Hi guys! So today’s Thursday and I’m bringing you a feature that I literally have not done since I first started this blog! Not that I forgot about this feature but I just haven’t been on Tumblr. Anyway, the purpose of Tumblr Thursday is to bring my two blogs together and share the posts that I found on Tumblr on Love thy Shelf. I wasn’t really planning this one at all and well, after I saw this particular post, I thought it was a great idea to put it on here. If the title didn’t give it away, the post will discuss the relationship between Rowan-x–Aelin in the Throne of Glass series and the relationship between Feyre-x-Tamlin and Feyre-x-Rhysand in A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Both of the series are written by the queen Sarah J. Maas. Fair warning, this post will contain major spoilers for both of the series and if you are NOT caught up with the series, I suggest skipping this one. You have been warned 🙂
I honestly don’t know how I found this post but I believe I was on Goodreads, adding people who loved Dorian Havilliard as friends and totally geeking out that there were more of them like me. Ha! I think someone linked this post on Tumblr and I knew I had to share it. When I read it, it completely voiced my thoughts that I couldn’t put into words. It was great! You can check out the tumblr post here or continue reading on (I copy/pasted it below). I would really like to know your thoughts on the matter. I underlined the parts that really stood out to me and added my own notes in red! Let me know what you think below!
I think we need to talk about how similar Rowan and Aelin’s relationship is to that of Tamlin and Feyre’s.
The only similarities between Rowan and Rhysand lie in the fact that they’re the current love interests of the protagonists of their respective series. The comparisons end there. Ever since ACOMAF came out, people have been jumping on the chance to include Rowan in the appraisal of Sarah’s feminist male characters and healthy relationships when he does absolutely nothing to be included in that mix. More than anything Rowan resembles Tamlin in his dangerously protective and possessive nature, the only difference is, no one reprimands him for it because the narrative romanticizes him instead criticizing him.
Quite frankly I’m not even sure if some of the people who jumped from liking Tamlin to liking Rhysand did it for the right reasons. I’m not gonna stand here and pretend there’s a right way to read a book or right characters to like because there isn’t. You can like whatever characters you want for whatever reason. But I don’t think everyone hated Tamlin just for the fact alone that he locked Feyre up while she was suffering from PTSD. I think a large part of it is because the narrative held him accountable for his actions and showed what he did was wrong. Sarah’s desired outcome in writing Tamlin the way she did in ACOMAF was for people to understand what he and Feyre had was not healthy. And it worked for the majority of readers which means she got her job done the way she intended to. And I agree that Tamlin was unhealthy and territorial and relied too heavily on his primitive instincts, and Sarah handled it perfectly. Yes, there is still good in Tamlin. He was deeply traumatized by what Amarantha did to him as well, but there was no icing over what he did by coddling him. He still made a mistake–several–and this is not something Feyre is going to be forgiving anytime soon.
What’s interesting about all of this is how smoothly Tamlin and Rowan parallel each other, but only one of them got reprimanded by both the author and the readers for dragging the protagonist farther down the abyss of her depression when he should have been helping her. Rowan never once gets held accountable for what he did. One second, he doesn’t give a shit about Aelin, the next he’s suddenly her best friend even though he didn’t do shit to deserve her in any form.
Aelin and Feyre, while starkly different characters, both have been through depression. In Heir of Fire, Aelin was left in a dark spot because of Nehemia’s death and the way she was isolated from her friends. She gave up, just as Feyre did in ACOMAF. Now I know Rowan and Aelin were basically strangers at this time, but no one can deny that he was a strong reason she fell further and further into herself, becoming a shell of who she was. He bit her to the point of having her blood in his mouth, he picked fights with her, and even told her she was worthless. I’m not saying Rowan owed her anything, but it takes a pretty shitty person to knock a teenage girl back down when he could have just as easily helped her up.
