Hi, everybody. Sorry it took so long to get this out – NaNoWriMo + new job = no free time. But now I’m more or less free, so I can get back to delving through the pile of sludge that is City of Bones. Fair warning, this one is a bit long.

As a quick refresher, the last chapter had the plot rear its ugly head and ended with Clary passing out. Fortunately for us, CC doesn’t make a habit of doing that.

Chapter five begins, of course, with her waking up. And, like any YA paranormal protagonist, this means she hears people talking about her (namely that she’s been asleep for three days, along with a bit of subtle racism about how easily mundanes die), and she pretends to still be asleep. CC doesn’t say that, of course, instead going on about the numerous Symbolik Dreams™ she’s busy having, featuring such sights as: her mother in a hospital, Luke doing an impersonation of Conan of Cimmeria, Jace with wings, Isabelle nude (for some reason), Simon with crosses burnt into his palms, and angels on fire and falling from the sky. If you’ve read Pryotra’s reviews, you know what makes these Symbolik™ rather than just weird.

Because that’s so much more important than actually moving the plot forward.

But then we get another scene of two characters (Alec and Isabelle) talking about Clary, and her waking up. There’s also a bit from Alec about how they “mutilate” themselves, but given that the only side effect of their use of Marks are tiny white scars, I’m seeing this more as whining.

Yet another scene break and Clary finally wakes up. And she somehow manages to confuse a ceiling painting with Fluffy Cloud Heaven (the jury’s out on whether this is due to her near-death experience or if she would have done this anyway). She sits up and looks around – she’s essentially in a barracks. Isabelle is there, and we get a description of what she’s wearing, including that giant red pendant (seriously, WHY IS IT HERE?). They engage in a bit of “witty banter” regarding Clary almost dying, because that’s always good for a laugh. On the upside, Isabelle does have a reasonable response to finding out about Jace’s info dumping last chapter.

Clary has a nasty stomach cramp, and Isabelle gives her something to drink. Turns out not eating or drinking anything for three days tends to mess with your body (hence why hospitals use IVs for that). Clary takes a sip, and it actually tastes pretty good, describing it as “rich and satisfying with a buttery aftertaste.” She asks what it is.

Isabelle shrugged. “One of Hodge’s tisanes. They always work”

Weird Word Choice: 1

A “tisane,” according to my sources, is either “[an] aromatic or herb-flavored tea” or an alternate spelling of ptisan, which is “a nourishing decoction… purported to have medicinal [qualities].”

So in essence, it’s herbal tea. Now, I’ve never tried herbal tea, though I doubt “buttery aftertaste” would be something I’d associate with herbal tea. But since CC was probably focusing on the “medicinal qualities” part, it’s a potion. Why CC decided not to call it that or any of the numerous synonyms for “potion,” I don’t know. At best, I assume she’s still trying very hard to distance herself from Harry Potter.

Moving on, Isabelle and Clary introduce themselves to each other, and Clary finds out that Hodge was none too pleased when Jace brought her to the Institute. This pleases me, because anyone getting pissed at Jace makes me happy.

Isabelle mentions that Jace claimed Clary killed a demon, and Clary confirms it. And Isabelle is just shocked, shocked I say, because, and I quote, “[Clary’s] a mundie.”

Because you see, only super-special-awesome Shadowhunters can kill demons. Never mind that ‘mundies’ are pretty damn good at killing things, usually on purpose. Get used to this not-so-subtle racism, folks. It’s only going to get worse as we go.

Thankfully, Clary has not yet drunk the Kool-Aid and is a bit smug that Isabelle finds this so amazing. CC then realizes that she hasn’t mentioned Jace in about three pages, so Clare asks where he is. Isabelle doesn’t know, and no one seems to have cottoned on to the fact that Jace should be supervised at all times. Isabelle goes off to tell the mysterious Hodge, and we get the clarification that Hodge tutors all the kids.

Weird Word Choice: 3

Double count because they use the word ‘tutor’ twice. And no, I’m still not over the tutor/teacher confusion.

Isabelle leaves, and was nice enough to loan Clary some of her old clothes. As Clary’s were covered with blood and stuff, Jace decided the best thing to do was to burn them. Because that makes perfect sense.

And I’m sorry to do this, but since I had to suffer through this, so do you. Think of it as mutual schadenfreude.

“Did he?” asked Clary. “Tell me, is he always really rude, or does he save that for mundanes?”
“Oh, he’s rude to everyone,” said Isabelle airily. “It’s what makes him so damn sexy. That, and he’s killed more demons than anyone else his age.”

I’m sorry, Isabelle, but you’re wrong. Being an ass to everyone doesn’t make you sexy, it makes you an ass. Neither does a high kill count, despite what some women may think. And if Isabelle is the standard for all Shadowhunters, this is a severely fucked-up society.

Moving on, Clary is a bit irked to find out that Isabelle is attracted to Jace, but only because she thinks they’re related, not because he’s a budding psychopath. Isabelle explains that Jace just lives with them, because his parents are dead – his mom in child birth, and his father was murdered. Nice try CC, giving a character a tragic history to elicit sympathy, but it won’t work because, as has already been established, Jace is an ass.

Isabelle leaves, but not before telling Clary that she should wash up before she changes because “[Clary] smells.” Again, being unconscious for three days will do that.

Thankfully, we skip ahead to after Clary gets dressed, and we get a whole paragraph describing her new outfit:

Isabelle’s clothes looked ridiculous. Clary had to roll the legs on the jeans up several times before she stopped tripping on them, and the plunging neckline of the red tank top only emphasized her lack of what Eric would have called a “rack.”

Oof. Did you see that? A double whammy of character bashing – Isabelle (who we’ve only talked to for about five minutes) is implied to be a slut, and Eric (who was only on-screen for about five minutes) is a pig. CC needs to learn to use tools other than a sledgehammer when developing her characters.

