Hey, folks. I know it’s been a while since the last sporking, but I have some fun news.

So, the end of March was a deadline for an anthology I learned about on Kickstarter. In February, I finished writing up a story to submit, and sent that off for some beta reading. After that, I made a few tweaks, and sent it off to the people putting the anthology together.

And – here’s the exciting part – my story got on the short list. The next round of story picks is at the end of April, so even if my story doesn’t make it, it could do well in other markets.

So, that’s what’s been going on with me. Now, on to the sporking.

Since it’s been a while, let’s do a quick recap:

Everyone’s now in Shadowhunter Land, aka Idris, and most of the action has been in literally the only city in this micronation.
Simon got dragged along because wrong place, wrong time, and has spent most of his visit in a cell, chatting with his neighbor. Also, at least one of the Shadowhunter higher-ups wants him to flip on the Lightwoods, and is starving Simon until he cooperates. Luckily for him (if you can call it that), the others know about his predicament, and are smuggling him blood so he doesn’t break.
Clary and Luke followed along via bullshit Mary Sue powers, and Clary’s been crashing at Luke’s sister’s place. After finding the others, she went off with their new friend Sebastian to track down a guy who supposedly knows how to get her mom out of that coma. Unfortunately, the guy got ganked by some demons; fortunately, Magnus got there before them and was willing to help Clary in exchange for the book that contains the cure. Luckily for Clary, the location of said book was provided, because there’s no way she’d find it on her own. (Also, she and Sebastian briefly made-out, because we need a new love-triangle, but it’s pretty much DOA.)
Clary browbeat Jace into helping her retrieve the book from his dad’s old place. They got in without any difficulty, found the book, and literally stumbled into a massive exposition-dump from an angel who just happened to be chained up in the basement. After the angel seppuku-d itself, the house collapsed, but of course the protagonists easily escaped. Clary and Jace briefly decided “fuck it, let’s make out,” before more forced-drama intruded.
The last chapter ended with them hoofing it back to town, only to find that the city’s anti-demon defenses are down, and the city appears to be on fire.

You know, once you extract the teen drama, this plot is pretty straight-forward.

Anyway, on to part two.

Part two’s name is “Stars Shine Darkly.” As per standard practice with CC, she’s provided the source of said name – a passage from Twelfth Night.

Antonio: “Will you stay no longer? Nor will you not that I go with you?”
Sebastian: “By your patience, no. My stars shine darkly over me; the malignancy of my fate might, perhaps, distemper yours; therefore I shall crave of you your leave that I may bear my evils alone. It were a bad recompense for your love to lay any of them on you.”

Now, I’m not familiar with Twelfth Night, so I can’t really speak as to whether this is fitting, or if it’s yet another example of CC trying to show off her literary chops.

However, I’m only just now noticing the use of the name “Sebastian,” which is making me twitch.

Moving on.

The name of this chapter is Fire and Sword. And on looking that up, that phrase is used surprisingly often as titles. Wikipedia brings up two novels with that or similar titles – the 1884 Polish historical novel, With Fire and Sword, and a 2009 English historical novel, Fire and Sword.)

That’s mostly just fun trivia. This chapter has jack-all to do with either work, as near as I can tell.

On to the chapter itself.

For starters, we’re in Isabelle’s POV. So, if nothing else, this should be an interesting experience.

She, Alec, and Aline are at the Penhallow’s place, concerned that Jace is out. So, we’ve also gone back a bit, meaning we might actually get to see what happened to the city.

Alec isn’t too concerned, because apparently Jace is prone to wandering around when he gets upset. Isabelle points out that they aren’t in New York, so he might get lost, but Aline argues that he probably knows the city better than either of them. And I have to wonder why she’d think this – yes, Jace grew up in Shadowhunter land, but how much time did he actually spend in the city? I don’t know, and I doubt she does, either.

Un-Logic: 1

Wow. Been a while since I dropped one of those.

This is then followed up by a very weird bit of text. First, Isabelle compares herself very negatively to Alaine:

There were a lot of things [Isabelle] once would have envied Aline for – being small and delicately pretty, for one thing, not Amazonian and so tall in heels she towered over almost every boy she met.

