Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.
The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.
Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.
Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.
When the premise of A Court of Silver Flames was initially announced, it stalled me in my tracks. Nesta’s bottled rage and brutal nature seemed senseless to me for a lot of the original trilogy, and I didn’t know how invested I was to read a 600-something-page book all about her.
In saying that… Sarah J. Maas quickly lured me into this story with her seductive narrative and the exploration of a more fragile Nesta’s, fleshing out some of the insurmountable trauma she’s faced in her time as a fae and as a human girl. Simultaneously, hooking me with winning characterisation and an unexpected redemption arc. (Because when do I not love those?)
Sarah J. Maas is really out here profiting off of her character’s trauma. In terms of enjoyment A Court of Silver Flames is really up there for me with A Court of Mist and Fury, the latter story I think we can unanimously agree was the peak of the original series. And this latest instalment is formulaically identical to ACOMAF. Whereby we have a powerful tortured heroine at the beginning of the story who’s not living up to her potential, meanwhile she’s going to fall in love with a hero, who in some way will help bring her out of her downward spiral, as well as discovering her found family along the way.
All of that to say… I very much enjoyed this book and the romantic dynamic, the same way I enjoyed ACOMAF.
This book does a great deal for Nesta’s characterisation and I loved this second chance Sarah got to flesh her out more. I didn’t really care for Nesta in the original trilogy. Her mean attitude has always been incredibly jarring for me and I really felt like the author was making it up as she went all.
I’m still not convinced that Nesta’s mean girl nature was fully realised in the original trilogy, but I’m willing to put it behind me because here it definitely was. In fact, Nesta’s vindictive and snarky characterisation was easily my favourite perspective in the book. It helps that the author shows a more vulnerable side to her character, which balanced out the snark well for me. Nesta no longer seems like a two dimensional character with an unexplained catty attitude, but rather a ruthless woman with a lot of intrigue and a deep past.
Also Nesta unironically pointing her finger at other characters and them being terrified was a huge source of enjoyment for me. Don’t kink shame me. #IFYKYK
I have to be honest where Cassian is concerned… I don’t have any outrageously positive opinions. Or negative ones for that matter. I don’t know if he really ended the book anywhere different to where he began, which is fine and is a testament really to the fact Nesta is the heart and soul of this book. If you liked Cassian in the original trilogy I can’t see why you wouldn’t like his perspective here. Although I would prepare not to be wowed or anything. Was his point of view palatable? Definitely. I think the most enjoyment I got from his scenes though were that he was probably the nicest member of the night court and most forgiving when it came to Nesta. And the sex scenes, of course?
“She was a wolf who had never learned how to be a wolf, thanks to that cage humans called propriety and society. And like any maltreated animal, she bit anyone who came near. Good thing he liked being bitten.”
On the topic of Cassian and steamy scenes… top tier for me. Cassian attributing Nesta’s orgasm to a religious experience… we love a man who knows how to give and not only take. If this book convinced me of anything, it’s that men should be reading erotica written by woman so they can learn some manners.
I think where this book surprised me was the very welcome female friendships Nesta builds with two other fae women Gywn and Emerie, both of whom we meet in this story and have really great characterisation. Personally I’m such a sucker for empowered women empowering other women and this book does just that. I won’t outright spoil anything (even though I want to,) but the THING that happens in the latter half of the story with the survivalist element was so exhilarating and I was living for those chapters.
However, I think plot oriented and romance averse folk will just go ‘no thank you’. I have to admit a lot of pitfalls I’ve had with Sarah’s releases in the last few years have been because of her convoluted plots, political intrigue and her action scenes. (My brain just can not follow them!) Also there’s not a huge looming threat of an antagonist in this book either until the latter half, so the conclusion of this story feels somewhat rushed. In saying that, I did enjoy the world-building here and thought Sarah scaled things well as we’re expanding out into a new trilogy.
At the end of the day, as much as I enjoyed this book, it isn’t anything innovative. But Sarah J. Maas has absolutely mastered this romantic formula, and with some clever twists, this book surprisingly really worked for me. This is the peak fantasy romance that I enjoy = steamy, angsty and snarky banter.