Discussing The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater Through My Favorite Quotes (Part 2)

“Richard Gansey III had forgotten how many times he had been told he was destined for greatness.”

First line in The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I’m back with part two of my discussion of The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater! The premise is rather simple: I share my favorite quotes, give my commentary on them and try to get around some of the important themes of the books. In my first post, I focused on the first two books in the series so this one will be about Blue Lily, Lily Blue and The Raven King. There will be MAJOR SPOILERS for the entire series!

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

“There is no good word for the opposite of lonesome.
One might be tempted to suggest togetherness or contentment, but the fact that these two other words bear definitions unrelated to each other perfectly displays why lonesome cannot be properly mirrored. It does not mean solitude, nor alone, nor lonely, although lonesome can contain all of those words in itself.
Lonesome means a state of being apart. Of being other. Alone-some.”

I’m still not sure I understand this quote perfectly and that’s why I love it. I think it’s about that feeling of being lonely even when you’re with someone. It’s not even that it’s because you’re not fully yourself around those people. I think you can have the deepest friendship with someone and still feel this kind of lonesome. It’s about how you view yourself and your life. To me, being lonesome means taking on all of the responsibility for what happens to you. You make the decisions and therefore hold yourself just a little bit apart from your friends to not be influenced by them. Stiefvater uses it to describe Adam and I think in his case, a part of the reason he feels lonesome is his goal in life which is different from the others’ goals and also more demanding. He has to keep himself apart from them to not lose that part of himself. I think. I might be rambling. Essentially, I don’t think Stiefvater implies that being lonesome is something 100% negative.

“Gansey turned to Adam, finally. He was still wearing his glorious kingly face, Richard Campbell Gansey III, white knight, but his eyes were uncertain. Is this okay?

Was it okay? Adam had turned down so many offers of help from Gansey. Money for school, money for food, money for rent. Pity and charity, Adam had thought. For so long, he’d wanted Gansey to see him as an equal, but it was possible that all this time, the only person who needed to see that was Adam.

Now he could see that it wasn’t charity Gansey was offering. It was just truth.

And something else: friendship of the unshakable kind. Friendship you could swear on. That could be busted nearly to breaking and come back stronger than before.

Adam held out his right hand, and Gansey clasped it in a handshake, like they were men, because they were men.”

A quote that perfectly sums up Gansey and Adam’s friendship and how it developed across three books. When you’re in Adam’s situation and don’t have enough money, offers of help are seen as a reminder that you need help so you call it charity and reject it. But that’s a knee-jerk reaction. Help from a friend is not charity. It’s not something to feel guilty about being unable to repay because, strictly speaking, you’re already repaying it by being their friend. And that’s the truth Gansey is offering. He would give Adam anything he wants because Adam is giving Gansey everything he wants. Adam just hasn’t realized that materialism isn’t everything and they are already equal.
I really like how Stiefvater ends this by proclaiming them men because it’s actually a really adult realization they’ve both come to. And it’s a very fitting and satisfying conclusion to their friendship’s development.

“It kills Dittleys and does terrible things to my friend.”


“That’s not his fault. Why didn’t you say you could see him?”


“But I’m not dead.”


This is a conversation between Jesse Dittley and Blue which I had to include because let me tell you, listening to the audiobook gave me a new appreciation for Jesse. Will Patton the narrator managed to put so much personality into Jesse’s lines despite having to shout them, and it was very effective in making me see Jesse as just a giant teddy bear. I love him and mourn him.
But back to the quote because it’s hilarious. Most interactions between Blue and Jesse were funny because Jesse so often makes a comment about Blue’s height, her shortness being more unbelievable to him than a curse in his cave. I love it!

“You can be just friends with people, you know,” Orla said. “I think it’s crazy how you’re in love with all those raven boys.”

Orla wasn’t wrong, of course. But what she didn’t realize about Blue and her boys was that they were all in love with one another. She was no less obsessed with them than they were with her, or one another, analyzing every conversation and gesture, drawing out every joke into a longer and longer running gag, spending each moment either with one another or thinking about when next they would be with one another. Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn’t all-encompassing, that wasn’t blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she’d had this kind, she didn’t want the other.”