See, this feels very much at odds with Isabelle’s behavior up until this book. At no point has she ever appeared to feel remotely awkward around guys – if anything, she’s the one who seems more willing to initiate. And I get that people are almost always their own worst critics, but has there ever been a point where Isabelle was described as being especially tall? And since when do guys not go for tall girls?

But then we hit this:

But then again, it was only recently that Isabelle had realized other girls weren’t just for envying, avoiding, or disliking.

Wow, CC. The hell is that about? I know we haven’t really gotten a chance to see Isabelle interacting with any female characters other than Clary, her mom, and maybe the Inquisitor, but really?

I mean, how am I supposed to deal with that?

Our “Heroes”: 1

Anyway, the ruby pendant around Isabelle’s neck suddenly pulses.

You remember that ruby pendant, right? The one that she was wearing back in chapter 1 of City of Bones? And that hasn’t been seen since? Almost as if CC completely forgot about it?

Well, now we get to learn what it’s deal it – it pulses when demons are nearby. Kinda like Sting with orcs, but less cool.

Despite knowing this, Isabelle decides to continue worrying about Jace, ignoring the very obvious warning that Something Is Wrong.

The three – sorry, four, because apparently Sebastian is here, too – talk some more about Jace and Clary. Because they literally have no lives outside those two. Sub-topics include where Clary is staying in town and why Clary got all huffy about Aline playing tonsil hockey with Jace while dancing around the fact that Clary and Jace very clearly want to bang.

Also, Isabelle is getting annoyed by Sebastian’s personality, because CC really sucks at foreshadowing. And apparently she also has really terrible taste in men:

[Isabelle] didn’t like boys who looked as if they never got mad about anything. In Isabelle’s world, rage equaled passion equaled a good time.

I’m really glad that Isabelle isn’t a real person, because I’m now 97.4% certain that if she were, she’d end up being found dead in a dumpster after having a “good time” with the wrong guy.

CC tries to cash-in some geek-cred by name-dropping the mang Max brought, and which Sebastian is reading. It’s Angel Sanctuary, by the way, which either indicates that CC knows her audience very well, or she did a Google search for “manga” + “angel” and went with the first option that included actual angels.

There’s very deliberate mention of a scar on Sebastian’s hand, in a “This Will Be Important” way, and then Max shows up and demands his comic back. Max also does not like Sebastian.

Sebastian goes off to fix some coffee, and Isabelle tries to give Max a talking-to about his behavior, and how he should really be in bed. Max mentions that some noise from up the hill woke him up, which makes me wonder just how deaf everyone else in the room must be. Also, Max apparently suffers from the kind of nearsightedness only found in comic books and cartoons.

Then Max asks if anyone ever climbs up the anti-demon towers, because he thought he saw someone doing that. He is promptly brushed off though, because again, CC is about as subtle as a brick through a window.

Speaking of which, it’s around this point that the plot comes crashing in through the window in the form of a big, scaly claw covered in blood, grabbing Aline and dragging her out. I guess we’ve established her purpose in this book – as the designated girly-girl, she is also the designated Damsel in Distress.

At least Isabelle doesn’t just stand there gawping. She grabs her whip – which I still think is a really stupid weapon to use – tells Sebastian to get weapons, and jumps out the window.

The streetlights are out, so Isabelle is a bit careful. Unfortunately, she’s unable to avoid the terrible world-building, because judging by the names of the nearby landmarks, they very blatantly don’t belong in a country between France and Germany, since they’re the “Oldcastle Bridge,” over the “Princewater canal.”

Shoddy World-building: 2

I know this count is stupid and nit-picky, but damnit, CC, if you wanted your magical angel-people to be from continental Europe, the least you could do is take a few minutes to find some linguistically appropriate names.

Isabelle manages to track down the demon, which is down by the canal, and is doing… something to Aline, certainly not killing her or eating her, because she’s still alive. And her blouse has been ripped open.

The demon wasn’t trying to kill Aline – not yet.

Remember, folks – this book is intended for a YA audience.

I’m going to move on because this book suddenly took a very dark and unnecessary turn.

For some stupid reason, Isabelle still doubts that this thing is actually a demon. Because demons can’t enter the city. Hey, denial isn’t just a river in Egypt, Isabelle.

