Okay, so the last chapter wasn’t all that bad, and we are heading towards the last quarter of the book. With any luck, this chapter won’t suck too bad.
Plus, we have a great moment from Simon to look forward to.
This chapter picks up where the last one left off. Everyone’s staring at the Cup in silence. Despite CC’s insistence to the contrary, I’m pretty sure Clary expected to be praised for this, and she’s not getting any. And then we get a moment of actual comedy from Jace.
“Somehow, I thought it would be bigger.”
I think I’m seeing what the problem with Jace’s ‘jokes’ is. Most of them have been targeted at other people, particularly Simon. Jace isn’t being funny, he’s just being mean. He comes across as a bully. And it doesn’t help that Simon is far more likeable, and Jace bullying him just makes Simon look more sympathetic.
Anyway, Clary defends the MacGuffin Cup, and apparently Jace was expecting it to be about the size of a house cat. I think Isabelle nicely sums up my response to this idea:
“It’s the Mortal Cup, Jace, not the Mortal Toilet Bowl,” said Isabelle. “Are we done now? Can we go?”
Yes, please, let’s not drag this out any longer. We have half a book’s worth of plot to get through, and a little over a quarter of a book to get through it.
But no, them just grabbing the Cup and leaving quietly wouldn’t be interesting, now would it?
Dorothea says that the Cup’s been damaged. When Clary starts handing it over so Mme. D can show her, Jace suddenly moves between them, ready to draw his weapon, and completely kills the mood.
“No offense,” he said calmly, “but no one touches the Mortal Cup except us.”
Yeah, wouldn’t want Dorothea to get her filthy mundie hands all over the Cup, now would we?
Dorothea tries to calm things down, but Jace just whips out his sword (not sure if I wish that were a metaphor or not) and starts threatening the woman.
I’m just going to spoil this now – there is something wrong with Dorothea. But this is just like when he chucked a knife into Raphael’s chest back in chapter fourteen. I’m sure that both situations were to demonstrate just how awesome Jace’s instincts or whatever are, but the fact that he just reacts instead of getting any evidence, and that he always reacts violently doesn’t make me think he’s awesome. It makes me think he’s a violent, paranoid sociopath.
Back to the book. Dorothea offers to let them use her magic door, which completely throws Jace for a loop. When Mme. D yanks the curtain, revealing a weird red cloud-thing, with something moving through it. Everyone ducks for cover and the thing hits Dorothea, who proceeds to do the standard possession act, stopping just shy of spitting pea soup.
And in the middle of all this, Alec and Jace have a wonderful little conversation.
Next to him, Alec in a choked voice said, “But you said there wasn’t much demonic activity – you said the levels were low!”
“They were low,” Jace growled.
“Your version of low must be different from mine!” Alec shouted.
It’s really nice to see Jace get called out for stuff. And honestly, I’m not sure what I find more entertaining – that Jace might have read his Sensor wrong, or that the thing might just be totally useless.
Jace makes his first intelligent decision in the whole book, and they all book it. Unfortunately, the door is magically locked. Jace asks for his wand back, though given what we’ve seen of his lock picking skills, he’ll only make it worse. Luckily for the door, the former Dorothea bursts into the hall to attack them.
Alec stares at the thing in horror. It seems that, without his bow, laying there like a slug is his only defense. But yanks his ass to safety before anything can happen.
Things are looking pretty grim for our heroes. But then the Dora-thing makes the same mistake all the other demons have made – it starts talking.
It starts out just demanding the MacGuffin Cup, but then Jace demands it identifies itself, things rapidly spiral downward.
The thing inclined it’s head. “I am Abbadon. I am the Demon of the Abyss. Mine are the empty places between the worlds. Mine is the wind and the howling darkness. I am as unlike those mewling things you call demons as an eagle is unlike a fly. You cannot hope to defeat me. Give me the Cup or die.”
You know, it is really hard to take these things seriously when they’ll just start babbling at the drop of a hat.
