A quick word of warning – this one’s a bit long, for reasons that will become self-evident. There’s also some pretty offensive stuff in here, so you’ve been warned.
Anyway, we’ve finished Part One and move into Part Two: Easy Is the Descent. And yes, that’s how it’s capitalized in my copy. No, I don’t know why the word ‘is’ is capitalized.
Like Part One, Part Two begins with a quote, this time from Vergil’s Aeneid, specifically lines 126-129. And for extra pretentiousness, CC chooses to present it in the original Latin, foregoing translation.
Facilis descensus Averni:
Noctes atque dies patet atri ianua Ditis;
Sed revocare gradium superasque evadere ad auras.
Hoc opus, hic labor est.
Now, for those of you who don’t speak Latin, I found a few translations of this particular bit. The 17th century poet John Dryden rendered it as:
The gates of hell are open night and day;
Smooth the descent, and easy is the way:
But to return, and view the cheerful skies,
In this the task and mighty labor lies.
In contrast, the 19th century scholar John Conington translated it as:
The journey down to the abyss
Is prosperous and light:
The palace gates of gloomy Dis
Stand open day and night:
But upward to retrace the way
And pass into the light of day
There comes the stress of labour.
But of course, a more literal translation would be this:
It is easy to go down into Hell;
Night and day, the gates of dark Death stand wide;
But to climb back again, to retrace one’s steps to the upper air —
There’s the rub, the task.
Personally, I prefer the Dryden. While it might lose something in “Christianizing” the work, I think it’s truer to the nature of the piece.
Now, as to the meaning, that should be simple enough – going to hell/the underworld is easy, it’s the getting out that’s the hard part. And while I haven’t read The Aeneid, I have read bits of The Odyssey, which it’s loosely based on, and have a decent knowledge of Greco-Roman mythology, so I think I can puzzle out the intent here.
Okay, so at one point during his travels, Odysseus had to go into the underworld to consult the dead prophet Tiresias. So obviously one of the big reasons to descend to the underworld (metaphorical or otherwise) would be to gain special knowledge – the other being to find/rescue someone, as in the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, but since neither Jace nor Clary are likely to die soon (much to my dismay), we’ll ignore this.
So, based on that deduction, I think it’s safe to assume that, at some point in the near future, the characters will “descend” into some kind of metaphorical underworld in search of knowledge. And, having read the book once already, I know this to be true. As to the “hard to get back out” bit… well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
And, of course, there’s a heavy dose of author pretentiousness in there as well.
But that’s enough pontificating, we have a sporking to get to!
The chapter proper begins, much like the last one, about two seconds after the end of the previous. I’m not going to give that a Random Scene Break because, I’ll admit, that’s a good beat to end a chapter on. I will, however, say that picking up right after was a questionable decision – personally, I would have started with Clary laying in bed or something, thinking about everything she’s learned, and then flashed back to this. But whatever.
Anyway, Jace is just shocked – shocked! – to find out that Valentine was married at one point. Yes, and so was Darth Vader, Hitler had a girlfriend, and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Voldemort had regular sex with Bellatrix Lestrange, possibly involving his pet snake because they’re both kinky like that.
(Enjoy that mental image.)
But more important is Clary’s simultaneous reaction. She insists, quite vociferously, that her mother couldn’t have been married to someone like Valentine, and that she’s only ever been married to Clary’s father.
Hodge tries to calm them both down, referring to them as “Children,” and Clary explodes:
“I’m not a child.” Clary spun away from the desk. “And I don’t want to hear any more.”
Okay, Clary: first, you’re what? Fifteen? Sixteen? Whatever, you’re still a minor. Second, Hodge is obviously quite a bit older than you. Third, you’re acting like a child, so expect to be treated like one.
But finally, she accepts the truth, if reluctantly.
She was no longer sure how well she knew Jocelyn. Her mother had become a stranger, a liar, a hider of secrets.
No Shit Sherlock: 1
Thank you for joining the rest of the class, Clary. We all figured this out back in chapter 8.
Hodge gives some more background about what happened with the Circle – once things started to get extreme, a lot of the members left, including Jocelyn, Luke, and Jace’s father, Michael Wayland. But, as with similar organizations, this left only the more radical members, including the two red cloaks, the Lightwoods (Isabelle and Alec’s parents), and Hodge himself.
Oh, but they only stayed because they were “afraid” of the potential repercussions from Valentine, and turned State’s Evidence after getting caught, in exchange for “clemency,”: Hodge is cursed so can’t leave the Institute, and the Lightwoods have been “banished,” and can only return home on official business.