Thankfully, this doesn’t last long. The demon turns to face Isabelle, and she goes all Bellmont on. Unsurprisingly, the demon is a coward, and it quickly tries to run. Straight into Aline. Who kills it with a knife.

Good for her.

But this doesn’t make up for all of… that [waves at preceding paragraphs], CC. You didn’t need to include that. You chose to include that.

And not surprisingly, Aline freaks out and runs off. Isabelle chases after her, up to Princewater Street.

Shoddy World-building: 3

Yes, I gave it another one. Wanna fight about it?

Up on street-level, things have gotten worse. More demons have shown up, and there’s bodies everywhere. And then we get this weird thought from Isabelle:

_All the adults were in the Guard. Down in the city were only children, the old, and the sick…

So, apparently “the old” and “the sick” don’t qualify as “adults” in Shadowhunter society. Or something.

But apparently Isabelle’s used up her ability to be an active protagonist, because instead of helping when she sees these demons attacking people, she just stands there. Then she looks up and sees that the magical anti-demon towers are no longer working.

End scene.

And while that’s a powerful image, I can’t quite ignore the fact that Isabelle literally went from badass warrior to completely helpless in a few paragraphs. I really don’t think CC gets how to do female protagonists as anything other than walking lamps.

Next scene, and we’re with Simon. So far, this chapter’s done very well in keeping me somewhat happy in regards to POV.

So, Simon’s neighbor has gone quiet, but Simon is still awake. Then there’s some screaming. But Simon isn’t sure if he actually heard it, or if he just imagined it. So he goes to check.

I honestly don’t know how much Simon expects to be able to see. I’ve kind of been under the impression that his window is more or less level with the ground. So, maybe he’ll see some feet running around?

But even from this poor vantage point, Simon notices that something’s off, so he tries to wake up Samuel, presumably to get an explanation. Luckily for Simon, he doesn’t need to bother – a couple of guards run past and helpfully exposit that the anti-demon wards are down, so at least a few of them are going to protect their families.

Simon tries to wake Samuel again, but he’s already up. Sam explains the fairly obvious – Valentine is attacking. He also commends Valentine for his timing, but really, it doesn’t require being a tactical genius to figure out that “attack while all the defenders are concentrated in one space” is a good strategy. I mean, the vikings pulled that off with Lindisfarne, and that was over a thousand years ago.

Simon then asks why some folks are abandoning the fortress. This is a stupid question, especially given that he literally just heard why some of the Shadowhunters are leaving – their families are down in the city.

Seriously, this is beyond thinking your audience is stupid, CC. This is thinking, “I literally have to spell out everything in excruciating detail.” Which does not speak well of how CC perceives her audience.

Prompted by this, Simon’s thoughts go from the Lightwoods, then to Jace, and then to Isabelle. Now, thinking about the Lightwoods in general, and even Isabelle specifically I’m fine with. But Jace? Why would Simon be just as or more worried about Jace? No, I will not buy, “he was nice to me very recently” as an argument.

So then we get one final question from Simon: since Samuel certainly warned the higher-ups about this, why weren’t they prepared? Why didn’t they expect this?

Answer: because the Shadowhunters are stupid, stubborn, and kinda racist.

Okay, here’s Samuel’s actual answer:

“Because the wards are their religion. Not to believe in the power of the wards is not to believe that they are special, chosen, and protected by the Angel. They might as well believe they’re just ordinary mundanes.”

I still think my answer is better.

Two quick counts, then we move on:

You Keep Using That Word: 1 (for “Angel”)

and

Our “Heroes”: 2

for the Shadowhunters as a whole. It doesn’t matter if it’s criticism, because it’s true.

Simon goes back to his window, and notices there’s smoke coming from the city. Samuel corrects him, saying that it’s probably the fortress that’s on fire. Simon points out that the guards or whoever left them in their cells. To which Samuel basically responds, “yeah, and?”

End scene.

Gotta say, that wasn’t terrible. Not great, but I’ve gotten through worse.

Back to Isabelle. Apparently there’s either been a time skip, or Isabelle went into shock, because Alec is shouting to get her attention. She might also be on the ground, but that’s unclear. Also, Alec has his bow.

