Okay, folks, this is it – the last actual chapter of City of Ashes. But before we get to that, we have to do the recap. Cue the music!
Last time, Clary got dropped off with Maia, and learned that Simon definitely-totally-for-reals dead. After using a bit of magic pulled directly from the author’s posterior, Clary managed to melt a hole in the wall, allowing both girls to escape. Unfortunately, Valentine dropped in on the completely oblivious Clary and dragged her off to have a father-daughter chat.
Meanwhile, Jace and Luke made their way to Valentine’s boat, which they discovered was swarming with demons. We also learned that the super-special-awesome Fearless rune basically turns off common sense, because Jace decided that the best thing to do in this situation was to fight said demons head-on. The two managed to hold their own for a while, until the other Shadowhunters showed up and joined the fight.
Jace got dragged off to a corner by the Inquisitor, who tried to make amends, but Jace was having none of it (because he’s so kind and loving, and totally not petty and vindictive). The Inquisitor noticed some mark on Jace that’s never been mentioned before (despite CC’s obsession with describing every inch of him her YA classification will allow), and coming to a realization that she didn’t get to share, because otherwise it would ruin the forced-drama of Clary/Jace. And to complete her redemption arc, the Inquisitor took a stinger to the chest for Jace, and act which earned her contempt and scorn from Alec for some reason.
Also, CC does not understand the difference between poison and acid.
Okay, now that that’s done, let’s get this thing done.
Once again, we’re with Clary and Valentine. Clary’s asserting that she totally doesn’t want to bone Jace, and that he’s only trying to hurt her, and that if he were really their father, he’d be angry about it, and then says that Luke is her real father. Valentine says that the only reason Clary thinks of Luke that way is because of the relationship between Luke and her mom. To which Clary responds with this:
“Their _relationship?_” Clary laughed out loud. “Luke and my mother are friends.”
So I guess it’s not just feelings directed at herself that Clary’s oblivious to. Which, in retrospect, makes her somehow figuring out that Alec has the hots for Jace all the more curious.
Even Valentine is momentarily shocked by how dense his daughter is and has to take a minute to recover, and then explains that there’s no way Luke would put up with all that crap for someone he’s just friends with. And on the one hand, Valentine is really demeaning how deep a non-romantic relationship can be (much like some authors I could name). But on the other hand, it is pretty damn obvious, and a bit remarkable that Clary hadn’t figured this out on her own.
So Clary goes off about how Valentine is just assigning “ugly motives” to everyone’s actions, because those are the only kind he can understand, because Evil Cannot Comprehend Good and all that.
Valentine points out that there’s nothing “ugly” about love, and then starts talking about how, because Luke is a werewolf, he’s not really human, so he isn’t really capable of feeling things like love, and if Clary just searched her feelings, she’d know it’s true. Clary asserts that Luke is just as human as she is (yeah, maybe not the right answer, Clar-bear), and that Valentine’s a bigot. Personally, I would have pointed out that Luke wasn’t born a werewolf, and becoming one shouldn’t suddenly change how he thinks or behaves, despite what Laurell K. Hamilton seems to think.
So Valentine drops this big speech about how he’s totally not a bigot, that I think you guys really need to see first-hand:
“Oh, no,” Valentine said. “I’m anything but that.” He moved a little closer to her, and she stepped in front of the Sword, blocking it from his view. “You think of me that way because you look at me and at what I do through the lens of your mundane understanding of the world. Mundane humans create distinctions between themselves, distinctions that seem ridiculous to any Shadowhunter. Their distinctions are based on race, religion, national identity, any of a dozen minor and irrelevant markers. To mundanes these seem logical, for though mundanes cannot see, understand, or acknowledge the demon worlds, still somewhere buried in their ancient memories, they know that there are those that walk this earth that are other. That do not belong, that mean only harm and destruction. Since the demon threat is invisible to mundanes, they must assign the threat to others of their own kind. They place the face of their enemy onto the face of their neighbor, and thus are generations of misery assured.” He took another step toward her, and Clary instinctively moved backward; she was pressed up against the footlocker now. “I’m not like that,” he went on. “I can see the truth of it. Mundanes see as through a glass, darkly, but Shadowhunters— we see face-to-face. We know the truth of evil, and know that while it walks among us, it is not of us. What does not belong to our world must not be allowed to take root here, to grow like a poisonous flower and extinguish all life.”
Yeah. Allow me to try and sift through that to figure out what he’s actually saying:
- He’s not racist, he just thinks that demons and anything even tangentially related to them is evil, and must be exterminated. Which is like saying that you’re not racist, but you do think that members of Minority Group X are just naturally stupider/lazier/more violent/inferior/whatever, and they deserve to be treated badly because of it. Also, it once again completely contradicts his modus operandi for this book, i.e. summoning an army of demons, which would, by his own logic, make him evil and corrupted. – Mundanes are stupid and bigoted because they divide themselves into arbitrary categories, because we somehow know deep down that demons exist, and that Shadowhunters are better because they’re aware that demons exist. Which also kinda contradicts his whole “I’m not a bigot” message, considering how just about every Shadowhunter (including Valentine) treats mundanes as being inferior.
I’m sure CC intended for this to prove how charismatic and manipulative Valentine is, but like a number of half-assed con-artists, his points can’t really stand up to actual scrutiny.
Clary, of course, starts to fall for Valentine’s speech, and the only thing that keeps her from switching sides right then and there is her remembering that Luke’s not a demon. Which sets Valentine on a rambling tirade, which I’ll sum up for you guys, because I’m feeling merciful.
