Another month, another chapter of City of Ashes. Seriously, this is feeling almost routine by now.

Only one thing I feel worth sharing from my personal life – two weeks before Easter, by younger brother and his girlfriend got married. They wanted to do it two weeks later, as that would have been their tenth anniversary (freshman year of high school all the way through college, so really this is just making them official), but again, Easter. The ceremony was nice, I saw some relatives I don’t get to see that often, and the couple are very happy.

In other news, SarahSyna finally got around to posting a riffing of the first episode of the TV adaptation of these books, Shadowhunters. If you haven’t read that yet, please do so – it’s pretty entertaining. So far, the show is much, much better than the books, almost as if the show makers noticed the flaws in the original and decided to fix them.

Finally, a quick recap before we get into it. Last time, Luke, Clary, Jace, and Magnus made the oh-so-brilliant decision to attack Valentine’s floating fortress on their own, because they can’t go to the Inquisitor for help because… reasons. Probably that she’s a meanie poopie head. This did not go well, as Valentine sent a flock of demonic-bird things to attack them. The protagonists managed to fend off the attack, yet Clary got grabbed all the same, and Jace and Luke decided to go rescue her, despite Magnus not yet having deactivated Valentine’s defenses. Brilliant.

Meanwhile, Mayrse Lightwood confronted the Inquisitor about her plan to make a deal with Valentine, which Alec and Isabelle overheard because they were never taught not to snoop on people. The deal with Valentine went predictably bad, which for some reason lead to the Inquisitor having a break down. Mayrse deciding that now was the perfect time to start berating her for trying to do her job and being suspicious of Jace. The chapter ended with Mayrse declaring that she’s in charge now, and that they’re going to release Jace and attack Valentine’s ship, and then Alec ruining the moment by basically going “Oh, did I forget to mention that Jace already broke out? Woopsie!”

Chapter 18 begins with us in Clary’s POV, right around when we last saw her – getting snagged by a flying demon-bird-thing. The experience is compared to being on a roller coaster, though mostly in how Clary doesn’t like them. I’m not sure how accurate the analogy is, as I’ve never been grabbed by a flying demon-monster. She screams and struggles for a bit, then realizes just how high up she is, and goes limp. Not surprising, as it is her only real means of defense.

There’s a brief bit describing how the city looks and how Clary’s too scared to appreciate the sight, which I actually like. Like I’ve said before – I do think CC has some decent writing chops. I just wish she’d spent a bit more time honing them (and maybe getting some serious critique) before trying to publish.

But there’s not much time to admire the scenery, because immediately after the demon-bird dives down towards the S.S. Genocidal Maniac, and I’m forced to adjust my mental picture of the ship accommodate the description CC provides. Evidently, the ship is big enough that the thing carrying Clary (which has to be pretty big, given what it’s carrying) to fly around inside the ship. So now I’m imagining that Valentine has somehow managed to park a cargo carrier in New York harbor without anyone noticing or crashing into it.

And this whole problem could easily be solved by allowing Shadowhunters to make dimensionally-transcendent stuff. You know, like in Doctor Who or Harry Potter – bigger on the inside. This would also allow the Institute to be housed in a small, inconspicuous building, rather than in a disused cathedral.

But never mind that. Clary finally gets dropped off in some pit or something, and finds that Maia is also there. Clary, being the kind, sensitive soul that she is, immediately asks where Simon is.

Our “Heroes”: 1

Yes, I know that’s pretty much the only reason Clary came along on this little venture, but she could at least ask if Maia’s hurt first.

Anyway, Maia says that Simon is dead, bringing the first scene to an end on a dramatic note.

And in almost any other book, it would be a good hook for the end of a scene. If this were a book where bad things sometimes happened to good people, either as consequences for their actions or just at random, I might actually believe that Simon was dead. Except that – as has been firmly established by this point – this is not that kind of book. The protagonists will never face any danger they cannot overcome, and any punishment for their bad behavior will at best be a minor inconvenience. The only way CC could be more obvious about this is if she openly declared that no one Clary cares about will ever get hurt.

And don’t try to defend this by saying that it’s YA. The age of the target audience is not an excuse, and there are plenty of YA books that include characters dying. Off the top of my head, there’s the Hunger Games trilogy and all its knock-offs. Heck, Old Yeller and all those other dead-dog books are aimed at an even younger audience. Death of a major character is practically a requirement of any coming-of-age story.

But on another note, why is this scene here? Why wasn’t it at the end of the previous chapter? Yeah, I guess that ending it with the Lightwoods gearing-up to ride to the rescue was a good way to end it, but why not move this scene to right after the one from Luke’s POV, where he and Jace jump after her?

Back to the book. The next scene has us in Jace’s POV. On the up side, we get to see exactly what the effects of this fancy new rune are.

Okay, so CC decided to be merciful and skipped straight to Jace and Luke boarding the ship, rather than describing the swim over. Not only did they manage to reach it, but also climb up the ladder on the side without facing any obstacles or resistance, despite being entirely helpless. The strangeness of this only occurs to Jace after reaching the deck, though, which he attributes to the Fearless rune.

Yeah, I think it was misnamed – it doesn’t so much “remove fear” as it does “remove common sense.” Which is not nearly as useful. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

Jace is soaking wet and feels super cold. Mr. Pink? I need you again.

Thank you.

Luke shows up, Jace tells him there’s a door somewhere, and then insists on taking the lead. Why? No idea. Maybe because he’s the designated hero?

Then, for no apparent reason, Luke asks what Valentine promised Jace for switching sides. Isn’t this something we could have covered earlier? Like, say, in the truck? I mean, did you just drive to the waterfront and then to the boat in complete silence? This is really not the time to be discussing this.

Jace answers by making a dumb joke:

“Oh, you know. The usual. A lifetime’s supply of Knicks tickets.”

Rapier Twit: 1
Shoddy World Building: 1

Do I even have to explain the second one?

Anyway, Jace tells Luke what Valentine actually said, so I don’t see the point of that little “joke”, other than to further inflate the word count.

Entirely Pointless: 1

So then Luke guesses that maybe Valentine had Clary nabbed as a way to get back at Jace, everything in these books has to come back to Jace. However, Jace has the logic-ball in this scene, and says that Clary being grabbed was to force them to come after her, and to give him a bargaining chip.