Clary has a brief moment of sense when she decides that she should call Luke. She puts on her shoes, an action deserving a whole paragraph of description (padding, padding, padding), and goes in search of Isabelle.

The description of the hallway is nice, so CC gets a point for that. Clary hears a noise, described as being “like wind chimes shaken by a storm,” and decides to head towards it. A little later, she realizes its a piano. I don’t think CC has ever heard wind chimes or a piano, because they sound nothing alike.

Turns out it’s Jace playing the piano, which is YA shorthand for being “deep” and “sensitive.” CC slips into purple-prose mode and both she and Clary get lady-boners.

I think I may have inadvertently discovered the entire purpose of this series.

The scene having accomplished it’s intended purpose, Jace notices Clary and stops playing. They talk a bit (which consists largely of Jace being condescending), and Jace insults Clary’s clothes. She points out that he burned her clothes, and he justifies it by saying that it was “purely precautionary.”

A precaution against what exactly? Were we afraid of noxious fumes from the demon gunk? Because Jace, you picked Clary up, meaning you probably got some goop on your clothes too. Did you burn those? I doubt it. I think he burned Clary’s clothes so he could get her to dress like a slut.

Our not-so-dynamic duo head off to find Hodge, and CC goes on about how big the place is as they walk by a lot of empty cookie-cutter bedrooms. Clary’s neurons fire up briefly, and she asks why they’d need all those bedrooms because “[she] thought it was a research institute.”

Plot Hole: 1

To be fair, when most people hear the word “institute,” they’d probably think it has something to do with research. Dictionary.com defines an institute as:

7. a society or organization for carrying on a particular work, as of literary, scientific, or educational character.
8. the building occupied by such a society.

Now, from what little Clary’s seen of these folks (namely torturing and murdering a guy), what kind of ‘research’ could they be performing?

Jace explains that this is the residential wing, and they have to house any Shadowhunters who need it. And they can house up to 200 people in this one building. Clary, brain still active, points out that most of the rooms are empty. The explanation from Jace is that most people don’t stay that long, and the only permanent residents are himself, Isabelle, Alec, their brother Max, their parents, and Hodge.

So this building, which apparently includes a hotel, is home to only seven people.

Does that sound like a huge waste of space to you? Because it does to me. Especially in a city like New York, where space is kind of at a premium. Also, where are they hiding all this stuff? Is the Institute dimensionally transcendent?

Plot Hole: 2

Honestly, I would be happier if the Institute were a smaller operation, with only enough space for maybe a dozen occupants on top of the people already living there.

Jace goes on to explain that the Lightwoods (Alec and Isabelle’s parents) are currently away. See, they’re kind of like diplomats (which will make a lot less sense once we get some of their background), and they’re currently in the Shadowhunter homeland working on some stuff. And for some reason, they decided to bring they’re youngest child along.

Since this whole conversation is just another excuse to have an info-dump, Clary asks about the Shadowhunter country. Quick summation: it’s called Idris, it’s boarders have spells all along them so that any muggle mundane who happens to cross said boarder gets teleported to the other side. And it’s somewhere between Germany and France.

Here’s Clary’s reaction:

“But there isn’t anything between Germany and France. Except Switzerland.”

Plot Hole: 4

Yes, this gets a double. Here’s why:

First, how do you hide an entire country? This isn’t like Wakanda) from the Marvel-verse where they’re hiding their true nature. Nor is it like in the Potter-verse, where they maybe hide the odd village or two from non-wizards. This could have worked if this story was set any time before artificial satellites were a thing, since any maps would have to be based on first-hand observations (I won’t even get into how the landscape on one side would probably look different from that on the other side).

Second, Clary (and presumably CC) seemed to have failed geography. Here’s a handy map of Europe. It even has pretty colors and everything. Notice anything about the Franco-German boarder? I did.

1) There’re about three independent countries between France and Germany – the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
2) While Switzerland does share boarders with both Franc and Germany, it is south of Germany and east of France. Not exactly “between” them, I’d say.

Now it’s no “west coast of Brazil,” but come on. It’s not that hard to find a map.

Oh, and this whole time? Jace is being a smug ass again. Just thought I’m mention that.

Anyway, Jace goes on about how most Shadowhunters (including himself) grow up in Idres, but there are Shadowhunters all around the world, but Idres is always “home.” Clary then compares it to Jerusalem and Mecca. Being neither Jewish nor Muslim, I won’t comment on this, other than saying that I feel that Clary and/or CC should probably be slapped for that comparison.

There’s a bit from Jace about how kids like Alec and Isabelle are the exceptions to the rule, since they’re parents weren’t living in Idres when they were born.

Clary asks if Jace knows any other Shadowhunters his age (apart from Alec and Isabelle), and he says he doesn’t. Clary comments that having so few friends must get pretty lonely, but Jace doesn’t seem to care.

I’m sure this is supposed to make him sound stoic and/or elicit sympathy from me, but considering how he treats his alleged friends, I’m surprised the Lightwoods haven’t tried to ship him off to the Falkland Islands yet.

They enter the library, requiring yet another scene break, and CC uses three well-written paragraphs to describe the room. Once again, this shows that CC can write well on occasion.

We’re brought out of omniscient narrator mode when the oft-mentioned Hodge finally speaks. He comments that, since Clary spent what could have been anywhere between thirty seconds to five minutes staring at everything in the room, she must love books, and that Jace should have told him. Jace points out that he and Clary haven’t really talked much, and the comment is just oozing with innuendo. Meanwhile, Clary is just amazed that Hodge figured out that she likes books.

This really feels like an informed attribute, and for a couple reasons:

First, from what little we know of Clary, she seems more artistic than literary. If either of the Fray ladies loves books, it’s probably Jocelyn – after all, she’s the one with piles of paperbacks laying around the apartment. This isn’t to say Clary can’t have an equal appreciation for books as her mother, but since we didn’t get a description of her room (where we’d be able to infer something about her), we don’t have much to go on regarding her character.

