Hello gentles, and welcome to the next installment of my sporking of City of Ashes. Sorry it’s taken so long, but I just finished another semester of grad school, so things were a bit hectic. But now that I’m done (and my summer class doesn’t start until June), I can devote more time to other things.
Like tearing this book apart.
So, last time Jace got placed under house arrest, but instead of sending him back to the Institute, where he can be watched 24/7, the Inquisitor decided to put him in the care of Magnus Bane. Because apparently he’s “trustworthy”.
Yeah, we’ll see why that was a biiiig mistake very soon.
But first, we have to check out the introduction to part two.
Part two is called The Gates of Hell. And while appropriate in a way (I certainly feel like I’m about to pass through Hell), again, I don’t think it makes all that much sense.
And remember in the last chapter when I gave CC a little credit for not using the most over-quoted bit from Dante’s Inferno? Whelp, she decided to piss that little good faith away with this part’s quote:
Before me things created were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon, ye who enter here.
Yep. The inscription above the gates of Hell. Or rather, part of it. At the beginning of a section called “The Gates of Hell”. Once again, I’ll let Gandalf field this one:
And a little credit where due, because at least CC quoted more than just the last line. For those curious, here’s two translations of the full inscription, courtesy of Wikiquote:
Through me you go to the grief wracked city;
Through me you go to everlasting pain;
Through me you go a pass among lost souls.
Justice inspired my exalted Creator:
I am a creature of the Holiest Power,
of Wisdom in the Highest and of Primal Love.
Nothing till I was made was made,
only eternal beings. And I endure eternally.
Abandon all hope — Ye Who Enter Here
Through me the way to the suffering city;
Through me the everlasting pain;
Through me the way that runs among the Lost.
Justice urged on my exalted Creator:
Divine Power made me,
The Supreme Wisdom and the Primal Love.
Nothing was made before me but eternal things
And I endure eternally.
Abandon all hope – You Who Enter Here.
And I’m sure you can find plenty more elsewhere.
I also note that CC failed to note precisely where in Inferno this quote is taken from. It’s a long work, so that kind of citation might be helpful. (It’s the beginning of Canto III, for the curious).
Then again, CC didn’t feel the need to cite where in Julius Caesar she pulled her series title from, so I guess I should adjust my expectations.
On the other hand, CC did work as a journalist. You’d think she’d have learned to properly cite her sources. But again, she did work mostly for tabloids and entertainment magazines, so maybe that explains things.
(And on a side note, I’m really annoyed that of all Dante Alighieri’s works, the only one anyone really quotes is Inferno. Not even the two other parts of his Divine Comedy. But I guess Purgatorio and Paradiso aren’t quite as interesting.)
But enough dawdling, it’s time to get to the chapter proper.
So, chapter eight begins with a dream sequence from Clary.
Because why not?
So in the dream, Clary’s a little kid, and walking along the beach near Coney Island. There’s some not-terrible description of the setting, and we suddenly learn that Clary’s wearing pajamas. Like you do.
And then she sees her mom. Jocelyn is working on a sand castle, and asks if Clary’s come to help. Clary says she’s missed Jocelyn, and Jocelyn reminds Clary that she isn’t dead, just in a coma. Even Clary’s subconscious realizes that she sucks at being a daughter.
Our “Heroes”: 1
So Clary asks how she’s supposed to fix that. Well, Clary, since you apparently gave up after your plan of “bring Jace, the child that Jocelyn hasn’t seen in almost two decades, to talk to her” didn’t pan out, I’d say you have plenty of options open. But for starters, I’d go with actually visiting your comatose mother.
Then Jocelyn stares out to sea for a bit, asks Clary for her arm, and draws a magic tattoo on it with a piece of driftwood she’d been holding. When Clary asks what it does, Jocelyn just says that it’ll protect her. And instead of clarifying further (because answering questions is for plebs), they instead watch as they get hit by a tsunami.
Clary wakes up, and if you guessed that she’d actually have the magic mark on her skin, then congratulations – you’re able to predict trite clichés.
Good lord, one scene in and I’m already sick of this crap.
But nevertheless, I shall soldier on.
Clary goes to the kitchen and finds a note from Luke saying that he’s gone to the hospital yet again. Does this, combined with her dream, inspire Clary to visit her mother?
Pfft, nope. She’s got plans. And besides, it’s not like Jocelyn’s going anywhere.
Our “Heroes”: 2
So instead of being a good daughter, Clary goes to meet Simon. He’s not where he said he’d be waiting for her, so Clary looks in a record store (good lord, do those even exist anymore?) where he sometimes hangs out. And in a surprising display of maturity, Clary doesn’t get mad at Simon.