Yeah, I think this definitively shows that the Shadowhunter government is run by a bunch of morons. These people, willingly or not, were part of a radical group that attempted to assassinate foreign dignitaries in an effort to start a war. Now, the fans might point to other examples, say the Harry Potter books – Snape, Igor Karkaroff, and Lucius Malfoy all got off pretty easy after Vodemort’s initial rise to power. Here’s how those comparisons fail – Snape had already become a double-agent, Malfoy didn’t get caught, and Karkaroff was arguably a foreign national (the Ministry of Magic being the government of Britain’s Wizarding community) and also turned State’s Evidence once captured.
But these are not the people you let off so easily. Hodge’s imprisonment? That’s the minimum of what I would expect for this kind of thing. And why did the Lightwoods get off so easy? Because they were married and had a kid. Because apparently the Shadowhunters don’t have any equivalent of Social Services or something.
CC doesn’t seem to grasp how banishment is supposed to be a punishment, and why it’s hard to use as a punishment nowadays. In the middle ages, that kind of thing was serious – people didn’t travel much, and it was likely that you’d die within a few miles of where you were born. Being banished effectively meant being kicked out of your whole world. And when the Russian tsars or Stalin exiled people to Siberia, well, that worked because Siberia was mostly a big empty wilderness separated from the more populated areas of Russia by mountains. Plus, the Lightwoods still get to go back – that’s where they are now!
Anyway, Clary asks why Hodge didn’t tell her about her mom, and he gives some really stupid reasons, the stupidest being that she changed her name to Fray, when it used to be Fairchild (also, the prevalence of English-style surnames for people in a Franco-German area is really starting to piss me off). Yes, never mind that she kept her first name, Clary looks just like her, and she’s one of what’s probably a very small number of people Hodge probably knows of with damned good reasons to disappear – her last name’s different, so they probably aren’t the same person!
FYI, the other reasons are that Hodge was skeptical were that Clary was so insistent that she didn’t know anything about their world (because she couldn’t possibly be lying), and that he was basically acting like Minister Fudge in Order of the Phoenix.
And then we get an explanation about why Valentine would want the MacGuffin Cup – so he can build his own army of Shadowhunters!
No Shit Sherlock: 2
Jace starts to say something about how that wouldn’t work, but apparently CC decided she needed to maintain the “tension,” so she has Isabelle pop in for more “comedy.” She proudly proclaims that dinner is ready, and Jace and Hodge try to weasel their way out of it before Isabelle explains that she tossed the soup and ordered Chinese. They guys immediately change their attitudes, and Isabelle proclaims that they’re both “terrible liars.”
No, honey, they’re just acting like characters in a sit-com.
But Clary hangs back and asks if it’s true. Isabelle then gives us this bit of very forced and blatantly wrong characterization:
“He’s not a liar at all. Not about important things. He’ll tell you horrible truths, but he won’t lie.”
Sorry, but I’m going to have to disagree with you there, Izzy – Jace isn’t brutally honest, he’s just a dick. There’s a critical difference there: a brutally honest person will tell you the truth, even if it hurts you; a dick will tell you the truth because it hurts you. The former will probably fell sorry about their actions, but the latter won’t. And, as we’ve already established, Jace is never sorry about anything. The former tells you the horrible the truth because they think you need/deserve to be told the truth; the latter tells you the horrible truth because your suffering amuses them. The former is altruistic, the latter malicious.
Quick scene break and we’re in the kitchen, and we get even more stupid “comedy.” Evidently Isabelle’s brains have leaked out her ears, because she’s talking about how Valentine kidnapping Clary’s mom is “romantic,” because there’s the possibility that he just wants to get back together with his ex-wife. Alec is back in rational-mode, because he reminds his sister that he did send a nasty demon to the Fray’s apartment, an action even Jace knows doesn’t belong at the top of his list of “things to do to make-up with an ex.”
“It wouldn’t be my move,” Jace agreed. “First the candy and flowers, then the apology letters, then the ravenous demon hordes. In that order.”
Rapier Twit: 1
But Isabelle still isn’t convinced, so Hodge reminds us that Valentine is basically the Shadowhunter version of Hitler and Charles Manson rolled into one. Isabelle’s counter? Evil is Sexy. Isn’t it just wonderful how seriously our heroes are taking this guy’s return? CC, how am I supposed to take this guy seriously when even your own characters don’t?
Luckily, Simon swoops in to rescue us from the banality of this conversation. Unfortunately he does so by essentially asking them to lay out Valentine’s whole plan, allowing CC to further inflate her word count without actually having to do anything.
So here’s Valentine’s plan: he wants the MacGuffin Cup so he can make his own army of Shadowhunters. Unfortunately, the best subjects to use the Cup on are children – adults are either unaffected or die. But I guess that whatever Isabelle caught spread to Simon, because he doesn’t see Valentine creating a child army as such a big deal.
