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A Court of Wings and Ruin[1]
Credit: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Sarah J. Maas will release the last book in her A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy — A Court of Wings and Ruinon May 2. But while this is the last book in the original series, readers don’t have to grab their tissues just yet: Maas has more spinoff books planned.

Below, Maas tells us her thoughts on ending Feyre and Rhys’s story, and EW shares an exclusive excerpt from A Court of Wings and Ruin.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you feeling about ending these characters’ stories?
SARAH J. MAAS: It’s a bittersweet feeling, actually! On the one hand, there are three more books coming that are set in this world, so I won’t have to say goodbye just yet (though they’ll be about different characters, and my lips are sealed about anything other than that!). But on the other, it’s been such a joy to tell Feyre (and Rhys’) story that it’ll probably be a little strange to switch over to other characters after this. I’ll definitely miss them, but who knows? Maybe they’ll make an appearance in the upcoming installments (if they survive ACOWAR.). But I’m really, really excited to explore more of this world and the characters in it!

What won’t you miss?
Is it weird if I say there’s nothing I won’t miss? I love these characters so much, and loved writing Feyre’s voice. I suppose if I have to pick one thing, it might be the (occasional) difficulties of writing in first person—especially when there’s such a large cast of characters and such a big world to explore. Having to convey all of that through the lens of Feyre’s voice was definitely a challenge (and one I enjoyed), but it will be a nice change of pace to perhaps switch it up a bit in the upcoming installments.

What did you learn from writing the first two books that you employed in this one — or plan to use in the next spinoffs?
Oooh, this is a tough one to explain without spoiling anything! I won’t get into the technical things (like how writing action scenes and sexytimes scenes are weirdly similar in terms of keeping track of movements, body parts, etc.), but I will say that I learned some big things about the characters themselves — which you’ll see in ACOWAR, and perhaps playing out in the upcoming books, too.

Excerpt from A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Chapter 1

The painting was a lie.

A bright, pretty lie, bursting with pale pink blooms and fat beams of sunshine.

I’d begun it yesterday, an idle study of the rose garden lurking beyond the open windows of the studio. Through the tangle of thorns and satiny leaves, the brighter green of the hills rolled away into the distance.

Incessant, unrelenting spring.

If I’d painted this glimpse into the court the way my gut had urged me, it would have been flesh-shredding thorns, flowers that choked off the sunlight for any plants smaller than them, and rolling hills stained red.

But each brushstroke on the wide canvas was calculated; each dab and swirl of blending colors meant to portray not just idyllic spring, but a sunny disposition as well. Not too happy, but gladly, finally healing from horrors I carefully divulged.

I supposed that in the past weeks, I had crafted my demeanor as intricately as one of these paintings. I supposed that if I had also chosen to show myself as I truly wished, I would have been adorned with flesh-shredding talons, and hands that choked the life out of those now in my company. I would have left the gilded halls stained red.

But not yet.

Not yet, I told myself with every brushstroke, with every move I’d made these weeks. Swift revenge helped no one and nothing but my own, roiling rage.

Even if every time I spoke to them, I heard Elain’s sobbing as she was forced into the Cauldron. Even if every time I looked at them, I saw Nesta fling that finger at the King of Hybern in a death-promise. Even if every time I scented them, my nostrils were again full of the tang of Cassian’s blood as it pooled on the dark stones of that bone-castle.

The paintbrush snapped between my fingers.

I’d cleaved it in two, the pale handle damaged beyond repair.

Cursing under my breath, I glanced to the windows, the doors. This place was too full of watching eyes to risk throwing it in the rubbish bin.

I cast my mind around me like a net, trawling for any others near enough to witness, to be spying. I found none.

I held my hands before me, one half of the brush in each palm.

For a moment, I let myself see past the glamour that concealed the tattoo on my right hand and forearm. The markings of my true heart. My true title.

High Lady of the Night Court.

Half a thought had the broken paintbrush going up in flames.

The fire did not burn me, even as it devoured wood and brush and paint.

When it was nothing but smoke and ash, I invited in a wind that swept them from my palms and out the open windows.

For good measure, I summoned a breeze from the garden to snake through the room, wiping away any lingering tendril of smoke, filling it with the musty, suffocating smell of roses.

Perhaps when my task here was done, I’d burn this manor to the ground, too. Starting with those roses.

© Sarah J. Maas