Doesn’t this make you feel kind of fuzzy? Like you want to hug this quote? Even though these people aren’t my friends, because sadly they’re fictional, I still felt that love that comes from such a deep friendship, just for a moment. And I understand why Blue wouldn’t want anything else.
I’m also a sucker for equating friendships with romantic relationships so I’m a big fan of the way Stiefvater uses “in love” here. We pretty much only say “in love” when referring to romantic relationships but there’s actually nothing about it that suggests it should be limited to that. A loving relationship doesn’t necessarily mean a sexual one, so reading this quote I had no trouble believing that the characters are in love with one another. It’s just a way of describing how deeply intertwined they are in each other’s lives.

The Raven King

“His feelings for Adam were an oil spill; he’d let them overflow and now there wasn’t a damn place in the ocean that wouldn’t catch fire if he dropped a match.”

I’m fine. Totally fine.
And we understand this, right? The Ronan/Adam-relationship is the king of slow-burn romances because it took us three and a half books to get there and there were a lot of subtle hints along the way. This was not an idea Stiefvater came up with for the last book because she has been building it all along which means we understand how Ronan’s feelings have been building to the point where they overflow. Also, using an oil spill as a metaphor for love is why I adore Stiefvater’s writing. It’s just not a sentence you read in every other book, you know.

“No homework. I got suspended,” Blue replied.
“Get the fuck out,” Ronan said, but with admiration. “Sargent, you asshole.”

Proof that the Blue/Ronan-friendship is the best within the group! They have a more than rocky start in the first book but the development that relationship goes through makes it my favorite. It’s very subtle because as far as I remember, they don’t have a single conversation just the two of them. I think the development happens more off-page because they, just by spending time together, learn they have a lot in common. Like, I see them as the “Let’s get shit done” half of the group while Gansey and Adam are the scholars who need to consider all angles before taking action. Blue and Ronan share that straightforward and simple way of living life, even if they express it a little differently. And they both care about Gansey a lot and I think there’s some unification in that as well.

“Adam lived in an apartment located above the office of St. Agnes Catholic Church, a fortuitous combination that focused most of the objects of Ronan’s worship into one downtown block.”

Do you think Stiefvater writes something like this and just expects her readers to go on with their lives after reading it? He calls Adam an “object of worship”! Jesus, Ronan, that’s dramatic even for you.

“Adam didn’t need his father to go to jail. He had merely needed someone outside the situation to look at it and confirm that yes, a crime had been committed. Adam had not invented it, spurred it, deserved it. It said so on the court paperwork. Robert Parrish, guilty. Adam Parrish, free.”

All of Adam’s friends (and readers of the books) wanted his father to go to jail for a long time and Stiefvater uses that very effectively to contrast Adam’s feelings. It was never about getting justice but about being seen and believed in. It was about enabling himself to see what had actually happened to him instead of seeing that constructed version where he might have spurred it or deserved it. Getting someone with authority to confirm that the latter version is wrong must be so immensely freeing. It’s also why that last part “Adam Parrish, free” has a much deeper meaning. She could have used “not guilty” or not mentioned him at all at the end, but she uses “free” because he’s free of the burden that is doubt. He is free to be himself and his father did not need to go to jail for him to achieve that.

“The kitchen window groaned open, and Jimi shouted out, “Blue! Your boys are out front, looking like they’re fixing to bury a body.”
Again? Blue thought.”

I added this just for laughs. I have nothing to elaborate on 😂

“The head is too wise. The heart is all fire.”

This is the kind of quote you get as a tattoo if you’re into that because it’s really just a fancy way of saying “Stop overthinking shit”. In my first post, I also talked about how the themes of the series are exploration and a search for knowledge, and how those things aren’t achieved without risk. This quote is again another example of that. Your head wants to overthink and consider all the dangers so sometimes it can be a good thing to turn it off. Do what you want! I think a part of this quote is also about how wanting something so much means you know there are risks but have decided not to care. And also that it might be stupid and you might fail. But the point is that you try and that you listen to your heart.

I really love this series and it has been great to be back with these characters and analyze them in more depth. But let me know what you think! Do you have a favorite quote from these two books? Which book in the series do you like the most? What is your interpretation of lonesome?