If Rowan’s terrible behavior toward her was because he was too much damaged himself from the loss of his mate, that doesn’t excuse the way he treated her. He didn’t have to be her friend, no. He didn’t even have to be nice to her. He only owed it to her as one person to another to at least not treat her like utter trash. It’s not something Rhysand would do. It’s not something I could even imagine Tamlin doing. This entire paragraph was just gold. No matter what kind of past or hurt you’ve been through, no one deserves to be treated the way Rowan treated Aelin in HoF.
If you think Rowan’s gross, possessive attitude toward Aelin ends in Heir of Fire, you’re entirely mistaken. It physically hurts me to see people including Rowan and Aelin’s relationship as an example for healthy, supportive relationships. Rowan, in my opinion, only becomes worse in Queen of Shadows because now he thinks he has a claim on her, giving him permission to follow her and control her like he owns her. Omg this! His possessiveness wasn’t cute or hot or caring or anything at all. It was honestly sickening.
“It’s not just your business, not anymore. You will take me along with you the next time.”
“The next time I sneak out,” she seethed, “if I catch you following me like some overprotective nursemaid, I will—”
“You’ll what?” He stepped up close enough to share breath with her, his fangs flashing. In the light of the lantern, she could clearly see his eyes—and he could see hers as she silently said, I don’t know what I’ll do, you bastard, but I’ll make your life a living hell for it.
He snarled, and the sound stroked down her skin as she read the unspoken words in his eyes. Stop being stubborn. Is this some attempt to cling to your independence? WT-ACTUAL-F IS THIS LINE EVEN?!?
And so what if it is? she shot back. Just—let me do these things on my own.
“I can’t promise that,” he said, the dim light caressing his tan skin, the elegant tattoo.
Sam is rolling over in his grave tbh) I’ve actually said this line over and over again while reading QoS, especially when she said she’s never really been happy until Rowan. My poor Sammy, she fooled us both.
He’s mocking her for demanding she be given independence to make her own choices and to not be followed around. Choosing to have the bond with Rowan did not give him the right to stake claim on her person, he was not given right to being included in the choices she makes about herself, and yet here he is, ordering her around, claiming that a demand for independence is just her being stubborn. It’s disgusting, it is, in fact, worse than anything Tamlin ever did to Feyre in ACOMAF and it’s completely against everything Rhysand stands for. Damn right it’s completely against everything Rhysand stands for! Ugh I’d love to see Rhys kick Rowan’s butt because of this!
“Rhys’s eyes darkened, and I knew he read what I thought, felt. “You might be my mate,” he said, “but you remain your own person. You decide your fate—your choices. Not me. You chose yesterday. You choose every day. Forever.’“
That was literally one of my favorite lines in the book, oh my goodness!
Rowan uses the bond between him and Aelin as an excuse to be possessive and territorial. He thinks it means they are one unit, not two separate people. In contrast, Rhysand recognizes that while he and Feyre are mates, and the mate bond can sometimes hone in on some of his more primal instincts that he fights off, Feyre will always be her own person. When she decides to put herself in danger for the good of her people, she gets to do so and Rhysand has no choice in the matter. Even at the end of ACOMAF when Feyre chooses to go back to the Spring Court–the very place that imprisoned her–so Rhys and her friends could leave Hybern, Rhys went along with it even though it killed him. Even Amren and Mor were angry that he let her leave and is now using her as a spy, but he knows that Feyre made the choice for herself and no one has the right to take that choice from her. *Drops mic*
But it doesn’t end there.
She punched him in the bicep—hurting herself more than him. “Just because you’re older and stronger doesn’t mean you’re entitled to order me around.”
“It’s exactly because of those things that I can do whatever I please.”
She let out a high-pitched sound and went to pinch his side, and he grabbed her hand, squeezing it tightly, dragging her a step closer to him. She tilted her head back to look at him. For a moment, alone in that warehouse with nothing but the crates keeping them company, she allowed herself to take in his face, those green eyes, the strong jaw.
Immortal. Unyielding. Blooded with power.
