nodded again, holding his stare.
“Remember that you are a wolf. And you cannot be caged.”
He kissed my brow one more time, my blood thrumming and boiling in me, howling to draw blood.

I love that these are Rhys’s lines to her. Except, what’s that last bit? About her blood howling to draw blood? LINE EDIT.

A roar deafened me, made my head ring. Just as one of the hounds was thrown off me.
I knew that roar, knew—
A golden-furred beast with curling horns tore into the hounds.
“Tamlin,” I got out, but his green eyes narrowed.
Run, he seemed to say.

I just feel like SJM didn’t really know what she wanted to do with him. His plotline is so messy, and even though he’s a tool, I think as a character he deserved better.

The girl screamed, but Elain moved. As Azriel battled to keep them airborne, keep his grip on them, my sister sent a fierce kick into the beast’s face. Its eye. Another. Another.
It bellowed, and Elain slammed her bare, muddy foot into its face again. The blow struck home.
With a yelp of pain, it released its claws—and plunged into the ravine.


And with barely three steps to the edge of that cliff … A warm wind, kissed with lilac and new grass, blasted up from beneath me. A wind of—spring. Lifting me, filling my wings.

Since when does Tamlin have power over air? *eyeroll*

Nesta broke into another sprint. I reached for Rhysand, his face taut as he stalked for us—
But Nesta got there first.
I swallowed my shout of pain as Nesta’s arms went around my neck and she embraced me so hard it snatched my breath away.


But I did remember lying down on the bearskin rug once it was done. How I felt Elain’s slim body settle next to mine and curl into my side, careful not to touch the bandaged wound in my shoulder. I had not realized how cold I was until her warmth seeped into me.
A moment later, another warm body nestled on my left. Nesta’s scent drifted over me, fire and steel and unbending will.


But that morning, as the sun rose over the world, we held tight. And did not let go.

This is truly great and I love it, seeing them bonding together again. It’s been a long time coming. Though, I have to ask … what on earth does “unbending will” smell like? smh

I enjoyed the rescue of Elain, Jurian’s involvement, all of it. It was a great piece of action. I still wish Lucien had been there to help, but it’s written well enough as it is that I can still enjoy it. And it’s a really satisfying result.

I saw people say sjm is sinking elucien. Has she said anything recently to make people believe that, or is it just shipper bias?

Shipper bias. Just because she didn’t get them together in this book (totally understandable, really) doesn’t mean she’s sinking them.

ACOWAR Re-Read: Chapter 56-60

Below the cut!

The helmets were the only markers of who they were. Unlike the smooth domes of the others, Rhys, Azriel, and Cassian wore black helmets whose cheek-guards had been fashioned and swept upward like ravens’ wings.

It took me a few tries to picture this, but once I did … listen, I dig these Illyrian boys in full, badass armor.

Mor and I said little in the hours that followed.
I did not have it in me for words, for any sort of coherent speech as we watched.


Because seeing the carnage, the fine line of control … There was no place for me on those front lines, where the Illyrians fought by the strength of their sword, their power, and their trust in the male on either side of them.

On principal I understand why they’re not part of the battle, because they’re not trained with the legion, but isn’t there something else they can do along the outskirts or something? If not Feyre, at least Mor?

Both armies seemed to stop at the throw.
Even with the distance, Cassian’s spear hit home.
It went right through the commander’s chest, so hard it knocked the male clean off his horse.
By the time he was done falling, Cassian was there.
His sword caught the sunlight as it lifted and plunged down.
Cassian had picked his mark well. Hybern fled now. Outright turned and fled for the river.

This is obviously awesome, but I’m really not sure why every one of these sentences needs a line break.

Tarquin stretched out his hand toward them.
It took me a heartbeat to realize why the Hybern soldiers were thrashing and clawing at themselves, some trying to crawl away. But then one of them collapsed, and sunlight caught on his face. And even with the distance, I could tell—could tell it was water now bubbling out of his lips.
Out the lips of all the Hybern soldiers as Tarquin drowned them on dry land.

Technically bad form on Tarquin’s part, killing people who surrendered. But still badass. Though this would have had more of an impact if Feyre hadn’t done the same thing during the Battle of Adriata.

“You know better than to walk around with an injury,” Rhys said a bit tensely.
“I was busy,” Cassian said, not taking his focus off Nesta as she studied the swollen wrist. How she’d detected it through the armor … She must have read it in his eyes, his stance.
I hadn’t realized she’d been observing the Illyrian general enough to notice his tells.

*whispers* mate bond …

He pressed a featherlight kiss to my lips. “If you’re too tired,” he began, even as he went wholly still while my fingers continued their journey, past the sculpted muscles of his abdomen.
I answered him with a kiss of my own. Another. Until his tongue slid over the seam of my lips and I opened for him.
Our joining was fast, and hard, and I was clawing at his back before the end shattered through both of us, dragging my hands over his wings.

So again, I don’t actually have a problem with this being here. It makes sense to me, given how sex is one of their “love languages,” that they would both need this to come back to themselves. But I guess if she’s gonna write that, make it satisfying? I’m not saying that because ~ooo smut~ but because you can explore so much emotion through their intimacy. She’s done it before and I would have liked to see it here, I think.

I swallowed. “Will you be ashamed of me if I admit that I’m not sure if I’m ready for that sort of battling?” 


He took my face in his hands, kissing me once. “Never. I can never be ashamed of you. Certainly not over this.” He kept his mouth close to mine, sharing breath. “Today’s battle was different from Adriata, and Velaris. If we had more time to train you with a unit, you could easily fight amongst the lines and hold your own. But only if you wanted to. And for now, these initial battles … Being down in that slaughterhouse is not something I’d wish upon you.” He kissed me again. “We are a pair,” he said against my lips. “If you ever wish to fight by my side, it will be my honor.”

Another conversation between them that I really appreciate. I like Feyre admitting that she can’t do it all, that there are some things she’s not prepared for. It would be unrealistic otherwise. And I appreciate Rhys neither pushing her into it nor coddling her.

Mor punched her sword through the soldier’s throat before he could land that strike.
And then Mor began cutting a path toward Cassian, toward the broken front line beyond him, her damp golden hair a ray of sunshine amid the mud and dark armor.


Its over-large teeth clacked faintly. “Thrice now, we have met. Thrice now, you have hunted for me. This time, you sent the trembling fawn to find me. I did not expect to see those doe-eyes peering at me from across the world.”


It took me a heartbeat to register what happened.
To identify the wooden thing that burst through the Suriel’s throat as an ash arrow. To realize that what sprayed in my face, landing on my tongue and tasting like soil, was black blood.
To realize that the thudding before the Suriel could even scream … more arrows.
The Suriel stumbled to its knees, a choking sound coming out of that mouth.


“Help me,” I breathed, making sure they heard that, too.
The wooden door was already half-open. The world slowed and cleared with each step, each heartbeat, as I hurtled over the threshold.
And into the Weaver’s cottage.

Ballsy, Feyre.

“I can save you.”
It only gripped my wrist. “I am already gone.”
“What—what can I do?” The words turned thin—brittle.
“Stay …,” it breathed. “Stay … until the end.”


Another rattling breath. “Leave this world … a better place than how you found it.”
And as its chest rose and stopped altogether, as its breath escaped in one last sigh, I understood why the Suriel had come to help me, again and again. Not just for kindness … but because it was a dreamer.

This is literally the only part of the book that made me cry with actual heartbreak (because I cried with anger at least one other time). BUT WHY THE SURIEL?!?!?!