He starts off with how Clary only thinks Downworlders are nice because she’s met a few seemingly nice ones, which of course makes her biased, and her only real encounters with demons (all under Valentine’s command, natch) were with violent monstrous ones, but that there are smarter, subtler, and all-around nastier ones out there, too. And then he starts telling a story about some demon in London who disguised itself as a big-time financier, and was smart enough to always be around people, because I guess there’s supposed to be some rule about maintaining the masquerade or something. Yet this demon somehow also managed to regularly get small animals and even children delivered to it, which it would then eat alive over several days.
Okay, on the one hand, that is a legitimately frightening demon, and the story of it being taken down would be pretty interesting. So why the hell aren’t we getting to read that?
However, I’m left wondering how this demon managed to eat live animals or children without drawing unwanted attention from regular people. Unless Valentine didn’t want to kill the people who were bringing it animals and kids to eat, which I find a bit doubtful. Also, I doubt the Clave would have a problem with such people being killed – if they didn’t already know about all the supernatural stuff, they still probably knew too much, and had been working for a child-eating demon.
Shoddy World Building: 1
Because as interesting as all that is, it just ends up raising a lot of questions, which I doubt CC has any intention of answering.
Meanwhile, Clary’s been trying to get Valentine to stop, because seriously, dude, we get the point.
Then Valentine starts going on about how Clary’s mom set up a whole fake life for them both, completely ignoring the existence of demons and whatnot, and he’s “[pulled her] free of the lie.”
Yeah, hate to tell you dude, but Wesley Snipes did it better in Blade back in 1998:
In fact, all the Blade movies do a better job depicting a world were supernatural creatures secretly live in the real world.
Clary points out that Valentine’s the only one responsible for what’s happened to her, and he makes some half-assed excuse about how it’s not his fault that her life’s gotten rough, because her mother totally should have told her about all this stuff.
Yeah, I don’t know why Valentine thinks that argument might work. It’s not like demons were actively looking for Clary or her mom. If Valentine hadn’t decided to show up when he did (and hey, why did he decide to suddenly begin enacting his Evil Scheme^TM^ at that point anyway?), Clary would still be living a normal life. Yes, Jocelyn might have to eventually explain what was going on (if only to keep Clary from thinking she was nuts when Magnus’s brain-futzing wore off), but that wouldn’t have prevented Clary from trying to go on with her life as it was.
Clary momentarily thinks of bringing up him kidnapping Jocelyn, but doesn’t. And once again, CC tries claim all this is somehow demonstrates that Valentine is a master debater (hee hee), because disagreeing with him will some how imply she’s okay with child-eating demons. Because apparently Clary’s never heard of a false dichotomy, which is exactly what this is – either you think all demons and Downworlders should be exterminated, or you’re okay with demons doing horrible things like eating children, and there are no other options. But I guess realizing that would require a degree of critical thinking Clary and/or CC isn’t capable of/comfortable with.
So finally Clary asks what he wants her to do. Valentine is frankly surprised that she thinks he wants her to do anything. Gee, I don’t know, maybe because you A) had her captured and brought to your boat, and B) have gone on this whole spiel trying to convince her to join you?
But no, Valentine only intends to swap Clary for Maia.
But… you already have Maia. You could have killed her a long time ago. You could have killed both her and Simon and completed your little ritual while the rest of the Shadowhunters had their thumbs shoved firmly up their asses! And yet, for some reason, you chose to wait.
Look, I get it – Valentine is supposed to be like Voldemort, and Voldemort always seemed to wait until the end of the school year to enact his plans, even when doing so made no sense. It’s perhaps one of the biggest flaws with the Harry Potter series. But Valentine didn’t have to wait – in fact, had he not made the inexplicable choice to wait to complete his ritual, he wouldn’t have to trade Clary for Maia in the first place.
And this still doesn’t explain why he had Clary grabbed to begin with, because that happened long before the Shadowhunters began their attack, and Maia was still trapped in that random hole.
God, this book already has plot holes you could drive a semi through, but a friggin’ supertanker could fit through this one!
Anyway, Clary says that the Shadowhunters totally won’t trade Maia for her, but Valentine explains that not only are the Shadowhunters racist as fuck, but they actually made this particular circumstance part of the rules. Why am I supposed to like them, again?
Valentine then claims this totally proves he’s just like the Clave. I’m inclined to disagree – there’s a difference between valuing a young Shadowhunter’s life over that of a young Downworlder, and saying that all Downworlders should be killed. It’s not much better, I’ll admit, but there is a difference.
Valentine starts moving toward Clary, and she finally decides to grab the MacGuffin sword and points it at Valentine, closing out the scene. About damn time she actually did something, if you ask me.
The next scene has us with Jace. If you’ll recall, last time we saw him, he was falling though a hole in the deck. Unfortunately, he does not plummet to his death, and instead lands on a convenient catwalk. Doesn’t grab the rail, or even have to scramble to keep from falling. Because of course he doesn’t.
Anyway, we get a description of the ship’s interior – it’s hollow (uh, what else would it be?), and there’s a maze of catwalks leading all over the place. It’s also really dark, so I’m forced to wonder how Jace can see the aforementioned maze of catwalks. Chalk that up to poor editing, I guess.
Jace pulls out his magic glow rock and conveniently finds Clary’s not-wand. Of course, he has to take a minute to figure out its hers, because he has to think about how odd it is that it’s here, and he needs to feel Clary’s energy or something to tell that it’s hers. Because he’s so familiar with her aura or whatever. Sure.
I guess having the totally-not-at-all wands actually looking unique would be too much like Harry Potter.
