Hey guys, sorry for the delay. Part of it was because of school, part of it was me working on my own writing, and part of it was me getting caught up in Dragon Age: Inquisition (I’m playing a human male mage, if you’re curious). But we’re too damn close to a good stopping point, and I don’t want this to become a once-a-month thing, so here we are.
For those who don’t remember, the last chapter focused entirely on Clary, Alec, and Isabelle’s attempt to “rescue” Jace from the Silent City, aka the City of Bones, and now the eponymous City of Ashes. Considering we already knew that the Silent Brothers (who were supposed to be the wardens of the prison) had already been killed by Valentine’s pet smoke monster (no, not that one)), who then promptly disappeared, the whole chapter was about as tense as picking up a friend from the airport in good traffic. The chapter ended with our protagonists reaching the surface, only to find several dozen adult Shadowhunters waiting for them. Exactly where all these trained professional demon killing badasses have been for the past few chapters, I have no idea. Perhaps we’ll get an answer today, but don’t hold your breath.
Chapter seven begins with all the adult Shadowhunters reacting to Maryse identifying the kids as being hers. Because that was just such a great cliffhanger to end a chapter on. And it also gives us one of these:
A Word from Our Sponsors: 1
Yeah, it’s been a while since we’ve had one of those – last time was in chapter 3.
And the entire situation quickly devolves from there. Maryse basically acts like an exasperated parent, which isn’t helped by Jace, Alec, and Isabelle acting like they’re all eight years old and just got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Will someone please treat this situation with a modicum of the seriousness it deserves?
Mayrse starts asking why they’re here, and mentions getting the distress call (so what the hell took you guys so long? Did you pull a Volturi and decide to visit some tourist sites along the way?), and Alec interrupts her, saying that’s why they came.
That’s half-bullshit. Yes, they came because of the distress call, but only to rescue Jace – none of them showed any real concern for the Silent Brothers, instead choosing to run straight to Jace’s cell to let him out.
Alec goes on to say that they tried to call someone else, but couldn’t get anybody, and decided to go themselves. Which is complete bullshit, as far as I’m concerned. To quote the Internet, pics or it didn’t happen. CC, events in books only happen if the reader sees or is made aware of them. In this case, there was no mention of any attempt to contact any adult Shadowhunters, so I can only assume that this is either Alec or CC covering this little mistake.
Meanwhile, Clary is busy staring at everybody, once again demonstrating just how utterly pointless her existence is.
Mayrse tries to say something, but Alec just barrels on ahead and says that all the Silent Brothers are dead anyway. Not that they really looked that hard. Maryse asks for clarification, only for someone else to step up and basically say, “what part of ‘they’re all dead’ confuses you?”
As I’m sure you can all guess, that was the Inquisitor. Not that Clary knows that, but she will soon. And she is of course described in generally unflattering terms by Clary, because she’s a designated bad guy. The description is also an attempt by CC to remind us that Clary is an artist, because she describes the Inquisitor as looking “like a sort of Edward Gorey caricature,.” And again CC fails, because A) Edward Gorey, is a writer and illustrator, not a caricature artist, and B) Clary’s description (“all sharp angles and pulled-back hair and eyes like black pits scraped out of her face.”) doesn’t quite sound like Gorey’s style, at least not to me. Here’s some samples from his alphabet book, The Gashlycrumb Tinies:
I can see that bit about the eyes, and maybe the hair, but “sharp angles”? I’m not seeing it.
Anyway, the Inquisitor asks Alec if he found anyone alive in down there, and he narrowly avoids an out-right lie by saying that they didn’t see anyone alive, referring to her as Inquisitor.
And then we get Clary’s response to learning that this woman is the Inquisitor, which I feel you all need to see:
So that was the Inquisitor, Clary realized. She certainly looked like someone capable of tossing teenage boys into dungeon cells for no reason other than that she didn’t like their attitude.
Of course that’s how she sees it. because it doesn’t matter that the Inquisitor is Jace’s superior, or an authority figure, or just a veteran Shadowhunter deserving respect – he’s totally entitled to act like the little shit stain that he is because he’s haaaawwwwt. After all, physical appearance and a tragic back story are the only things that matter in this world, and completely justify any horrible behavior.
Clary? CC? They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. These gifs might not be quite that many, but they do a good job of expressing my feelings toward this bullshit.