Second, of the three paragraphs describing the room, only the first is spent describing the books on the shelves, while the other two focus on the furniture. And that first paragraph is done very clinically – yes, I have a clear image of what the room looks like, and the implication that Hodge really loves these books. But at no point do Clary’s thoughts come through – there’s no mention of her being tempted to grab one at random and find a comfy chair to curl up in.

Anyway, let’s get to Hodge. He’s a generic old mentor figure. He gets up to greet Clary, and apparently her eyesight’s gone straight to hell, because for a minute she thinks he has a hunch. Said hunch turns out to be a raven, named Hugo. How she A) didn’t notice the rather large bird (I’m assuming Hugo’s a Common Raven, or Corvus corax) on the guy’s shoulder earlier and B) confused it for a hunch, I don’t know.

Hodge’s last name is Starkweather (because that just screams Franco-German, doesn’t it?), and he’s a professor of history (though where he got his Ph.D. I don’t know). Hodge flatters Clary a bit, congratulating her for killing the Ravener. Clary, being a Sue, makes excuses about the flattery so the reader will think she’s humble.

Jace decides to rain on her humility parade by explaining that she shoved his Sensor (god, that’s getting annoying) down the things throat and that “The runes must have choked it.”

Because two-dimensional marks are such a common choking hazard. I can’t count the times I’ve almost died because of a big word.

And just to show how little both Jace and Hodge (as well as the entire Shadowhunter community in all likelihood) care about their stuff being stolen, Jace only now mentions that he needs another Sensor. And Hodge, rather than getting mad that he let his get taken, just tells him to grab another one. I’m pretty sure that if a cop lost any piece of his equipment, even something nonessential, he’d get some flak for it. Oh, wait, Jace is the hero, so he can’t be punished for anything.

Hodge gets right back to praising Clary, asking how she came up with the brilliant idea of using a blunt object as an improvised weapon, when Alec appears. Oh, sorry, apparently he was there the whole time, Clary just didn’t see him because everything else about the room was just sooo distracting. Based on how her perception of her surroundings has dropped so drastically since chapter one, I’m going to assume Clary normally wears glasses/contacts.

Alec gets a whole long paragraph describing him, because Clary is just amazed at how alike he and Isabelle look. Because, you know, what with being siblings and all, that’s just so unexpected (Seriously, there’s even a bit about how Clary is constantly amazed at siblings looking alike. You’d think the novelty of that would have worn off by now.)

Anyway, Alec doesn’t believe that Clary managed to kill a demon all by herself, because, and I quote, “she’s a mundie.” And for double points, “a little kid.”

Clary, again choosing to focus on the “little kid” comment rather than the not-so-implied racism, points out that she’s almost sixteen, and Hodge says that Isabelle is about the same age.

And here’s Alec’s reply:

“Isabelle hails from one of the greatest Shadowhunter dynasties in history,” Alec said dryly. “This girl, on the other hand, hails from New Jersey.”

This is why I didn’t include a racism count – it’d get too high to keep track. Keep in mind, Alec is supposed to be one of the good guys. We’re supposed to like him.

Clary’s response is so awesome I have to quote it in its entirety:

“I’m from Brooklyn!” Clary was outraged. “And so what? I just killed a demon in my own house, and you’re going to be a dickhead about it because I’m not some spoiled-rotten rich brat like you and your sister?”

Sadly, that’s the most spine we’re ever likely to get from her. I also note that the thing that offends her the most is the New Jersey thing. (To be fair, I’d probably feel insulted if someone thought I was from New Jersey too.)

Alec is stunned at this comeback, and Jace makes some smarmy comment. Alec then whines to Jace because he didn’t stop the dirty mundie from calling him names. Jace gives him an “it’s good for you” explanation, and we get an exchange that feels really out of place for teens in the 21st century:

“We may be parabatai,” Alec said tightly. “But your flippancy is wearing on my patience.”
“And your obstinacy is wearing on mine.”

Weird Word Choice: 6

One each for “flippancy” and “obstinacy.” If this were set in the 19th century, I wouldn’t bat and eyelash, but here? Not so much.

Also, one for “parabatai”. This is one of those things that shows CC either didn’t really think about this enough, or she knows her fan base far too well. Typing the word in on Wikipedia (after passing the references to this series) gets us to the Sacred Band of Thebes, which was, “a troop of picked soldiers, consisting of 150 pairs of male lovers which formed the elite force of the Theban army in the 4th century BC.”

Let that sink in for a moment.

So, either CC picked this word because she wanted that “inseparable pair/band of brothers” vibe, or she knew a lot of her fans would be really into yaoi. Considering what we later learn about Alec, I’m betting on the latter.

Moving on, Alec points out that Raveners are kinda stupid (I think we’ve already established that fact), and it might have stung itself by accident. Any credit he gained from this is immediately lost, though, because he goes on about how Clary shouldn’t even be there because, “Mundies aren’t allowed in the Institute.”

Damn it, Alec, either be the smart, rational one, or be the racist asshole. You can’t be both.

Hodge decides to step in, and explains that “the Law” does have loopholes for things like this.

Weird Word Choice: 7

The only person allowed to use capital-L “Law” is Judge Dredd. Because he is the Law.

Alec goes into exposition mode (and thankfully out of douche mode), going on about how Raveners work for warlocks and big-time demons, and it makes no sense for one of them to be interested in Clary or her mother.

Clary tries to defend herself, positing that it might have been there by mistake, but Alec says that demons don’t make mistakes like that, and implies that Clary or her mom might not be as innocent as they appear. Clary is, of course, offended, and Hodge jumps to her rescue, saying that though mundanes can’t summon demons, they sometimes find someone who can.