Suddenly, Jace here’s someone laughing, and sees a figure at the end of the catwalk. He asks that said figure identify themselves. They don’t, but Jace still feels like he’s being laughed at, so responds exactly how you’d expect him to – by going for his weapons.
Luckily for the Mysterious Figure, Jace apparently dropped his last magic knife when he fell. Which just further proves my point about how throwing weapons is a dumb idea.
But then Jace has this thought:
But what had his father always taught him? Used correctly, almost anything could be a weapon.
Yeah, CC, stuff like this kind of undermines the whole “Jace is a good guy and totally not working for Valentine” thing. Also the “Jace is totally not a violent sociopath” thing.
So Jace starts moving toward the Mysterious Figure, taking in all the possible bits of terrain he can use in a fight, including a bit of metal he could impale them on.
See my previous “violent sociopath” comment.
Then the Mysterious Figure turns and starts walking away, and Jace sees a flash of white hair. He freezes in place and asks if it’s Valentine. And the scene ends.
I have a few things to say about this before moving on. First, it is an interesting situation, or at least it would be if we weren’t absolutely certain it’s not Valentine, because we just saw him talking with Clary. The fact that the reader knows it’s Valetine’s pet shape-shifting demon might lead to some tension, or at least it would if we didn’t also know that Jace is immune to its powers.
Second, I find it interesting that Jace only drops his plan to attack when he thinks it might be Valentine. Again, way to undermine what you’ve been saying about your character, CC.
Back to the book. Next up in the POV rotation is Alec. Last time we saw him, he’d fallen off the side of the boat and was drowning. As evidenced by the fact that we’re in his POV, he’s alive.
We’re told that the first thing he notices is that he’s cold, followed by the fact that he can’t breathe. Personally, I’d think it’d be the other way around, given how a body tends to respond when unable to breathe. Alec coughs up water and he’s fine.
Now that he’s not going to die, he looks around and realizes he’s in the bed of a truck, which we know is Luke’s. Turns out Magnus saved him. Alec asks Magnus what happened, and Magnus’s response is in top form:
“You tried to drink the East River,” Magnus said, and Alec saw, as if for the first time, that Magnus’s clothes were soaking wet too, sticking to his body like a dark second skin. “I pulled you out.”
Alec thinks back over what he last saw, particularly that Isabelle had almost fallen off the boat as well. He asks after her, and Magnus says she got picked up by another boat. Because again, she’s served her purpose, so CC can shuffle her off stage.
Magnus is concerned that Alec might have a concussion, but all Alec wants to do is get back to the fight:
“I need to get back to the battle.” Alec pushed his hand away. “You’re a warlock. Can’t you, I don’t know, fly me back to the boat or something? And fix my concussion while you’re at it?”
Our “Heroes”: 1
Wow, dude. Look, I get that you’re worried about Jace and all, but could you take maybe ten seconds to say, “thanks for saving my life, Magnus”? Yes, this relationship is kinda messed up, what with Alec trying to keep it secret from everyone, and Magnus knocking him out when Alec was about to tell his parents about them, but would it kill you to be nice to Magnus in this one instance?
Well, Magnus slumps against the side of the truck, and we get a random description of his eyes.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 1
(Because it just feels like I should, you know?)
Alec apologizes, but is still putting getting back to the fight at the top priority. He also admits that Magnus helping him would just be a favor, but Magnus interrupts to basically say he’s helping because he’s in love with Alec (though he doesn’t actually say that, just heavily implies it).
Alec starts to reply in kind, but apparently the in-grained Shadowhunter homophobia is too strong, and he just says that he needs to get back to Valentine’s ship.
I’ll admit, I actually kind of like that last bit. While Alec’s entire character might revolve around his sexual orientation, at least we’re getting to see him struggle with his feelings conflicting with how he was raised.
(Spoiler: Unfortunately, it’s all for nothing, as said in-grained homophobia conveniently disappears in the next book)
Magnus says that he’d help, but he’s too drained to do anything. At most, he can ensure that the truck can get back to dry land before he passes out and the spell wears off.
Alec is surprised by this, and we get another description of Magnus, mostly to point out how, despite looking eternally nineteen (which is an specific age, CC), right now he looks exhausted. Alec offers his hands, and tells Magnus to take some of his energy to help fight Valentine. Because apparently warlocks can do stuff like that. Would have been nice to learn that earlier, because as-is, this looks like something CC pulled from her butt.
Shoddy World Building: 2
Magnus is surprised by the offer, but Alec points out that Magnus is just as involved in fighting Valentine as the Shadowhunters are, and reasserts his offer, ending the scene.
Well, I guess that wasn’t too bad, all things considered.
Next scene has us back with Jace. Great.
Valentine (or his pet demon disguised as him, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll play along for now) is smiling at Jace, and wearing black armor, so I guess he’s in Vader-knockoff mode. Jace wants to know where Clary is, and Valentine says she defied him and he taught her a lesson. Which doesn’t really answer Jace’s question, but it does set him off, so he doesn’t notice. Jace asks what Valentine did, and Valentine says it wasn’t anything permanent.
Now, I would expect Jace to attack Valentine at this point – hell, I’d expect anyone to attack Valentine after that line. So imagine my surprise when Jace simply demands to see Clary.
I’m sure CC intended for this to demonstrate how Jace is in control, but given that Valentine just admitted that he hurt Jace’s sister/love interest, possibly to an almost fatal degree, I’d expect Jace to respond violently. I mean, this is the guy who took out his anger and frustration at being kicked out of his home by starting a fight with an innocent pack of werewolves (NO I HAVE STILL NOT FORGOTTEN THAT!), and yet here he has a legitimate excuse to get violent, and he’s just sitting there.