Isabelle helpfully informs us that this a “Greater Demon”, and no, I did not capitalize that.
Weird Word Choice: 1
Clary again gives a surprising demonstration of humanity (i.e. any at all) and asks what happened to Dorothea. The demon, ever accommodating, informs her that Dorothea is effectively dead, nicely avoiding any moral quandaries that might result from killing the demon.
Not that I doubt Jace or Alec would have any problems killing it if Dorothea were still alive, though. I mean, she is a filthy mundie, after all.
And then Jace does something possibly even worse than threatening the innocent old lady – he starts snarking at the monster.
“By the Angel,” Jace said, looking the demon up and down. “I knew Greater Demons were meant to be ugly, but no one ever warned me about the smell.”
The demon, rather than squashing him like the bug he is, instead hisses menacingly at Jace. Not since the Cullen family have I been so intimidated.
And Jace responds with yet more snark.
“I’m not sure about this wind and howling darkness business,” Jace went on, “smells more like a landfill to me. You sure you’re not from Staten Island?”
Okay, it’s not that I don’t like snarky characters. I love them – I can appreciate a character that looks a monster in the eye and cracks a joke. Heck, the Dresden Files are some of my favorite books.
But those characters don’t come across as being arrogant the rest of the time. Plus, those books are usually written in first person, so the reader knows that the hero is just managing to not piss themselves in terror.
I don’t get any of that from Jace. To me, he’s just pissing the thing off, which will make both his death and those of his companions all the more painful.
Oh, and points.
Rapier Twit: 2
Jace leaps at the Dora-thing, somehow manages to stab it twice before getting thrown into a wall, and yet manages to get up completely unharmed. I am really getting sick of how Jace just shrugs off getting hurt like that.
There’s an extended fight scene, with all three Shadowhunters participating, and Clary just sitting there like the proverbial bump on a log. Unfortunately for the three would-be demon slayers, they are way under-level for this encounter (maybe they should have spent more time grinding and less time going to parties and having teenage drama).
The demon gives Clary the standard “give me the thing or I kill your friends” speech, with Jace doing the standard “no don’t do it” stuff. But just before Clary can decide who to listen to, something awesome happens.
Simon makes his entrance.
But before I get to Simon being awesome, I need to share Clary’s reaction to this:
She had forgotten he was outside, had almost forgotten he existed.
So, yeah, Clary’s back to her old ways. It’s been, what, five minutes since she left Simon’s company, and not only has she completely forgotten that he’s there, she almost forgot that him entirely.
And this is even more egregious considering what Simon does next.
Remember the bow and arrows that Alec left in the van like an idiot? Well, Simon’s got them, and he intends to use them. Specifically, use them to shatter the skylight, bathing the demon in sunlight and killing it deader than disco.
Oh, god, that was awesome. So much so, in fact, that even CC feels we need a breather after that.
Random Scene Break: 1
We come back about half a second later, and even Simon’s impressed with what he just pulled off. Unfortunately, Jace groans, so Clary comes running so she can fret over him. Maybe he’ll learn something from this, like “don’t taunt the monster when you have nowhere to run”.
But Jace tries to act all tough and only shows concern for Alec. Yeah, somewhere in that fight scene that I skipped over, Alec got hit pretty bad. Clary briefly comes to her senses and acknowledges that Simon just saved all their bacon, but Jace again interrupts her. I guess when he talked about how he and Alec are “like brothers” he only meant “from a dysfunctional family”, because only now is Jace showing any real concern for Alec.
Alec is acting pretty loopy, but getting the shit beaten out of you will do that. But he’s conscious enough to ask if he got the kill. Because that will prove that he’s a real man or something.
God, Shadowhunter society is messed up.
Clary tells Alec that the demon is dead, which is apparently all he needed to make him happy and willing to undergo the excruciating pain of being healed. Seriously, what is up with this guy’s priorities?
