Hi, folks! I’m back, and today we begin the third and final part of City of Bones, which CC gave the wonderful title of The Descent Beckons. The title comes from the William Carlos Williams poem, The Descent, as the Page Quote helpfully demonstrates
The descent beckons
as the ascent beckoned.
Now I’ll admit, as an opening, that’s pretty good. It’s very fraught with meaning. However, a little bit of research (or just reading the poem) reveals that Williams was being metaphorical. Poets will do that. In the poem, Williams is “descending” into memory, how things could have gone, and how even bad stuff can be good in a way.
But that’s not what matters to CC. All that’s important is that, out of context, those opening lines sound deep and meaningful.
Oh, and it appears that The Descent is also the source of that phrase “memory of whiteness”, so presumably CC has read the poem.
On to the chapter itself. First, unlike every other chapter, this one is told in first-person. Now, I can understand the reasoning – this is basically a transcript of Luke’s story. But rather than have Luke and Clary actually talk to each other (and it’s not like CC is so against her characters talking a lot), CC decided to have one chapter randomly be in an entirely different style. And it’s just a weird and awkward as that bit from Jace’s POV in chapter eighteen.
Also, this chapter is just one long-ass info dump. We’re four-fifths of the way through the book, and CC decides that now is the time to explain the background of the villain, Clary’s mom, and the reasons for what’s going on now.
This is not how you book, people.
Anyway, chapter. Apparently Shadowhunter land is either really tiny or severely underdeveloped, as there’s only a few towns and a single city. Of course it’s described in glowing terms, because it’s not as if different people might not find the same scenery attractive. But if I stop to pick at everything, we’ll be here all day.
Basically, Luke and Jocelyn are expys of Snape and Lilly Potter. Jocelyn was, of course, a complete natural at killing things. Luke, not so much. He even considered leaving and living as a mundane. Which is implied to just be the most horrible thing ever.
Are there no characters in this book that I can actually like?
But then Valentine came down from the heavens and helped Luke out. Luke even says he “worshipped” Valentine, just to drive that image of Valentine as a deity home. And it turns out that Big V was also picking up other losers, including Hodge, Papa Lightwood, and the eventual Mama Lightwood, Maryse Trueblood.
Weird Word Choice: 1
Seriously? “Trueblood”? Does CC just not realize how stupid all these names sound, especially given how none of them sound remotely Frano-Germanic?
And for some reason, Luke feels compelled to mention that her brother married a mundane.
Wait, I thought there were rules about Shadowhunters marrying mundanes.
Plot Hole: 1
I guess the Lightwoods are supposed to be like the Blacks or something.
Anyway, Luke says that, in retrospect, Valentine might just have been setting up his own personal cult. Given how Luke described his feelings towards Valentine, I think we can confirm it.
We learn a bit more about Velentine’s motives. He was really worried about the low birthrate of Shadowhunters, and wanted to use the MacGuffin Cup to make more. In fact, he wanted to make all mundanes into Shadowhunters, completely tearing away the whole Masquerade. But of course the Shadowhunter bosses said no, claiming that it’s not their right to decide that sort of thing. Not that doing so would result in a lot of deaths, but because it’s some kind of Divine Right issue.
And of course this whole issue could be resolved if they bothered to learn even basic genetics – one of the side-effects of inbreeding is a lowering of the population’s birth rate. So that whole “no boinking mundanes” rule is ultimately going to lead to bite the Shadowhunters in the ass.
Anyway, this whole thing leads to Valentine and his cronies form the Circle, with the goal of keeping the Shadowhunters from dying out. But of course they had no idea, supposedly because they were stupid teenagers. In reality, I think it was because they didn’t have to take a high school biology class. Seriously – increase your breeding stock. It’s not that crazy an idea.
But Valentine got pushed over the edge when his dad dies. Oh, and you need to know how he got killed – “in a routine raid on a werewolf encampment.”
Read that again. The Shadowhunters regularly attacked werewolves. And the werewolves are allegedly the Downworlders that Shadowhunters have the best relationship with, even if said relationship just mutual avoidance. I’d hate to see how they treat their allies.