I should not be pleased when characters act their age instead of their shoe size.
But this is another one of those moments where CC demonstrates that she’s not just some hack who stumbled into a writing career (insert a joke about the author of your choice here). The dialogue doesn’t sound stilted. They actually talk like two friends who have known each other for years. Why does CC insist on writing YA urban fantasy when she could do non-genre fiction instead? She could have been John Green before there was a John Green!
Anyway, we get another update in the continuing saga of Simon’s band, a much more interesting story than anything else in this book or the preceding volume. In this case, one of his band-mates wants to change the name of the band to Mojo Pie, rather than their current name, Champagne Enema. Clary thinks they should change the name.
See, even if this is just a running joke, at least it’s actually funny.
There’s also a bit about Clary knowing what Simon’s shirt means (a guy in headphones dancing with a chicken – and no, I don’t get it either), which Simon doubts, because Clary’s “a good girl.” Yeah, tell that to her mom in the coma.
Clary brings up Simon not being where he said he’d be, and he apologizes, which leads to Clary apologizing for freaking out. Which is odd, because from my perspective, she didn’t freak out at all. Her reaction was feeling, and I quote, “a faint tug of anxiety” before remembering the record store. For that, I’m giving Clary’s reaction (or lack thereof) one of these:
Our “Heroes”: 3
Though I guess it shouldn’t be surprising – I mean, it’s only Simon, after all. Now if it had been Jace, Clary would have had a panic attack and considered calling up the National Guard or something.
Anyway, this leads to Simon justifying Clary’s “anxiety”, which I suppose is good, because at least they aren’t ignoring what happened. Although, they do act like Clary & co. were in the middle of the attack on the Silent City, rather than just passing through in the aftermath. And apparently Luke was none-too-happy to learn that Clary was their, but not enough to actually punish her for it. No, he’s too busy being the devoted love-interest to Clary’s mom to bother being Clary’s parental figure, despite apparently being her legal guardian. But I guess that would be inconvenient.
They go to a park, Clary looks around at people doing normal park stuff, and this happens:
Everything changes in my life, and the world stays the same, Clary thought.
I’d say that’s profound, but I’m not really sure what should be taken from it. I mean, it could be Clary realizing that all the drama in her life only really matters to her, or some take on the whole “sadder but wiser” thing, but I honestly don’t know, because that sentence doesn’t seem to connect to anything else.
It’s at this point that we learn that some indeterminate amount of time has passed between the end of the previous chapter and now. I assume this because Simon brings up Clary talking to Jace, which she hasn’t done, but she has been in touch with Isabelle and Alec, though only to get updates on Jace.
And it’s only now that we learn they’re going to visit Jace at Magnus’s place. Why we weren’t told this earlier, I don’t know. It can’t be to build suspense, because there’s nothing suspenseful about this situation. Simon asks if Jace (or Alec, or some other guy, because pronouns are confusing) asked to see Clary, to which she responds that “He doesn’t have to ask.” Which A) doesn’t answer the question, and B) doesn’t explain why they’re going on this little conjugal visit in the first place. Because why bother explaining things?
So they go to Magnus’s place, and Alec is waiting outside for them. He also has a “don’t look here” spell on, which he wouldn’t need if he dressed like a normal person instead of wearing an obviously suspicious trench coat. Just saying, anonymity is better than invisibility, if only because it’s easier.
Alec is none too pleased that Clary brought Simon along, and refers to him as “the mundane”. Because we must be reminded at all times that Shadowhunters are racist pricks.
Our “Heroes”: 4
Though at least it’s not capitalized for no reason, and Simon does get a halfway decent comeback in, so that’s nice:
“That’s what I like about you people,” said Simon. “You always make me feel so welcome.”
And since it’s only Alec being a prick, Clary stands up for Simon, pointing out that Simon’s already been to Magnus’s place. So after Alec gives “a theatrical sight,” they head up. Alec also has a key to the apartment, because again, CC sucks at subtlety. The apartment itself is described as looking like “an empty nightclub […] during off hours”. I’d say that the later makes the descriptor “empty” unnecessary, as I imagine most facilities (nightclub or otherwise) tend to be pretty empty when closed.
You Keep Using That Word: 1
It also leads me to wonder if Magnus does anything besides throw big parties, because that’s the only excuse I can come up with for his place being such a mess. Seriously, dude, you’re an adult – clean your shit up. Also, it seems that the big party from the last book happened sometime the previous week, further screwing with the timeline of these books.