And before I forget,
Our “Heroes”: 1
The Inquisitor, like all Scary Sue characters, again demonstrates that she’s the only one paying attention and actually catches Alec’s little slip, and tells Maryse to send some people in to check for survivors. Maryse gets a little indignant about being told how to do her job, but acts like a fucking adult and a professional soldier and follows orders, and all without making one snarky comment.
In all seriousness, why aren’t we focusing on the adult characters?
The kids all follow along behind Maryse and the Inquisitor for… reasons… and we get a clarification on the number of Shadowhunters present – a little more than twenty. Which still leaves me wondering why they couldn’t leave a few behind to keep an eye on things. We were perfectly fine leaving Jace and the Lightwood kids to guard all of New York in the last book (Hodge doesn’t count because of magical house arrest), so why did we need twenty-plus people to investigate a single dead body?
So everyone except the kids, Maryse, and the Inquisitor head down to the Silent City, because CC has issues writing scenes with more than two or three characters. To prove this, she writes a little conversation between Maryse and the Inquisitor, with none of the kids saying a word until absolutely necessary.
Maryse wonders why anyone would kill the Silent Brothers, and the Inquisitor continues to demonstrate that she’s the only person here with a functioning brain, because she explains that, dur, whoever did it wanted something really bad. She then points out that the dead fey kid in Central Park was clearly intended to keep them all busy so no one would answer the distress call.
Maryse gets a bit indignant about this (I guess sending everyone to Central Park was her brilliant idea), and points out that a fairy kid drained of blood could lead to tensions between fairies and vampires. Which I would give her credit for, if she didn’t also refer to vampires as “the Night Children”.
You Keep Using That Word: 1
Look, CC, I get that you probably played some White Wolf games, but at least they bothered to come up with actual terms their vampires/werewolves use for themselves. They might be kind of stupid and/or pretentious, but they’re better than “[thing’s] children”.
The Inquisitor insists that all that is just a distraction (though I find it curious that it’s her being dismissive of the Downworlders – Maryse is the former
Nazi Deatheater Circle member, after all), and then complements both the plan and the person behind it:
“Ingenious, really. But then he always was ingenious.”
Well, crap. I guess nothing lasts forever – the Inquisitor has fallen to CC’s dark powers.
No, this plan was not “ingenious”. It’s really rather simple, actually. But then, they say authors can only write characters as smart as they are, and since we’ve seen that the protagonists can barely think their way out of a paper bag, Valentine really is smart (if only by comparison).
Isabelle reminds everyone that she’s there by asking for clarification, and only now does Jace go, “Oh, btw, Valentine was here. And he took the –Sword of Truth- Magic Lie-detecting Sword.”
Alec calls Jace out on not mentioning this before now, which he has every right to do. Jace’s response?
Rapier Twit: 1
It’s been a long time, but I’m going to break this out again. I need it.
Jace, this is kind of critical information. Valentine (despite repeated demonstrations that he is a shit villain) is kind of a big deal. Everyone remember in Goblet of Fire, when Harry popped back to Howarts at the end? The first thing he did was start telling everyone “Voldemort is back”. It didn’t matter that no one believed him – Voldemort returning threatened everyone, so he got the word out. Harry didn’t wait for someone to ask what happened. So Jace? Not mentioning this before hand? Really hurts your claims of innocence.
Someone (presumably Alec, but CC doesn’t bother to specify) points out that, given that the Silent Brothers had been torn apart, Valentine couldn’t have done it on his own. So the Inquisitor points out that, herp derp, Val probably summoned some demons to help him, and with the MacGuffin Cup from the last book he can probably summon up nastier things than the Raverns and Forsaken from the last book. She does not, however, point out that it still makes no damn sense for Valentine to be summoning up demons in the first place.
I’ve recently come across a good example of this kind of behavior in playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. However, it does involve some spoilers, so if you want to avoid them, just skip ahead to the end of this aside.
At an early point in the game, your character gets magically catapulted into the future. There, you learn that the Big Bad conquered the world using an army of demons. After returning to the present, you eventually learn that the Grey Wardens are the ones responsible for summoning said demon army. Now, the Wardens can get away with a lot of questionable or downright illegal stuff in the name of fighting the darkspawn, but summoning up an army of demons is a bit much. Turns out the Big Bad was using an uber-powerful fear demon to make all (or at least most) of the Wardens think they were undergoing the Calling, and so they needed to act quickly to deal with the remaining hibernating Old Gods so as to ensure no future Blights broke out.