Now, I’ll admit that using children as soldiers isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever heard of, if only because things like genocide and nuclear/biological terrorism exist. Still, I’d definitely put it in the top five of the Worst Things People Do list.
But CC isn’t content with making Valentine Evil™. No, she has to make him EVIL. Hodge further explains that, of the kids the Cup would be used on, only about one out of every five would survive, and Valentine wouldn’t bother doing any tests to see if they’d survive beforehand. And this was his master plan all along.
So not only is Valentine Hitler and Charles Manson, he’s also Josef Mengele. But I guess when your heroes are a bunch of racist pricks, you have to make your villain Super-Extra-Mega Evil.
And then Isabelle’s forced derpiness rears it’s ugly head again:
“But that’s murder,” Isabelle said, looking a little green. “He was talking about killing children.”
No Shit Sherlock: 3
Really? I hadn’t noticed, what with the talk of forcing them through an ordeal that would leave four out of every five of them dead, and then forcing the remainder to act as his personal army. Guess he’s not so sexy now, is he?
And, oh, there’s more – according to Hodge, Valentine’s justification for this was that, since the Shadowhunters had been protecting humanity for a millennium, this would be our way of returning the favor. And that just disgusts Jace:
“That goes against everything we’re supposed to be about. Protecting the helpless, safeguarding humanity—”
But not respecting them, oh no. Mundane humanity is somewhere between children and cattle.
Hodge explains that Valentine was, you know, crazy, even being willing to sacrifice his own son if it meant achieving his goals. The son that he totally doesn’t have, btw. Nope. Not at all.
And the Shadowhunter CSIs are either lazy or just suck at their jobs, because everyone just assumed that Valentine died and the Cup was destroyed when his place burned down after his would-be Helter Skelter. But Clary and Hodge point out that both her mom and Valentine seem to have survived, so it’s probably safe to assume that the Cup did as well. Needless to say (meaning it’s directly stated), the brass isn’t gonna be happy about this.
No Shit Sherlock: 5
Thanks for clearing that up, guys. I would never have guessed.
So Jace is ready and raring to go, but Hodge shoots him down, explaining that the smart thing to do would be to let the proper authorities handle this. Jace, of course, disagrees.
“Then what do we do?”
“Nothing,” said Hodge. “All this is best left to skilled, experienced Shadowhunters.”
“I am skilled,” protested Jace. “I am experienced.”
Yes, you know how to kill things (and enjoy it a bit more than you should), but you lack anything resembling restraint or finesse. Both of which might be useful when going up against people who tried to start a war.
Hodge points out that, despite his “mad skillz, yo,” Jace is still pretty much a kid. Jace takes this about as well as Clary did last chapter, and CC throws in a loving description of his eyelashes for good measure.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 1
His eyelashes for fuck’s sake.
But Alec is still in rational-mode and Isabelle has gotten over her bout of derpiness, and they agree with Hodge. Jace is still pissed, though, because he’s a Loose-Cannon Cop Shadowhunter, so he wants to go charging in, guns blazing, probably getting a bunch of people killed in the process, likely including Clary’s mom. But even he knows when he’s out-voted, and stands down when Hodge says he’ll send a message to the authorities.
Jace subsided, but his eyes were still glittering. “I don’t like it.”
“You don’t have to like it,” said Alec. “You just have to shut up and not do anything stupid.”
Both Hands, Ma’am: 2
Clearly you don’t know Jace all that well.
Now, I’m conflicted about this. On the one hand, it’s nice to see these characters being reasonable, and I’m always up for someone dishing it out at Jace. But on the other hand, he and Alec are supposed to be
lovers “closer than brothers,” so having Alec be the one snapping at Jace kinda kills that feeling. Don’t get me wrong, I have two brothers myself, and we’ve occasionally taken pot-shots at each other, but that’s not what this feels like – it feels like Alec is really pissed at Jace.
For once, Clary actually acts like a good daughter and shows concern about her mother’s safety, what with being held captive by a guy like Valentine, and the whole “being in a coma” thing will only protect her for so long. Clary point out that, hey, these Shadowhunter guys are supposed to be protecting people, so where are they and why aren’t they out looking for her mom?
Alec rightly points out that doing that would be a lot easier if they had any idea of where Clary’s mom is being held, and then this happens:
“But we do,” said Jace.
“You do?” Clary looked at him, startled and eager. “Where?”
“Here.” Jace leaned forward and touched his fingers to the side of her temple, so gently that a flush crept up her face. “Everything we need to know is locked up in your head, under those pretty red curls.”