Clary gets mad at this, saying that her mom doesn’t know anyone like that, and that she doesn’t believe in magic, before remembering that she lives above Madame Dorothea, who she describes as, “a witch.”

Sorry, Clary, we’ve already established this – she’s a fortune teller, not a witch. There’s a difference.

Not that Jace cares, evidently, because he’s already checked up on Madame D determined that she’s not the real deal, or a “hedge-witch,” as he decides to call her.

Weird Word Choice: 8

This is kinda pedantic, I know, but in most fantasies, hedge-witches/wizards tend to be on the low-end of the magical power scale, rather than complete fakes.

This brings them back to square-one, and Hodges decides that they have to notify Shadowhunter government, the Clave.

Weird Word Choice: 9

That is a really bad name for any organization, because while I’d guess CC was going off “conclave,” all I can think is that she misspelled “cleave” and didn’t bother to correct it.

Jace, for some reason, is dead set against this, but Hodge points out that, since Clary’s recovered, their bosses need to know about her – they have some rules about mundanes knowing about their existence. Alec is a little toady, offering to send a message to his dad, when Jace (reeking of desperation) spouts off that Clary isn’t a mundane.

After everyone finishes reeling from this revelation, Jace explains his reasoning. Remember the Venn-diagram “rune” he drew on her hand at the end of the last chapter? Well, as it turns out runes aren’t all that safe for non-Shadowhunters. In fact, they tend to kill them. So Jace, despite having almost no evidence that Clary was anything other than a normal girl, decided to risk her life to save her. Now, some might call that romantic, but I call it stupid – if he’d been wrong (which of course he wouldn’t be, but just for the sake of argument), he could have killed Clary.

Nice job, moron.

Clary, of course, doesn’t believe that she could be related to a Shadowhunter, because… um… reasons.

Once again, CC’s fandom roots are showing. I’m sure this was supposed to be the big “You’re a wizard, Harry” moment, but it just doesn’t work. For one, while the events leading up to that scene in HP were all weird, they weren’t entirely unexplainable by normal means (except for the bit with the snake, of course). Here, our protagonist has already been shown that the supernatural exists, so the revelation that she’s actually a member of the magical species feels like something out of a fanfic – of course she’s not actually a normal girl who happens to get caught up in all this, she’s the heroine, so she has to be super-special-awesome.

There’s some debate as to which of Clary’s parents might have been the Shadowhunter. Jace proposes that her mother might be one, which would explain why she was attacked, but Clary shoots that down because… reasons. Alec suggests it might be her father, and we learn an interesting bit about Shadowhunter society:

“If her father were a Shadowhunter, and her mother a mundane – well, we all know it’s against the Law to marry a mundane.”

It’s things like that that really make me wonder about CC and her editor. Did neither of them realize that that statement just reeks of Unfortunate Implications? “We mustn’t breed with those lowly mundanes – it would sully the purity of our bloodlines.” At least when H. P. Lovecraft wrote about the “dangers” of inter-racial relationships, he had the brains to do it allegorically (at least, in most cases).

This also raises an interesting question – how does the population of Shadowhunters maintain itself, let alone grow, without resorting to inbreeding? We’ll learn in a bit that they can create new Shadowhunters, but they never mention doing it on a regular basis. It also makes me wonder how they operate in areas where Caucasians aren’t either the majority or a large minority, but then this discussion could go on all day.

Getting back to the alleged plot, Clary is still not accepting the fact that she’s at least part Shadowhunter, because she thinks her mom would have told her about it. A line of reasoning even Clary realizes is stupid, given how open her mother’s been about her past.

Clary then decides that Luke would know if either of her parents had any dark secrets, failing to consider the idea that her mother might not have told anybody about her husband’s past, or even known about it herself.

Plot Hole: 5

With this conclusion, Clary remembers that she’s been in a coma for three days and feels really bad about scaring Luke. Nice to know that she can so easily forget something like that when faced with such distractions as “hawt guy” and “obvious revelation”. Clary asks to use the phone, with both Jace and Hodge seeming strangely hesitant to let her use theirs, but they let her make the call anyway.

Luke answers the phone. We learn that Jocelyn has, in fact, disappeared.

No Shit Sherlock: 1

Luke asks where Clary is, and she is of course vague about it. She asks if she can stay with him, but he flat out tells her no because “It’s too dangerous.” Of course, Luke doesn’t say why it’s dangerous, and flat out tells her that he doesn’t want anything to do with Jocelyn’s current situation. Clary whines a bit and Luke points out that she’s really not his problem, and gives a response I wish more characters would give when asked by Sues for help:

“Don’t call me for favors again,” he said. “I’ve got my own problems, I don’t need to be bothered with yours.”

Sure, it’s a bit callous, especially since he’s “Uncle Luke,” but I can still appreciate the novelty of a character who isn’t at the Sue’s beck and call.

Yet another pointless scene break (I really feel like I should turn this into a count), and Clary tries to call Luke again, but because he lives in the 21st century and has caller ID, she gets kicked to his voicemail. Faced with such a daunting challenge, Clary gives up after one attempt, not even bothering with a pleading voicemail.

Jace comes over and makes this brilliant observation:

“I take it he wasn’t happy to hear from you?”

No Shit Sherlock: 2

Also, why the hell are you still in the room? Couldn’t you give the girl a little privacy to make a phone call?

Clary’s just managing to hold back tears and Hodge (do the Shadowhunters just not understand basic courtesy?) tells Jace and Alec to leave so he can talk to Clary.

Alec agrees, but Jace doesn’t think that’s “fair,” and cites the facts that A) he found her (no, you stalked her, and she’s not a puppy), and B) saved her life (only by putting her in more potential danger, moron), and only then asks if Clary wants him to stay, but in a really obnoxious way. Clary, still trying not to have an emotional breakdown, doesn’t say anything. And just when CC has me almost feeling something for Clary, this happens:

“Not everyone wants you all the time, Jace,” [Alec] said.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” she heard Jace say.