Plot Hole: 2
On the bright side for Valentine, he did get some pity sex from Jocelyn. Or she was really into emotionally damaged guys.
More importantly, though, is yet more ho yay – Luke describes his feelings for Valentine as “love”, and that they were super-best buddies, just like Jace and Alec. Given that Jace and Alec are also bestest buddies, it’s really hard to miss the subtext. Keep this is mind – it adds a whole new layer to the relationship.
Luke says he was totally cool with Valentine and Jocelyn hooking up (yeah, right), but started getting a bit freaked when Valentine started getting more extreme. Despite this, Luke stayed
with him in the Circle, hoping that he and Jocelyn could rein Valentine in a bit.
Oh, random aside – the Lightwoods were just as extreme as Valentine. And they’re now serving as diplomats. That’s like putting former members of the KKK in charge of the NAACP. Why would you do this?
Wait, Shadowhunters are morons. Never mind.
Speaking of which, the Circle started going full-on lynch mob, killing any Downworlders who violated the Shadowhunter-dictated laws. Valentine even started torturing some of them, because CC needs to make him as unlikable as possible. But Luke was still carrying a torch, so he stuck around.
And then Jocelyn got preggers. And was becoming afraid of her husband. But apparently Shadowhunters don’t believe in divorce, because she stuck around.
Luke told Valentine about Jocelyn’s concerns, but Valentine just shook them off. And then they went hunting. It’s here that we learn that Luke and Valentine were indeed super-best closer-than-brothers partners, effectively confirming my theory. Luke got bit by a werewolf (duh), and ended up staying with them until they can confirm whether he’s a werewolf or not. When it is, Valentine dragged Luke out of the house, handed him a knife, and said that Luke should just kill himself.
Wow, man, that’s cold. I mean, yeah, Valentine’s supposed to be this huge racist and probably has a special hatred for werewolves, but telling your supposed bestest buddy to commit suicide? That is harsh.
But obviously Luke didn’t kill himself, otherwise we wouldn’t be listening to his boring ass story. No, instead he ran off to kill the wolf who bit him, because apparently werewolves are also stupid, as they don’t move away from the people who regularly attack them.
Everyone in this book is stupid and I hate them. Except for Simon, because he’s awesome. But still stupid.
Anyway, Luke found the werewolves, and it turned out that he got bit by the pack’s alpha. Of course. They fought, Luke killed him, and all the other wolves effectively rolled over and accepted him as their new leader. Yes, I understand the logic here, but I can’t help but note that Luke was a complete outsider, and had no leadership experience, and on top of that, was raised as a Shadowhunter and was a member of a radical anti-Downworlder organization. And it appears that none of these werewolves even considered this, because, once again, they’re stupid.
(Oh, and an aside – much like the other non-heterosexual super-best buddy, Luke was the ranged fighter. Only he was stupid, because his weapon of choice was a crossbow. Which isn’t exactly the best weapon for frantic, close quarters combat.)
So Luke lived among the
savages werewolves for a while, but never quite got over his breakup with Valentine Jocelyn, but couldn’t do anything about it.
But then one day Jocelyn suddenly showed up, with her bouncing baby boy Jonathan Christopher in tow. Why are we told the baby’s first and middle name? Because CC is a bit heavy-handed with the foreshadowing.
Jocelyn was a bit pissed that Luke didn’t tell her he was still alive, because apparently “you’re husband would have killed me” isn’t much of an excuse in her eyes. Oh, Valentine told everyone that Luke had committed suicide, but she didn’t believe it. Never mind that Valentine handed Luke the knife and left him in the woods and probably just assumed Luke did it. Nah, Valentine was lying.
And it appears that Luke wasn’t doing a very good job hiding his existence, because that’s how Jocelyn found him – wide spread rumors of an ex-Shadowhunter werewolf. Luke, were you even trying?
Well, Valentine heard said rumors too, and was planning on hunting Luke down, hence Jocelyn’s sudden appearance. And when Valentine does show up, Luke decides to hide rather than confront him.
Because he looovves him
After that, Luke and Jocelyn continued to meet in secret. Because that’s what you should do when you’re trying to conceal your existence from a psychotic racist who wanted to kill you – hang out with his wife on a regular basis.