Magnus sweeps in (no, not my choice of words) wearing what I suppose is an outfit intended to remind everyone that he’s gay (or bi, or whatever he’s supposed to be) – long green dressing gown, mesh shirt, and jeans. He greets them, referring to Alec as his darling, Clary by name, and Simon as “rat-boy”. I’m tempted to give him a racism point for not remembering the name of the mundane, but that is probably the only memorable part of their previous encounter. Not that Simon’s happy about it.
Clary explains that they’ve come to visit Jace, and asks if Jace is okay. To which Magnus gives this response:
“I don’t know,” Magnus said. “Does he normally just lie on the floor like that without moving?”
“What—,” Alec began, and broke off as Magnus laughed. “That’s not funny.”
Yeah, I’m gonna have to agree with you there, Alec.
Rapier Twit: 1
Especially because Magnus’s defense is that he just wanted to tease Alec. Which is totally how you should treat someone you’re dating. (Yeah, spoilers – the only two non-heteronormative characters have hooked up, in case you hadn’t figured that out by now.) Also, that gets you one of these, Magnus:
Our “Heroes”: 5
And I’ll admit that I kind of liked Magnus in the last book, if only because he very clearly didn’t give a shit about the main characters’ problems, unlike just about everyone else. But, since so many of CC’s fans liked him so much, she decided to bring him back, leading to her developing him as a character. And apparently CC is like SMeyer in developing side-characters – it never leads to good things.
Moving on, Magnus says that Jace is fine, and we come to the reason CC described the apartment as being such a mess. You see, Magnus is really sloppy, and Jace is obsessive about cleaning. That’s right – CC decided to make them into an Odd Couple. Because that’s what this series needs. Clary (of course) defends Jace’s behavior by saying that he “likes things neat” while thinking back to his room back at the Institute.
First, that’s less “liking things neat” and more OCD. Second, why is Clary, who’s only spent a few days with Jace, defending him instead of Alec, who’s lived with Jace for years? It’s like CC forgot that Clary only recently learned that Jace was her brother, rather than having lived with him her whole life.
Magnus leads them to the den, where Jace is “sprawled” in an armchair watching TV. And I don’t think CC knows what “sprawl” means, so let’s see what dictionary.com has to say:
verb (used without object)
1. to be stretched or spread out in an unnatural or ungraceful manner:
The puppy’s legs sprawled in all directions.
2. to sit or lie in a relaxed position with the limbs spread out carelessly or ungracefully:
He sprawled across the bed.
3. to spread out, extend, or be distributed in a straggling or irregular manner, as vines, buildings, handwriting, etc.
verb (used with object)
5. to stretch out (the limbs) as in sprawling.
6. to spread out or distribute in a straggling manner.
Notice a general trend? Yeah, doesn’t exactly fit with the neat-freak image CC just tried to shove down our throats. However, it does fit with my mental image of Jace – arrogant, lazy, pampered, and full of himself.
So that gets one of these:
You Keep Using That Word: 2
So Jace, being the ungrateful little shit that he is, complains that, despite all his magical mojo, all Magnus’s TV gets are reruns. However, it does lead into this nice bit between Magnus and Simon:
“Also, TiVo accomplishes much the same thing,” pointed out Simon.
“My way is cheaper.” Magnus clapped his hands together and the room was suddenly flooded with light. Jace, slumped in the chair, raised an arm to cover his face. “Can you do that without magic?”
“Actually,” said Simon, “yes. If you watched infomercials, you’d know that.”
I’d say this was CC trying to pull and example of Muggles Do It Better, but that would require her to A) accept that Muggles (sorry, “mundanes”) actually can accomplish things on their own, and B) acknowledge the possibility that “mundanes” could, in any way, be superior to Shadowhunters or any other magical race. And we all know that ain’t happenin’.
Clary intervenes and tells Jace they’re here to plan out there next move. Jace says he wants to watch Project Runway. I have two thoughts about this. First, the whole thing with Jace sitting on his ass watching TV has me once again wondering how much Shadowhunters know about mundane society.
Shoddy World Building: 1
Second, I’m actually a bit conflicted about the reactions to this situation. On the one hand, the kids are having the opposite reactions that they should have – Jace, being the accused party, should want to prove his innocence, while the others, certain that he is innocent, should be telling him to sit back, relax, and let the Inquisitor do her job. But on the other hand, by staying out of it, Jace can’t make things any worse for him.
But never mind that – we have “plot” to get to. Magnus insists Jace get off his ass, and turns the TV off with a snap of his fingers. Then this happens:
“Suddenly you’re interested in solving my problems?”