But then Luke sees something, proclaims that Valentine probably doesn’t need a bargaining chip, and draws his dagger sorry, kindjal.

You Keep Using That Word: 1

Gotta keep using (and italicizing) those terms – how else is the reader supposed to be amazed by CC’s vast knowledge of medieval weaponry?

Jace looks over and sees a hole in the boat with lots of demons swarming out. Included in them are Raum demons (which we saw back in chapter 12), “Oni demons” (which is a tautology), and “Kuri demons” (which are described as being spider-like).

Let’s focus in on that last one for a moment. I looked up the term “kuri” on Wikipedia. You know what the results I got were? A breed of Polynesian dog, a breed of West African cattle, a term for a kitchen in a Zen monastery, a type of Japanese Chestnut, and a sub-group of indigenous Australian languages. And that doesn’t get into the alternate spellings, or people/places.

So I did a Google search. When “kuri” got me the same results as Wikipedia, I tried “kuri demon”, and actually got something relevant. Well, the first two were references to this series’ wiki, and the next two to the game Lineage 2, but the third was actually semi-relevant – the Google book Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures, by Theresa Bane. Bane says that Kuri is a demon from Hausa mythology of West Africa.

Now, based on that, you might be tempted to give CC some praise for finally living up to that whole “all myths are true” line from the last book. I mean, how many people in the US know anything about Hausa mythology?

But don’t go giving her credit yet. Remember how CC’s Kuri demons are spider-like? Yeah, that’s not what the Hausa version is like at all. Here’s how Bane’s book describes them (or rather, him):

Kuri is the demon of paralysis in the demonology of the Hausa people of West Africa. He appears as a black hyena spirit. A specific dance must be performed and specific animal sacrifices must be offered in order to save one of his victims.

“A black hyena spirit.” Yeah, that doesn’t exactly scream “spider” to me.

Now, you might be tempted to say “Hey, what makes this Bane lady any more an authority than CC?” So I checked her author bio on Amazon. She describes herself as a “vampirologist” (yeah, not what I’d go with), has appeared on multiple programs discussing vampires and other stuff from folklore, and has also written encyclopedias on fairies, imaginary and mythological places, and vampire mythology, as well as a book delving into the history and folklore of vampires. She’s also got real nerd-cred.

So yeah. I’m pretty sure CC just made those things up. The fact that they happen to share a name with a real-world demon is just a coincidence.

Anyway, Jace pulls his magic knife and gets ready to charge the horde, but Luke stops him and suggests they fall back. Jace says that won’t work, because now there’s a “phalanx of Moloch demons” behind them. I’m not entirely certain that CC knows that a phalanx isn’t a specific number, just a formation.

Luke swears “fluently and viciously” (what did he suddenly drop into Hindi or something?)

You Keep Using That Word: 2

and suggests Jace jump overboard while he holds them off. Jace rejects this idea, because again, “fearless”.

Luke apparently starts shifting, starts to say something, but one of the Moloch demons attacks. They easily defeat it (seriously, Jace “casually” stabs it), and Luke figures out about the new rune. Jace confirms it, and when asked if he did it himself, explains that Clary did it. Luke practically rolls his eyes and says “stupid teenagers,” then they dive into the fight again, ending the scene.

You see what I mean about this “fearless” rune? Jace literally doesn’t care about any danger he might be in. There’s no thought of avoiding this fight, or falling back and devising a new plan. To paraphrase Redcloak from Order of the Stick:

Is there anything more natural than the fear response? “Fight or Flight,” it’s the most basic instinct there is. But thanks to [this rune], you’ve got no fear at all. Which leaves you with, what, “Fight or Fight Some More”?

(I’ve been waiting to use that reference for a while now.)

So basically, this new super-rune hasn’t actually “fixed” the problem so much as made a new one – Jace is now literally incapable of any form of tactical thought. He cannot retreat, cannot pause to assess a situation. All he can do is barrel forward, swinging wildly.

And because he’s the author’s darling, this will work out perfectly.

The next scene picks up with Clary. Let’s observe her reaction to being told that Simon, her best-friend/boyfriend is dead:

“Dead?” Clary stared at Maia as if she’d spoken in Bulgarian. “He can’t be dead.”

Well, technically speaking, he’s already dead, what with being a vampire and all (and I will continue to operate under this assumption until such time as CC states otherwise).

Also, Bulgarian? Was that the most off-the-wall language CC could come up with? Personally, I would have gone with something like one of those African languages that include clicks as consonants – really convey just how much Clary has been shaken by this. But really, how difficult a concept is this?

Maia said nothing, just watched her with sad, dark eyes.

I’m not sure whether Maia is as baffled by Clary’s confusion as I am, or just refusing to elaborate.

“I wold know.” Clary pressed her hand, clenched into a fist, against her chest. “I would know it here.”

[falls out of chair]

[laughs until almost passing out]

[gets back in chair]

Oh, oh wow. That was great. That was better than Jace downing half a shot. I mean, this is the girl who regularly ignores Simon, and at one point actually forgot he was there. And she’s going to claim, what, that she has some kind of deep, spiritual bond with him?

Back to recapping. Maia says she felt the same at one point, but since she doesn’t elaborate I’m just confused. Is she referring to Simon? Her ex? A guy who delivered pizza to her once? Who knows?

Clary gets up, realizes that Jace’s jacket is completely ruined, and takes it off. Seeing this, she has this thought:

Jace will be upset that I wrecked his jacket, she thought. I should buy him a new one. I should—

Our “Heroes”: 2

Okay, Clary, I get that you’re kind of in shock right now, but is this really where your focus should be? Personally, I’d probably be more focused on stopping Valentine’s Evil Scheme ™ and getting out alive first.

Although I’m absolutely certain that Jace will consider this the most important thing that’s happened tonight.

Clary asks for more details, which Maia provides. Basically, Valentine cut Simon’s throat and wrists, drained his blood into some bowls, and left. Maia screamed a lot, so one of Valentine’s demon henchmen (hench-things?) took her to this other room. While I understand her reaction, I can’t help but wonder if Maia screaming in terror might partly have been because she’s a girl, and CC doesn’t really do Strong Female Characters.