Then the Accords came around, and of course Valentine was all over stopping that shit. But the Shadowhunter bosses brush him off, because at this point he’s basically a crazy guy ranting about Downworlders. As near as I can tell, this is the first signing of the Accords. Meaning that the Shadowhunters and Downworlders have only been at peace for less than twenty years, and before that the Shadowhunters were just enforcing laws on the Downworlders with no authority. So why were Alec and Isabelle so incredulous that Downworlders don’t welcome them with open arms?
Plot Hole: 3
Stymied, the Circle decided to get help from some demons to sneak weapons into the meeting.
Wait, what? What kind of sense does that make? Why would a radical group of Shadowhunters get help from the things that they’re supposed to fight? This makes no sense!
Plot Hole: 4
Then again, some Starfleet guys joined up with a couple Klingons in an attempt to avert the “Khitomer Accords,”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khitomer_Accords#Khitomer_Accords so what the hell do I know.
Oh, and Valentine used demonic help to steal the MacGuffin Cup, just for an extra dose of WTF-ery.
So Luke and Jocelyn started warning people about the Circle’s plans. Everyone except the Shadowhunters, that is, because why bother trying to prevent the attack in the first place when you can let it turn into an international incident?
But that’s okay, because Luke got to spend time with Jocelyn, and that makes it all better.
The actual day finally came, and Luke followed Jocelyn and Valentine to the meeting. We’re told that their kid had “white-blond” hair because, again, CC doesn’t get subtlety.
And it’s here that I start to realize just how idiotic Valentine really is. So, the meeting hall was packed with Downwolders and Shadowhunters, and when the actual signing was to happen, he and his cronies stood up, pulled out their weapons, and presumably started slaughtering people.
You know, I could get them crashing the conference. I could get them trying to assassinate the leadership of the Shadowhunters and Downworlders. Heck, I could grasp them trying to blow up the whole meeting.
But this? They walked in, sat there for what I assumed must have been a pretty long time, completely aware of just how badly outnumbered they were… and went along with Valentine’s plan anyway.
Luke and his pack busted in after this, making me wonder how he learned about what Valentine and the other members of the Circle did.
Plot Hole: 4
The shit had really hit the fan, with everyone fighting and whatnot. And of course Luke calls vampires “Night Children”, even though he called them vampires only three paragraphs ago.
Weird Word Choice: 2
Jocelyn used some magic to mark the Shadowhunters who weren’t members of the Circle, presumably because doing the exact opposite would make too much sense, despite Luke saying that the Circle’s numbers had grown since he left.
Luke ran around searching for Valentine so he could
confess his true feelings kill him. They bantered a bit, if you can call it that, until Jocelyn showed up and tried to break up the fight. But by this point, Valentine just went full-on Darth Vader on them, about how they both betrayed him, etc. And then he ripped Jocelyn’s silver necklace off her and chucked it at Luke. Why didn’t Jocelyn the amazingly skilled Shadowhunter fight back?
Best I can figure is that, as Jocelyn is the woman in this love triangle, she’s not allowed to fight, regardless of her previously alluded to skills.
Rather than actually have it out, though, Valentine skipped straight to the end, vowing revenge and running off like a little bitch. Also, apparently he was the only important member of the Circle, as once he disappears, the fighting ends. The building they were all in being on fire might also have had something to do with it.
Outside, Jocelyn suddenly realized that she’d left her son all alone, and went riding off into the night like a romance novel heroine, with Luke in hot pursuit.
By the time Luke caught up with her, Jocelyn and Valentine’s house had burnt down. But not with normal fire, no, Valentine used special demon fire to destroy it. Which Luke burns so hot that it destroys almost everything it touches.
And I have to call bullshit on this, or at least say that CC doesn’t understand what temperature certain things burn at. We’re told that this fire burns so hot that it reduced the bricks and mortar of the house to dust, and yet conveniently left the bones of Joceln’s mom,Valentine, and lil’ Jonathan Christopher.