“I’m interested in getting my apartment back. I’m tired of you cleaning all the time.” Magnus snapped his fingers again, menacingly. “Get up.”
“Or you’ll be the next one to go up in smoke,” said Simon with relish.
“There’s no need to clarify my finger snap,” said Magnus. “The implication was clear in the snap itself.”
Rapier Twit: 2
Magnus, as happy as I am that you apparently have ulterior and selfish motives for helping Jace, how is that implied by snapping your fingers? How can anything be implied by snapping your fingers? It’s only ‘clear’ because Simon said it. That’s not how implying things works.
And Simon, don’t be like that. I like you, dude, but that kind of behavior is beneath you.
So Jace gets up, and for some reason now told that he still has a minor bruise on his wrist.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 1
Yeah, still not caring.
So they all head to the living room (you know, despite previously being described as “unexpectedly small,” there seems to be quite a bit of space in this apartment), were Magnus summons up an antique table and chairs. This leads to what could have been an interesting discussion, but only ends with making Simon the butt of a joke:
“That’s amazing,” Clary said, sliding into a chair. It was surprisingly comfortable. “How can you create something out of nothing like that?”
“You can’t,” said Magnus. “Everything comes from somewhere. These come from an antiques reproduction store on Fifth Avenue, for instance. And these”— suddenly five white waxed paper cups appeared on the table, steam rising gently from the holes in their plastic lids—“come from Dean & DeLuca on Broadway.”
“That seems like stealing, doesn’t it?” Simon pulled a cup toward him. He drew the lid back. “Ooh. Mochaccino.” He looked at Magnus. “Did you pay for these?”
“Sure,” said Magnus, while Jace and Alec snickered. “I make dollar bills magically appear in their cash register.”
“No.” Magnus popped the lid off his own coffee. “But you can pretend I did if it makes you feel better.”
Rapier Twit: 3
And you were so close that time, CC – if only you’d resisted the urge to further shit on Simon, that could have been somewhat funny. Say, like this:
“Ooh. Mochaccino.” He looked at Magnus. “Did you pay for these?”
“Sure,” said Magnus, “if it makes you feel better.”
Because not only does this not make Simon look like a rube, it also doesn’t make Alec, Jace, and Magnus look like dicks for finding this so amusing. Which reminds me,
Our “Heroes”: 7
One for laughing at the stupid mundie, and another for another “charming” trait to add to Magnus’s character sheet – steals stuff whenever he feels like it.
Clary doesn’t say anything, because Jace is now here and she’ll never contradict him, but decides to drop a dollar in the tip jar at some point to make up for it. Because that’ll totally cover the cost of five cups of coffee that’ll probably get pulled from one or more employee’s salary for the day.
Our “Heroes”: 8
Also, doing a bit of poking around online, Dean & DeLuca is a real place, and CC even got the address right. Except it’s not a coffee shop – it’s a high-class grocery store. The only explanation I can come up with for CC thinking it’s a coffee shop is because the TV show Felicity used the same name for one.
Even if they do have a coffee shop inside, it just makes Clary’s whole “dollar in the tip jar” thing even stupider.
Moving on, Clary and Alec manage to get Jace to explain what happened in the Silent City. When Jace hesitates, Alec puts a hand on his shoulder, which elicits a negative response from Magnus, and Alec lowering his hand and blushing. Because god forbid Alec attempt to comfort his clearly disturbed friend. So let’s add “possessive and jealous” to Magnus’s list of attractive traits.
Our “Heroes”: 9
Wow, I’m really raking those up, aren’t I? And for some reason, CC has Simon grinning like an idiot at this. Because she must destroy any sympathy her readers have for Simon, otherwise they might start thinking that Clary’s better off with him, and we can’t have that!
Magnus asks the same question I was asking for the past several chapters – where the hell were the adult Shadowhunters? And we also learn that the previous chapter(s) took place the previous night, further making me wonder why Luke didn’t ground Clary’s ass or make her come to the hospital with him. Looks like he’s as good at being a parental figure as he is at leading a pack of werewolves.
So Alec explains about the dead faerie kid in the park, and mentions that all the kid’s blood had been drained, which leads Jace to make this comment:
“I bet the Inquisitor thinks I did that, too,” said Jace. “My reign of terror continues.”
Please, Jace – didn’t that happen after you were locked up? Even the Inquisitor, as crazy as you seem to think she is, isn’t that obsessed.
Also, way to make the death of an innocent child all about you, you self-centered prick.