So Clary puzzles until her puzzler is sore (or in this case, presses her hand against her mouth until she draws blood – no, I’m not remotely kidding), and comes to this brilliant conclusion:

“We have to get out of here.”

No Shit Sherlock: 1

Sorry if that count doesn’t exactly apply, but that was literally my first reaction to that line. Even Maia says the same thing (though without the profanity), so I feel it’s justified. Maia then starts to go into how there’s totally no way they can get out, and that the only person who might be able to do it is Jace, though she doesn’t actually say his name.

Why the hell would Maia think this? She has no way of knowing that Jace has Mario-esque jumping abilities, so why would she think that he’d be any more able to escape than anyone else? Oh wait, I know why – because Jace is the most awesome guy ever, and everyone has to acknowledge that.

Both Hands, Ma’am: 1

For once, though, Clary doesn’t get weak in the knees at the thought of Jace. No, instead she gets pissed, and decides to actually do something for perhaps the first time in this entire series. And it only took her until the penultimate chapter of the second book to do it. Isn’t she just a great role model for young girls?

So Clary whips out her magic wand and starts drawing on the wall, which somehow results in it melting a hole in it. How did she do this? No idea – she just did. Which nicely demonstrates how totally OP she is now. Thanks for that, CC.

Maia is just as amazed (though far less incredulous) as I am by this. She starts to walk towards the hole, and this happens:

“Wait.” Clary was suddenly nervous. “The melted metal – it could be, like, toxic sludge or something.”
Maia snorted. “I’m from New Jersey. I was born in toxic sludge.”

Credit where it’s due – that joke wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t great, but it didn’t make me want to hit anything.

So Maia looks through the hole, sees a catwalk, and slips through the hole, and manages to only sprain her ankle on the drop. Clary starts to follow, only to get grabbed half-way through, held in the air by her shirt, and then dropped to the floor. Also, totally-not-a-wand slips out of her belt (gee, where have I come across something like that before?) in the process.

No points for guessing who grabbed her – it’s Valentine. Yeah, somehow Clary managed to completely miss him literally dropping in (since there are no doors to this particular room). Also, dude must be pretty ripped if he can lift Clary up with one hand, even if she is a little stick-figure.

Needless to say, Big V isn’t happy that Clary helped Maia escape. But Clary is also seriously pissed, or at least that’s what the narration says. It doesn’t quite work, though, because it’s Clary.

bq.http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/69/697676c3436c5f037de39e0dfb24bd40fe977d438b29e07cc4ff81270bd67fd6.jpg!

This kitten is probably more threatening than Clary, if only because it can set off someone’s allergies.

Still, she spits blood on Valentine’s shoes, so points for effort.

Oddly enough, this actually kinda sets him off, and Valentine almost kills Clary. He doesn’t, of course, but it does make him look like much more of a threat than most of what he’s done so far.

Valentine goes back to examining the hole in the wall, and Clary spots her not-wand. She starts reaching for it, only for Valentine to notice and kick through the aforementioned hole in the wall. And I feel you guys have to see Clary’s reaction:

She half-closed her eyes, feeling the loss of the stele like the loss of her mother all over again.

You know, CC, I might actually buy this if you’d bothered to, you know, depict Clary as actually feeling bad about what happened to her mom. I mean, she reacted more to accidentally destroying Jace’s jacket than she has to anything that happened to her mom.

Also, there’s that word again.

You Keep Using That Word: 3

Valentine basically shrugs and says he’ll have his minions track Maia down, then tells Clary to get up. She does, and he grabs her, lets out a whistle, and another of the flying things comes down and lifts them both out of the hole. Which once again makes me wonder how Clary didn’t notice that when Valentine arrived. My god, this girl is less aware of the world around her than Helen Keller.

The next scene flips us back to Jace and Luke. Jace is wondering how they’ve managed to avoid being killed, given the circumstances. I’ll tell you how – because you’re the author’s darling, and she won’t let anything bad happen to you. Ever.

We’re given a quick recounting of Jace’s condition – he’s dirty, has demon goo in his hair (the horror!), blood and sweat running in his eyes, and a single lone cut on one arm. Yeah, I don’t care how bad that cut might be, because that’s the only real injury Jace has. I feel this really shows CC’s priorities re: Jace – his appearance matters more than anything else, including actual injuries.

Both Hands, Ma’am: 2

Also, Luke’s condition isn’t described at all. Because who cares about him, right?

But they have done at least one smart thing, though – they managed to back into a somewhat-metaphorical corner, so the demons can only come at them in small numbers from a single direction. Which is good, since Jace has pretty much out of weapons. Gee, it’s almost like getting into a fight with a bunch of demons when you only have a few weapons and no backup was a bad idea.

Then we get a description of Jace’s emotional state – he’s disgusted by the demons, and angry at Valentine, but not even vaguely afraid, despite knowing that he probably should be. To my amazement, CC actually acknowledges that not feeling any fear might actually be a bad thing, since Jace isn’t even concerned about all the blood he’s lost.

One of the spider demons spits stuff at Jace, which he manages to dodge, of course. The narration refers to the stuff as “poison”, but given that it burns a hole in Jace’s shirt and some of his skin, I’m thinking it’s really acid.

You Keep Using That Word: 4

It’s not like the two are all that similar, CC.

Well, the spider-thing is pleased by this, so it shoots another jet of “poison” at Jace.

You Keep Using That Word: 5

Jace manages to duck (again), and this time the stuff hits another demon (an Oni, if you’re curious) in the face, which briefly turns this situation into something out of a cartoon, as the Oni grabs the spider demon and they start fighting. This is so distracting that even the other demons stop to watch.

Jace turns to look at Luke, and Luke’s starting to go full-on wolf-man. Luke suggests they try to escape, but Jace thinks they’re doing fine. Then for no apparent reason, he twirls his magic-knife and almost drops it because of how slick his hand is from all the blood. Gee, I’m sure glad he didn’t actually drop it – that might have totally undermined his point.

But before Luke can tell Jace he’s being an idiot, another Oni gets the drop on them – literally. They both hit the ground, and Jace’s magic dagger goes off the side of the boat. Serves you right, asshole.

Meanwhile, the Oni is busy attacking Luke “with the sharp tusks that sprouted from its forehead.”