The Wardens were desperate and afraid, but their actions still fit their motivations. Valentine’s don’t, and I don’t believe they ever will.
Clary assumes that the Inquisitor’s comment about Ravener demons is an insult directed at her. I’m of two minds about this.
First: of course Clary immediately assumes it’s about her. Because everything in this series is either about her or Jace. Everything must tie back to one of them.
On the other hand: of course it’s an insult. Do you not remember how stupid and pathetic the Ravener demon was? It practically explained the whole plan, and then got taken down by Clary shoving a magic phone in it’s mouth. And it still managed to take her down afterwards. That’s one of the few good points I’ll give the movie – at least in that Clary manages to beat (or at least subdue) the thing through her own cleverness instead of authorial fiat. (It doesn’t help that Jace pops in and saves her anyway, but credit where due)
Jace starts talking again, and it’s mentioned that he still looks all sick and whatnot.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 1
And then he says this:
“But it was Valentine. I saw him. In fact, he had the Sword with him when he came down to the cells and taunted me through the bars. It was like a bad movie, except he didn’t actually twirl his mustache.”
Hey, pointing out that the villain is acting like a bad cliché is my job, buddy.
Seriously, though, when the book’s own characters (especially the author’s darlings) are pointing this kind of thing out, it’s a bad sign. CC, this isn’t you being clever – it just makes me wonder why you didn’t fix the problem.
Also, how would Jace know anything about bad movies? When and where would he have seen one? Oh, right, he knows this so he can make the joke.
Shoddy World Building: 1
Rapier Twit: 2
Clary once again points out in the narration that Jace isn’t looking too good, which might be interesting if I actually cared.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 2
The Inquisitor is a bit skeptical of Jace’s claims, and Maryse pushes for more information re: Valentine’s plans. Jace claims he doesn’t know anything else, but the Inquisitor doesn’t believe him. Jace says that doesn’t surprise him, and the Inquisitor doubts that any other high-ranking Shadowhunters will believe him either.
Alec protests that Jace isn’t a liar. Never mind that he somehow in living with the Lightwoods for almost a decade never saw a picture of either the actual Michael Wayland or Valentine, no one noted that he looked nothing like his alleged father, and no one pointed out that his ring was the Morgenstern crest.
Then the Inquisitor gives us a bit of good lampshade hanging:
“What’s the likelihood that Valentine stopped by his son’s cell for a paternal chat about the Soul-Sword, and didn’t mention what he planned to do with it, or even where he was going?”
Thank you, madam. You’ve almost made up for calling Valentine’s plan “ingenious”. Because this whole thing stinks like high tide, but everyone else is too enamored of Jace to point it out.
Then Jace starts quoting Dante’s Inferno (and in Italian), though thankfully not the most well-known bit. Instead, he quotes part of Guido de Montefeltro’s lines from Canto XXVII. For the curious, Guido is in the eighth circle of Hell (fraud, specifically evil or deceptive council – Ulysses is also there because of the Trojan Horse). Guido advised Pope Boniface VIII on how to deal with the Colonna family (offer forgiveness, then renege once they’re out of their fortress). The Pope absolved Guido of this sin, but in the poem Dante points out that (to quote Wikipedia) “a man cannot be contrite for a sin at the same time that he is intending to commit it”.
And no, I have no idea what this has to do with what Jace is going through. I’m pretty sure it’s just to show how amazing he is for having read Dante in Italian.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 3
The Inquisitor notes the reference, and then says that Jace is going to wish he were in hell if he lies to the Clave. I would wonder why any Shadowhunter would have read the Divine Comedy, considering it was published in the early 14th century, but then I remember that CC doesn’t know history.
Shoddy World Building: 2
Then the Inquisitor points out that it’s awfully convenient that Valentine just happened to show up and steal their magic lie-detecting sword the night before Jace was to be put on trial. Jace argues that Valentine took the sword for his own reasons, but the Inquisitor says it’s still convenient for them both, since now there’s no risk of Jace telling them any of Valentine’s secrets. And Jace responds with this:
“Yeah,” Jace said, “he’s terrified I’ll tell everyone that he’s always really wanted to be a ballerina.” The Inquisitor simply stared at him. “I don’t know any of my father’s secrets,” he said, less sharply. “He never told me anything.”