Again, really not helping the “Jace isn’t on Valentine’s side” argument.
Valentine is a bit surprised that Jace wants to see Clary, given that there’s still fighting going on, and the one thing Jace loves almost as much as himself is killing things. He also says that the Shadowhunters are going to lose. Jace is skeptical of that last bit, and Valentine explains that he can always summon more demons, so he’ll win by attrition alone. He also mentions the Inquisitor’s death.
Jace asks how he knows about that, so Valentine claims he’s aware of everything that’s happened. Which you’d think would be a big tip-off to Jace that he’s not talking to Valentine, but then, Jace is about as sharp as a butter knife. And not-Valentine distracts him by pointing out that it’s Jace’s fault the Inquisitor got killed.
The narration implies that Jace is really bothered by this claim, but I have trouble believing it.
Fake Valentine goes on to point out how Jace’s presence is the only reason the other Shadowhunters are here, and that they wouldn’t have come to rescue Simon and Maia, which I am inclined to believe. However, this ignores the possibility of the Shadowhunters coming simply to stop or capture Valentine, but since this is just the Poké-demon playing on Jace’s fears, I’m willing to let it slide.
At the mention of the captured Downworlders, we get this reaction from Jace:
Jace had almost forgotten. “Simon and Maia—”
First, we have an actual trait that Jace and Clary share – they completely forget about Simon’s existence if they aren’t regularly reminded.
Second, I really, really doubt that Jace gives a shit about rescuing either of them, save that doing so A) thwarts Valentine’s plans, and B) makes him look good to Clary. Remember, this is the guy who shrugged off the murder of an innocent young werewolf that happened not fifty feet away (NOPE, STILL NOT OVER THAT EITHER!).
Anyway, store-brand Valentine says that both Simon and Maia are dead, and then goes on to talk about Jace realizing something. Jace assumes they’re rehashing some earlier talk, presumably just like the one Valentine-classic has been giving to Clary. Jace even admits that he’s definitely right about demons, and probably right about the Clave. Which again kind of undermines the “Jace isn’t on Valentine’s side” argument. Way to go, CC.
But no, that’s not what the Asylum’s Valentine means. He means that they’re exactly the same!
Jace doesn’t want to believe this, so Valentine-lite stars listing off points: he made Jace what he is (i.e. a younger version of himself); they’re equally arrogant; they’re both brave (again, using performance enhancers is cheating); and they both have a knack for convincing others to put their lives at risk for them.
The aforementioned performance enhancing rune is going nuts, not that Jace notices, and he refutes the bit about wanting people to die for him. And Diet Valentine gives this wonderfully insightful statement:
“No. You do. You like knowing that Alec and Isabelle would die for you. That your sister would. The Inquisitor did die for you, didn’t she, Jonathan? And you stood by and let her—”
Yeah, I’m going to have to agree with the demonic shape shifter on this one. Even if Jace doesn’t actively want people to die to help him, it’s not as if he’s ever demonstrated an unwillingness to manipulate and use people, particularly those close to him – like I’ve said before, Jace is a sociopath.
We’ve never seen him help someone or do something because it’s the right thing to do – he’s only ever done things that either serve his aims or make him look good. Killing demons makes him look good to other Shadowhunters (as mentioned by Isabelle in the first book); helping rescue Simon from vampires made him look good to Clary. Heck, the only apparent reason he’s against Valentine – despite agreeing with him, as we’ve seen in this book and this chapter in particular – is because more people would dislike him for it.
Real heroes (whether fictional or otherwise) are the ones who do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do. There’s a trope exploring this called What You Are in the Dark – essentially, the hero is offered the choice to do something that would benefit them, but is either evil or at least morally questionable; however, there’s no way anyone would ever find out about it. In most cases, the hero does the right thing, because they’re the hero.
Jace does not strike me as the kind of person who would do the right thing.
Sorry for that tangent.
Jace goes full Luke-in-Empire, vehemently denying that he’s anything like Valentine, while caffeine-free Valentine insists that they are. Jace breaks off a bit of metal railing and stabs faux-Valentine in the chest. He collapses to the floor (wow, that was easy), and for a minute Jace thinks that he’s killed the real Valentine.
Wait, when did he ever think he wasn’t talking to the real Valentine?
Anyway, the corpse crumbles in the oh-so-convenient way they tend to in these kinds of works, nicely clearing Jace’s conscience. He then pokes at where the
cheating Fearless rune was drawn on him, and the skin feels hot. And it’s only now that Jace realizes he was talking to Valentine’s pet demon.
No Shit Sherlock: 1
What, do you think that bodies usually crumble to dust seconds after a person dies?
Jace falls to his knees, and the scene ends.
The next scene picks up a few minutes later, because I guess Jace realizing that obviously-not-Valentine wasn’t Valentine was such a dramatic revelation that the readers would also need a minute to recover.
A Word From Our Sponsors: 1
Man, Old Spice makes the best commercials.
Anyway, Jace gets up and starts moving, and is smart enough to not throw away the one weapon he actually has, as well as assuming that the big nasty fear demon isn’t dead.
(Side note: I recently got back to my second play-through of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and the the ginormous fear demon Nightmare) is way more frightening than this thing, even if does just look like a giant spider. Because it’s a spider the size of a friggin’ mountain.)
Jace wanders around for a bit, and thinks about how the ship’s interior (catwalks, exposed pipes, etc.) totally doesn’t fit with Valentine’s usual aesthetics. Because you can judge the aesthetic style of a ship’s interior by wandering through its bowels – just like how you can judge a house by its basement.
