Once again, I am absolutely shocked by how much I adored this book. While I loved A Court of Mist and Fury fiercely, I felt that A Court of Wings and Ruin didn’t quite measure up in comparison, and that A Court of Frost and Starlight was weak and forgettable compared to the rest of the series. I had just about decided that I would end my experience with the series there, but my brother changed my mind. He just binge-read all of ACOTAR and told me that ACOMAF had been his favorite until he read this one, which he thought was by far the strongest of the series. I didn’t really see how it could measure up to ACOMAF, but we rarely disagree when we read the same books. And he was so right. A Court of Silver Flames is just badass in every way. While not quite as romantic as A Court of Mist and Fury, A Court of Silver Flames surpasses it in girl-power, intensity, and spice level. I read furiously and enjoyed every minute.
I don’t know that I’ve come across any other character in fiction filled with the levels of self-loathing and self-destruction found in Nesta. And honestly, I hated her more than a little myself at the start of the book. I’ve found Nesta primarily loathsome with a few moments of promise over the course of the series, so I have to confess that I wasn’t that excited to read a full novel about her. But Maas once again proved herself to be exceptional at character development. Over the 757 pages of this book, Nesta hit new lows before reaching some incredible highs. As much as I’ve come to love Feyre over the past installments, I think my love for Nesta surpasses that. She dealt was some serious trauma and guilt, with both the unwanted help of Feyre and her family, and with the more readily accepted help of the friends she makes along the way. I was incredibly impressed with the ways in which she so radically transformed, and I was even more impressed with Maas for making that transformation realistic and believable.
If you love training montages, this is definitely the book for you. The vast majority of the book is spent watching Nesta and, later, her friends, training to become battle-ready. Not necessarily because battle looms, but as a way to work through some of the aforementioned issues. ACOSF deals a lot with various traumas, particularly focusing on the multiple forms of violence against women. Watching Nesta and her girls fight to overcome their trauma, to grow from the things they had suffered instead of letting it keep them broken, was incredibly empowering. I don’t know that I’ve ever read another book that screamed “girl-power” quite as strongly and organically as this one. I grew to really love the entire cast.
The girls weren’t the only strong characters in ACOSF. I loved Cassian as soon as I met him in ACOMAF. And he just got better in this book. I love a male character who believes in helping women claim their own agency instead of trying to strong-arm them into behaving a certain way. Cassian is all about helping these women succeed, and I love him even more for it. Azriel, as well. Maas created some truly fantastic characters in this series, both male and female, and I’m deeply invested in their collective world and their individual stories. After finishing this book, I truly can’t wait for whatever else Maas decides to publish set in Prythia.
One quick observation. Definitely not a complaint, just an observation. ACOSF is way more explicit than the previous installments in the series. Not only are sex scenes more frequent, they’re more…descriptive. Again, I’m not complaining at all. I just felt like I should give other readers a quick heads up. It’s almost like Maas kept hearing the series referred to as “fairy porn” and decided to just give the people what they seemed to expect. Also, this was the first book in the series told entirely in third person, which I think made me enjoy the writing even more.
The plot here was surprisingly interesting for a story that mostly revolved around freeing oneself from the pain of the past and learning to accept oneself. It never felt slow or plodding to me. I was equally invested in every facet of the story. But the more magic and lore-heavy scenes, which would seem to be the main draw, didn’t shine quite as brightly as the training montages and the internal battles these women, especially Nesta, faced day in and day out as they sought to rise above their pasts. These moments, which dominated the book, were just powerful every single time.
A Court of Silver Flames was empowering, thought-provoking, and potentially even healing for someone who has yet to deal with some past trauma in their own life. And, beyond all that, it was just a gripping, really strong story that kept me enthralled from start to finish. I loved Nesta’s story, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
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