Rapier Twit: 3
Look, Jace, I get that you don’t believe you know anything that might be of use here. I understand. However, you can’t tell me that after living with the guy for years you didn’t learn anything that could be helpful here.
And your steadfast refusal to cooperate isn’t doing you any favors. What happened to “oh, I’ll totally face the magic lie-detecting sword” attitude from back in chapter three? Or is it that the Inquisitor is treating you like a suspect instead of coddling you like everyone else that’s got you acting like this? You haven’t exactly gone out of your way to endear yourself to the Inquisitor, you know.
Anyway, the Inquisitor straight-up asks why Valentine would take the sword in the first place, and Clary not-so-helpfully points out that it’s one of the Mortal Instruments and super powerful, as if that’s reason enough. So the Inquisitor points out that the sword doesn’t really do anything that might help Valentine. Nice to see someone note that a sword that detects lies is about as useful as Super Friends era Aquaman.
Mayrse suggests that the theft might be intended to hurt Shadowhunter morale, rather than Valentine wanting the sword. Which is actually a good point – and in a good book, that might actually be Valentine’s motivation. But this is not a good book.
Again, why are we focusing on the kids when the adults are doing the interesting things?
But CC gets bored with this, so Jace collapses, giving Clary and Alec a chance to fawn over him a bit.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 4
Jace insists that he’s fine, but Alec says he’s not. The Inquisitor assumes he just needs a magical band-aid, and “[looks] as if she were exquisitely annoyed at Jace for being injured during events of such importance,” which I’m sure we’re supposed to view as proof that she’s a heartless bitch or something, but that would require me to actually like Jace, which I don’t. Is the Inquisitor’s behavior a bit cold? Yes, but Snape was worse, and people loved him.
Alec explains that they already tried their pitiful healing spell, and it’s put forth that Jace might have been demonically poisoned. The Inquisitor takes my side from the last chapter and figures Jace is faking it and that he should just be locked up again, but no one’s listening to her. Alec insists that Jace needs help, but the Inquisitor doesn’t like the idea of taking Jace to a normal hospital.
Wait, isn’t Alec supposed to be the racist one?
Never mind. No, Alec’s suggestion is to take Jace to Magnus Bane. Isabelle responds to this by “[making] a sound somewhere between a sneeze and a cough,” which I’m not sure how you do. Alec starts to explain who Magnus is, including that he’s the High Warlock of Brooklyn. Given that I’m fairly certain that Magnus gave himself that title, it’s worth less than my Red Robin Red Royalty card, because that at least gets me free food.
Maryse starts to say that Magnus has a reputation, but Alec points out that Magnus did heal him after he got his ass handed to him by that Greater Demon in the last book (I may be paraphrasing).
The Inquisitor is against the whole thing, saying that Alec just wants to help Jace escape. Isabelle counters that Jace clearly isn’t healthy enough to try that (completely ignoring the possibility that he might be faking it), and Alec says that even if Jace did try to run, Magnus would stop him, because *“[Magnus is] not interested in crossing the Clave.”
Wow, that’s almost as good as the bit of Jace and Isabelle never dating because they’re like siblings. I won’t spoil anything, but we’ll see just how little Magnus cares about pissing off the Clave later.
The Inquisitor is still skeptical that Magnus could contain Jace (giving a nice sentiment of Shadowhunter superiority which I so don’t need from her), and Alec suggests she ask Magnus if she’s so curious.
Yeah, turns out he’s been standing around eavesdropping the whole time. Why is he here? Why didn’t he show himself sooner? Who cares – CC sure doesn’t. He saunters in dressed like a knock-off Liberace, and I will say, despite how I know I’m going to come to hate Magnus soon, he does manage to endear himself to me here. Mostly because this is his reaction:
“Is he [Jace] dead?” [Magnus] inquired. “He looks dead.”
“No,” snapped Maryse. “He’s not dead.”
“Have you checked? I could kick him if you want.”
And as much as I’m all for kicking Jace while he’s down, the Inquisitor steps in and is all business. She agrees to let Magnus heal Jace, but says that Jace has to remain locked up, as he’s “clearly a flight risk.”
Shoddy World Building: 3
CC, could you please decide how much the Shadowhunters know about mundane society? Because as near as I can tell, it’s “however much is convenient at the time”, which is a shit answer.
The Inquisitor’s statement causes Isabelle to explode, making me wonder once again why Clary’s here. Isabelle says that the Inquisitor is acting like Jace tried to escape the Silent City, at which the Inquisitor points out that Jace is out of his cell. And I think you guys need to see this next bit.