I’d include a “Want to Punch Jace in the Face” count, but it would pretty much be every time he’s in a scene.

Finally taking the not-at-all-subtle hint, he and Alec leave. Hodge has Clary sit down, and while she doesn’t suddenly realize she’s crying, the fact that she now is feels really sudden and random. Clary tries to explain that she isn’t really the type that cries much, and Hodge gives us this pearl of wisdom:

“Most people don’t cry when they’re upset or frightened, but rather when they’re frustrated.”

Weird Word Choice: 10

Uh, Hodge? I’d consider being ‘frustrated’ the same as being ‘upset’, or at least a related feeling. Also, who cries when they’re frightened?

More importantly, I think most people would cry because they’re sad about something. You’re really not doing all that well as a wise mentor-type figure, dude.

Blah, blah, Clary’s had a rough few days, Hodge does something reasonably intelligent by offering Clary some tea. But she doesn’t want tea, she wants to find her mom and kill whoever took her. How very human of her. And Hodge even has a decent response:

“Unfortunately,” said Hodge, “we’re all out of bitter revenge at the moment, so it’s either tea or nothing.”

Okay, CC? That’s how you do funny in an emotional situation without killing the mood. Maybe it’s because Jace isn’t in the room and therefore doesn’t have to be the center of attention.

Hodge lends Clary his handkerchief and starts asking her if she’s ever seen demons and whatnot before, if her mother mentioned anything like this sort of thing, and whether her mom seemed especially interested in mythology and folklore. Clary claims that her mother actually hated that kind of thing, even harmless stuff like Disney movies. Which seems in direct contradiction to the fact that she owns a copy of The Golden Bough mentioned back in chapter two, which was, again, a study of religion and mythology.

Plot Hole: 6

I’ll just chock this up to CC not actually doing her research and move along.

For some reason, Hodge finds this strange, and says so. Yes, because if Clary’s hypothetical Shadowhunter father were to marry her non-Shadowhunter mother and they were forced to go into hiding they would obviously maintain an interest in things like mythology and the occult. Just like how despite going into witness protection you’re still allowed to visit your old friends and family, not to mention keeping your job and house.

Clary, now out of mope/vengeance-mode and back into stupid-mode, says that her mom was “the most normal person in the world.”

Uh, Clary? You have a really odd definition of ‘normal’. I mean, hating Disney movies automatically qualifies as “not normal,” regardless of who you are. Even the Dursleys weren’t that aggressively mundane.

Hodge, being a Shadowhunter and thus not realizing how weird hating Disney movies is, points out that “normal people” don’t get attacked by demons.

No Shit Sherlock: 3

Clary, still being denser than lead, asks if it could have been a mistake, and Hodge (ever indulgent) points out that the fact that she saw the demon in its real form, thus demonstrating that she’s not a normal girl, kind of puts the kibosh on that theory.

No Shit Sherlock: 4

Hodge then gets into what the Ravener said when it attacked Clary, almost saying that Raveners are incredibly stupid and talk too much. Clary tells him that it name-dropped Valentine, and Hodge (much like Jace in chapter one) loses it.

Seriously, why do all these people react like this? It’s good that CC is showing us rather than telling, but a bit of context here would be nice.

Clary eventually asks for a bit more info, and Hodge tells her that Valentine was a Shadowhunter, and he’s been dead for sixteen years. For some reason, Clary is frightened by the mere mention of his name, despite knowing absolutely nothing of importance about him.

Come on, CC, at least when Rowling did that with Voldemort everyone was frightened. Here, they’re all angry. It’s really hard for me to be afraid of this guy (as you obviously want me to be) when most of your characters aren’t.

Moving on, Clary asks if it could just be a coincidence, but Hodge thinks that it’s more likely someone trying to send a message, and that this would be a good time for it, since the Accords, which Clary calls peace negotiations, are going on.

Weird Word Choice: 11

I’m really getting sick of CC’s Capitalization of Significant Things. Also, since an accord is an agreement, there should be a verb associated with them.

Still another random scene break (That’s it. Next chapter that becomes a count.), and Hodge starts giving a nice big info dump.

The Shadowhunters share their world with a group of semi-demonic peoples collectively called Downworlders (again with the Unfortunate Implications), which include vampires, werewolves, faeries, and warlocks.

He then gets into the legendary origins of the Shadowhunters, for some reason: around a thousand years ago, “humans were being overrun by demon invasions from other worlds,” until a random unnamed warlock summoned up the Angel Raziel (yes, the word angel is capitalized for some stupid reason) and mixed Raziel’s blood with human blood and had some guys drink from it. Said guys became the first Shadowhunters, or “Nephilim” as they’re sometimes called, and they passed their specialness on to their children. The cup used became the eponymous Mortal Cup, and that whenever they needed more Shadowhunters they used the cup to make them.

I’m going to pause here to discuss all the fail in there, because there’s a lot of it.

First, the timeline. If demons and whatnot were so rampant, how is it that none of it got into the history books? We have records dating back long before then, and there’s not a lot of mention of demonic invasions. Also, what exactly was humanity doing to fight these things if they were so common?

Plot Hole: 7

Second, why is the warlock unnamed? You’d think that, as the guy chiefly responsible for creating the organization/species, the Shadowhunters would have written his name down somewhere.

Third, the names. Why are they called Nephilim? The term wouldn’t have been new even at the alleged time – there’s a reference to them in the Book of Genesis. And why is it called the Mortal Cup? Apart from the fact that CC decided to call this series the ‘Mortal Instruments’, I mean. With a name like that, I’d expect it to kill anyone who drank from it. And once again, why is angel capitalized?

Weird Word Choice: 14

Sigh Let’s just go with “CC fails at world building” and leave it at that.