Both Hands, Ma’am: 3
Do I even need to explain that?
So yeah, their new plan is to finally fix whatever is wrong with Clary’s brain in the hopes that she might know something useful. Considering how helpful she’s been so far, i.e. none at all, this might lead one to wonder how useful they expect anything she tells them to be. But since Clary’s the protagonist and an obvious author-insert to boot, I think we can all guess how this will turn out.
Jace plans on taking Clary to the Silent Brothers, a group that’s been mentioned before, but I haven’t felt the need to bring up – they’re the librarians and archivists for the Shadowhunters. Isabelle asks why Jace is suggesting this, since he hates the Silent Brothers. Jace defends himself, saying that he’s just afraid of them. Yes, but as Yoda would tell you, the one eventually leads to the other, by way of anger. And either way it gives me a reason to like them.
And then Simon makes a halfhearted joke about late fees, which is thankfully ignored.
Rapier Twit: 2
Hodge explains that the Silent Brothers use some crazy-powerful and dangerous runes to do their work (no, I don’t know why), and in doing so their bodies become messed up. This causes Clary to flash back to that conversation she overheard between Alec and Isabelle back in chapter four about people mutilating themselves. But said runes also give the Brothers some pretty awesome mental powers, including mind reading. So they’re basically psychics.
But Simon is still suffering from the derpiness he caught from Isabelle, because he’s not impressed by people having crazy mind-powers. Clearly he’s never heard of the Scanners franchise.
And surprise, surprise, Jace snaps at him:
“Then you’re a bigger idiot than you look,” said Jace, regarding him with scorn.
See, this is just like what he did with Simon being interested in Isabelle – while his intentions might be good, the way he’s going about it that’s the problem. He’s correcting Simon’s misconception, but he’s being a jerk about it. And no, unlike last time, no one calls Jace on his behavior.
Isabelle, meanwhile, completely ignores Simon, but agrees with Jace about the Silent Brothers being creepy.
Hodge also decides to toss in his two cents, talking about how the Silent Brothers can break a man’s mind and leave him a quivering, screaming mess if they feel like it.
Clary is taking all this about as well as a normal person would – she’s fucking terrified. But Jace is all reassuring, saying that she deserves to know whatever secrets happen to be hidden I her head, which does make sense. Still, Clary’s hesitant about letting some someone poking around insider her head. Oh, but Jace says that he’ll be with her the whole time, so that’ll make it all okay.
But Simon’s just as sick of this crap as I am and tells Jace to back the fuck off (not in those words, unfortunately). But since he’s dared to talk back to a Pureblood Shadowhunter, that causes Alec to shift from rational-mode to bitch-mode, and he asks just why the hell Simon is still hanging around, which leads into an exchange so full of Unfortunate Implications that I feel you guys just have to see it:
“What are you still doing here, mundane?”
Simon ignored him. “I said, leave her alone.”
Jace glance over at him, a slow, sweetly poisonous glance. “Alec is right,” he said. “The Institute is sworn to shelter Shadowhunters, not their mundane friends. Especially when they’ve worn out their welcome.”
Okay, first, counts.
Weird Word Choice: 1
What the hell does “sweetly poisonous” even mean? And while we’re at it,
Both Hands, Ma’am: 4
Because that’s a pretty damn purple way to describe a nasty look.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a closer look at what just happened. Two of our so-called heroes just told someone – a guest, no less – that he’s not welcome anymore. And what’s Simon done to deserve this treatment? Well, he’s shown an interest in Isabelle, questioned how bad the Silent Brothers are, and stood up for his friend who’s being pressured into doing something she clearly doesn’t want to do. How is any of this deserving of being threatened?
But I have an explanation for why Jace acts like this – he’s so used to people dropping down and sucking his cock (literally and figuratively) that he takes any questioning of him as a challenge to his position as
top douchebag alpha-male. He’s not a hero, he’s a petulant little child.
That kind of dialogue usually leads into the bullied party (in this case, Simon) opening up a huge can of whop-ass on the ignorant, racist pricks (namely, Alec and Jace)? And yet, said pricks are supposed to be the heroes. We’re supposed to like Jace. Did no one point this out to CC before it went to the presses?
And I don’t believe that CC mean for Jace and Alec to come across as incredibly racist. I don’t think she meant them to come across as racist at all. But unfortunately, that’s how it looks. So take this as a warning, aspiring writers – be careful with your writing, because how you intend something to be taken and how the readers actually see it might not line-up.
So Isabelle of all people swoops in to save the day, offering to escort Simon from the premises. In my head-canon, she apologizes profusely for the utterly deplorable behavior of Jace and her brother, and maybe lets him get to second base to make it up to him.