Now, according to wiki answers, bricks ignite at about 870ºC. On the other hand, crematoriums temperatures range from 760-1150ºC. On top of that, the fire also melted Valentine’s dad’s silver dagger. Silver melts at about 962ºC So, if this special magic fire was hot enough to melt metal and leave nothing but dust from brick, it was certainly hot enough to burn bones.
But CC needed convenient proof that these people were dead.
I know I said this before, but the Shadowhunters should really invest in forensic dentistry. Mundanes have recognized this as a valid means of identification for decades. Get with the times, people.
Jocelyn had a bit of a breakdown, and the pair eventually fled. And to Paris, or all places. She eventually revealed that she was pregnant, sold some of her jewelry, and bought a ticket to the US. They split up, and just before leaving Jocelyn told Luke that she didn’t think Valentine was dead.
A belief that Luke completely ignored, as he went back to living
among the apes with the werewolves. But with Jocelyn gone, Luke was separated from both the loves of his life, so of course he was miserable. Not that this stopped him from being the most amazing alpha ever, if he says so himself (which he does).
But despite fighting and living alongside them for a long time, Luke never quite fit in with the werewolves. In his own words, he was “too much human – too much Shadowhuner” to really be at home with the pack. I’m sure it had nothing to do with probably being a bit of a racist prick.
Not that any of that stopped Luke from signing for the werewolves when the time to sign the Accords came around. Because despite only being a werewolf for a short period of time and a former Shadowhunter, he somehow qualifies to represent the entire werewolf society in probably the most important political they have. Not, say, the oldest, or the most experienced, or their chief diplomat. Nah, Luke’s closest, so it’s less of a hassle.
Oh, and the Lightwoods were at the signing as well. Because that’s exactly the kind of people who should be present at a major peace conference – two of the people most actively opposed to it.
They explained that they were being “punished” by being sent to New York, that they were bringing Hodge with them, and that Michael Wayland had apparently taken up living like a hermit. Because we really need to be reminded that not only is the Shadowhunter leadership stupid, they’re also horribly corrupt.
After this, Luke decided to totally abandon his pack, because he’s competing with Jacob Black to see who can be the worse werewolf leader. He went to Paris, then London, hopped a boat to Boston and wandered around North America for a while.
And then one day he was randomly wandering through SoHo and spotted a painting of Jocelyn’s family’s house, and figures that she had to have painted it, supposedly because he has a creepy knowledge of Jocelyn’s style. Because it’s not like someone else could have painted a random landscape that just happens to look like her house, and just happens to have a similar style. Nah, that would be stupid.
Oh, wait, then he read the signature. See, that’s much less creepy and stalker-esque.
But then he goes right back to being a creepy stalker, because he tracked her down and went to Jocelyn’s house. Rather than, say, calling her and arranging a meeting like a normal person.
And that’s it. Chapter over.
So, what did we learn from this info dump of a chapter?
We learned a bit about Valentine: that he started out as a well-intentioned activist who got pushed into crazed-zealot territory by the sudden and pointless death of his father, that he was presumably somewhat charismatic, and that he sucked at tactics.
We also learned a bit about Luke: that he sucked both as a Shadowhunter and as a werewolf, that he might be bi-sexual, and that he’s just like every other Shadowhunter in being a racist prick.
(Seriously, the whole Luke-Valentine-Jocelyn relationship being an actual love triangle makes so much sense. I bet Jocelyn was the problem, too – too much of a prude to put up with having two guys who love her and each other in the same way.)
And finally, we have proof that everyone in this universe (or at least all the supernaturals) are mind-numbingly stupid.
But apart from that? Nothing. Nothing we learn in this chapter does anything to further the plot. It’s interesting, but it doesn’t belong here. The Big Bad has kidnapped the Designated Love Interest and has the MacGuffin. Now is not the time for the heroes to be sitting on their asses having a chat!
Weird Word Choice: 2 (Total 96)
Rapier Twit: 0 (Total 65)
No Shit Sherlock: 0 (Total 41)
Plot Hole: 4 (Total 77)
Random Scene Break: 0 (Total 20)
Both Hands, Ma’am: 0 (Total 28)
Bitch: 0 (Total 24)