On Resolving Love Triangles (In Partial Defense of Tamlin): Discussion

Spoilers for ships/otps in A Court of Thorns and Roses/Shatter Me trilogies ahead!

Ah, love triangles. So easily able to manipulate our emotions, to have us grab signs and megaphones to proclaim our love for Hot Guy 1 (HG1), use all the gifs and CAPS and bold to show how perfect he is, while running at Hot Guy 2 (HG2) with pitchforks and knives, bashing on how horrible he is, and now bent he is on ruining out perfect OTP.

 

From what I’ve seen, there seems to be a few common ways to resolve love triangles.

  1. Kill HG2
  2. Resolve it peacefully, leaving half the fans on the losing side of HG2
  3. Turn HG2 into a complete monster so that EVERYONE will be on the side of HG1

Honestly, all of these ways annoy me. I just don’t like love triangles in general. (Along with most of the bookish community I’m sure). But lately, the one that’s been annoying me most of all is Method 3.

I’ve seen this in several books. (Need, Hunger Games, Shatter Me, A Court of Thorns and Roses, etc). But I’d never seen it done to such a severe degree as Sarah J Maas used it in A Court of Mist and Fury, to such a degree that it infuriated me. Tamlin infuriated me, of course. I was sick of his abusive nature, I hated how he treated Feyre. But even more than that, I was infuriated by how Sarah J Maas treated Tamlin,

Image result for a court of thorns and roses

In book one, it seems like most people ship Tamlin, the magical faerie, while Rhys is made out to be a cruel and manipulative. And then in book two, that’s completely turned around, with Tamlin turning into a horrible monster. And then everyone loves Rhys and hates Tamlin and that’s that.

Image result for a court of thorns and roses

The first thing that annoys me about this is how uncharacteristic/unrealistic it seems. SJM set up Tamlin’s personality in ACOTAR, and then in ACOMAF his behavior is COMPLETELY different. I know some people say that they found Tamlin to be a bit overprotective in the first book, but he really seemed a good guy at heart. A person who cared about his court, a great friend to Lucien, a person who would save Feyre when it meant dooming himself. And then we find out that he’s willing to sell out all of Prythian to Hybern, to be involved in schemes with Feyre’s sisters, to be a complete jerk to Feyre and Lucian and his entire court? It just seems so…inconsistant.

I found this also with Adam and Warner in Shatter Me. I found Adam to be really caring in the first book–adorable with his brother! And then we suddenly find out that he would rather Juliette dead than with Warner? It just doesn’t line up.

Image result for shatter me book

My next issue with this is that it feels manipulative by the author. When the author makes HG2 a complete villain, what other choice do we have than to like HG1? I feel like I can’t come to my own conclusions about the book and experience all sides; rather, I just have one guy shoved down my throat.

What I dislike most about this resolution to the love triangle is that it sort of seems to me that the main character ends up with HG1 because he’s so much better than HG2. Adam pushes Juliette down, Warner makes her better. Tamlin is controlling, Rhys gives her freedom. It feels to me that the main character is really just ending up with HG1 because he’s so much better than HG2, not because he’s good on his own merit. I want to love Rhys because he’s Rhys, not because he’s not Tamlin. Would we still like him as much if he wasn’t comparatively so much better than the other one?

This is why, when I see people rushing after Tamlin with their pitchforks, saying that he’s better off as dead and they want nothing more to do with him or the Spring Court, I’m hesitant to join in. I love Rhys, I dislike Tamlin, but I can’t fully embrace this love triangle feeling as manipulated as I am. As much as I embrace the books and the fandom, I can’t help but have that small part of me still dwelling on Tamlin, not loving Rhys as much as SJM wants us to.

What are your thoughts on authors making one person in a love triangle turn into a sort of “villain?” On Sarah J Maas’s treatment of Tamlin? I’m super interested to know, so leave a comment down below and let’s discuss 🙂

34 thoughts on “On Resolving Love Triangles (In Partial Defense of Tamlin): Discussion

  1. That’s a really interesting point about the author making us like Guy A simply because he’s not as horrible as Guy B, rather than on his own merits because it puts what I’ve had a vague sense of into words.
    There’s this film, Burlesque (with Christina Aguilera and Cher, trashy but I love it so much) where the main girl breaks up with Guy B by saying ‘you’re not a bad guy, you’re just the wrong guy for me’ and I really surprised. I was completely expecting the guy to be made out to be a jerk or a criminal or both but they went the other way instead (albeit a little clumsily). It’s such a overused trope that I had been expecting it and it does disservice to all the characters involved.
    Great example!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wait, wait, there is an option 4! One book I read had the main character be with BOTH HG1 and HG2 at the end… everyone’s happy, hahaha.

    I think it’s unfair to turn the other character into a villain… I totally agree with Lucy that it’s an overused trope, and it feels like a total cop out rather than some additional character development.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There are a lot of issues with the whole love triangle thing. You hit most of them on the head. On occasion I don’t mind it. If it’s supposed to be a story filled with drama and romance is a big part of the story, I guess it can work. However, I feel like authors throw love triangles into stories where it doesn’t always fit. Like they’re just there for the sake of being there.