Finally, something vaguely interesting happens – Jace notices a spot of fresh blood on the floor, and several more spots of blood leading off in one direction, which the narration helpfully compares to “a trail of bread crumbs in a fairy tale.”
Uh, no, CC, it’s not “like” a trail – it is a trail. It doesn’t need to be explained.
And just for that, I’m giving you one of these:
No Shit Sherlock: 2
Jace does the obvious thing and follows the trail, which leads him to a door, which he opens. I just summed up two whole paragraphs of activity. You’re welcome.
Jace goes in and starts investigating. The room is cold, and there’s a lot of blood, which to me says that Valentine is really sloppy about draining blood from his victims. Maybe he should have watched a few episodes of Dexter.
Also, because the blood makes a sucking noise when Jace walks through it, I’m forced to conclude that CC doesn’t understand that, despite sounding similar, blood and mud are two very different substances.
Jace walks through the spilled blood because he see’s a body and goes to investigate. To absolutely no one’s surprise, it’s Simon. Jace is… I don’t think ‘upset’ is the right word, because he’s mostly thinking about how Clary will react to this news.
CC apparently decides that now is the best time to explain how her vampires work, because Jace has a flashback to when he was ten and Valentine told him the various ways to kill vampires – you know, your typical father-son bonding activity. The methods are: stake (presumably to the heart, but who knows?); cut off their head and set it on fire (which seems a bit redundant); burn them with sunlight; and drain their blood.
I kid, though. I don’t have any real problem with any of these methods – the weaknesses of and method of permanently kill vampires vary from culture to culture. Some go with the standard stake-to-the-heart (though the wood tends to vary), others go with removing the head. Some vampires can’t cross running water, or have OCD.
(The novel An Unattractive Vampire does a great job exploring different traditions, and how they differ from more modern takes. And I will totally be writing up a review of that once I’ve finished this book.)
Anyway, Jace does a somewhat decent thing and tries to make Simon somewhat presentable for when Clary inevitably sees the body, when Simon twitches. Yep, turns out he was only mostly dead. So Jace freaks out a bit and thinks about what kind of living hell Simon must be in for a minute before concluding that maybe he should give Simon some blood so he can get better.
So Jace uses the no-doubt rusty bit of metal he was carrying as a make-shift weapon (hope he’s up-to-date on he tetanus shot) to cut his writs open lengthwise (which is really stupid if he has any intention of not bleeding out) and tries to force-feed Simon. Simon’s reaction is more or less the same as when he first rose from the grave, which you’d think Jace would expect, seeing as he was there and all – he clamps down on Jace’s arm and just keeps sucking even when Jace tells him to stop. And once he has enough energy to move again, he knocks Jace over and goes for his neck.
The next bit is more or less standard fare for modern takes on vampires when feeding, so I’ll just skip it. However, I will say that this lends a good bit of fuel to anyone who shipped Jace/Simon – say what you like about CC, but at least she’s an equal opportunity ship-teaser.
Unfortunately, Simon doesn’t just drain Jace dry, and instead manages to pull back before it’s too late, and we get this little exchange:
Simon took his hand away from his mouth. The fangs were gone. “I could have killed you,” he said. There was a sort of pleading in his voice.
“I would have let you,” said Jace.
Yeah, I really doubt that. Jace is far too in love with himself to actually risk his life, let alone sacrifice it, for anyone. Also, note how this takes the focus away from Simon overcoming his new instincts and instead makes Jace the big hero for… bleeding on him.
A sacrifice which is immediately undermined by Jace casting a healing spell on himself and making it all better. Then he tells Simon, who is still freaking out about what he almost did, to get moving, ending the scene.
Sorry to do another sidebar so soon, but I have to point out how over powered Shadowhunter runes are. Let’s just take this one example – Jace has been fighting presumably for an hour or more, on top of escaping from the Institute and having to swim to Valentine’s boat, and then just lost quite a bit of blood. Just drawing the rune is described as being difficult. And yet, once it’s done, Jace seems to be just fine. That just seems way too easy to me. Magic systems need to have limits, otherwise what possible challenge is there?
I’m sure I’ve brought up Sanderson’s Laws, specifically the First, which is about “hard” and “soft” magic. Both have their benefits and impose certain restrictions on your writing. Hard magic has clearly defined rules and limitations, but so long as those rules and limits are maintained and followed, the writing will work. Soft magic doesn’t have defined rules and limits, but that means the writer has to be super careful when they use it, lest it feel like a deus ex machina.
The problem is that CC can’t seem to decide which on her rune magic is. She clearly wants it to look like hard magic, and uses it as such, but her refusal to establish any kind of rules or limitations makes it look like soft magic, and the constant use of it with no apparent drawbacks pushes it into deus ex machina territory, as demonstrated by Jace magically fixing all his wounds and injuries with a simple healing rune, or Clary easily devising the anti-fear rune.
Okay, next scene, back with Clary. In case you’ve forgotten (I know I did), last time we saw her, Clary had finally managed to do something vaguely useful, namely grabbing the MacGuffin sword.
Well, now we get to see how utterly pointless that was, because she drops it right when this scene starts.
… I have now words. Only this
Clary Fray, ladies and gentlemen! The anthropomorphic personification of “Fail”.
No, I don’t care that a “searing blast of cold” shot up her arm when she picked the sword up, because she still dropped it right away.
Valentine swoops in and grabs the sword, gloats about how S-M-R-T he was, and then verbally face-palms over his daughter’s stupidity, and how “only one” of his kids seems to get him.