This is both a solid example of Rowan stating his superiority over Aelin as well as the narrative doing the complete opposite of what it did for Tamlin in ACOMAF. Instead of Aelin pulling away in disgust like most women with her history might do when a man is being an overbearing territorial dickhead, she is being pulled in and is subtly recognizing that she finds him attractive in that moment which I like to call Fifty Shades of Grey Syndrome. The one where a man’s display of dominance is being seen as sexy rather than complete bullshit.
Funny enough, Tamlin has scenes in ACOTAR that parallel a lot of Rowan’s scenes in HoF and QoS.
Lucien looked from Tamlin to me and then back again. “Why does Feyre have a bruise on her neck from you?” he asked with no small amount of amusement.
“I bit her,” Tamlin said, not pausing as he cut his steak. “We ran into each other in the hall after the Rite.”
I straightened in my chair.
“She seems to have a death wish,” he went on, cutting his meat. The claws stayed retracted but pushed against the skin above his knuckles. My throat closed up. Oh, he was mad— furious at my foolishness for leaving my room— but somehow managed to keep his anger on a tight, tight leash. “So, if Feyre can’t be bothered to listen to orders, then I can’t be held accountable for the consequences.”
This was from ACOTAR, when Tamlin was viewed in a positive light and Feyre was falling in love with him. Very few people who read the book really caught onto how problematic this behavior was. Maybe it was partially because Rhysand was taking all the spotlight as the token Problematic Character of the book, but I think a lot of it has to do with the way Feyre viewed Tamlin. Sure she snipped at him occasionally, but she saw Tamlin as the “golden prince” as Rhys calls him in ACOMAF. She didn’t really linger on how territorial he was, so why should the reader really bother to think about it either? And additionally, why would a reader then zero in on the problematic behavior of Rowan when Aelin herself does not see it?
“I cried out as his teeth clamped onto the tender spot where my neck met my shoulder. I couldn’t move— couldn’t think, and my world narrowed to the feeling of his lips and teeth against my skin. He didn’t pierce my flesh, but rather bit to keep me pinned. The push of his body against mine, the hard and the soft, made me see red— see lightning, made me grind my hips against his. I should hate him— hate him for his stupid ritual, for the female he’d been with tonight …
His bite lightened, and his tongue caressed the places his teeth had been. He didn’t move— he just remained in that spot, kissing my neck. Intently, territorially, lazily. Heat pounded between my legs, and as he ground his body against me, against every aching spot, a moan slipped past my lips.”
Like Aelin in Queen of Shadows, Feyre not only ignores Tamlin’s possessive and dominating nature, but she also finds herself attracted to it. I’ve seen a lot of people argue that Aelin can handle herself and wouldn’t let Rowan get away with all of this if she really had a problem with it, but that’s not the real problem here. Aelin is a 19-year-old girl. She’s been through a lot but nothing changes the fact that she is still a teenager and has a lot to learn what is appropriate in a relationship and what is stepping over a line, just as Feyre had to learn in ACOMAF. Feyre found this appealing until it got to the point where it was physically killing her to be with Tamlin. Just because Aelin’s not fighting back now doesn’t make Rowan’s possessiveness at all okay.
Rowan is no different than Tamlin, and maybe he’ll get to go through the rest of the series without being called out on in the narrative, but I’d like to see Sarah do exactly what she did in ACOMAF, fleshing out the difference between a healthy relationship and a toxic one. He can fight for the “good” side and claim to love Aelin, but that doesn’t make his behavior any right or just. It’s not a question of whether he loves or not, it’s how much. I think Rowan (and Aelin as well) has a very warped and misguided view on what it means to love someone. I seriously hope that there are changes in the future books, not because I don’t ship Rowan and Aelin but because possession in a relationship is not healthy and it needs to be addressed.
And just a last minute detail to end things on a bitter note:
“He had understood that with Rowan, she was no longer afraid of him; with Rowan, Arobynn was now utterly unnecessary. Irrelevant.”
@galgadots pointed out on twitter that Rowan fits the role that Arobynn used to have in Aelin’s life, and this strange moment completely nods to that. That’s another topic for another day but honestly how Sam has not risen from his grave at the sheer will of seeing this bullshit is beyond me.