This causes Magnus to kind of freak out, because he goes to stare out the window and talk about a weird dream he had a few nights ago about a city of blood and bone. Which does lead to a bit that made me smile:
Simon slewed his eyes over to Jace. “Is standing by the window muttering about blood something he does all the time?”
“No,” said Jace, “sometimes he sits on the couch and does it.”
See, now that’s actually kind of funny, because what Magnus is doing is legitimately weird, and the characters are treating it as such. CC, how do you not realize what makes this work, and having one of your main characters constantly say nasty things about other, more likeable characters, doesn’t?
Alec isn’t amused by this, and asks Magnus what’s up. Magnus explains what we, the audience, already know – two other young Downworlders killed in similar ways over the past week, and that it’s unlikely to be a coincidence. Interesting how no one seems to have taken this information to the Shadowhunters, or even made them aware of the other murders. It’s almost as if the Downworlders don’t trust them.
Okay, since when does Magnus get psychic dreams? Is everybody going to have those now? You get a psychic dream! And you get a psychic dream! Psychic dreams for everyone! [/Oprah]
Also, it’s apparently sunset. Which is odd, as I’d gotten the impression that Clary went to meet Simon after getting up, and I had assumed was earlier in the day, especially since she seemed so happy to have some coffee to drink, and was eating a Danish when she went to meet Simon. CC, would it kill you to mention the actual time every now and then? I know when I wake up, one of the first things I do is look at a clock to see what time it is.
Anyway, Simon says that it looks like vampires are behind the murders, but Jace puts that idea down. Not with a rational argument, like “vampires don’t cut their victim’s throats”, but rather that Raphael (the head vampire, remember?) said it wasn’t and was very sure of it. Also, he refers to vampires as “Night Children”.
You Keep Using That Word: 3
Stop doing that, CC. It’ll never not sound stupid.
Simon nicely sums up my reaction to Jace’s defense of Raphael:
“Yeah, ’cause he’s trustworthy,” muttered Simon.
Magnus backs Jace up, saying that there was “a strong demonic presence” at both the other murders. Again, why hasn’t anyone told the Shadowhunters? I mean, don’t they have weird tricorder/HAM-radio/cellphone thingies that detect demon energy? This information would nicely exonerate the vampires, and ease tension between Downworlder factions – something you’d think Shadowhunters would be all for. Assuming they don’t secretly want all the Downworlder scum dead, that is.
Magnus also concludes that Valentine’s responsible. And I could go into how Valentine working with/using demons makes absolutely no sense given his apparent motivation and goals, but I’m eleven pages into this sporking, and there’s waaaay too much of this chapter left for that.
Jace asks why Valentine would do that (really? Are you seriously defending Valentine?), and CC remembers that Clary’s actually in the scene. You might forgive her forgetting that, seeing as how Clary’s been content to sit and just observe things for the past few pages. She points out that the Inquisitor did say that the faerie kid’s murder might have been a diversion to let Valentine get into the Silent City.
Jace says that there are easier ways to distract the adult Shadowhunters, and that pissing off faeries is generally a bad idea. Yes, he is, in fact, defending his father, a man known for attempting to incite a genocidal race war. Stockholm syndrome really is a bitch.
Our “Heroes”: 10
Magnus says that Valentine wanted the kids’ blood, and looks through a book he grabbed from his room. He explains that the book is written in another demon language, Purgatic, which makes me wonder just how many demon languages there are. Not that it matters, as the page also has a nice convenient drawing of the MacGuffin Sword on it, which everyone recognizes, even Clary, despite having only seen the thing once.
Magnus explains that the book describes the “Ritual of Infernal Conversion”, and that Valentine intends to make the MacGuffin Sword evil. Apparently all magic objects in this universe have an “alliance”, the Shadowhunter’s not-lightsabers are “seraphic” and draw their power from angels, that the MacGuffin Sword draws power directly from “the Angel”, and that this ritual will switch the MacGuffin Sword to being demonic instead.
You Keep Using That Word: 4
CC, there are many angels, and they each have a name. You just explained that. You can’t single one out as being “the Angel” because “Angel” isn’t a title.
Also, despite learning this, who wants to bet that Jace is still going to be agnostic/atheist?
And how will this ritual actually help Valentine? The MacGuffin Sword is pretty useless, apart from simply being a sword – how will switching it from “good” to “evil” help?
Then CC decides to shit on Simon for no reason with this:
“Lawful good to lawful evil!” said Simon, pleased.
“He’s quoting Dungeons and Dragons,” said Clary. “Ignore him.”
First, fuck you, CC, for treating something your target demographic might be interested in like it’s stupid, yet again. You’re perfectly willing to “let your geek flag fly” when it suits you, but not enough to alienate the “cool kids”.