Clary responds to this by saying that Jace also hates him, because this is how CC does foreshadowing.
Valentine gets pissed and points the sword at Clary, and then for no apparent reason starts talking about her mother. Because I guess he doesn’t know that villainous monologues just give the heroes more time to stop you. But then again, given the heroes in these books, he’s probably justified in his leisurely pace.
So Valentine complains about how Jocelyn betrayed him or whatever, how all she ever told Clary about him was that he was dead, and how she never told Clary about being a Shadowhunter, and then we get this:
“Do you know why,” Valentine said, looking down the length of the Sword at her, “your mother left me?”
Tears burned the back of Clary’s throat. She made a choking noise. “You mean there was only one reason?”
On the one hand, good comeback, Clary. On the other, why would she be holding back tears? If anything, I’d expect it to be laughter. And don’t tell me she’s getting all weepy because they’re talking about her mom – this is the girl who couldn’t be bothered to spend time with her in the hospital, despite having nothing else to do.
So Valentine explains that Jocelyn felt Valentine had “turned her first child into a monster” and wasn’t going to let him do the same thing to Clary, but woops! Turns out it was too late for that.
Clary asserts that Jocelyn would never say that about her kids, and that she and Jace aren’t monsters. Well, first, given how little you actually seem to know about your mother, I kind of doubt you can speak with any real authority on the matter, Clary. And second, the fact that you’ve wanted nothing more than to jump Jace’s bones from the minute you saw him does not somehow negate all his horrible qualities, despite what CC seems to think.
Valentine starts to explain what the hell he meant, because he’s not only a cliché villain, he’s an old cliché villain, but gets interrupted by Jace and Simon bursting in though previously-unmentioned trapdoor in the ceiling.
Oh, and you guys have to see how Jace’s entrance is described. It’s… something:
The first, Clary saw with a bright shock of relief, was Jace, falling through the air like an arrow shot from a bow, sure of its target.
Seriously, what the fuck is that?
First off, “falling” is neither a word I associate with arrows being shot, nor does it imply the kind of speed or grace CC was clearly going for. “Flying” would have done it, but “falling”? If anything, that implies a complete lack of grace.
You Keep Using That Word: 1
Second, CC, please, for the love of god, drop this whole “Jace as an arrow” thing. It kinda worked the first time, when it was a metaphor (Jace as weapon used against the Clave), but after that, when it suddenly became almost literal? Then it just became stupid.
Third, an arrow cannot be “sure of its target” because A) it’s not alive, and B) it doesn’t aim itself.
Also, I’m pretty sure Jace does a superhero landing. First, this:
Both Hands, Ma’am: 2
For telling us how fast and graceful and light he is. Also, this:
Because why the hell not?
Oh, and Simon’s landing is almost as good, but not quite as smooth as Jace’s, because no one is allowed to be cooler than Jace. Ever.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 3
Also, it’s only now that Clary realizes it’s Simon. I won’t criticize her for it, as she did have every reason (in this case, a single account from a clearly traumatized teenage girl) to believe he was dead. I will, however, criticize CC if she expected her readers to be amazed at this turn of events. I’ll admit I’m a bit curious as to how Jace and Simon managed to find this particular room, but that’s mostly because the weird way CC arranged the scenes in this chapter (really, the whole book) gives some confusing implications about the temporal relationship between said scenes.
Clary starts crying, and as soon as Valentine stops pointing the sword at her, she collapses to the floor.
Our “Heroes”: 2
At this point, I’m not even surprised.
Okay, so it’s the last chapter, and the heroes and the villain are finally in the same room. You’d think the big climactic fight would start now, right?
Well, you’d be wrong, because instead of that, we get more talking.
Jace is angry that Valentine might have hurt Clary, and Valentine is pissed the Simon is still alive. Or not completely dead. Simon weakly snarks at Valentine, which pisses Jace off, because no one upstages Jace. Jace explains about him feeding Simon his blood, which really pisses Valentine off. Simon’s really raring for a fight, and Valentine finally starts paying attention to him.
Then Clary decides to contribute and tells them that Maia is still alive, so Valentine hasn’t completed his ritual.
This also makes Valentine mad (big surprise) and he does… something that smacks her into the wall. The best explanation I can come up with is a force push.
Simon tries to attack Valentine, but Valentine summons some weird magic fire or something (seriously, when did he become a friggin’ wizard?) and drives Simon back. Now that that bit of excitement is taken care of, we can return to the talking.
Valentine offers to take Jace back if he kills Simon. Jace says no. Valentine restates his offer. Jace says that he saw Valentine’s pet fear demon, and that he killed it. Personally, I doubt that, as I thought you needed either a magic Shadowhunter weapon or direct sunlight to take a demon down, neither of which Jace had. And if he did take it down with a bit of rusty pipe, then again, that makes Agramon look pretty pathetic.
Valentine is not skeptical of this, so I guess the big bad fear demon really was that pathetic. Instead, he’s baffled that Jace would kill a big nasty demon, but won’t hurt a relatively harmless and definitely pacified vampire.
Valentine looks like he’s about to throw down with Jace, and for some reason we get weird fake-out from Jace, and he tosses Clary her magic not-wand. And because Valentine hasn’t been forced to watch all the filler crap that went on in part two, he’s completely baffled.
But Clary isn’t, or at least she has an idea, or CC just went “fuck it, it’s the end of the book, time to wrap this up,” because Clary picks it up, stumbles over to the wall, and furiously starts drawing just like last time. Again, she has no real plan or idea of what she’s drawing, so it’s just her oh-so-convenient magic powers doing all the actual work.