Anyway, turns out that Valentine somehow managed to destroy the Mortal Cup, along with himself, his family, and his house. The land where it once stood is allegedly cursed, and not in an “old Indian burial ground” sense, because the Clave can actually do stuff like that, but only “as punishment for breaking the Law.”

These people have a very harsh justice system.

So, what did Valentine do that was so bad, apart from accidentally destroying a precious cultural artifact? Well, he “took up arms against his fellow Shadowhunters and slew them.”

Yeah, turns out that last time the Downworlders and Shadowhunters got together to re-sign the Accords (I guess they’re like the Geneva Conventions), Valentine and his buddies (called the Circle, because geometry is just so frightening) attacked the meeting and killed a whole lot of the attendees.

But I guess that it doesn’t matter that he attacked what was effectively a peace conference with the intent to kill several of the foreign diplomats, the real problem was that he killed other Shadowhunters. Because they follow the Ape Shall Never Kill Ape rule, but killing Downworlders at a peace conference is just a-okay. Yet more Unfortunate Implications!

So, why did Valentine do this? Well, he’s just more racist than the other Shadowhunters (or more likely just more open about it). He hated Downworlders and felt that, since they’re vaguely demonic they deserve to be killed. Unfortunately, he didn’t count on the other Shadowhunters and Downworlders attending the Magic Geneva Convention to gang up on him, and he got beaten back.

Hodge piles on yet more Unfortunate Implications by saying that it was only after the Circle attacked the other Shadowhunters that the Downworlders realized who the real enemy was. Because they couldn’t possibly have had good reasons not to trust the horribly racist and incredibly violent people who tend to kill them. Right.

Realizing that the plot has now lost so much forward momentum that it will soon start going backwards, Clary drags the conversation back on topic by asking who might mention Valentine and what it has to do with her mother. Hodge, being entirely clueless, says he’ll ask his bosses to look into it.

Realizing that she has no reason to stay, Clary asks if she can go home, and Hodge sensibly points out that that would probably be a bad idea. Clary says she’ll at least need clothes, Hodge says they can just give her money to buy some, but Clary wins in the end by playing the sentimentality card.

Hodge reluctantly agrees to let her visit her apartment, but only if Jace agrees to go with her. Why Jace and not, say, Alec or Isabelle, I’m not sure, beyond CC needing to get another fix of Bad Boy. She goes off following the cat in search of the jackass Jace.

One final scene change (this one somewhat excusable) and Hodge is writing a letter to the Clave. He finishes and “[rolls] the letter, carefully and meticulously, into the shape of a tube,” (because otherwise I would have assumed he rolled it up into a cube) which he then presumably attaches to his bird’s leg. I say ‘presumably’ because Hodge is too busy having a flashback to the Uprising (the name for Valentine’s little attempted coup) for the narration to tell me.

Hodge finishes pretending to be a Maester from A Song of Ice and Fire, and the chapter ends.

So, we’re now five chapters into this book, and the plot has shown its ugly head, only to disappear once more like a whack-a-mole. There was much exposition, some needed, some not, but very little has yet to be accomplished. And for once, the chapter title actually has something to do with it’s contents, if only in a somewhat oblique way.

Next time, we’ll get a bit of action, a bit of mystery, and a lot of Jace being Jace.

Yay.

See you then!

Counts

Weird Word Choice: 14 (Total 34)
Rapier Twit: 0 (Total 3)
No Shit Sherlock: 4 (Total 8)
Plot Hole: 7 (Total 25)

Tagged as: ,

Comment

  1. swenson on 22 December 2012, 11:08 said:

    On the “hiding a whole country” thing, I’ve actually struggled with that with a story of mine, because yeah, how do you just hide a whole country? I ended up making it be that only fairly small portions of land are hidden (the largest would be the size of a small city, perhaps) and it’s not like it’s regular land that was blocked off by spells, it’s a sort of pocket universe hitched onto the main one. So it was never really part of the real world to begin with. (And this whole thing is vaguely based on some legends about fairies and how their lands are connected to, but not quite a part of, the surrounding world.) This neatly avoids the problem of cartographers because there’s just plain no land missing. And it’s literally closed off from the real world, so satellites can’t see it either.

    The point being that this is the twenty-first century. You have to do more than teleport the occasional person around. Like these teleporting spells, do they work on cars? On remote-control airplanes? On UAVs?

    “Unfortunately,” said Hodge, “we’re all out of bitter revenge at the moment, so it’s either tea or nothing.”

    That actually did make me laugh out loud. That’s a pretty good line. So Clary can actually write on occasion, she just usually doesn’t?

    A… thousand years ago? Let’s say that’s anywhere from AD 900 to 1100. The Byzantine Empire was at their peak—why didn’t they write about all these demons? The Caliphate of Cordoba was also doing splendidly and they were renowned for their scholars and libraries—why didn’t they mention this? Or perhaps all this happened in China, where the Song Dynasty was at their peak? Word of advice for any budding fantasy alt-hist writers—either make the timeline vague enough that your readers can place events basically anywhere they like in history, or make it be, like, eight thousand years ago, long enough ago that if records ever existed, they could have been lost or destroyed. Don’t make it be a thousand years ago. We know what happened a thousand years ago. A large-scale demon invasion did not happen a thousand years ago.

    Now if she’d made some subtle hints leading up to this that implied the history of this world was different, like maybe they had records of these big wars about a thousand years ago… then I’d be more inclined to accept this.

    called the Circle

    Is it a Circle of Confusion? A Rhombus of Terror? A Parabola of Mystery?!

    Hodge finishes pretending to be a Maester from A Song of Ice and Fire, and the chapter ends.

    Having just gotten into these books, that was precisely what I was thinking as well.