And on another note, why is this such a big deal? It’s not like using Shadowhunter healing magic (sorry, “runes”) has really been treated with such severity before. I mean, is it a particularly painful process? I mean, yes, I could infer that, but honestly these people seem to whine about the tiniest little things, so they might be overreacting.
They actually get around to inspecting Alec’s wounds, and it turns out he got scratched by the demon’s claws, which is apparently a Big Deal. Simon suggests they take him to a hospital, but Jace and Isabelle put the kibosh on that because a regular doctor wouldn’t know how to treat these kinds of wounds.
They get Alec into the van, and just before they drive off, Jace says this to Simon.
“Drive fast, mundane,” he said. “Drive like hell was following you.”
Jace? Come here for a second.
Simon literally just saved your life, and those of your “friends”. Would it kill you to refer to him by his name? Oh, wait, he’s a mundane, so it’s not like he’s not a real person or anything.
Thank you, CC, for reminding me that, at the end of the day, Jace is still a racist prick.
Scene break to a few minutes later, and they’re still in the van.
Random Scene Break: 2
After we’re told the route they take (because that will be so useful to non-New Yorkers), we then move to Clary’s head, and she’s feeling all sad about Alec being hurt. Isabelle asks how much longer it’s going to take (ten minutes because, again, New York isn’t a car-friendly city), and then she does this:
“Simon – what you did, that was incredible. You moved so fast. I wouldn’t have thought a mundane could have thought of something like that.”
… Okay. On the one hand, thanks for finally acknowledging that Simon did something awesome. But Isabelle, you really should have stopped after “incredible”. Because everything after that just reeks of this ingrained, unintentional racism. And what makes it worse is that it’s coming from Isabelle, the one who so far has been the nicest of all three main Shadowhunters.
But what makes it even more obnoxious is the fact that apparently Clary/the narrator seems to think Simon should be amazed that one of the almighty Shadowhunters has deigned to bestow praise upon him. It reminds me of this bit from the Justice League cartoon. Yes, the praise is there, but the racist undertone makes the whole thing really uncomfortable. To quote one Amazon review (via tvtropes) it’s like “Simon’s mundane status [is] a crippling retardation he managed to overcome; apparently mundanes are incapable of dexterity, motor skills, or strategy?” So yeah, I can get why he isn’t fawning over Isabelle’s comment – it was a backhanded complement at best.
But rather than having Simon point all this out, CC has him explain that, because it took him so long to remember that there was a skylight in Clary’s building, it really wasn’t all that amazing. Don’t try to force him to be all humble, CC – Simon has once again proven to be more of a hero than your Draco knockoff. Leave him be.
Simon’s comment about the skylight does get Clary thinking, though – namely, that she did know about the skylight, and yet was totally useless. Just like she’s been since the very beginning. If this is an attempt to gain my sympathies, CC, you’re failing.
Even Jace complements Simon’s mad demon slaying skillz, and he has the decency to leave it as a simple “good job”. We then get into explaining what really happened, because once again, CC apparently thinks that if something isn’t explained to the audience, then they won’t understand it.
No Shit Sherlock: 1
Short answer that you’ve probably already figured out: Dorothea got possessed, and the demon hid most of itself in her magic door. Hence why they didn’t get any demon radio – it wasn’t technically in the building. This segues into Jace talking about the demon, and just how nasty it really was.
“Abbadon – one of the Ancients. The Lord of the Fallen.”
“Well, it looks like the Fallen will just have to learn to get along without him from now on,” said Simon, turning onto the street.
“He’s not dead,” Isabelle said. “Hardly anyone’s ever killed a Greater Demon. You have to kill them in their physical and ethereal forms before they’ll die. We just scared him off.”
Goddamnit, Isabelle, stop raining on Simon’s well deserved parade. And what do you mean, “we” scared him off? Last I checked, the three “trained demon hunters” were out for the count when Simon busted in and took it out with one shot. So, yeah, fuck you.
What is up with Isabelle this chapter? It’s like CC realized that she was too likeable and decided to crank Isabelle’s Scary Sue levels up to eleven.