But Clary, utterly exhausted for whatever reason decides she’s going to go to bed, completely disregarding Jace’s objections that she’s barely eaten anything. And this would be the perfect time to explore how conflicted Clary feels: she’s caught in a tough situation – she could stand up for her friend, but Jace and the other Shadowhunters are her best option to get her mother back, and she really doesn’t have anywhere else to go.
Instead, she see’s Simon and Isabelle down the hall, which completely distracts her and completely killing any sympathy I might have for her:
She watched them go silently, a shivery odd feeling growing in the pit of her stomach. When had Simon become Isabelle’s responsibility, instead of hers? If there was one thing she was learning from all this, it was how easy it was to lose everything you had always thought you’d have forever.
Gee, Clary, maybe Simon became Isabelle’s responsibility when she became the only one who treated him as an equal, instead of an inferior. Because as I demonstrated above, Jace and Alec basically turned into a pair of stereotypical Good Ol’ Boys back there, and seemed pretty eager to beat Simon to within an inch of his life. And let’s not forget, they’re trained killers, while Simon’s just a regular kid.
Scene break to Clary dreaming. And like all dreams in YA Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy, it’s a Symbolic Dream – she’s in some strange place, and Simon’s there, and he’s dressed all in black. They start dancing, but then Clary looks away, and suddenly Simon’s gone. But Jace is there now, and he’s dressed all in white, and he says they’re in the Shadowhunter capital, which is oh-so-poetically called the Glass City. Clary asks what happened to Simon, but all Jace will say is that, “This is a place for the living.”
You know, just once I’d like to read a fantasy book where the dreams aren’t prophetic. Yes, they can be done well, but so often the meaning is just so damn obvious.
Like with most stupid dream-sequences, this one ends with the dreamer incorporating whatever the person waking them is saying into their dream and then snapping awake. In this case, the wake-er is Jace, and it seems that Clary’s subconscious is a lot more perceptive than her consciousness, because apparently she tried to slap him in her sleep.
Now, if Clary were a normal person, she’d ask just what the hell Jace is doing in her room. But Cary’s not, so she doesn’t. In fact, she doesn’t know where she is – Jace found her passed out in one of the hallways and put her in one of the far-too-numerous guest rooms.
Oh, and it’s five in the morning, for some stupid reason.
Clary asks why the hell Jace is waking her up.
“One of the Silent Brothers is here to see you. Hodge sent me to wake you up. Actually, he offered to wake you himself, but since it’s five a.m., I figured you’d be less cranky if you had something nice to look at.”
God, Jace is a prick. Hey, you know what would be even better at five in the morning? Coffee. Why not come bearing a fresh cup? Or are you just too manly to learn how to operate a coffee maker?
We go over more of the same crap from the dinner scene – Clary’s not sure about this, Jace is confident that she secretly knows something important, rinse and repeat. I’m really getting sick of this and how totally forced this plot point is. There is absolutely no reason for Jace to think Clary might be able to recall anything useful. CC accidentally wrote herself into a corner, so like any number of poor writers, she pulled something out of her ass to fix it.
Clary cleans herself up and changes, blah blah, they meet Hodge and the Silent Brother, Brother Jeremiah. And we get this little exchange between Hodge and Jace:
“I decided you were right, Jace,” said Hodge.
“I was right,” Jace said. “I usually am.”
Excuse me for a second.
Oh, yeah. That’s the stuff.
You know, I don’t support child abuse, but I do think that there are some rare occasions when a kid just needs to get slapped. Jace is one of those kids who should have been slapped as a child. Repeadedly.
More pointless talking to fill out CC’s word count. The Silent Brothers are telepathic, so that’s a thing; Shadowhunter DNA is dominant, raising questions about why they’re so damned finicky about mixing with non-Shadowhunters (and making me wonder if CC knows how DNA works); Jace questions how good the Silent Brothers can be as record keepers, since they didn’t know Jocelyn was still alive (because he doesn’t understand how record keeping works); and Clary points out that the Shadowhunter CSIs suck at their job:
“It seems to me,” Clary said with an edge to her voice, “that no one the Clave thinks is dead, is ever actually dead. Maybe they should invest in dental records.”
“My father’s dead,” Jace said, the same edge in his voice. “I don’t need dental records to tell me that.”
For those of you who don’t frequent the Das Sporking LJcommunity, this is what they call a “dead herring.” It’s like a red herring, only it’s so blatantly obvious that it completely fails. Like in Eclipse, when everyone is soo certain that Victoria was behind that army of newborn vampires in Seattle, and they repeated it at every possible opportunity? And how that made it such a huge surprise when it was revealed that – shock and horror – Victoria was behind the newborn army?!