  2. Epke on 22 December 2012, 12:38 said:

    such sights as: her mother in a hospital, Luke doing an impersonation of Conan of Cimmeria, Jace with wings, Isabelle nude (for some reason), Simon with crosses burnt into his palms, and angels on fire and falling from the sky

    With all the religious stuff here, I keep thinking of Isabelle like John Collier’s “Lilith”… which ties in well with the not-so-subtle slutshaming Isabelle gets to endure.

    Now, I’ve never tried herbal tea, though I doubt “buttery aftertaste” would be something I’d associate with herbal tea.

    I have and I can’t imagine any herbal combination that would give a buttery aftertaste. I suppose you could add actual butter to it, though that would make it more a potion or tonic than herbal tea.

    “Did he?” asked Clary. “Tell me, is he always really rude, or does he save that for mundanes?”
    “Oh, he’s rude to everyone,” said Isabelle airily. “It’s what makes him so damn sexy. That, and he’s killed more demons than anyone else his age.”

    I think Cassandra wanted to go for the sarcastic, uncouth scoundrel type, á la Han Solo, but went way overboard and landed in Douchebag Land.

    Our not-so-dynamic duo head off to find Hodge,

    Hm… Tiresome Twosome? The Twerp-Twins? The Dysfunctional Duo? The Porkheaded Pair? The Double Dumbasses? I could go on, I’ve got a few more.
    … Team Terrible?

    Oh, sorry, apparently he was there the whole time, Clary just didn’t see him because everything else about the room was just sooo distracting.

    Hiding in the closet, no doubt.

    So it was never really part of the real world to begin with. (And this whole thing is vaguely based on some legends about fairies and how their lands are connected to, but not quite a part of, the surrounding world.) This neatly avoids the problem of cartographers because there’s just plain no land missing.

    Sir Terry Pratchett wrote the Fairy Realm like that too: the world of the Elves was/is a parasite dimension that, on rare occasions, would be reachable. It’s a simple, clever device really. Other solutions Cassandra could’ve used is the traditional “small on the outside, large on the inside”: like Death’s House, or the Toothfairy’s Tower… or Hermione’s beaded bag.

    @Apep, you should add a “Subtle Racism” count too, for every time they bash on “mundies” and Downworlders.

  3. Apep on 22 December 2012, 12:57 said:

    That actually did make me laugh out loud. That’s a pretty good line. So Clary can actually write on occasion, she just usually doesn’t?

    Again, that’s what bothers me the most – on occasion, Ms. Clare (btw, Clare is the author, Clary is the character) demonstrates that she can write well, so I’m forced to conclude that all the other times she’s choosing no to. It’s really frustrating.

    I think Cassandra wanted to go for the sarcastic, uncouth scoundrel type, á la Han Solo, but went way overboard and landed in Douchebag Land.

    Maybe. Except Han (especially in ANH) has a sort of swagger to him – he knows he’s awesome, but understands he has limits. Jace doesn’t.

    @Apep, you should add a “Subtle Racism” count too, for every time they bash on “mundies” and Downworlders.

    Two things:

    1) There’s nothing ‘subtle’ about it. The racism is as subtle as throwing a brick through a window.
    2) I already addressed that – it would get too high to keep track. Any time they’re in the same room as a mundane/Downworlder, the ‘heroes’ tend to treat them as second-class citizens at best.

  4. Epke on 22 December 2012, 18:40 said:

    1) There’s nothing ‘subtle’ about it. The racism is as subtle as throwing a brick through a window.
    2) I already addressed that – it would get too high to keep track. Any time they’re in the same room as a mundane/Downworlder, the ‘heroes’ tend to treat them as second-class citizens at best.

    Irony is hard to convey in text. Should’ve written “Subtle Racism” maybe…
    Oh, right, sorry, my bad.

  5. Danielle on 23 December 2012, 00:20 said:

    Isabelle’s clothes looked ridiculous. Clary had to roll the legs on the jeans up several times before she stopped tripping on them, and the plunging neckline of the red tank top only emphasized her lack of what Eric would have called a “rack.”

    This passage could have given us some really nice character development. Not all teenage girls think other teenage girls who dress provocatively are sluts, or even that they look ridiculous.

    Clary could have pulled on those jeans and wondered, as she was rolling them up, how high Isabelle’s heels must be to walk around in them without tripping. She could be jealous of this girl who is so sophisticated that she wears high heels every day and doesn’t trip over them. Better yet, she could decide to watch Isabelle and see how to look and act more sophisticated and grown-up.

    Clary could have put on that top and seen how loose it was, and wished she had the boobs to pull it off. She could have wondered if that was why she didn’t get asked on more dates.

    Better yet, Clary could have put on Isabelle’s clothes and felt a stab of pity for a girl who thinks she needs to dress so provocatively to get the attention of men. She could have felt compassion for a girl with so little self-worth, who feels that she needs to have male eyes on her at all times.

  6. Master Chief on 23 December 2012, 05:13 said:

    Hey, how about we get a somewhat sexual girl and a nice guy for a protagonist? Not asking for anything extreme, it just gets irritating when all the females are prudes and the guys are assholes.

  7. Nate Winchester on 8 February 2013, 15:07 said:

    Hey! This did not show up in the “The Mortal Instruments (series)” tag list. No wonder I was so confused going from 4 to 6.

    Because you see, only super-special-awesome Shadowhunters can kill demons. Never mind that ‘mundies’ are pretty damn good at killing things, usually on purpose. Get used to this not-so-subtle racism, folks. It’s only going to get worse as we go.

    That’s one of the things that I like about SPN. A lot of urban fantasies do the whole “strength in numbers” deal for why humans are more overtly dominant in a world with things that handily kick our asses. SPN is the first one that really stood out to me that the reason we wee humans are on top is the same reason we’ve bested many animals stronger and more capable than us. We’re just so danged crafty. If we can’t kill you right now, WE’RE GOING TO KEEP WORKING UNTIL WE FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO IT! And then make a Colt.

    it’s called Idris, it’s boarders have spells all along them so that any muggle mundane who happens to cross said boarder gets teleported to the other side.