Alec says they need to get inside, and asks where Aline is. And apparently there has been a bit of a time skip, because now all the demons are gone. Isabelle explains what happened to Aline, and then moves on to wondering how demons got into the city.

Alec mentions that there were a few “Oni demons” in the area, but he chased them off, but they still should get moving.

Shoddy World-building: 4

“Oni demons”? Really, CC? Isn’t that just a tad redundant?

They get back to the Penhallow’s place, and Isabelle sees some woman sobbing on the front steps of the neighbors’ house. Then a tentacle comes out from between the houses and grabs said woman. Isabelle starts to go rescue her, only for Alec to stop her.

Our “Heroes”: 3

I get that there’s a lot of bad, crazy shit going down, so we can’t save everyone, but that doesn’t mean ignoring someone in danger when they’re right in front of you.

Inside, the lights are out, and Sebastian’s nailing logs from the fireplace over the hole in the window. I’m fairly certain that CC has never performed or seen construction done, because I honestly don’t think that would work well. Better to just pile up furniture instead. Max is on the floor, being remarkably calm for a terrified child.

Sebastian asks about Aline, and Isabelle blames herself for Aline running off. Alec tells her not to, and takes charge, giving out assignments – Isabelle will take care of Max, Sebastian will secure the house, and he’ll go find Aline. Isabelle insists on going with him, but Alec shoots her down with a mix of sound reasoning and “I’m the oldest, so I’m in charge.” I’m not gonna complain, because at least this is being proactive.

Sebastian pulls out his not-wand and says he’ll put up wards around the house.

You Keep Using That Word: 2 (“Stele” and “Mark”)

Alec leaves, and Max points out that Isabelle’s wrist is bleeding. So Isabelle goes upstairs to get her not-wand, then help out setting up the wards.

You Keep Using That Word: 3 (“Stele”)

As she goes upstairs, Isabelle notices how tired she is. And apparently there’s also an “energy Mark.”

You Keep Using That Word: 4

Shoddy World-building: 5

CC, you can’t just decide that there’s a magic rune for everything. We’ve established in this chapter that Shadowhunters drink coffee. Just say she needs some coffee.

Isabelle goes through her stuff, finding her not-wand and a few extra not-lightsabers as well.

You Keep Using That Word: 6 (“Stele”)

She also spends a minute or two thinking about how this isn’t the first time she’s had to watch Alec run off to risk his life. And we actually get some interesting character stuff – Isabelle is a bit jealous of Clary, Simon, and by implication most non-Shadowhunters, because they don’t have to deal with the very real possibility of their loved ones dying on a regular basis.

Now if only we got something similar from any other Shadowhunters.

Isabelle heads back downstairs, and notices something’s off, because Sebastian and Max have disappeared. It must have been pretty sudden, because Sebastian only got half-way through what he was doing.

You Keep Using That Word: 7 (“Mark”)

Isabelle calls out for Sebastian, and he answers from the kitchen. She heads into the kitchen, failing to notice how dark it is. Sebastian is very apologetic, then hits Isabelle with a hammer.

End scene.

Yeah, can’t say I’m surprised that Sebastian is evil. I just wish it was more of a revelation to some of the characters.

Next scene is with Alec. He’s running around, searching for Aline. It’s mentioned that he’s leaving the “Princewater district” and entering the city center.

Shoddy World-building: 6

The scene around him is compared to a Bosch painting. While I get the analogy, and it’s certainly a good one, I’m not sure Alec would be making it. He’s not the “art” person, after all.

Anyway, there’s lots of people running and screaming, much property damage, you get the gist. Also, people in this city are amazingly callous, shoving Alec out of their way to run past him. But then, Alec isn’t really doing much better.

And I want to take this chance to do a quick sidebar. Part of me can’t help but wonder if all this sudden violence and gore isn’t CC’s attempt to show how “mature” her writing can be. Except that she seems to have fallen into the same trap that a lot of comic writers in the 90s fell into – thinking that violence and gore somehow made a work “mature.” It doesn’t. The later Harry Potter books were very mature, but that’s because they were dealing with very mature topics, like death, changing relationships, and realizing that people you looked up to as a child are flawed.