    I thought it was interesting what Maas did with Tamlin and how she turned everyone against him to quickly/easily. I just assumed she was trying to go back to him playing the “beast” angle. By the time you get to A Court of Frost and Starlight, you can’t help but feel bad for him. Honestly, she’s making Feyre and Rhys out to be villains in this scenario for the way they’re treating him. I know the guy messed up and wasn’t prince charming, but it wasn’t like he was intentionally trying to hurt Feyre…

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  4. I completely agree with what you said about Rhys and Tamlin…When I read ACOTAR I loved Tamlin with all my heart, and then I was SO confused when everything was the opposite in book 2. Now I love Rhys, but sometimes I feel like he is too perfect. Like sometimes it seems like Sarah is trying to force us into being completely in love with him. Which it worked for me because I start hyperventilating when someone just mentions his name (LOL), but at the same time I can’t help but feel a little sorry that Tamlin was just thrown away like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Completely agree, great discussion point. I haven’t ACOTR but with Hunger Games, I just couldn’t believe Gale would do that. Character development is one thing but inconsistency is not believable enough. Tbh, it’s a cop-out and lazy writing. Authors might be worried that they will anger fans so they throw in an inexcusable deeds(s) to support the pair they really truly wanted. I’ll admire an author when they’re brave enough to write what they really want without fearing backlash.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! I know right! I’m still Team Gale haha. It annoys me when I’m on the loosing side and he’s a perfectly nice character, but it annoys me so much more when authors completly destroy the losing guy!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh, no, no. I agree that Gale’s character was ruined for all the wrong reasons especially since come on would he do something as stupid as that? It was out of character. But Gale and Katniss felt a bit forced… it seemed more friendly than romantic.

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  6. I completely agree that those are some of the worst issues with Love Triangles, especially with option 3! Another issue I have with love triangle resolutions is when the MC ends up with neither interest. One time I remember watching a show, where a love triangle backfired and the two interests ended up becoming a couple. It was certainly unique, but it felt cheap … and weird. Hahaha. Great post, Kay! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful post! I’ll never condone Tamlins actions but I’ve always thought that his sudden shift in behavior was just a way of making everyone love Rhys even more. We also never see his part of the story and what he’s felt with or why he had this shift in behavior. I feel like Maas totally manipulated us into loving Rhys. He’s a little too perfect, especially when the only other option is this new messed up Tamlin. This is definitely a trope that is used a lot in books and I don’t really know how I feel about it. Again, amazing post!

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  8. Lovely post! I really agree I was so upset with the way SJM dealt with Tamlin. I didn’t really love him in ACOTAR but he was nice and I felt that his personality just completely changed in book two. It certainly does feel manipulative and I really don’t like it when I’m made to despise a character who was actually good.

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  9. Great post!

    Yeah, I’m not a big fan of turning one person into a jerk, or 180 personality shifts. People don’t change that radically without a reason… I do know I usually get attached to the ‘bad’ guy unless their fundamental underlying personality is just jerkish.

    And now I’m rambling… Haha, I like Cynthia’s option 4

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m completely biased because i hate love traingles in general but i completely agree, this is such a terrible way to resolve them and it’s so annoying when characters change so drastically just for the sake of the romance! I think what’s also frustrating is sort of like the character ends up having to choose the lesser of two evils and not choosing either of them, even if it turned out that both options were problematic, is never presented as a possible outcome! Great post! 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You made a lot of really good points and this is a super interesting discussion! I think as far as Tamlin goes a lot of how his character turned out to be was a result of the trauma from book one, and he didn’t know how to handle it/handled it very badly and couldn’t really see that he was hurting Feyre, but his intentions at their core were still to protect her and care for her, like they were in the ACOTAR.

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  12. FINALLY! Oh my gosh I feel the exact same way!! I absolutely hate when authors pull this, because it almost seems like a cheap way out. I understand that the first love interest isn’t actually supposed to be the main one, but at the same time I feel like they deserve a lot more credit and shouldn’t be thrown into the dust like they always are.

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  13. This is such a great discussion post. I only read the first ACOTAR book, but I know how beloved Rhys is in the book community. I didn’t understand why so many people hated Tamlin when he seemed like an okay person in ACOTAR. As a matter fact, I thought Rhys was a jerk in ACOTAR who manipulated and drugged Feyre. It’s unfortunate to hear about the inconsistencies in the series. I like angst, but I hate when authors use love triangles to do that. It seems like lazy writing when an author chooses any of the routes you mentioned to resolve it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This is such a great post! Yeah I’m not a fan of love triangles either. I have slightly different feelings about Tamlin, cos I never liked him, but I totally get what you mean about wanting to like Rhys for his own sake. And that’s very true about Adam’s personality shift. I totally get what you mean about it being manipulative all things considered!

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  15. I agree completely. Of course I wouldn’t want Feyre to be with Tamlin now but I can’t accept how a person can change overnight on a whim of the author. I really cannot wrap my head around that. What was the point of ACOTAR then?

    Like

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