Also, I’m not counting some of those capitalizations, because those probably are proper nouns.
Alec starts making choking noises because that’s what wounded people do, which gets Jace all pissy and demanding when they’ll get there. But no need to worry, because they’ve arrived.
Plot Hole: 1
That was either the shortest ten minutes I’ve ever seen, or Simon’s driving is so good he managed to bend space. Seriously, all that talking should have taken maybe two minutes, tops. Maybe Simon drove through the plot hole.
Jace and Isabelle take Alec inside while Clary and Simon talks some more. Or to more accurately phrase it, Simon reassures Clary that she wasn’t completely useless on this trip, even though most of what she did was take up space and convert oxygen into carbon dioxide.
One scene break later, and Clary’s inside.
Random Scene Break: 3
Clary goes upstairs to the Infirmary (because having to carry wounded people up a flight of stairs is such a wonderful idea), and Alec’s already being treated. Hodge is playing doctor, with Isabelle serving as nurse. Meanwhile, Jace, who is “like a brother” to Alec, is standing out in the hall.
Now, I’ll admit that it’s hard to have someone you care about in the hospital. I’ve been though it a few times myself. Not everyone responds the same way – some might be overly comforting, some might go into denial, and some might just go into a kind of shock. But still, unless Jace was specifically told to stay out of the way, he should at least be in the room.
When Clary looks over at Jace, he opens his eyes, and his pupils are really dilated. Like, really, really dilated. They’re described as “all gold swallowed up in black.”
Um, dude? What’s up with your eyes? Are you high or something? Or is this just CC not understanding how eye dilation works?
Clary asks about Alec’s condition, and it seems that, in addition to losing a lot of blood, he’s also been poisoned, because apparently demons can do that. Go figure. Clary tries to sympathize, but Jace is having none of it, declaring Alec being wounded to be entirely his fault, and even quoting Catholic Mass (either because Christianity is Catholic or so we can have more Gratuitous Latin), specifically the phrase “mea culpa, mea maxima culpa”, which he translates as “my fault, my grievous fault.”
And yes, it is all in italics, because LATIN.
Weird Word Choice: 2
And now, a few quick fun facts regarding that phrase.
First, if you want to get technical, the phrase is “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa”. Second, since it’s in the ablative case, it more accurately translates as “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.”
Back to sporking. Clary actually calls him on his quoting Catholic Mass, and Jace starts going off on how Shadowhunters don’t buy into religion, but they’re super serious about stuff like honor and guilt and penance. I don’t quite buy it, though, because as we’ve seen, Jace doesn’t quite seem to grasp the concept of taking responsibility for his actions. So him going on about how all this stuff is just ingrained in him comes across as really disingenuous.
Oh, wait, this time it’s Alec who’s laid up, not Simon. Never mind.
Jace goes on about how he should have noticed Alec’s behavior, and how he should have done something, and how during the fight he should have been thinking about his buddies instead of about the useless lump whose pants he’s trying to get into.
Yeah, CC really wants me to feel sorry for Jace, but it isn’t working. Again, for me to feel sorry for him, I actually have to kind of like him in the first place. So here, it feels less like he’s sorry, and more like he’s trying to turn this situation to his advantage.
And it works. Clary starts being all nice, saying that it’s totally not his fault, and thankfully Hodge shows up before this can get any sappier. He’s pumped enough drugs into Alec that the kid can sleep, but otherwise, there’s nothing he can do. They all start moving towards the library so Hodge can send a note to the Creepy Psychic Monks, because apparently this sort of thing also falls under their bailiwick.
(Hehe. I just got to use the word “bailiwick”. Awesome.)
Along the way, they explain that, yes, they did in fact find the MacGuffin Cup, something that Jace didn’t feel necessary to mention when he brought Alec in. Okay, yes, his priorities were in the right place, but you’d think he could have mentioned it somewhere along the line.
Hodge freezes up at this, so Clary pulls it out of her pocket to prove it. Then he starts acting really weird, talking about how Jace looks like his father, and then has his bird attack Clary.