This, on the other hand, isn’t that. This is just juvenile gore and violence. It’s “mature” in the same way the original Mortal Kombat game was.

Back to sporking.

We get a nice character bit with Alec – as the only Lightwood kid with any memories of the city – recalling what it was like, and the effect seeing it like this is having on him.

See, that’s mature writing.

Alec turns a corner and sees some demons running off, leaving a body behind. Alec checks the body, finds it’s no one he knows, but still shudders. In all, another decent character moment.

Then Alec hears something and decides to exercise the better part of valour, jumps through a nearby window, and climbs to the house’s roof. Once there, he looks out on the city, treating us to a description of the chaos. And again, it’s fine. CC is a very visual writer, and is pretty good at describing vistas.

From his vantage point, Alec can see Shadowhunters coming down from the Guard to face the demon horde. About damn time, too.

Alec decides to take advantage of how close the roofs are and uses them to move, rather than going back to street level. He somehow unintentionally makes his way towards the Accords Hall (how do you do that? Isn’t that one of the city’s major landmarks?) and notices magic sparks that he recognizes.

Keeps going, eventually reaching “Cistern Square.”

Shoddy World-building: 7

Does CC even know what a cistern is?

There, to the surprise of everyone except the reader, Alec finds Magnus, busily fighting off some demons. Alec drops down, doing a decent Ezio impersonation, and joins the fight. With his not-lightsaber. Because even though we’ve established that his weapon of choice is a bow, and he had his bow earlier, he’s never going to use it. Because bow’s aren’t heroic or something.

Also, the narration takes the time to go, “oh, if Jace were here, he’d say something super witty,” not once, but twice.

Both Hands, Ma’am: 2

Rapier Twit:2

That second one is on principle.

With the demons gone, Magnus and Alec start talking. Namely, about why Magnus hasn’t called Alec back.

Yes. The city is burning and demons are rampaging through the streets, and these two are talking about their relationship. Even Magnus notes how absurd this is.

This would be funny, except that the tone is so totally at odds with the rest of the chapter that it’s giving me whiplash.

We also get the “revelation” that Magnus is in love with Alec, because of all the times he’s helped out the idiots that are the protagonists of this series without charging them for the service.

CC, this is a really, really sloppy attempt to cover up just how much your characters have been taking advantage of Magnus, and I do not approve.

These two schmucks continue to discuss their relationship status right up until another approaching group of demons shows up.

Thankfully, that ends the scene, and the chapter.

Well, if nothing else, I didn’t have to deal with either Clary or Jace, so yay for small victories?

Counts

Both Hands, Ma’am: 2 (Total: 43)
Entirely Pointless: 0 (Total: 8)
Our “Heroes”: 3 (Total: 55)
Plot Hole: 0 (Total: 8)
Rapier Twit: 2 (Total: 4)
You Keep Using That Word: 7 (Total: 102)
Shoddy World Building: 7 (Total: 26)
No Shit Sherlock: 0 ( Total: 2)
A Word From Our Sponsors: 0 (Total: 7)

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Comment

  1. Aikaterini on 17 April 2019, 09:45 said:

    For starters, we’re in Isabelle’s POV. So, if nothing else, this should be an interesting experience.

    Clare is going to make her sound like Clary, isn’t she?

    But then again, it was only recently that Isabelle had realized other girls weren’t just for envying, avoiding, or disliking.

    Yep, I was right.

    Apparently, Clare is unable to write other types of teenage girls (just like she doesn’t seem to want to write other types of teenage boys, as suggested by the DT!Draco/Jace/Will type who keeps showing up in her books). Because, really, who does this sound like? First, Isabelle feels insecure about her looks like Clary does, even though, as you’ve pointed out, this seems OOC for her because she’s never acted like she’s insecure. Now all of a sudden, she has this thought that could just as easily come out of Clary’s brain. In fact, it has come out of Clary’s brain. Repeatedly. So, either A) Clare doesn’t realize how hypocritical this is making her look or B) she put this in to make Isabelle more ‘relatable.’

    “Yeah, that’s what teenage girls are like, right? They’re all insecure about their looks and they all hate other girls because they’re jealous of them! You can relate to Isabelle now, right? Right?”