“That’s not fair! You couldn’t have expected him to stay down there surrounded by dead people!”
“Not fair? Not fair? Do you honestly expect me to believe that you and your brother were motivated to come to the Bone City because of a distress call, and not because you wanted to free Jonathan from what you clearly consider unnecessary confinement? And do you expect me to believe you won’t try to free him again if he’s allowed to remain at the Institute? Do you think you can fool me as easily as you fool your parents, Isabelle Lightwood?”
And with that, the Inquisitor has redeemed herself. Because that is precisely why they came – at no point did they look for survivors, or try to figure out what was going on. They went straight for Jace’s cell to get him out. The distress call was a convenient excuse.
My only problem with this is that it’s Isabelle who starts it. Clary’s the one who’s been acting like a child this whole time, insisting that the Inquisitor is just being mean and punishing Jace for no reason. Isabelle and Alec were the one’s who were acting mature. But I guess we can’t have the –author’s self-insert- heroine acting like a petulant little child, because that would be a flaw, and the heroine can’t have any flaws.
And one last thing.
Our “Heroes”: 2
We’re almost done guys, I promise.
Isabelle almost continues her tantrum, but Magnus interrupts, saying that he can keep Jace at his apartment. The Inquisitor asks Alec if Magnus understands how important a witness Jace is, referring to Magnus as “your warlock”. Alec’s response to say that Magnus isn’t his, while also blushing, because CC fails at subtlety.
Magnus says that he’s done this kind of thing before, and has a very good record. And if he’s treated other such “guests” the same way he treats Jace, I wonder why anyone would still trust him. And for some reason, he gives Maryse a lingering look, but I don’t care enough to find an explanation.
The Inquisitor agrees, and Magnus walks over to Jace (wait, where were they in relation to him? And did Clary leave Jace, or has she been kneeling over him this whole time?), and asks Clary if Jace can talk.
Jace wakes up just enough to asks what Magnus is doing here, and Magnus smiles at him, with teeth “[sparkling] like sharpened diamonds”
You Keep Using That Word: 2
and ends the chapter with this:
“Hey, roommate,” he said.
Honestly, I have to wonder why all this somehow merited being a chapter all its own – nothing really happened. The closest we came to actual plot progression was trying to figure out what Valentine would want with the MacGuffin Sword, but that got sidelined to focus on Jace. The real “resolution” here was making sure Jace was no longer locked up by the mean old Inquisitor, because for some reason dealing with her is somehow more important than finding and stopping Valentine, probably because the Inquisitor had the nerve to be mean to Jace. There’s a trope for that sort of thing – Protagonist-Centered Morality. Which is generally a bad thing.
But this also brings part one of the book to a close. Given that there are three parts (not including the prologue and epilogue), it seems fair to say that the first “act” of the book has ended. So what all’s happened? Not a whole damn lot. Especially given that the first two chapters served absolutely no purpose whatsoever. Yes, Valentine has at least put in an appearance, and we know for a fact that he has a Sinister Plan^TM^ that involves killing and draining the blood of Downworlder children (which I’m sure he considers to be a bonus).
There’s just one problem – no one (or at least no one we’ll be following) cares. The Inquisitor shrugging off the death of that fairy kid as just a distraction could have been used to demonstrate how cold and obsessed she is, giving the reader a real reason to dislike her. Except back in chapter two we saw Jace actively ignoring a similar incident. He didn’t even care that the poor werewolf kid had been murdered; at least the Inquisitor took an interest in the fairy kid’s murder. So why am I supposed to praise Jace while his behavior is actually worse than the new Designated Villain? And again, him being attractive, having a ‘tragic’ back story, and having hurt feelings don’t excuse this kind of thing.
Well, that’s it for me. Next time, we begin part two, with Chapter 8: The Seelie Court. See you all then.
Entirely Pointless: 0 (Total: 25)
Un-Logic: 0 (Total: 18)
You Keep Using That Word: 2 (Total: 29)
Shoddy World Building: 3 (Total: 17)
Rapier Twit: 3 (Total: 26)
Our “Heroes”: 2 (Total: 44)
No Shit Sherlock: 2 (Total: 6)
Both Hands, Ma’am: 4 (Total: 29)
A Word from Our Sponsors: 1 (Total: 3)