Yeah, turns out that Hodge has been Evil All Along and, now that the Cup has been retrieved, is making his move.
I’m a bit iffy on this plot development. The usual problem with reveals like this are that there’s no evidence to back it up, or that it’s so obvious that the characters come off as stupid for not seeing it. This twist somehow manages to do both.
On the one hand, this feels like a complete ass-pull from CC. Yes, it’s a dramatic reveal, but you have to plant evidence for this kind of thing. For example, Prof. Quirrell being revealed as the real bad guy in the first Harry Potter book was a big twist, but in retrospect, you can see the clues. Here? Not so much. Hodge is around, but there’s really no reason to suspect him. At all. Which only supports the fanfic-like nature of the book – “Oh, I’ve written myself into a corner! What will I do? Uh… this guy is secretly a villain! Yeah!”
But on the other hand, we did learn that he was a member of
the Deatheaters Al Qaida the Circle, so we know that he’s worked with Valentine before, and have no real proof that he’s repented his actions. So really, he shouldn’t have been let free in the first place, but as I said back when we learned this, the Shadowhunters are run by a bunch of morons.
So yeah, it’s bad writing versus idiotic world building.
After the commercial break
Random Scene Break: 4
Clary flails around a bit before falling on her ass, where she will remain for some time. There’s some indication that Hodge poisoned his bird’s talons, but let’s be honest – Clary’s been worthless for almost this entire book so far. Why should that change now?
Oh, and somehow Hodge has managed to incapacitate Jace as well. Wow. The Big Bad Demon Hunter just got taken down by a guy who’s got to be at least in his forties. My hero.
Unfortunately for us, Clary is still conscious, so of course she starts explaining exactly what’s been going on, presumably for the audience because Hodge already knows all of this. And then she accuses him of working for Valentine.
And then Hodge falls into the same trap that all the other villains of this book have.
Yep. He starts talking.
“I do not work for Valentine,” Hodge said […] “But I am Valentine’s man, it is true.”
Hey moron, why don’t you just sign a confession while you’re at it?
Hodge does something with Jace’s ring, has a brief talk with a voice from nowhere, and suddenly Valentine appears.
Yep. Three quarters of the way through the book, and the Big Bad finally makes an appearance. And immediately falls into the talking trap with Hodge. During their little chat, Hodge’s motivations are revealed (in detail), the reason why Alec and Isabelle’s parents got off so lightly despite being known terrorists (friends in high places), and then Hodge finally hands the MacGuffin Cup over. And the whole time, no one even mentions the fact that Clary’s right there and can hear everything.
I swear, if the villains in this book would just learn to keep their damn mouths shut, the heroes would be completely clueless.
Valentine grabs Jace, slaps Hodge on the chest and somehow removing the curse on him, and then departs, bringing our chapter to a close.
So that was chapter nineteen. It was mercifully short, and did contain one of the most awesome parts of the book, but my god did it bring the stupid. Yes, I skimmed over a lot of the text, but only because there’s not much to it beyond what I told you – a fight scene isn’t worth sporking, and villainous dialogue isn’t all that impressive.
As for the chapter title, well, it is pertinent to what happens. Unfortunately, it only applies to about half the chapter. Maybe something like “Revelations” would have been more appropriate.
On another note, after checking the archives, I note that it’s been of a year since my first sporking of this book posted. I really should have finished it a long time ago, but, well, I got lazy. But now we are only four chapters and an epilogue away from the end.
And with just shy of one quarter of the book left to go.
So here’s the goal – finish this book before November. I’m pretty sure I can do that.
Happy anniversary, everybody.
Weird Word Choice: 2 (Total 92)
Rapier Twit: 2 (Total 65)
No Shit Sherlock: 1 (Total 38)
Plot Hole: 1 (Total 72)
Random Scene Break: 4 (Total 19)
Both Hands, Ma’am: 0 (Total 28)
Bitch: 1 (Total 23)