    Seriously, imagine how ridiculous this would sound if a male protagonist was saying this:

    “But then again, it was only recently that [Harry] had realized other boys weren’t just for envying, avoiding, or disliking.”

    And if it was excused with “Well, that’s what teenage boys are like, LOL! They all hate each other because they’re all jealous of each other for being more good-looking!”

    Isabelle is getting annoyed by Sebastian’s personality, because CC really sucks at foreshadowing.

    And because, again, Clare seems to have no notion of double standards. Oh, Sebastian’s annoying, is he? What is he doing, Isabelle? Is he constantly bragging about how awesome he is? Is he insulting other people to boost his own ego? Is he using derogatory slurs to refer to someone? Is he ordering his love interest around? Is he throwing a tantrum because he’s not getting his way?

    You know, all of those things that Jace does that you don’t find annoying? That you tolerate or wink at?

    [Isabelle] didn’t like boys who looked as if they never got mad about anything. In Isabelle’s world, rage equaled passion equaled a good time.

    Sadly, this is consistent with Isabelle in previous books, she is, after all, the one who found it “kind of hot, that evil thing” when others were talking about Valentine. But, again, this is also consistent with Clary. She’s the one who described Jace as looking like the type of person who’d “burn down your house for kicks” and found absolutely nothing wrong with it.

    I don’t know if this is like what happened to Jacob Black in “Twilight”: where it was debatable whether his character was derailed in order to make Edward look better or because Stephenie Meyer genuinely thought that she was improving him. If this is supposed to make Isabelle look bad, then it’s the pot calling the kettle black. If it’s not, would it really be impossible for there to be a teenage female character who was totally uninterested in Jace’s type and who wasn’t bashed for it?

    It’s Angel Sanctuary, by the way

    Which is not an appropriate manga for someone of Max’s age to be reading.

    Remember, folks – this book is intended for a YA audience.

    As is a later book in the series, where a similar scene happens to another character for an infuriating reason. But yes, I really hope that this moment didn’t happen in order for Clare to ‘punish’ Aline for kissing Jace.

    But Jace? Why would Simon be just as or more worried about Jace?

    Because everything revolves around Jace and everyone must worship him, no matter who they are.

    Also, the narration takes the time to go, “oh, if Jace were here, he’d say something super witty,”

    Which would be completely inappropriate for the situation and make him look like an unfeeling idiot, so thank goodness he isn’t there.

    The city is burning and demons are rampaging through the streets, and these two are talking about their relationship.

    I think that sums up this series in a nutshell.

  2. The Smith of Lie on 18 April 2019, 14:36 said:

    The name of this chapter is Fire and Sword. And on looking that up, that phrase is used surprisingly often as titles. Wikipedia brings up two novels with that or similar titles – the 1884 Polish historical novel, With Fire and Sword, and a 2009 English historical novel, Fire and Sword.)

    I just want to add that “With Fire and Sword” is a pretty great novel, though I have no idea how good translations are. It suffers from a dose of values dissonance but it is considered a classic here in Poland. And the phrase itself mostly refers to a broadly understood tools of war/fighting, due to being set in a middle of Cossack rebellion, so both fire and swords were in common use.

    CC tries to cash-in some geek-cred by name-dropping the mang Max brought, and which Sebastian is reading. It’s Angel Sanctuary, by the way, which either indicates that CC knows her audience very well, or she did a Google search for “manga” + “angel” and went with the first option that included actual angels.

    Given the role of incest in “Angel Sanctuary” plot I’d say its the first one. Hell, if it was brought up in a skillfull manner I’d applaud the choice as relevant to the obvious overtones the series has.

    Isabelle manages to track down the demon, which is down by the canal, and is doing… something to Aline, certainly not killing her or eating her, because she’s still alive. And her blouse has been ripped open.

    The demon wasn’t trying to kill Aline – not yet.

    Great, now I expect tentacles to get involved into the debacle somehow…

    For some stupid reason, Isabelle still doubts that this thing is actually a demon. Because demons can’t enter the city.