Also, I feel it necessary to point out that, since D&D 3.0/3.5 used a two-axis alignment system (good/neutral/evil, and lawful/neutral/chaotic, resulting in a 3X3 grid), the reverse of lawful good would be chaotic evil. As can easily be seen in any number of the D&D alignment chart memes. Here’s a general one:
Here’s one using characters from Game of Thrones:
Hell, here’s one using characters from Disney movies:
“Lawful Evil” means you exploit the system to your own benefit – you’ll twist and use any loop-hole you can find, but still follow the rules, if only to the letter. “Chaotic Evil”, on the other hand, means you ignore the rules and do whatever the hell you want.
If you’re going to reference D&D, CC, at least get it right.
[adjusts geek hat]
So. Moving on, Magnus points out that, even if Valentine manages to cast Align Weapon (yes, I’m just as surprised as you that that’s an actual spell in D&D) on the MacGuffin sword, he wouldn’t be able to do much with it. A statement which is immediately refuted, as doing so would grant Valentine the ability to summon up an army of demons.
For some reason.
You’d think that if the sword could do that in Evil Mode, it’d be able to summon up an army of angels in Good Mode. But no – apparently it’s like in RPGs, when characters you beat up join you suddenly aren’t nearly as tough as they previously were, only backwards. (I know there’s a trope for that, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it’s called)
Simon points out that Valentine has a thing for armies. Magnus postulates that Valentine will use said demon army to attack Shadowhunter Land. Simon asks why, as the Shadowhunters would just kill them all, but Jace points out that they have no hard numbers on how many demons exist, so Valentine could just go all Zapp Brannigan on Idris and win through attrition. Also, we once again get the mention that in this setting, demons come from other dimensions, not Hell, thus raising the question of how they can have a uniform moral alignment and why they’re always treated as being evil.
Shoddy World Building: 2
This leads Clary to remember the big nasty demon from the last book, and how facing hundreds or thousands like it would be terrifying. But not how Simon came in and saved all their asses, I note.
Now we get to why Valentine’s been killing Downworlder kids and draining them of their blood – this ritual of his requires him to heat the sword to red-hot, then cool it in blood taken from children of each race of Downworlders – warlocks, werewolves, vampires, and faeries. So much for that “all myths are true” crap from last book.
Shoddy World Building: 3
Also, Magnus refers to each as a “child of [something]”, which is both annoying and stupid.
You Keep Using That Word: 8
One for each.
Clary actually freaks out about this, and says that Valentine is going to kill another kid. Magnus clarifies that he actually needs to kill two kids, since he didn’t get any blood from the werewolf kid, and might already be summoning up demons. Not that Jace appears to be bothered by the fact that instead of capturing his genocidal psychopath of a father, he decided to use a pack of innocent werewolves as his literal emotional punching bags.
Our “Heroes”: 11
No, instead Jace points out how, if Valentine’s summoning more demons, then demonic activity would be on the rise, when in fact it’s the opposite. Of course, that assumes that Valentine is up demons in the first place. But instead of pointing that out, Magnus concludes that Valentine’s “calling _all the demons to him._” Because that makes much more sense.
For both Jace and Magnus assuming that Valentine must be summoning demons right now, as opposed to the equally (or possibly more) likely scenario that he’s not doing that at all. I swear, Occam’s razor would blow these characters’ tiny little minds.
They all sit in silence at this “revelation”, until Alec’s cellphone goes off, which causes Clary to spill her coffee. It’s Alec’s mom, and he goes off to answer, and the reason for Clary to scald herself is revealed – so Simon and Jace can get into a pissing contest over her. Simon kisses the burn to make it better, causing Jace to get mad and try to force Clary to use magic to heal it (dude, she spilled hot coffee on her wrist – that might require some ice). Clary refuses, which Simon claims as a victory, and Jace mocks his “comeback”.
Alec comes back at this point, and asks what’s happening, and we get a somewhat clever comment from Magnus:
“We seem to be trapped in an episode of One Life to Waste,” Magnus observed. “It’s all very dull.”
My sentiments precisely, Magnus. Seriously, CC, how is it you can write comments like that while still thinking that people are interested in your Teen Drama Crap?