Yeah, same here. And yes, this does tie into Hodge’s comment about Valentine’s hypothetical son.
But that’s not important right now. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Brother Jeremiah gets ready to dive into the vast, echoing depths of Clary’s mind, and only now does Jace ask if they’re going to make her go through with this if she disagrees. Gee, she’s only said multiple times that she’s not comfortable with this, and Jace was the one pushing her into doing this. Oh, but now Clay’s changed her mind – she wants to go through with this.
Plot Hole: 2
One each for Clary and Jace switching sides. Character consistency? What’s that?
Brother Jeremiah grabs Clary’s face and she starts seeing flashes of stuff.
And then Jace butts in and tells Jeremiah to stop because – dear God in Heaven – Clary’s clenching her fists in pain! Not enough to do any serious damage, mind – just enough to leave little red marks. But god forbid Clary have to suffer some relatively minor pain. And again, this whole thing was Jace’s idea, so if anything, he’s the one to blame for this. Why is he now being all defensive of Clary? I think we can all guess – he wants to look good for Clary, because he really wants to get in her pants.
So, what did we manage to learn by having Brother Jerry looking around in Clary’s head? Turns out she’s got a magical block in her mind. Wait, didn’t we already establish that? Whatever.
Clary wants to know who might have put it there, and Hodge and Jace go all cryptic on her, and we get another repeat of the discussion from about a page ago:
“Hodge, she shouldn’t have to go if she doesn’t-”
“It’s all right.” Clary took a deep breath. Her palms hurt where her nails had cut them, and she wanted desperately to lie down somewhere dark and rest. “I’ll go. I want to know the truth. I want to know what’s in my head.”
Jace nodded once. “Fine. I’ll go with you.”
Because he’s now her designated bodyguard or some shit.
Another scene break and they’re outside, wondering where Jerry went off to. And it’s hot for some reason, namely so that CC can describe how Jace “[looks] cool despite the heat.”
Both Hands, Ma’am: 5
You know, not sweating is actually a bad thing – it means you don’t have anything left to sweat.
Clary says that she wishes Hodge were coming along, which offends Jace because he thinks she’s questioning his Manliness. But Clary goes sycophantic and says that, no, it’s for totally different reasons, which leads into more of CC’s oh-so-terrible “comedy,” along with a hefty dose of Jace being a complete asshole. As if there aren’t enough reasons to hate him in this chapter alone.
“It’s not protection I need right now – it’s someone who can help me think.” Suddenly reminded, she clapped a hand over her mouth. “Oh – Simon!”
“No, I’m Jace,” Jace said patiently. “Simon’s the weaselly little one with the bad haircut and the dismal fashion sense.”
“Oh, shut up,” she replied, but it was more automatic than heartfelt. “I meant t call before I went to sleep. See if he got home okay.”
Shaking his head, Jace regarded the heavens as if they were about to open up and reveal the secrets of the universe. “With everything that’s going on, you’re worried about Weasel Face?”
“Don’t call him that. He doesn’t look like a weasel.”
“You may be right,” said Jace. “I’ve met an attractive weasel or two in my time. He looks more like a rat.”
Rapier Twit: 4
Yes, another double, because I’m that pissed with it. Why does Jace have to constantly shit on Simon? Is it because he doesn’t bend over backwards to please Jace? Because he dared to point out that Jace was being a bully? Because he’s just an all-around better and more likeable character than Jace could ever hope to be?
Is it because Jace has a tiny dick and feels intimidated by another male? (Just a personal theory)
But let’s not forget that we got yet another stunning example of how horrible Clary is as a friend. When did she decide she should call Simon – when she was being peer-pressured by Jace and Alec, or when she was being a jealous bitch? That’s something CC really needs to learn – if the reader doesn’t see it, it doesn’t count.
Plot Hole: 3
Jace switches from bashing Simon to bashing Isabelle, talking about how she’ll totally just going to fool around with him for a while and then drop him once’s she’s had her fun. But Clary wonders if that’s what’s really going to happen, with the predictable result:
Clary wondered if perhaps Isabelle was smarter than Jace gave her credit for. Maybe she would realize what an amazing guy Simon was: how funny, how smart, how cool. Maybe they’d start dating. The idea filled her with a nameless horror.
I’m starting to wonder if I should add a “Jealous Bitch” count.
Apparently Calry was just so busy contemplating this that she stopped paying attention to her surroundings, specifically Jace. And he can’t have that – his ego might generate it’s own gravity well, but it’s also super fragile. So of course he responds in his standard way – being a jackass.
“I wish you’d stop desperately trying to get my attention like this,” he said. “It’s become embarrassing.”