And apparently everyone was so engrossed by this that they decided to just sit and stare, because despite having no reason to not start fighting, the other three just stood there, staring, until she finishes. And this is the reaction we get:
It was Simon who spoke, turning to Jace. “What does it say?”
But it was Valentine who answered, not taking his eyes from the wall. There was a look on his face— not at all the look Clary had expected, a look that mixed triumph and horror, despair and delight. “It says,” he said, “‘Mene mene tekel upharsin.’”
Clary staggered to her feet. “That’s not what it says,” she whispered. “It says open.”
Okay, let’s address Valentine’s response. For those who don’t know, that particular phrase comes from the story of Belshazzar’s feast from the Book of Daniel.
Basically, in the middle of a feat hosted by the Babylonian King Belshazzar, the king decides to use the sacred vessels they took from Jerusalem to drink from, and suddenly a weird hand pops out of nowhere and writes that phrase (in Aramaic) on the wall. The king summons his advisors and wise men to figure out what it means, but they’re stumped. Eventually, they bring in Daniel, who not only tells them what it means (they’re various monetary weights) but also interprets their meaning. In short, the Babylonians are screwed, and their empire will soon be conquered by the Persians (which it was). And for some inexplicable reason, Daniel is rewarded for telling them this. Don’t ask me how that works.
It’s a nice bit of propaganda sucking up to the Persians. It’s also the origin of the phrase “the writing’s on the wall”.
Now, here’s my problem with this response – why? Why does Valentine respond like that? Despite what CC might think, people generally aren’t all that eloquent when they’re freaked out, which Valentine clearly is. It’s also probably there to show how educated Valentine (and thus likely Jace) is, since he can just make a reference like that off the cuff. Because I seriously doubt that many of CC’s readers (hell, probably most people in general) would get that reference.
So yeah, Clary’s big plan that she sort-of-but-didn’t-really come up with was to do to the wall what she did to Jace’s cell way back in chapter six, resulting in the ship literally falling apart. Don’t ask me how casting an “open” spell does that – I’ve already gone into how this magic system has no logic to it.
Blah blah, water rushes in and they’re all panicking, Clary almost drowns, and the scene ends.
On to the next scene.
Clary wakes up, much to my dismay. She’s in the back of Luke’s truck, because reasons. Simon and Luke are there. Luke’s hair has so much ash in it Clary (brilliant girl that she is) briefly thinks his hair has gone white.
Where did all that ash come from? Just wait.
And, par for the course, the first words out of Clary’s mouth are her asking about Jace. Personally, I would have gone with something like, “what happened?” or “how did we get here?”, but then I’m not a hormonal teenage girl obsessed with boinking her sociopathic brother.
Simon starts to answer, but for some reason looks to Luke for confirmation or something, which only causes Clary to freak out more. Why Simon did this, I don’t know, because Jace is right there. Apparently he was so convinced that Clary was dead (because I guess Shadowhunters don’t know about CPR). Clary asks if anyone else died, but Jace ignores the question and casts the supposedly minor healing spell that conveniently fixes all injuries.
This is clearly enough to distract Clary for a moment, so she asks if there was a fire, presumably because of the aforementioned ash in Luke’s hair. See? I told you there was an answer. Not that it makes much sense.
The ash is from Valentine’s ship burning down. That’s all the answer we get. There’s no explanation of how the fire started. I guess we’re just supposed to accept that it just happened. I think someone needed to explain to CC that ripping a hole in the side of a ship isn’t something that starts fires – it’s the thing that created the hole (like, say, something exploding) that causes the fire.
But Clary doesn’t care about silly details like that, so instead starts asking about all their friends. They’re all fine (I guess Alec and Magnus just disappeared, because they aren’t in the truck), so Clary’s confused about Jace being upset.
Our “Heroes”: 3
Clary: I mean, like, why should I care if some random person died trying to rescue me? It’s not like I knew them, or whatever.
So Luke explains what all happened: just like at the end of the last book, two named secondary characters (the Inquisitor and Malik) and a bunch of nameless background characters got killed, and Valentine not only escaped, but also still has the MacGuffin. Meaning that, while the heroes did manage to thwart Valentine’s plans this time, there’s literally nothing stopping him from trying again somewhere else.
Seriously, as far as we know, there are no special requirements for this ritual – it’s not like it needed to be performed during a particular celestial alignment or anything. But I guess Valentine is the kind of villain who immediately gives up on a plan if it fails.
But our heroes are no 0 for 2. How does the saying go? “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”? You’ve failed twice at capturing Valentine, and this time he didn’t have the handy excuse of a magic portal to jump through.
Clary starts to blame herself for destroying the ship while there were still people on it, but is immediately comforted by everyone, so it feels like she was just fishing for pity. Also, vague explanation of the fire – her super ‘tear the ship apart’ rune also tore apart the oil tanks. Because oil is just so well known for spontaneously combusting.
Also, only some demons got hurt when the ship got ripped apart, and they only drowned. The other Shadowhunters got rescued by nixies, a type of water fairy (no, I’m not going to dignify them with the spelling the book uses – this book doesn’t deserve it), sent by the fairy queen. Because apparently she promised to provide “what aid was in her power” and keeping a few people from drowning was about the extent of it. Because I guess saying “Valentine’s parked right here” (because she clearly did know where he was) was beyond her capabilities.
I get that she’s supposed to be all evil and manipulative and whatnot, but couldn’t we have come up with something approaching an actual excuse? Like “it took so long to find the boat that the fighting was over by the time we got there”? That took me about half a second to come up with.