I believe the word you were looking for was “horns”, CC. Tusks tend to come from the mouth-area, what with them being very big teeth.

You Keep Using That Word: 6

Apparently Luke also lost his dagger (sorry, kindjal)

You Keep Using That Word: 7

when the Oni dropped down on them, only his didn’t end up in the water. Luke tries to grab it, but the Oni distracts him by breaking one of his legs. So instead Jace grabs it and chucks it at the back of the Oni’s neck (and CC finally calls the damn thing a dagger). This somehow manages to decapitate the demon, though I have no idea how that works.

Jace actually shows some concern over Luke’s injury, because even with super-werewolf healing, there’s no way he’ll be able to defend himself against all the demons coming at them.

So Jace starts prepping for a big last stand, and has a brief flash of emotion. It actually takes him a minute to realize he’s not feeling fear, but sorrow. Do I even need to comment on how messed up that is?

Jace thinks about Alec, Isabelle, and Clary, because I guess they’re the only people who actually meant anything to him in life. Not the Lightwoods, who took him into their family, or Max, who idolized him, (or any of his numerous victims NO I’M STILL NOT OVER THAT)? I’d say that’s really kind of sad, but Jace is such an enormous asshole that I’m not really surprised.

Okay, so a big, vaguely-East Asian skeleton demon – it’s covered in Tibetan prayer flags, and yet is armed with a katana (which is italicized, of course)

You Keep Using That Word: 8

comes at them, and Jace flings his last weapon (the dagger he stole from Isabelle) at it. Which has no real effect on the skeleton. I’m not surprised – skeletons reduce all by bludgeoning damage by 5. You’d think the great, amazing, super-Shadowhunter would know that.

The skeleton starts to go for the kill, only for a mysterious gray shadow to pop up from nowhere, block the katana (which is still italicized),

You Keep Using That Word: 9

somehow flip the katana (again, still italicized) around

You Keep Using That Word: 10

and thrust it into the skeleton’s head, killing it. Jace looks around and notices a bunch of other human-shaped figures swarming over the boat. Yep, the cavalry has arrived. And they’re easily taking out the demons. Gee, it’s almost like getting some kind of backup would have been a good idea.

Nah.

The one who saved Jace turns out to be Malik. You remember Malik, right? He was the guy who tried to keep Jace from escaping the Institute by taking out the tires on Luke’s truck, but got stopped for no apparent reason. Anyway, he apologizes to Jace for doing that, despite the fact that Jace was escaping legal incarceration again, but since he’s the Designated Hero, Jace can do no wrong. Jace almost starts to say that all is forgiven, seeing as Malik just saved his life and all, but a bunch of demons come around the corner, and Malik charges after them.

Because I guess having Jace show something like humility would totally ruin his oh-so-heroic image.

Our “Heroes”: 3

Jace (his bloodlust still apparently unsated) starts to follow Malik (despite being unarmed), but gets stopped by another Shadowhunter, this one wearing black. The new Shadowhunter tells Jace to come with them, only for Jace to insist he needs to help Luke. The other Shadowhunter gets frustrated and pulls back their hood, and for some reason says this:

“Now will you do what you’re told, Jonathan?”

And then we’re told that it’s the Inquisitor.

Yeah, I’m not at all surprised by this. I doubt anyone was. Honestly, I’m more surprised by the fact that Jace didn’t immediately identify the Inquisitor by the sound of her voice – it’s not like he’s never spoken to her before. I guess it was to end the scene on a dramatic note.

Un-Logic: 1

Scene break and we’re back with Clary. She considers kicking Valentine, despite the fact that they’re flying through the air, but even when she tries (yeah, the narration is a bit confusing here), she can’t hit anything. Valentine has her in a death grip, yet somehow she can’t kick him.

Wow. That is a whole new level of pathetic.

They get dropped off in another room, where there are four basins, three of which are full, obviously with the blood of the warlock, fairy, and Simon. Of course, I have no idea how big these things are, since they’re only described as being “big enough to wash a dog in,” which really isn’t helpful, considering some dog breeds could probably be washed in a sink, while others would require a full-sized tub.

Whatever. The MacGuffin Sword is also there, and I actually kind of like the description it gets:

a silver sword that glowed with a blackish light, almost an absence of illumination: a radiant, visible darkness.

Once again, I’m forced to wonder at how CC can write stuff like this, yet also describe something “[bending] as easily as a blade of grass bending sideways.” The cognitive dissonance is insane.

Anyway, Clary starts berating Valentine for killing Simon, saying that Simon was, “just a boy, just an ordinary human.” I get that she’s upset, but I can’t help but notice that she doesn’t seem to be at all bothered that he also killed an innocent warlock and a fairy. Once again, the protagonist-centered morality of this world rears its ugly head – it’s only bad because it happened to someone Clary knew/cared about.

Our “Heroes”: 4

Valentine points out that Simon was not, in fact, human, and then says that he’d become a monster, and that Clary didn’t notice because he still looked the same. And again, props to CC for making Valentine sound like a well-written villain, instead of a moustache-twirling cartoon.

Clary counters that Simon was still himself, while also moving towards the MacGuffin Sword and wondering if she’d even be able to lift the thing. Valentine starts going on about how he sympathizes with Clary, referring to his relationship with Luke. Clary says she knows about that, so at least we don’t have to have that bit of exposition dropped again. Valentine says what he did was a mistake, and that he should have killed Luke himself, as that would somehow demonstrate how much he cared.

This sets Clary into a little tirade about how Valentine doesn’t really care about anyone (including her mom and Jace), instead viewing them as possessions. So Valentine quotes the Bible about how love is totally about ownership. Clary says that’s not what that bit means, and how Valentine doesn’t understand the message, but I don’t care.

But then Valentine brings up how Clary and Jace are hot for each other. Clary, of course, denies this, but Valentine points out that it’s pretty damn obvious. He also blames himself and Jocelyn for this, what with the kids being raised separately rather than as siblings, which raises the question of why Jocelyn left her son behind in the first place, rather than taking him with her. I mean, I get that caring for a child while on the lamb would be difficult, especially with her being pregnant and all, but it really makes me wonder about her as a mother.

Huh. Guess she and Luke have something else in common – they both drop serious responsibilities with little to no provocation.

