A Court of Silver Flames is the 5th book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. In this book, the focus shifts from Feyre and Rhysand, who have been the main characters in the previous books, to Feyre’s older sister, Nesta, and Cassian, Rhysand’s general of the Night Court. A note about the book categorization: I would put this one firmly in New Adult and not Young Adult. There are a lot of sex scenes throughout, some of which are more intense than others. Maas’s writing was tending this way in the other books, but it’s definitely moved into NA territory here. (I personally didn’t have an issue with it, but others might, and I don’t think I’d hand this one off to my 12-year-old to read.)
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
I enjoyed this book but honestly not as much as ACoTaR. I still think the first book in this series was the best of them. That said, I was happy to see that Nesta and Cassian got their story told (and I’m hopeful this means we’ll also get to hear Elain’s continuing tale at some point.) I read several other reviews which were critical of “excessive” sex scenes (and yes, there are quite a few in this one), and that no one treated Nesta “fairly”. I’d also agree with the second to a point. Nesta is a difficult character to like. She’s prickly and aloof, and has plunged herself into a self-destructive lifestyle without much to look forward to other than rounds of casual sex, alcohol-fueled nightly binges and living in a crappy apartment in the slums of Velaris. I did find her path towards something more meaningful in her life engaging, however, and I was able to reserve judgement on her throughout. I appreciated that Maas gave her something active and substantive to do during her internal journey, and I liked the fact that, while I probably wouldn’t find her an easy friend to have, if she were my friend, I know I could count on her no matter what.
I felt like Cassian’s character development was less interesting, but really, he is the foil to Nesta’s journey in this one. Despite the fact that he (and many others in the book) call him a brute, underneath all of that, he’s always been lonely and waiting for someone who could stand up to him, and Nesta definitely has backbone to do that.
I found the subplot with Feyre and Rhysand a bit too easily tied up at the end, and I will also say I felt that way about the plotting queens and the looming threat of war. I feel like that part of the overall series story arc isn’t really finished. (Maybe it never is. War and conflict usually circle back around in some form or another, and maybe Maas is saving all of that for more in the series?) Also, what happened on the mountain with Cassian when he flies in to rescue her? Stabbed/not stabbed? I was confused by that.
As always, I enjoyed the world-building, Velaris, the House of Wind, the library. Bonus points for the House figuring Nesta out before anyone else did.
Overall, a good, entertaining read. I enjoy Maas’s writing style and characters, and appreciated the ability to get to know Nesta better. Rating it a 4/5 stars for the characters and my enjoyment of the world they live in; 1 star subtracted for some of the odd storyline details that I felt were a bit unfinished.