“Sarcasm is the last refuge of the imaginatively bankrupt,” she told him.
“I can’t help it. I use my rapier with to hide my inner pain.”
“Your pain will be outer soon if you don’t get out of traffic. Are you trying to get run over by a cab?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said. “We could never get a cab hat easily in this neighborhood.”
Rapier Twit: 5
Because that first line is just so typical of his behavior so far that I’m not even sure it was sarcasm. Still, there were two things that I thought were funny – that line about getting a cab is at least chuckle-worthy, and Jace’s delusion that he has a “rapier wit” is hilarious. More like butter-knife.
Thankfully, Brother Jerry shows up in his car/carriage before I’m subjected to even more inane babbling. Their ride is vaguely reminiscent of the scene with the Knight Bus from Prisoner of Azkaban, especially so when they literally go over a cab that cuts them off.
But enough interesting world-building stuff, CC needs to have Clary and Jace talk some more! Clary is still adjusting to her new perspective of the world (considering that she’s only been aware of all this stuff for about two days now, all I can say is “duh”), but she’s still having trouble seeing through glamour, and doing it gives her a headache. Funny how that’s never been mentioned before.
Plot Hole: 4
Jace reassures her, saying that that’s just that mind-block, and then he quotes William Blake at her. And she gets the reference, mostly because The Doors made the same reference. And much like with the piano, this is more author-shorthand to make Jace more appealing without actually doing anything. “Look, he reads poetry! He must be soo smart and sophisticated!” Well, I’m no theater buff, but I can still quote some Shakespeare. What does that mean?
And on top of all that, it again demonstrates how inconsistent the level of interaction between the Shadowhuters and humanity is – Jace knows who William Blake is, but doesn’t at least recognize that The Doors are a band? I’ve never listened to any of their stuff and I know that!
I will give CC credit, though – at least she went with a poet that her audience isn’t guaranteed to recognize.
And speaking of that piano scene, Clary brings it up. Jace dismisses it, saying that he only learned to play because his father insisted. Why? I don’t know. Clary says Jace’s dad sounds kinda strict, but Jace defends him, talking about how indulgent he was and how he gave Jace whatever he wanted.
So now we know who to blame for Jace’s horrible behavior.
Clary then asks why Jace didn’t tell Hodge that he knew the red cloaks that met with Luke back in chapter eight. And then for some inexplicable reason, we get a description of Jace’s hands.
They were slim and careful hands, the hands of an artist, not a warrior. The ring she had noticed earlier flashed on his finger. She would have thought there would have been something feminine about a boy wearing a ring, but there wasn’t. The ring itself was solid and heavy-looking, made of a dark burned-looking silver with a pattern of stars around the band. The letter W was carved into it.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 6
“Hands of an artist” my ass. And Jace is an artist – an artist of killing thins. And what’s up with that crack about wearing rings being “feminine?” I’m a guy and I regularly wear rings – for the past two years, I’ve worn my class ring. And what about wedding rings? Are they “feminine” too? What Jace is wearing sounds like a fucking signet ring – you know, the kind of thing that European nobles used to sign documents?
And remember the ring for later – it’ll be important. It’ll also be stupid, but that goes without saying.
Anyway, Jace kept mum about the red cloaks because he wants to be the one to kill Valentine. And not for revenge, oh no, but for “justice.” Because apparently he didn’t know who killed his father, even though he said back at the end of chapter eight that the red cloaks did it.
Clary nicely points out this little inconsistency, but Jace/CC covers it, saying that the red cloaks are the ones who actually killed his dad. So, how does this tie into Valentine exactly?
Clary responds to this like a normal human, and Jace is a dick.
It took a moment for Clary to realize that he was done speaking, and another to find her voice. “I’m so sorry, Jace.”
His eyes gleamed in the darkness. “I don’t understand why mundanes always apologize for things that aren’t their fault.”
Jesus Christ, man, could you for one second act like a human being? This sort of thing can work, but only if one of the characters doesn’t really ‘get’ emotions and social conventions. But Jace does understand those things, at least when CC wants him to.
So yeah, Jace wants to kill Valentine because apparently the Shadowhunters follow the Ape Shall Never Kill Ape rule, and Valentine broke it, thus making him the Worst Thing Ever, including demons. This not-so-nicely segues into a conversation about whether all demons are all evil. Jace says that they’re interdimensional parasites that only want to suck our world dry before moving on to the next one. Which sounds like a good answer until you think about it. Assuming Jace is correct, demons being parasites doesn’t make them inherently evil any more than a tapeworm or swarm of locusts is evil. Plus, if we assume that Shadowhunters kill any demons they encounter instead of, say, talking to them, how can they be sure that all demons want to suck the life right out of our world? That’s like assuming that all Germans during WWII were Nazis.