    So they apply their runes to any attempted invader? That seems complicated. You think they’d want to put their runes on their borders instead. ;)

    Because two-dimensional marks are such a common choking hazard.

    It could be for a magical creature. Eh, I’d give the point to the author, but there is a flag on the play.

    I can’t count the times I’ve almost died because of a big word.

    Two chapters later, Apep would end up dead because of the words in this book.

    Hodge gets right back to praising Clary, asking how she came up with the brilliant idea of using a blunt object as an improvised weapon, when Alec appears.

    Brilliant for using instinct?

    Sadly, that’s the most spine we’re ever likely to get from her. I also note that the thing that offends her the most is the New Jersey thing. (To be fair, I’d probably feel insulted if someone thought I was from New Jersey too.)

    Hurray for New Jersey jokes!

    Actually with the way it’s portrayed in popular media, I think it would be very insulting to call a New Yorker a Jersian.

    Damn it, Alec, either be the smart, rational one, or be the racist asshole. You can’t be both.

    House begs to differ! (except for the racist bit)

    At least when H. P. Lovecraft wrote about the “dangers” of inter-racial relationships, he had the brains to do it allegorically (at least, in most cases).

    Wasn’t that also like… the scientific thought of the time? It was kind of one of those things that “everybody knew”. (some days I think the most dangerous thing man has ever made is “scientific fads”)

    Hodge, being a Shadowhunter and thus not realizing how weird hating Disney movies is, points out that “normal people” don’t get attacked by demons.

    Uh… then what makes those things demons? Isn’t a hallmark of them… attacking normal people? (and if not, then the shadowhunters are putting people in danger by being around them)

    He then gets into the legendary origins of the Shadowhunters, for some reason: around a thousand years ago, “humans were being overrun by demon invasions from other worlds,”

    First, the timeline. If demons and whatnot were so rampant, how is it that none of it got into the history books? We have records dating back long before then, and there’s not a lot of mention of demonic invasions.

    Well some might say that’s the lesson/record of many religious texts and—

    He then gets into the legendary origins of the Shadowhunters, for some reason: around a thousand years ago,

    A THOUSAND years ago? Just…. no! No wonder I didn’t read that the first time. My brain was trying to filter the stupid.

    On the “hiding a whole country” thing, I’ve actually struggled with that with a story of mine, because yeah, how do you just hide a whole country?

    Well depends on how big the country is (remember, there are some smaller than Rhode Island). Put it on a small island, maybe have it folded within the borders of another country or two and nobody ever really sits down and notices that some things don’t quite line up. There are ways. XD

    Again, that’s what bothers me the most – on occasion, Ms. Clare (btw, Clare is the author, Clary is the character) demonstrates that she can write well, so I’m forced to conclude that all the other times she’s choosing no to. It’s really frustrating.

    No, the problem is that she’s not being challenged enough to refine and perfect the talent. If she had an editor that worked more with a red pen, she’d be consistently good.

  8. Asahel on 8 February 2013, 16:12 said:

    Didn’t even notice this the first time, but this:

    Hodge, being a Shadowhunter and thus not realizing how weird hating Disney movies is, points out that “normal people” don’t get attacked by demons.

    directly contradicts this:

    He then gets into the legendary origins of the Shadowhunters, for some reason: around a thousand years ago, “humans were being overrun by demon invasions from other worlds,”

    Seriously, how does that work? Demons don’t attack normal people except for that time when they were overrunning humans a thousand years ago apparently.

  9. NeuroticPlatypus on 8 February 2013, 16:22 said:

    Hey! This did not show up in the “The Mortal Instruments (series)” tag list.

    And now it is. ;)

  10. Apep on 8 February 2013, 17:07 said:

    re: “demons don’t attack normal people”

    To be fair, that might be more my fault for not phrasing it correctly. The implication is more like “demons don’t get sent to attack normal people.”

  11. Asahel on 8 February 2013, 17:35 said:

    To be fair, that might be more my fault for not phrasing it correctly. The implication is more like “demons don’t get sent to attack normal people.”

    Ah, I see. Yeah, that does make a bit more sense, though it’s still not necessarily the best logic. If occultists, for example, can send demons to attack others, then it’s entirely possible that they may send them after completely normal non-occult people who have wronged them in some way (i.e. the person who rivals them for a promotion at work or for someone else’s affection, the person who ran a red light and smashed into their car, the person who didn’t hold the elevator door for them, etc.) Even if demons only get sent by other demons, why should demons only want to attack occultists? If the ultimate goal is world domination (of course!), then you’d expect military, engineers, scientists, etc. to be targets.

    Still, yeah, I guess her mom would be an odd target without some kind of occult connection.

  12. Flower on 25 November 2013, 01:20 said:

    See, I have to disagree. When I finished reading this chapter, I had to go to the MI wikia to find out what the Clave and Covenant were(more so the Covenant as I figured that the Clave was some kind of gov’t). These people must have direct contact to the gov’t if they can just send them a letter.I don’t know I couldn’t make it past the first book but the government doesn’t make sense to me.

  13. Jade on 9 July 2016, 22:01 said:

    In defense of the “choked on the runes” thing, I’m assuming that since runes apparently have inherent power, the magic in then could cause some damage, depending on a demon’s reaction to runes. Like in worlds where magic can have specific leanings (light/good or dark/evil), some beings that are one have adverse reactions to the something that’s the other. Maybe the runes act like holy symbols in classic demon representations, where they are burned or repelled?

    And, yeah, it seems a New York-er thing to be offended at just about anything NEw Jersey, let alone someone thinking you’re from there. lol

  14. Jade on 9 July 2016, 23:13 said:

    omg, I just thought of what that ‘tea’ is… “rich and satisfying with a buttery aftertaste”? it’s f*cking butter-beer, isn’t it?