Are you a sunshine witch or a moonlight witch? Water witch or forest witch or urban witch? Crystals or bones? Potted plants or candles? Rose or cinnamon? Horns or wings? Boots or barefoot? Ghosts or gods? Flowers or ash?
It’s probably not a secret that I’m madly in love with Lucien. I’ve written and read plenty of meta about him to gather a general insight on what the ACOTAR fandom thinks of him. Often I find that people see him as a tragic character that’s going to either rise or fall to the occasion— and I can relate to that method of thinking. However, I’ve begun to notice that a lot of these comments about Lucien are, in fact, very misleading and are almost always full of double standards. For instance, these are a few of the classics:
“I want him to succeed but not until he repents.”
“Lucien should just leave Tamlin. He’s a High Lord’s son, right? He’s should be able to just walk out spewing fire everywhere.”
“He’ll ally with the Nigh Court after Feyre uses Elain as bait.”
“Lucien isn’t as damaged as Feyre, and she managed to escape.”
And on, and on…
I’m going to try to keep this as calm and educational as possible (even though on the inside I’m typing in caps and being bitter) so let me address the first issue with the above statements: they’re all unrealistic, contain harmful representation of a person suffering abuse, and are brimming with double standards. Lucien doesn’t need to repent. I’m tired of seeing this as a scapegoat for readers to think that “after character does X they will be deemed good enough and receive Y at the ending.” Lucien doesn’t need to be forgiven for trying to survive. He’s a victim of immense abuse (*see horrific references below) and he’s only ever acted accordingly to what would keep him alive. I realize that the main scenario readers want Lucien to apologize for is the scene in ACOMAF where he tries to take Feyre back to the Spring Court. Let me break this down for you all.
While the event was definitely one portraying him as an antagonist, Lucien still believed that the Night Court was evil and manipulate— especially where the mind is concerned. Rhysand literally can place claws inside of a persons mind, and he once threatened Lucien to step aside or have the Autumn Court and his mother executed. (We all know it was for show, but did Lucien? Of course not.) So when this girl, who was deeply in love with his only friend, disappears and is found with a new, wicked attitude that matches Rhysand’s to an extent and Illyrian wings to boot…hell, if I were Lucien I’d probably think some mind control had come into play as well. This is where things get a bit tricky, however. Lucien does realize that Feyre looks healthier and seems to be better off in the Night Court, but he’s not certain if it’s real or a compulsion. Given that he has no way of knowing the truth, and that believing Rhysand had truly helped Feyre get better after Rhysand’s last encounter with Lucien had been full of threats, I’m lead to believe that Lucien was trying to help Feyre escape, even if it meant brining her back to Spring. We also have to consider that Lucien, although having shown signs of being wary of Tamlin’s behavior, still loves Tamlin because he offered him a home when his own brothers chased him out of his court. So if Tamlin orders him to do something, Lucien will do it out of loyalty and fear. Loyalty, for what he thinks he owes Tamlin because he’s never known what it’s like to be free, and fear because he knows Tamlin will lash out violently if he doesn’t get his way.
The second and third points I’ve stated are probably the worst I’ve seen. Lucien is the seventh son of the High Lord of Autumn, so he more than likely has magic that can rival other High Fae and, possibly, even High Lords. However, we have to consider that Lucien never reveals his magic for a few reasons. He could not know how to control it because no one may have bothered to show him. He could be terrified or disgusted with it, because fire (and let’s assume it’s fire magic) can cause devastating destruction. Or he simply doesn’t have enough power to rival Tamlin’s, and he knows this so he doesn’t try because the one time he DID stand up for himself, when he announced that he would leave his family’s court, he was hunted down.
Much like using one person’s love for another is a prominent motif in this story, Elain could potentially be used as bait for Lucien to “behave” himself in the Spring Court because he probably knows Feyre is up to something. This is wrong and deceitful for so many reasons. If Lucien is to have a character arc that rivals the main character’s own development (which I firmly believe he will) then he needs to come about this revelation on his own terms, not because of someone else— not matter if they’re his mate. If Elain were to be used against him, that would only further his abuse. This would be manipulating and traumatizing a PTSD and abuse survivor. He’s already lost one person he loved, and to dangle his mate in front of him for his cooperation won’t make him realize he’s more than he believes himself to be— it will only continue to make Lucien think that he’s worth less than those around him. Also, Elain doesn’t deserve to be treated like a piece of meat, much less by her sister (so I doubt this will happen, but it agonizes me to continuously see this theory).
On the topic of which character faced more abuse than the other, it’s nonexistent. We should never compare two characters’s trauma for the sake of figuring out who deserves the most sympathy. That’s so incredibly offensive and WRONG. This applies to all situations, books, and real life events, but for this rant I’m applying it to the concept that Feyre suffered more than Lucien and therefore calling Lucien an abused character like Feyre doesn’t mean anything. It’s important to note that I strongly disagree with this, and that I think their suffering is equal in that they’ve felt it both so strongly that it’s ruined parts of their lives they can never get back. No suffering can be measured, for everyone feels it differently. That being said, Feyre and Lucien DO contain many parallels together—mostly that Lucien is exactly in Feyre’s position, stuck between loving Tamlin and fearing him, but he doesn’t have a Rhysand to help him escape.
He was treated like dirt in his homeland.
His lover was murdered right in front of him as he was held down by his family.
When he stood up for himself and told them he was going to leave Autumn, his brothers hunted him down and tried to murder him.
He’s never had real friends aside from Tamlin, so he doesn’t understand how a real friend should treat their friends.
Tamlin helped kill one of his brothers, and Lucien feels indebted to him.
Lucien is known as the drunk, flirtatious courtier/spy that isn’t stable and cannot remain in a single court. This has definitely effected the way he thinks about himself and his self worth.
Amarantha used Lucien as a flogging board when Tamlin didn’t obey her.
Lucien’s eye was ripped out because he once again tried to stand up for himself on a task that wasn’t even his own.
No one has even tried to help him battle his PTSD, so it’s only festered
Ianthe pursued him and tried to rape him but he managed to escape her
Lucien has never had someone to talk to about these things.
Bottom line, treat Lucien better. He deserves so much more.