Anyway, Clary is skeptical about all this, so Valentine drops another drama-bomb – you remember when Jace first came to the ship, and saw a dead Clary? Yeah, somehow Valentine inferred from that that Jace’s biggest fear isn’t Clary dying, but his feelings for her.

First, the count.

Both Hands, Ma’am: 3

This claim is actually kind of funny, considering Jace was the one who proposed that they run off together.

Second, ew. Ew to the power of 10,000.

CC, I get that you apparently get off on this whole “forbidden romance” thing, but please, for the love of all that is holy, stop forcing this down my throat. I know that they’re not really siblings (sorry, spoilers, but it’s not like you couldn’t have guessed that), but that doesn’t somehow retroactively make this not gross.

Cut back to Jace for the last scene of the chapter.

“I don’t do what I’m told,” said Jace. “But I might do what you want if you ask me nicely.”

Doesn’t that line just totally encompass Jace’s character? How, despite being told how brave and wonderful he is, he’s really just a whiny, petulant, spoiled child. We’ve been told that he (and presumably all Shadowhunters) are supposed to be soldiers – hell Alec said as much back in chapter five. And Jace is supposed to be the epitome of what it means to be a Shadowhunter. And yet here he is, stating point-blank that he doesn’t follow orders. Because that’s exactly the kind of behavior you want from a soldier.

Our “Heroes”: 5

The Inquisitor shows remarkable restraint and only glares at Jace. Personally, I would have slapped him upside the head. But then, I would have done that to him several times by now.

Anyway, the Inquisitor says she needs to talk to Jace. He’s incredulous, but she insists. Jace looks around at the fighting going on (evidently things aren’t going too well for the Shadowhunters), and he says that now is really not the time, but the Inquisitor will not be denied, and drags him off to a corner and sets up another magical shield-thing.

Jace concludes that she’s trying to lock him up yet again (which, honestly, I wouldn’t blame her for, considering how easily he could disappear in the chaos), but no, the Inquisitor wants to seek forgiveness for her sins against the Almighty Jace. She admits that Jace was right about Valentine turning down the deal, managed to get the entire Shadowhunter government (or all the Shadowhunter, period, because it’s not terribly clear) together to come here (nice to see that they literally have nothing better to be doing), and that she owes him an apology. Note the difference between his reaction to this apology and Malik’s from before:

“Noted,” said Jace. He hated apologies.

Ah. So Jace will accept an apology from someone who just saved his life (and who he thus owes), but not from someone who seems to legitimately want to make amends. What a forgiving person he is.
Our “Heroes”: 6

Also, note that Jace does not, and has not, apologized for his own bad behavior. You know, how he’s been mouthing off to the Inquisitor pretty much since he first met her?

Our “Heroes”: 7

Jace goes on to ask if Alec and Isabelle are present, and if they’ll be punished for helping him. The Inquisitor says they’re here, and that they won’t be punished. Because I guess helping a criminal escape is fine, so long as said criminal gets exonerated. Sure. I guess the Law is only harsh and inflexible when it serves the purposes of the plot; otherwise, it’s just as vague and ill-defined as the Prime Directive in TOS.

The Inquisitor can’t quite grasp that Valentine cares so little about his own child, suddenly pokes at the hole burnt in Jace’s shirt. Which leads to this exchange:

She jabbed a finger at his shoulder. “When did you get that?”
Jace looked own and saw that the spider demon’s poison had eaten a hole in his shirt, leaving a good deal of his left shoulder bare. “The shirt? At Macy’s. Winter sale.”

Wow, a triple-count! First, the obvious:

Rapier Twit: 2

Really, CC? Is this really the time for this?

Next, the less-than-obvious:

Shoddy World Building: 2

So Jace shops at Macy’s, even knowing their seasonal sales, yet somehow doesn’t know what the Internet is? Make up your damn mind, CC.

Third, again with that word:

You Keep Using That Word: 11

It’s not poison, CC, it’s acid.

But the Inquisitor isn’t talking about the shirt (duh), she’s talking about a scar on Jace’s shoulder. A scar which I don’t recall being mentioned before. Ever. Yet the sight of it makes the Inquisitor freak out, and start going on about how he always thought he was a Wayland, which sets Jace off again, because CC thinks that having her characters be too dense to pick up on her not-at-all-subtle foreshadowing will mean her readers won’t, either.

Jace snaps at the Inquisitor, and storms back into the fighting. The Inquisitor points out that he’s unarmed, and starts to offer him a weapon, only to be interrupted by a giant monkey demon with a scorpion tale popping up from nowhere. It goes for Jace, but the Inquisitor completes the redemption portion of her arc by jumping in the way and killing the thing. As she lays dying, she whispers something to Jace, but we don’t get to hear what, and Jace doesn’t understand, because it would ruin the oh-so-surprising twist in the next book.

Then Alec shows up. He’s taken a severe beating, but is happy to see that Jace is alive. How does Jace respond to this?

“I seem to by,” Jace admitted. “I won’t be for long if you don’t give me a weapon, though.”

By being a complete asshole, of course. Alec gives Jace a spare magic-dagger that he just happened to have, they kill a random demon, and then they talk about their weapons for a bit. Because that’s what we need to be doing right now.

Then Alec notices the Inquisitor’s corpse, and asks about her. When Jace confirms that she’s dead, Alec responds with mournful respect.

Alec’s jaw set. “Good riddance. How’d she get it?”

*Our “Heroes”: 8

Just kidding – he’s an insensitive prick. Which is odd, considering he’s been the most sympathetic to her side of things. Good to know that I shouldn’t bother to try liking any of these characters.

Jace starts to answer the question (no doubt embellishing the gory details and claiming that he actually killed the monkey-scorpion demon), when Isabelle shows up. She runs up to them and tries to go in for a hug from Jace, but Jace tells her not to, because he’s covered in blood. What a nice guy.

Our “Heroes”: 9

Then a random spider demon pops up behind Isabelle and spits poison-that’s-really-acid at her. Isabelle gets hit and screams, but also manages to kill it with her apparently magic whip. Then she passes out. Because I guess we can’t have the female characters being shown to be just as or more competent than the boys! That’s be silly!