Anyway, Alec explains that he told his mom about Valentine’s plan, and Jace assumes she both didn’t believe Alec and blamed him (Jace) for this whole mess, because he’s an immature, self-centered prick. Thankfully, Alec shoots that idea down by saying that, while Maryse didn’t entirely buy it, she will bring it to the Inquisitor, who has apparently taken control of this situation. Which actually makes sense, seeing as she’s the highest-ranking person here, and Maryse’s former relationship with Valentine makes her a liability, but I’m sure CC intends to be viewed as the Inquisitor just being a bully and throwing her weight around. Then Alec gets a call from Isabelle and has to leave again. How… convenient? Sure, let’s go with that.
Jace then agrees that the attack at the Hunter’s Moon probably was Valentine, yet again ignoring everything else that happened, as well as the fact that Jace is now arguably responsible for the murders of up to three innocent Downworlder kids (the faerie kid, and the vampire and werewolf kids to come), which could easily have been prevented if he’d just gotten off his ass and done his job. Because since Jace didn’t/doesn’t know them, they’re not real to him, because Jace is a sociopath.
Our “Heroes”: 12
I will let this go when someone actually bothers to address how Jace’s behavior was bad, and not a moment before.
Since Valentine got chased off from the dead werewolf like Voldemort and the unicorn in PS/SS, Magnus reiterates that Valentine will need to kill another werewolf. And only now does Clary realize that telling Luke, the leader of a whole pack of werewolves, might be a good idea.
Our “Heroes”: 13
But before Clary can actually do something useful for once, Alec pops back in to drop the next plot-point – the Queen of the Seelie Court wants to see them. An announcement which leads to this bit:
“Sure,” said Magnus. “And Madonna wants me as a backup dancer on her next world tour.”
Alec looked puzzled. “Who’s Madonna?”
Rapier Twit: 4
Shoddy World Building: 4
Because I’m not sure whether it’s supposed to be funny that Alec doesn’t know who Madonna is because he’s too young or because he’s a Shadowhunter. Not that it’s funny either way, and mostly feels like CC is showing her age.
Clary is actually moderately useful and asks who the Queen of the Seelie Court is. Magnus explains that she’s the ruler of the local faeries. And you know what? I’m okay with there being multiple Seelie and Unseelie rulers. And if you want to know the difference, look it up on Wikipedia.
Jace doesn’t like the idea, and he and Alec go back and forth on this for a bit. Jace says that Isabelle’s ideas generally fall into two categories – brilliant or idiotic – and mentions an incident of them attempting to use abandoned subway tunnels to move around the city. Why they’d do this, I don’t know, since they can and have been shown using the regular subway. I’m just going to assume it’s a Noodle Incident and move on.
Alec says that Isabelle knows a knight in the Seelie Court, who told Isabelle that the Queen wants to meet them, and after overhearing the conversation between Alec and Maryse, figures that if they tell the Seelie Queen, she might help them out. Which makes sense, but I still fail to see why she wants to see them, other than for reasons that will become clear later in the chapter.
Clary asks if it’s dangerous, and Jace actually reacts how I would:
“Of course it’s not safe,” Jace said, as if she’d asked the stupidest question he’d ever heard.
I’m not even going to give that an Our “Heroes” because A) this is clearly something she should have figured out from his reaction, and B) anyone who knows about old-school fairies could tell you that.
But Clary goes on a mini-rant justifying her lack of knowledge about faeries (basically, there aren’t any movies about them, and they’re for little kids), which she wraps up by talking about how she dressed up as one for Halloween when she was eight. Then Simon says this:
“I remember that.” Simon had leaned back in his chair, arms crossed over his chest. “I was a Transformer. Actually, I was a Decepticon.”
Decepticons are Transformers, CC. The other faction is the Autobots. And I won’t get into why Simon would be dressed up as a character from the 80s series, since the TV show that would have been on when these characters were eight would probably have been Beast Wars, and the factions in that were the Maximals and the Predacons.
CC, is it that hard to find someone you know to check you on your geek references? I know Transformers weren’t really targeted at girls, but you must know some guys who watched the show.
[adjusts geek hat again]
I really hate that whole “fake geek girl” crap, but CC makes a damn good argument for it.
Anyway. Alec thinks Isabelle’s on to something, as it couldn’t hurt, and it would give them some leverage with the Shadowhunter leadership. Jace says that faeries don’t help humans. Clary points out that Shadowhunters aren’t really humans. I’d say this was a call-back to what Maia said back in chapter two, except that I don’t think Clary ever heard that, and even if she did, I doubt she’d treat it as a good thing. Which is only encouraged by Jace saying that, to faeries, Shadowhunters aren’t much better than humans.