    Yeah. We have seen how great the wards are when Luke just walked inside without any problems…

    Simon tries to wake Samuel again, but he’s already up. Sam explains the fairly obvious – Valentine is attacking. He also commends Valentine for his timing, but really, it doesn’t require being a tactical genius to figure out that “attack while all the defenders are concentrated in one space” is a good strategy. I mean, the vikings pulled that off with Lindisfarne, and that was over a thousand years ago.

    That’s defamation!

    They get back to the Penhallow’s place, and Isabelle sees some woman sobbing on the front steps of the neighbors’ house. Then a tentacle comes out from between the houses and grabs said woman. Isabelle starts to go rescue her, only for Alec to stop her.

    Odin damn it! I knew it!

    This would be funny, except that the tone is so totally at odds with the rest of the chapter that it’s giving me whiplash.

    And yet it is perfectly consistent with the general way the books in series are.

  3. Juracan on 21 April 2019, 17:57 said:

    And – here’s the exciting part – my story got on the short list. The next round of story picks is at the end of April, so even if my story doesn’t make it, it could do well in other markets.

    WOOT! Good luck, man!

    [Isabelle] didn’t like boys who looked as if they never got mad about anything. In Isabelle’s world, rage equaled passion equaled a good time.

    …what? This feels very strange for a character to think? Like I sort of get the idea behind it, and if you knew someone for a long time and he or she never got upset about anything, I understand that being sort of unsettling. But as a first impression to someone you barely know, I agree with Apep’s point—saying “I don’t like this guy because he never gets angry” sounds weirdly sociopathic.

    There’s very deliberate mention of a scar on Sebastian’s hand, in a “This Will Be Important” way,

    Ah, unsubtle foreshadowing. Or, as I like to call it, foreshouting.

    I hate it.

    Isabelle manages to track down the demon, which is down by the canal, and is doing… something to Aline, certainly not killing her or eating her, because she’s still alive. And her blouse has been ripped open.

    Uh….

    I’m always uncomfortable when rape is introduced into a story for cheap drama. I’m not saying that I can’t read a book in which there is rape, but I don’t like it being done cheaply. Apep can correct me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t think there was anything like this in any of the previous books of the series, and it reads here, from Apep’s recounting, like it’s just another bit of danger to tell the readers “THIS IS SERIOUS GUYZ.” Which, like, we knew from her being dragged out by a giant demon hand. We didn’t need the implication of rape to be there for us to get that. And I don’t know for sure, but I suspect it won’t come up again.

    “Oni demons”? Really, CC? Isn’t that just a tad redundant?

    I’m more lenient on this one, because there are many kinds of demons in this setting, and it’s consistent with how the Shadowhunters refer to other kinds of demons too. So on this, at least, I give her a pass. But as you’re the one doing the actual reading, I’d get it if you didn’t feel any lenience towards CC.

    I get that there’s a lot of bad, crazy shit going down, so we can’t save everyone, but that doesn’t mean ignoring someone in danger when they’re right in front of you.

    Yeah, but main characters are more important than puny mortals, doncha know?

    Yes. The city is burning and demons are rampaging through the streets, and these two are talking about their relationship.

    That’s how this series rolls!

    No, seriously. I think the people I know who like these books have admitted that the they like the general plot, and they love the world that it’s set in, but they’re frustrated by how it’s often bogged down with relationship drama. But nope, that’s what CC’s gotta cater to because Reasons!

    I would say this feels like CC showing her fanfiction roots, but I don’t read that much fanfic so I really couldn’t say for sure. But that’s the reputation fanfic has.

    I just want to add that “With Fire and Sword” is a pretty great novel, though I have no idea how good translations are. It suffers from a dose of values dissonance but it is considered a classic here in Poland. And the phrase itself mostly refers to a broadly understood tools of war/fighting, due to being set in a middle of Cossack rebellion, so both fire and swords were in common use.

    I also recognized the title, ‘cause I just finished another book by the same author. It was The Teutonic Knights. I had… some mixed feelings, but liked it overall. I’m curious about his other books, but right now I’m taking a break from big books—I’ve read several in a row, so I need to slow down a bit.

    Also I had a Lindisfarne comment, but Smith beat me to it.