Jace passes the wounded and whimpering Isabelle (yes, CC made a particular point of mentioning that) over to Alec, because apparently Alec is the better healer or something. I don’t want to assume that it’s because he’s gay (and therefore feminine), but I can’t help making the connection.

Jace says that they need to get Isabelle off the boat if they want to save her (oh, now you’ll fall back?), and Alec points out that this is pretty much a suicide mission. Then he blames the Inquisitor for all of this, and says that she deserved to die because of it.

Our “Heroes”: 10

And I think I’ve realized why Alec is being such an insensitive ass all of a sudden – it’s so Jace can look good in contrast. Evidently CC is aware of how horrible a person Jace is, and realizes the only way to make him look good is by making everyone around him look bad. Because just writing him as a decent person would ruin his “bad boy” image and/or require actual effort.

Also, how is any of this the Inquisitor’s fault, Alec? Because while you were off screwing and being screwed by your boyfriend and the rest of the dumbass brigade were having a tea party with the fairy queen, the Inquisitor was doing her fucking job and investigating all those murders Valentine was committing while also keeping the Downworlders from killing each other.

And in case you didn’t notice, Jace was being suspicious as fuck! A fact that you might have noticed if you didn’t have your tongue so firmly shoved up Jace’s ass you can taste his tonsils.

If anything, this whole mess is Jace’s fault, because he’s the one who from minute one has refused to cooperate with the Inquisitor in any way whatsoever. He could have offered to spy on Valentine’s operation – Valentine seemed more than willing to spill the beans, after all. Jace could have offered to lead them to this boat. But no, the Inquisitor treated Jace with the suspicion he deserved instead of bowing down and kissing his feet, so clearly she’s the bad guy here.

Fuck you, fuck your family, fuck all the Shadowhunters, and just fuck this whole series in general!

Sorry about that. I’m just so fed up with all the characters shitting on the Scary Sue for literally no reason.

Going back to what I said about making Jace look good, the little prick actually admits that the Inquisitor died taking a hit meant for him. He also mentions the demon’s name, which is curious, as he didn’t recognize it when it first showed up. These two points are only three pages apart – did CC’s editor fall asleep or something?

Two of Valentine’s idiot minion demons show up, which Jace easily dispatches. This really makes me wonder at the competence of the adult Shadowhunters, because I refuse to believe that Jace is really all that gifted at killing demons.

Also, CC still doesn’t know the difference between poison and acid.

You Keep Using That Word: 12

Seriously, just pop in Alien. The xenomorph’s blood is so acidic it eats through several decks.

Hell, if your want to get really technical, it should be venom, not poison, as the substances are meant to harm other creatures.

As Jace comes back, Alec agrees that they need to get Isabelle to safety. Jace agrees (wait, it was his idea in the first place – it was only a few paragraphs ago! Or does she also need to be told to keep her hands out of her pants while doing her job?), but then decides that instead of helping with that, he needs to fight yet another demon. Because he’s a fucking glory-hound. We get an interesting description of said demon (it’s big and bug-like), which leads to this oh-so-brilliant exchange:

Alec sucked in his breath. “What the hell is it?”
Jace thought for a moment. “Big,” he said finally. “Very.”

Rapier Twit: 3

It’s not Jace’s response that bothers me, it’s that it comes after he thinks about it. I mean, it’s not like he had to scour his memory for an answer. Heck, it’s not really all that funny, unlike a similar bit from TOS (skip to ~2:00):

And just for kicks,

No Shit Sherlock: 2

Moving on. Jace looks back at Alec and Isabelle, and feels… something. Not fear, definitely not fear, but just that maybe he should say something like that he loves them in case he or they die. He doesn’t, of course, because that would destroy the whole “bad boy with a heart of gold” thing CC insists he has going on.

Instead, Jace tells Alec to make for the ladder, or they’ll all be dead. Nice.

Alec complies, and apparently Isabelle is now back on her feet, as she’s climbing down the ladder instead of either being carried or dropped over the side. Jace mentally urges Alec to follow, but he doesn’t. Instead, Alec does the more heroic thing and joins Jace.

Well, looks like you’ll have to split the XP from this one, Jace. Suck it up.

Blah blah fighting blah. Jace gets knocked over and his leg falls through a bit of deck weakened by all the “poison” that was getting spat around.

You Keep Using That Word: 13

Acid, you bint! Have you ever heard of acid? Acid!

The bug-monster then goes after Alec, who actually manages to do some damage. Hey, good for you, man – that’s more than you managed last time you went up against something like this!

Then Alec’s weapon gets stuck, he gets bitch-slapped, and the giant bug gets ready to eat him.

Oh, right, I totally forgot – no Shadowhunter is allowed to show-up Jace. And since Simon is dead (at least for now – what did you really expect him to be perma-dead?), there’s really no hope.

Isabelle screams off-stage, because she’s utterly useless. Actually, what’s she screaming about, anyway? I’d think she wouldn’t be able to see any of this.

Jace manages to free his leg and get his weapon and switches it back on. The demon-bug sees the light and for some reason backs off. Weird – I’d expect a bug-monster to be attracted to a bright light. Also, it stops trying to eat Alec… for some reason. Oh, but it does chuck Alec across the deck, and he slides off the ship.

Man, Alec just can’t get a break. I’d feel sorry for him if CC would just stop making him say and do incredibly offensive things to make Jace/Clary look good.

Isabelle screams some more (again, because she’s useless). Jace gets pissed and chucks his weapon at the bug-demon, which kills it. Once again, this leads me to believe that these things really aren’t that tough. It’s like playing an RPG and going into an area you’re obscenely over-leveled for – it’s not that you’re that good, it’s that the enemies just aren’t that much of a threat.

Anyway, the deck collapses beneath Jace, and the chapter ends.

I honestly don’t know how to feel about this chapter.

On the one hand, actually getting to see (or at least be aware of) Shadowhunters other than Jace doing their thing is great. Or at least it is in theory, because we don’t really get to see much of it. It’s not helped by the fact that Jace’s behavior is more or less the same as it is in any fight – run straight for the enemy and rely on his status as main character to protect him. On top of that, there’s CC’s very clunky bit of foreshadowing from the Inquisitor, followed by her death so no actual answers can be provided, and Alec’s sudden vehement hatred for her.