Simon says that faeries can’t be as bad as vampires, and they did pretty well with them. Which leads to Jace getting pissy at Simon again, and to bring up how all they managed to do was survive. And I’m inclined to remind everyone that the only reason things went downhill in the first place was because Jace threw a knife into the head vampire’s chest, and that it was Simon (still in rat-form, no less) who saved all their collective asses by pointing them to an escape route. Not that anyone else seems to remember that.
So Jace gives a lengthy, accurate, and somewhat graphic depiction of some of the nasty things faeries can do to people, which I won’t show you guys, except to say that this feels like a bit much for a YA novel. It’s so gruesome that Clary interrupts him. Jace then goes on to talk about how faeries are just generally nasty, there’s a bit more back-and-forth between him and Simon, which ends with Simon pointing out that Jace’s opinion is moot, as he can’t leave the apartment anyway. Which leads to this:
Jace stood up, knocking his chair back violently. “You are not taking Clary to the Seelie Court without me and _that is final!_”
Okay, Jace? I know that you feel very protective of Clary, for reasons that I’m not going to delve into, but what you just said? That’s wrong. You’re not Clary’s guardian, you’re not her boyfriend, and for all intents and purposes, you’re not even her brother. And while I know that Clary has the self-preservation instincts of a suicidally-depressed lemming and the intelligence of three-day-old road-kill, and while she might not legally be an adult, she is old enough to make her own decisions. If she wants to go, she has every right to go.
Not that I see any reason for her going in the first place, apart from author-enforced contrivance, but that’s a separate point entirely.
No one brings up either of those points, however, because no female character in anything CC writes is allowed to be awesome or skilled at anything, and has to capitulate to the boys because reasons.
Alec steps in and says that he’ll keep Clary safe, but Jace is skeptical. Much to my surprise, Alec actually dragons-up* and tells Jace that they’re going whether he likes it or not. Jace still doesn’t like it, and even threatens physical violence against his “best friend” to stop him.
*(a non-gender specific alternative to “nut-up” or “man-up” as suggested by author Matt Wallace in one of the podcasts found here)
Our “Heroes”: 14
Magnus spouts some innuendo (because why not) and now we get to see why the Shadowhunters shouldn’t have trusted him with keeping Jace locked up. He explains that he has another option. Here it is, in its entirety:
“I specifically enchanted the contract with the Inquisitor so that I could let you go for a short time if I desired, as long as another of the Nephilim was willing to take your place.”
That’s right folks – Magnus put a loop-hole in the contract. I’m sure CC intended this to be viewed as a demonstration of him being clever and shit, but all I can think is that this is a perfectly good reason for the Shadowhunters to lock his ass up for the rest of time. He can’t be trusted to uphold his word. Hell, this is a perfect example of Lawful Evil behavior, CC – Magnus is twisting and exploiting the system for his own ends!
Our “Heroes”: 15
Alec is suddenly all in favor of this, for reasons that are obvious to anyone with a functioning brain, so of course everyone else is perplexed by Alec’s change of opinion. Blah blah, Alec tells them where to meet Isabelle, Magnus asks that they try to avoid getting killed, we get this bit of description:
At that, Jace broke into a grin. It was an unsettling grin, less a flash of amusement than the gleam of an unsheathed blade.
CC, that is a straight-up Slasher Smile. Most writers use that kind of description not just for villains, but the psychotic and dangerous villains. At best the character might be a boarder-line anti-hero, but still be psychotic and dangerous. That is not the kind of description you give to the character who’s supposed to be the hero.
Jace gives a quick quip, and the scene ends.
And I’m going to call it a day as well. So far, I’ve got almost 20 pages of sporking, and we’re only half-way through the chapter. This is a long one, folks – this chapter is a full tenth of the entire Kindle file, and I just can’t keep this up.
If I’m being honest, this chapter really should have been split in two – one where they meet up with Jace and make a plan, and another where they go meet the Seelie Queen. I don’t know why this is a single, giant chapter, except that maybe someone pointed out the CC that calling the chapter “The Seelie Court” when said court doesn’t actually show up makes no sense. Why they didn’t do the same with chapter three, I don’t know.
I’ll be back soon, to share with you all what happens at the eponymous Seelie court. Here’s a hint – it’s really, really contrived, and really, really stupid. Just like pretty much everything else in these books.
Entirely Pointless: 0 (Total: 25)
Un-Logic: 3 (Total: 21)
You Keep Using That Word: 8 (Total: 37)
Shoddy World Building: 4 (Total: 21)
Rapier Twit: 4 (Total: 26)
Our “Heroes”: 15 (Total: 59)
No Shit Sherlock: 0 (Total: 6)
Both Hands, Ma’am: 1 (Total: 30)
A Word from Our Sponsors: 0 (Total: 3)