So they start heading back to shore. Simon is both freaked out by the magically floating truck, and bothered by the running water (wow, CC including a bit of vampire lore not usually included in modern works – color me slightly impressed). Then we move on to whether they think Valentine is dead or not. Simon says no, and Jace agrees. Then Jace just casually mentions that the sun is rising, causing Clary and Simon to freak out because, well, vampire.
It takes Jace a minute to realize what’s wrong, because I guess he totally forgot that Simon was a vampire, despite being present at his initial rising from the grave and having fed Simon his own blood less than an hour ago. But I guess you can’t blame Jace – it’s not like Simon is him, after all.
Our “Heroes”: 4
So they start panicking. Jace tells Luke to hurry up, and Clary suggests they cover him up, but apparently that won’t work, and only walls will stop sunlight. Wait, so what was the point of Simon trying to sun-proof his room? Logically, blackout curtains won’t do anything, since they’re just cloth, so why bother covering windows?
Shoddy World Building: 3
A valiant effort, CC, but you have to maintains consistency. Probably why most modern vampire stories just go with direct sunlight and leave it at that.
So Simon and Clary are freaking out. Simon tells Clary he loves her, and the sun comes up. The description is a bit purple for my tastes, but at least it’s not another poetic description of Jace’s eyelashes.
Clary starts screaming, Jace pulls her away, Clary tries to escape Jace’s grasp, and yet somehow Jace ends up being the one telling Clary to look at what’s happening. I’m not quite sure what the hell happened there – maybe another remnant from a previous draft?
So Clary refuses and covers her face, but Jace pulls her up and forces her to look, and we see that Simon is not, in fact, a crispy critter. He’s just fine. And the scene ends.
Because fuck things like consequences and all that – we have a love triangle to continue forcing down the readers’ throats!
And we’re still not quite done yet!
Final scene, and praise all the gods that ever were, are, or will be, because it’s relatively short.
But not too much, because we’re back at the Institute in Jace’s POV. Because we still have some bs that CC thinks needs to be resolved.
So Jace is in his room, and is packing up all his stuff, contemplating how little he actually has despite living there for seven years, so starts thinking about bringing along some stuff he brought with him when he first came. Apparently Magnus had briefly kept Valentine’s ring and has given it back to Jace. But despite all he now knows about the man who raised him, Jace hasn’t gotten rid of the thing – again, way to demonstrate your unwavering loyalty to the Clave, dude.
He starts packing all his stuff up, but then Maryse knocks at his door and asks to come in. There is tension.
Maryse sees the bag and asks what Jace is doing. He tells her, and she says he doesn’t have to leave, but he insists that he doesn’t belong there. Maryse asks where he’ll go, and he says he’ll stay with Luke (yeah, just be freeloader, you little shit), then maybe head back to Shadowhunter Land. Don’t ask me how he intends to do that, though.
Whatever. You can see what this is all about – everyone who ever wronged Jace must ask for forgiveness, even when their response was perfectly reasonable given all the information. So yeah, this is CC’s flailing attempt to make those first two chapters somehow relevant, despite almost nothing that happened in them being brought up again throughout the entirety of the book until now, and no, I am still not over chapter 2!
Blah blah blah, Maryse and the other Lightwoods do love Jace, and want him to stay, and don’t blame him for siding with Valentine, and won’t he please forgive her? Because she’s always loved him like a son, from the moment she first laid eyes on him, because no one is allowed to dislike Jace without just being a hater, let alone be ambivalent towards him.
She also brings up some French song that she used to sing to her kids, and she apparently also sang it to Jace, but he was always asleep when she did, and why the fuck didn’t you say that way back when he first brought it up?
Whatever. Jace decides to stay. End fucking chapter.
Why was this last scene here? CC, just because you introduced this conflict at the beginning of the book and resolve it now does not mean it ran the length of the book. Because at no point after Jace came back in chapter 3 was there ever more than the slightest implication that Jace wouldn’t be welcomed back with open arms. This isn’t a conflict. This isn’t a plot. This is stupid filler used to pad out your word count. So hey, we get one final count for the chapter.
Entirely Pointless: 1
Goddamn but I am sick of this chapter. Sorry this is so long, but I think if I ever stopped, I wouldn’t start up again for weeks, because in all honesty, I am just so damn tired of this book. I’d rant some more, but I just want to be done with this chapter. But I will go into the chapter title real quick.
Okay, so Dies Irae is Latin for “day of wrath”, and is the name of a fairly well-known Latin hymn. The actual musical rendering of the hymn has also become a fairly prominent leitmotif that’s been “quoted” in a number of pieces – for example, the beginning of Franz Liszt’s Totentanz) – usually to invoke a feeling of dread. It usually works.
As to what any of that has to do with this particular chapter, I once again have no fucking clue. Yeah, it’s a good name for a chapter where the big, climactic confrontation occurs, but when we actually got to that confrontation, nothing happened.
Okay, just the epilogue left. I’ll also give my final thoughts, though whether I do that separately or combine it with the epilogue, I don’t know.
See you guys soon.
Entirely Pointless: 1 (Total: 41)
Un-Logic: 1 (Total: 57)
You Keep Using That Word: 1 (Total: 92)
Shoddy World Building: 3 (Total: 42)
Rapier Twit: 0 (Total: 67)
Our “Heroes”: 4 (Total: 155)
No Shit Sherlock: 2 (Total: 16)
Both Hands, Ma’am: 2 (Total: 107)
A Word from Our Sponsors: 1 (Total: 10)