And then there’s the stuff with Clary, which to me looks to be a repeat of what happened to Jace in the last book, but without the mistaken assumption about Valentine’s identity. And honestly, does Valentine really believe that Clary will switch to his side? If so, he’s not doing a good job of convincing her, what with the kidnapping and killing her friend. The closest he gets is maybe implying that he, her, Jace and Jocelyn can be a family, but given that he’s clearly aware of the fact that his kids want to boink each other (something even he seems to disapprove of), that’s not much of a sales pitch.

Next chapter is the last one, followed by the epilogue. The end is within sight.

See y’all next time.

Counts

Entirely Pointless: 1 (Total: 40)
Un-Logic: 1 (Total: 56)
You Keep Using That Word: 13 (Total: 91)
Shoddy World Building: 2 (Total: 39)
Rapier Twit: 3 (Total: 67)
Our “Heroes”: 10 (Total: 151)
No Shit Sherlock: 2 (Total: 14)
Both Hands, Ma’am: 13 (Total: 105)
A Word from Our Sponsors: 0 (Total: 9)

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Comment

  1. The Smith of Lie on 8 April 2016, 05:43 said:

    Jace says that won’t work, because now there’s a “phalanx of Moloch demons” behind them. I’m not entirely certain that CC knows that a phalanx isn’t a specific number, just a formation.

    If I were in a forgiving mood I’d say Moloch demons groups are called phalanxes. Like ther’s murder of crows or pride of lions. In a better book the fact that such nomenclature exists could be a neat worldbuilding detail.

    I doubt that this is the case.

    So Clary whips out her magic wand and starts drawing on the wall, which somehow results in it melting a hole in it.

    And this is why I love Sanderson and his idea of hard magic. If magic in the series has well established, discernable rules then using it to do stuff like this is perfectly fine, since there are understandable limits and careful reader can predict what and what can not be acomplished.

    In works like this however it is (in this case a literal) get out of jail free card.

    She half-closed her eyes, feeling the loss of the stele like the loss of her mother all over again.

    I’d actually award her with “Our Heroes!” counter for that.

    Then we get a description of Jace’s emotional state – he’s disgusted by the demons, and angry at Valentine, but not even vaguely afraid, despite knowing that he probably should be. To my amazement, CC actually acknowledges that not feeling any fear might actually be a bad thing, since Jace isn’t even concerned about all the blood he’s lost.

    “If I weren’t incapable of feeling fear at the moment, the implications of inability to feel fear would scare me.”

    So instead Jace grabs it and chucks it at the back of the Oni’s neck (and CC finally calls the damn thing a dagger). This somehow manages to decapitate the demon, though I have no idea how that works.

    This actually reminds me of a good old days when we played Warhammer Fantasy RPG with friends. Blindly following the first edition rules and crit table rolls left us with the gems like a thrown rock literally disarming an elderly man and an arrow shot from a short bow bifuracting an opponent. Good times.

    Jace snaps at the Inquisitor, and storms back into the fighting. The Inquisitor points out that he’s unarmed, and starts to offer him a weapon, only to be interrupted by a giant monkey demon with a scorpion tale popping up from nowhere. It goes for Jace, but the Inquisitor completes the redemption portion of her arc by jumping in the way and killing the thing. As she lays dying, she whispers something to Jace, but we don’t get to hear what, and Jace doesn’t understand, because it would ruin the oh-so-surprising twist in the next book.

    So much of the Bovine Feces. Even if we gracefully assumed that there is basis to employ Redemption Equals Death trope, the way it is executed is just so cheap. First throwing oneself in way of attack aimed at Jayce completly goes against Inquisitor’s character, even if she overcame her false accusations. Secondly it robs her of chance to do something really relevant. Third it has no tension.

  2. Akkakieron on 8 April 2016, 07:48 said:

    So the Fearless Rune turns Jace into Leeroy Jenkins? That could’ve been something worth exploring but CC ignores it and makes Jace invincible as always. Oh wait, he got a cut, so I guess he’s not invincible.

    I can imagine the acid being poisonous if you breath it in after a while, but since CC didn’t say that, then CC really did confuse acid with poison.

    Of course the Inquisitor dies saving Jace. Either she sacrifices herself for him thus being redeemed, or she lives and treats him like he’s the Best. It’s not like, if the Inquisitor were to live, she could’ve seen Jace wasn’t part of Voldetine’s plan but dislike him on a personal level as he’s an arrogant brat who needs to be put in his place.

    With all these demons running around, it makes me wish I was playing a Shin Megami Tensei game right now. That least the ‘all myths are true’ line is used and makes sense. Now I’m imagine Jace running into Mara; very awesome.

  3. Juracan on 8 April 2016, 12:02 said:

    There seems to be an awful lot of dagger-dropping in this battle. Did I miss something, or did no one bring… I dunno, swords? Or back-up swords?

    And with all that acidic venom being spewed, wouldn’t it make sense that Shadowhunters came up with some sort of armor or rune mark that protects against being burned by it? It sounds like the sort of thing I’d work on.

    Aaaaaaand of course the Inquisitor dies in the most predictable way imaginable. I thought at least her death would be treated with respect by “our heroes” but there I go again, overestimating the common decency of the characters in these books.

    Go figure.

  4. Aikaterini on 8 April 2016, 12:03 said:

    she could at least ask if Maia’s hurt first.

    Maia’s a girl who has the audacity to be liked by Simon. As far as Clary’s concerned, she’s better off dead.

    I mean, this is the girl who regularly ignores Simon, and at one point actually forgot he was there. And she’s going to claim, what, that she has some kind of deep, spiritual bond with him?

    Not to mention that it’s so melodramatic. Clary can’t just say, “No, I would know.” Nope, she’s got to clutch her chest like she’s an actress on a soap opera or a heroine on the cover of a romance novel.

    And it only took her until the penultimate chapter of the second book to do it.

    And her mother wasn’t enough of a motivation to kick her into gear. Nope, the boy that she alternately ignores and treats like a dog is.

    Because I guess having Jace show something like humility would totally ruin his oh-so-heroic image.

    Or it would acknowledge that Jace did something wrong. And for some reason, Clare can’t have that.

    Valentine says what he did was a mistake, and that he should have killed Luke himself, as that would somehow demonstrate how much he cared.