  4. Lunafreya on 23 April 2019, 08:08 said:

    Aikaterini: As is a later book in the series, where a similar scene happens to another character for an infuriating reason

    Juracan: I’m always uncomfortable when rape is introduced into a story for cheap drama.

    I’ve been looking at some old Tumblr posts, and it appears that people accused CC of using Sebastian’s attempted rape of Clary for cheap drama, and she hit back at them, saying the scene had two functions: to assassinate Sebastian’s character and to show how strong Clary is. I think some fans thought he was evil, but still redeemable, and the heinousness of trying to rape his sister was supposed to say: No, he can’t be redeemed.

    I mean, Sebastian has murdered dozens of innocent people, and that’s not enough? He’s only utterly irredeemable when he tries to hurt Clary? I know she’s the main character, but that doesn’t mean the laws of morality in the books should revolve around her (or Jace).

    The thing about Clary being “strong” is even more problematic. CC said that Clary didn’t let the attempted rape make her scared or sad, that she was stronger than that. And that her wanting to be intimate with Jace shortly after it happened meant that she wasn’t letting Sebastian have any control over her body. This is incredibly insulting to real-life rape survivors; she’s basically saying that if you’ve been sexually assaulted, and this traumatic experience upsets you, it means you are weak.

  5. Aikaterini on 23 April 2019, 09:49 said:

    Lunafreya: saying the scene had two functions: to assassinate Sebastian’s character

    Yep. Here’s the quote:

    “The incestuous sexual assault in City of Lost Souls is committed by the villain, a child murderer who is planning genocide and is obsessed with control and power. While the scene is certainly upsetting and could be triggering, it is there to show that this character is beyond sympathy or redemption, and for the most part, that’s the reaction I’ve seen – “I tried to like Sebastian but then he tried to rape Clary and I hate his guts now.”’

    Apparently, Cassandra Clare has fallen into the Terry Goodkind camp of “To make sure that the reader knows that your villains are evil: make them rapists! That’s a sure way to distinguish them from your ‘heroes!‘”

    Lunafreya: I mean, Sebastian has murdered dozens of innocent people, and that’s not enough?

    Well, think about it. What has this series been saying this entire time about Jace? He’s a racist and narcissistic psychopath who takes glee in insulting people and killing monsters, but that’s okay because he’s hot and because he has a tragic backstory. Oh, and you’re also supposed to find him cool for being a ‘daredevil’ who likes to kill things.

    What do we know about Sebastian? He’s hot, he likes to kill things, and he has a tragic backstory. And yet somehow you’re not supposed to find him cool for that.

    “Oh, but at least Jace didn’t kill people!” No, but (as the narrative conveniently keeps forgetting about and sweeping under the rug) he almost killed Luke’s entire pack in “City of Ashes.” And what stopped him? Did he have a epiphany and realize, “My God, what am I doing?” Did he restrain himself in time?

    No. Luke showed up. Jace only stopped because someone interrupted him. In the story, it was Luke. But on a meta level, it was the author. The only reason that Jace didn’t slaughter Maia and her friends was because of authorial contrivance. There was nothing that Clare established about his character that would indicate that he would’ve stopped otherwise. There was nothing that indicated that he felt remorseful or horrified about what happened. The only reason why he didn’t kill people was because the author didn’t let him. It’s the same reason why Jace hasn’t joined up with Valentine (although he almost did in the first book, another little fact that’s been conveniently swept under the rug).

    Cassandra Clare has spent this whole series constantly excusing Jace’s actions and she was surprised that some of her fans used the exact same logic to like Sebastian? “No, don’t like this hot and murderous bad boy with a tragic backstory! You’re only supposed to like this hot and murderous bad boy with a tragic backstory!”

    Lunafreya: CC said that Clary didn’t let the attempted rape make her scared or sad

    What a crock. First of all, Clary is as strong as a limp noodle. As soon as you put Jace’s ‘dazzling’ looks in front of her, she crumbles and is oblivious to everything else. Second of all, the real reason why Clary reacted the way she did was because the sexual assault was just a plot device. It’s all about the first reason that Clare gave: she wanted to make her villain look bad. Which means that the scene didn’t have anything to do with Clary, it was all about a male character. Gee, where have we seen that before?