5 thoughts on “Discussing The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater Through My Favorite Quotes (Part 2)

  1. I keep forgetting just how lyrical Stiefvater’s writing is – you’re kind of making me want to reread these myself now 😂

    I absolutely love the lonesomeness quote, although I still think that no matter how you put it, that definition of “lonesome” is tinged with sadness. Or maybe melancholia… Like, I agree with you that you can also have that feeling when you’re with people, but even if it’s not 100% sad, the sense that you can’t fully connect with people, that there will always be some kind of gulf between you, is kind of sad, right? Although you can also revel in that sadness, I guess… (Is it evident that I’m also horrible at explaining what I think this quote means? 😅)

    And obviously, I love the Ronan/Adam slowburn romance and the Ronan/Blue friendship, too! Which may be related to me generally loving everything involving Ronan, but ah well… 😁🤷🏼‍♀️

    As for the “in love” thing, me liking it very much depends on how the equating friends with romantic relationships thing is done. If it’s clearly a metaphor to describe the depth of a friendship like it is here, it also melts my heart a little, but I’m still very skeptical about generally using “in love” to refer to anything other than romantic relationships. Although maybe that’s due to my language history because in German, we only have one word for being DEEPLY and romatically in love with someone and loving someone platonically – there’s no difference! So maybe having to figure out how the whole thing worked in English amplified the difference in my mind? Additionally, we do have a word for generally being in love with someone (in jemanden verliebt sein), but it has more of a superficial “having a crush” quality to it than the word for loving someone (jemanden lieben) so maybe my bias against the superficialness of being in love kind of transcends languages there… Sorry if that was confusing, but I figured with your newly Duolingo-refreshed German skills, you’d appreciate the language input 😜

    But anyway, to finally cut this comment short – someone needs to get back to work in order to have enough time to start reading a certain questionable book on Wednesday 😅 -, my favorite Raven Boys book is probably the first one. I really liked the occult, mysterious air of that one and felt like the sequels never quite lived up to it…

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    1. I think the reason I see being lonesome as not-sad is that I probably see it as a sort of personality trait like introversion/extroversion. It’s just a part of how you function and you shouldn’t be sad about something you can’t change if that makes sense. Which is also why I don’t think lonesome means you can’t fully connect with people. Not necessarily at least and I think Adam proves that 🤔

      I don’t think I’ve seen other authors attempt to change the meaning of “in love” so I can’t really say if I’d love it no matter what, of course. I remember A Little Life going down the same route but I don’t think Yanagihara actually used “in love” to describe a friendship.
      And it’s funny because we already know German and Danish are very similar so that whole situation you described exists in the exact same way in Danish, right down to the “having a crush” quality of our word for in love 😄 I’ve just never thought about it like that before. It might sound strange but it’s like I don’t connect “in love” to the Danish word for it (forelsket) because I’m so used to hearing/reading the English term in movies and books and so on. It kind of exists on it own like so many other English words in my head so the awkwardness of the Danish word in that context never crossed my mind 😅

      I also find it interesting that you liked the first book best because I always got the impression people either preferred two or three. I thought The Dream Thieves was my favorite but I actually have to switch to the first one too after this reread 😄 It probably has the most plot and didn’t feel as slow as the others.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess defining lonesomeness is more difficult than I thought at first 🤔 I’ve never really seen it as a personality trait, but more like a long-lasting emotional state… So I saw Adam finally opening up more as him losing a bit of his lonesomeness, I suppose?

        The Danish insights are super interesting, though! 🤗 I definitely also get the “words existing on their own” thing – they usually do for me, too, which yet another reason why I’ve always found translation horribly difficult. Switching from thinking in one language to another can be such a pain! But I still think the different words might be subconsciously influencing my perception of a concept because they’re both connected to the same “imagery” in my head, if that makes any sense. I might just be grasping at straws to find an explanation, though 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think I caught onto the part of the quote that said lonesomeness and loneliness aren’t synonyms which also has me thinking that this is Stiefvater’s own definition of the word and not a general one. So yes, in other circumstances I would agree with you, but I don’t think that’s what Stiefvater means here. I don’t see Adam’s lonesomeness change throughout the books 🤔

        Liked by 1 person

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