    Again, I could kind of see Valentine’s point here if he believed that werewolves were mad, ravenous monsters and that once Luke turned into one, he would lose all semblance of humanity. In that instance, perhaps it would be a kinder fate to end Luke’s misery. But since Luke still fully retains his humanity and is otherwise no different than how he was before he was bitten, then whatever potential that idea had is gone.

    Clary into a little tirade about how Valentine doesn’t really care about anyone (including her mom and Jace)

    Yeah, and here’s a hint for you, Clary. Neither does Jace.

    “I don’t do what I’m told,” said Jace.

    Bwahahaha! Oh, yeah, that’s why you meekly followed along with Valentine in the first book once he told you that he was your father, even going so far as to tell Clary that he was right about everything and that she should just listen and do what he says. That’s why you trotted off to meet him in this book. What you really should have said was “I don’t do what I’m told, unless you’re an evil, genocidal psychopath who claims to be my father.”

    note that Jace does not, and has not, apologized for his own bad behavior. You know, how he’s been mouthing off to the Inquisitor pretty much since he first met her?

    Or how he nearly killed an entire werewolf pack with his bare hands?

    Because just writing him as a decent person would ruin his “bad boy” image and/or require actual effort.

    He doesn’t, of course, because that would destroy the whole “bad boy with a heart of gold” thing CC insists he has going on.

    Except that in order to be a “bad boy with a heart of gold,” he actually needs that heart of gold!

    I don’t get this. I almost wish that Clare would just be honest and make Jace a villainous, unrepentent psychopath on purpose because she doesn’t seem to have any interest in giving him any redeeming qualities beyond his looks. She just doesn’t seem to realize what a scumbag he is or she doesn’t seem to care. She’ll throw in a few token nice lines for him every once and a while, but she doesn’t bother to follow up on them. It’s more important to her that Jace kills things and flings insulting quips around than it is to show that he genuinely cares about people. Why would it be so bad if Jace showed some actual vulnerability (and not the phony angst that she gives him) by apologizing or by admitting to Clary, Isabelle, and Alec that he truly cares about them? Why would it be so bad if he was shown to be wrong about something?

    She wants him to be the aloof, unstoppable wrecking machine that you see in a bunch of bad action films and she wants him to be the sensitive, emotional pretty boy, and it just doesn’t work. If she makes him do horrible things and then lets him constantly get away with doing horrible things and has almost all of the characters supporting him, why am I supposed to feel sorry for him? Why am I supposed to think that he’s a hero?

    Come to think of it, why does he have to be the hero? There are plenty of villain/heroine romances out there, both in canon and fanon. Jace and Clary still could’ve had a relationship while Jace was on Valentine’s side. As bad as Jace would be, at least then Clare could fall back on the excuse of “Well, of course Jace does awful things, he’s a villain!”

    the Inquisitor treated Jace with the suspicion he deserved instead of bowing down and kissing his feet, so clearly she’s the bad guy here.

    And therefore she must die. Just like Dorothea, another elderly character who talked back to Jace, died in the first book.

  5. Apep on 8 April 2016, 13:25 said:

    If I were in a forgiving mood I’d say Moloch demons groups are called phalanxes. Like ther’s murder of crows or pride of lions. In a better book the fact that such nomenclature exists could be a neat worldbuilding detail.

    Yeah, I could see that, except that, A) this sort of thing hasn’t been established, nor is this the time to establish such a detail, and B) I kinda doubt CC goes in for world building in that depth.

    And this is why I love Sanderson and his idea of hard magic. If magic in the series has well established, discernable rules then using it to do stuff like this is perfectly fine, since there are understandable limits and careful reader can predict what and what can not be acomplished.

    I actually mentioned Sanderson’s First Law in a discussion the other day. It was in regards to the novel All the Birds in the Sky, which I feel is a good demonstration of soft magic (i.e. magic where the rules aren’t clearly defined). This scene (heck, the whole series) is an example of how soft magic can easily backfire.

    I’d actually award her with “Our Heroes!” counter for that.

    Eh, I tend to keep that for when Clary demonstrates how little she actually cares about her mother. Here, it’s just the narration contradicting her previous behavior.

    So the Fearless Rune turns Jace into Leeroy Jenkins?

    Pretty much.

    There seems to be an awful lot of dagger-dropping in this battle. Did I miss something, or did no one bring… I dunno, swords? Or back-up swords?

    Jace initially brought three, but he gave one to Clary (not sure what happened to that one), threw another at one of the demon-bird things, and the last one fell off the side of the boat. Really, I’d think he’d have learned not to throw his weapons if he doesn’t have extra, and even then.

    Again, I could kind of see Valentine’s point here if he believed that werewolves were mad, ravenous monsters and that once Luke turned into one, he would lose all semblance of humanity. In that instance, perhaps it would be a kinder fate to end Luke’s misery.

    I can see the reasoning – Valentine thinks Downworlders are inferior/corrupted/whatever. It’s bad, twisted reasoning, and really establishes him as a villain, but I can wrap my mind around it.

    Oh, yeah, that’s why you meekly followed along with Valentine in the first book once he told you that he was your father, even going so far as to tell Clary that he was right about everything and that she should just listen and do what he says.

    I considered bringing that up, but decided not to. But yeah, Valentine is the only authority figure Jace has ever shown any respect to, and that fact should be a major concern for everyone. And yet it’s not even mentioned.

    Or how he nearly killed an entire werewolf pack with his bare hands?

    It might help if anyone actually brought it up, but no one has. Seriously, why didn’t the first three chapters just get cut?

    Except that in order to be a “bad boy with a heart of gold,” he actually needs that heart of gold!

    It’s not that I can’t like asshole characters, but you have to have everyone (or at least most of the other characters) acknowledge that they are assholes. And yet almost everyone acts like Jace is this perfect little angel, and it’s only those with ulterior motives (Simon as a rival for Clary, Maia because he reminds her of her brother, the Inquisitor because of her hatred for Valentine) who treat him accordingly.

  6. catsidhe on 9 April 2016, 07:22 said:

    Okay, headcanon: Seelie Queen is aware that they are fictional characters, and that they are in horrible novel. So she attempted to end book and whole series sooner by giving out spoilers disguised as foreshadowing, but she didn’t know how dumb other characters were.