But having characters realize this would disrupt CC’s little fantasy, so all those questions are ignored.
Finally, FINALLY, they reach their destination – it’s a cemetery. Yes, entrance to the eponymous City of Bones is located in a cemetery. Big shock. And much like the Deep One’s city of Y’ha-nthlei, the Bone City is older than the city/town built over/next to it.
And yet despite our idiotic duo arriving at their destination, CC still feels the need to waste more time. Clary asks if Jace would be a Shadowhunter if he hadn’t been forced into it, and yes, he would, because he’s good at it. And that’s about all he’s good at, from what I’ve seen.
They follow Brother Jerry for a while until they reach a particular statue. And it’s of an angel (though not a weeping one, unfortunately) made of marble “so smooth it was almost translucent.”
Weird Word Choice: 2
Yes, she used it correctly, but I don’t think CC understands how thin marble would have to be to approach translucentcy.
And just for that extra touch of “SUBTLETY!!1!11”, there’s an inscription on it. It’s the first line of part two’s epigraph, specifically directed towards “Nephilim,” the official name for what the Shadowhunters are. And there’s a random date, too – 1234. No, I don’t know what that particular date means, and I’m certain that CC pulled it out of nowhere.
And of course, Clary has to ask what it means. Jace gives an answer entirely in line with what I’ve come to expect:
“It means ‘Shadowhunters: Looking Better in Black Than the Widows of our Enemies Since 1234.”
Rapier Twit: 6
So yeah, that’s what that “better in black” line from waaay back in the acknowledgments was probably in reference to. Elka, whoever you are, I hope we never meet, because I will slap you for providing that line.
Jerry draws some magical graffiti on the statue and suddenly there’s a hole in the ground. They go down it. It’s dark.
(We’re almost done, I swear)
We’re in the city. There’s a lot of levels to it, and the first one is where they deal with dead Shadowhunters – the ones that die of natural causes are put in mausoleums, and the ones that die in combat get burned, their remains used to build more of the Bone City. Which makes CC’s insistence in referring to the building material as “marble” all the more confusing and annoying.
Weird Word Choice: 5
Once for each use of the word “marble” to describe what the city’s made of. I don’t think CC knows what marble is, apart from a white rock.
I’m really going to start skimming, because I’m sick and tired of this damned chapter.
They meet the head honchos of the Silent Brotherhood. They start digging around in her head. Clary gets yet more random flashes of stuff, and finally a name – Magnus Bane.
But as it turns out, despite being super-awesome psychics, they can’t remove the block. It’s just that good.
More stupid “flirting” or whatever between Clary and Jace, and they leave. Chapter over.
Jesus H. Christ, this chapter was a slog.
It’s long – about 1/10th the length of the entire book. And so much of it was stupid, pointless filler. Why did we have that first scene with Isabelle? Why did we need that horrible, horrible dinner scene? Why do we have to sit through every fucking minute of Clary and Jace’s ride? Why? Why?!
And it doesn’t help that practically EVERY DAMN PAGE had something on it that set me off. I swear, this sporking would only be about 2/3rds as long if I didn’t go on a little mini-rant every other paragraph.
This chapter was in desperate need of editing. Here’s what I’d say if I were editing this:
First, cut most of the dinner scene and of the driving scene. They don’t add anything to the plot. The latter is mostly info-dumping about stuff that will never come up again, and the former rapidly goes into Unfortunate Implications territory. Having a scene where your heroes are racist bullies isn’t doing you any favors, CC.
Second, slim down on the descriptions. Yes, it’s all very nice, but we’ve moved into the second act – we’re past establishing the setting, now the plot should start to pick up speed. Pausing to lavishly describe every new sight is bogging the whole thing down.
Third, split the chapter. Maybe end the first when Clary goes to bed, or after her initial encounter with Brother Jeremiah. Let the whole mental block thing breathe a bit. This goes double if the first point were ignored.
So that’s chapter ten. The one that gave the book it’s title. And they’re never going to come back, in case your wondering. I’ve said this before, but this would be like if the title of The Hobbit was Bilbo Baggins Goes to Rivendell. The only rational explanation I can come up with is that it sounded cool, and offered an easy naming scheme for the series, much like the name for the series in the first place.
Hopefully there won’t be any more chapters quite this bad, but I doubt it.
Weird Word Choice: 5 (Total 52)
Rapier Twit: 6 (Total 22)
No Shit Sherlock: 3 (Total 18)
Plot Hole: 4 (Total 43)
Random Scene Break: 0 (Total 4)
Both Hands, Ma’am: 6 (Total 7)