Hello folks. In an effort to get through this book faster, I started on this a day or so after posting the last one.

And then my computer’s power supply crapped out. So for about 4 days, I couldn’t use my desktop.

Though to be fair, I could still have used my laptop, but I guess I’m just a bit set in my ways. But now my computer’s working again, and this shouldn’t be an issue any further.

And now, a quick recap.

So last time, not a whole lot happened. Mostly Valentine showed up to give a big villain speech to the few folks who didn’t decide to run for the hills after the demon horde left. His arguments were stupid and irrational, but that’s not surprising. His demands were absurd and probably just an excuse for him to go forward with his plan anyway.

Oh, and there was an actual bit of really good, enjoyable writing from a minor supporting character. Kinda like this bit from Molly Weasley in Deathly Hallows (mostly the line, but the fight’s good too):

So, on to chapter 14.

The title is “In the Dark Forest.” Your guess is as good as mine if it’s because the characters go to a forest, CC is trying to be metaphorical, or if it’s supposed to be a reference to something.

We start with Jace, and he’s being his usual sociopathic self. Just in case anyone needed reminding:

“Well, how about that,” said Jace […] “A guy attends the funeral of his nine-year-old brother and misses all the fun.”

Wow, dude. Just… wow.

Our “Heroes”: 1

Rapier Twit: 1

I mean, that’s so horrible that even Alec thinks it was in bad taste.

Speaking of, we’ve moved to the house the Lightwoods have taken over, and apparently the owners left out a bowl of chocolates. Clary ate a few, and the narration helpfully informs us that they were gross. Because that’s where her priorities are. Clary also thinks the owners are cowards because they left “when things got tough.”

Girl, a horde of demons rampaged through the city while you and your would-be boyfriend were off strolling through the countryside. I think they’re justified in getting the hell out of Dodge. Assuming they’re still alive, that is.

Our “Heroes”: 2

Jace is entirely clueless about what he might have said to offend Alec, because he’s a sociopath. We also get a description of his clothes, though there’s at least some relevance here – since Shadowhunters wear black all the time, their mourning color is white. Not that this stops Clary from thinking about how it makes Jace look like, “an angel. Albeit one of the avenging kind.”

Both Hands, Ma’am: 1

And I’m not surprised when it’s Simon who asks a pertinent question – namely, how the hell did Valentine manage to kill Aldertree like that, since he was a hologram.

Clary gives a very abbreviated description of what Valentine did, including a mention of there being a lot of blood. So of course, Jace makes a snarky comment about it to Simon.

Our “Heroes”: 3

Rapier Twit: 2

Simon ignores this, because he’s the much bigger man here. And then, as if to prove how humor actually works, compares being Inquisitor to being the drummer for Spinal Tap.

Which, I admit is a joke that people under a certain age probably aren’t likely to make, but I’ll allow it.

Ma and Pa Lightwood are still up at the necropolis, and Isabelle hasn’t left her room, because she feels guilty. She didn’t even come to the funeral.

Simon asks if they’ve tried talking to her, which makes Jace mad. But to be honest, I’m with Simon, because it really wouldn’t surprise me if “talk to the girl who feels responsible for her brother’s murder” hadn’t actually occured to Jace.

Alec decides they should at least tell Isabelle about not-Sebastian, and how no one noticed anything odd about him. Jace interjects with this:

“_I_ thought he was a knob.”

When did Jace suddenly become British?

Jace, authorial fiat does not count as intuition.

Alec starts to explain this to Jace, but stops, because pointing out any flaws Jace has is verboten.

Clary voices some skepticism that Valentine would committ genocide on all Shadowhunters, but Jace makes a good point by noting he had no problem with experimenting on his own children, so nothing’s really off the table. Also, Jace hasn’t said anything about the angel Valentine had chained up in his basement. And Clary doesn’t mention this because… reasons.

Conversation moves on to the forensics of not-Sebastian. They’ve tried some tracking spells on his stuff, but apparently it all belonged to the real Sebastian, because none of the spells do anything, because you can’t track a dead person.

And apparently the Shadowhunter leadership either knew about the last MacGuffin, or Hodge blabbed about his little theory, because they’ve placed guards on the main routes to the lake, and set up stuff to tell them in anyone just pops into the area. Of course, they’ve only blocked the roads, so there’s nothing to stop someone going cross-country, so they’re still kinda morons.

Simon asks yet another pertinent question (he’s really on a roll today) – why, after killing Max and knocking out Isabelle, didn’t not-Sebastian just book it? Why come along on the rescue mission? Clary says it’s because of her. And, unfortunately, she’s right.

Clary dodges around talking about her maybe-kinda-sorta date with not-Sebastian, and mentions how not-Sebastian was trying really hard to get Clary to come outside with him. Jace figures he wanted to bring Clary to Valentine, but Clary insists that Valentine has only ever been interested in Jace. So Jace brings up the whole, “sank a boat single-handed” thing Clary did at the end of the last book, and suggests Clary lock herself in her room.

This is supposedly him being “protective,” by the way.

Clary elects to show some actual spine, and says no. Jace, being the narcissistic asshole that he is, assumes it’s to make him miserable. Clary points out that not everything is about him, and we get this line from Jace:

“Possibly,” Jace said, “but you have to admit that the majority of things are.”

One moment, please.

Okay, that’s a bit better.

First, this:

Our “Heroes”: 4

Second, I’m actually pretty certain that this is supposed to be “endearing” or something. Because nothing makes me like a character more than them being a self-centered douchebag.

Moving on, if only for the sake of my blood pressure.

Simon suggests that he go up and talk to Isabelle. Alec asks why, since she won’t even talk to her family, and Simon points out that that fact might her more willing to open up to him. I assume that he means that his presence won’t make her feel guilty, but he doesn’t elaborate.

Clary thinks about all the shit Simon’s been through, and how he’s changed – namely, that he’s a lot more confident than he used to be. And of course, she misses the old Simon. By which I assume she means the one who would bend over backwards to please her.

Our “Heroes”: 5

Clary points out that it’s getting late in a blatant attempt to manipulate Simon, but Jace steps in and offers to walk her back. And then there’s this incredibly awkward bit where he makes a joke about Simon being able to see in the dark because Vampire, and Alec doesn’t realize that until about two seconds later, and it’s all just really dumb.

End scene.

Next scene jumps to Clary and Jace walking to Amatis’s place. Clary is, unsurprisingly, fawning over and staring at Jace the whole time, because that’s what she does when it’s just the two of them.

Both Hands, Ma’am: 2

When they do start talking, it’s about why Valentine killed Aldertree instead of Luke, and quickly moves to the relationship between Luke and Valentine. Unfortunately, it’s not in the ‘they were totally gay for each other’ aspect of it. Jace points out that both of them tried to get the Shadowhunter leadership to change, but doesn’t point out the obvious difference, i.e. that one of them wanted the Clave to be even more violent and oppressive to Downworlders, while the other is working for the exact opposite.

It’s like comparing Hitler to Gandhi by saying they both worked to help their respective countries. Yes, technically you’re right, but there’s such a complete lack of nuance that there’s not much point in continuing the conversation.

Clary brings up how Luke and Valentine used to be friends. Jace quotes something, because he’s a pretentious ass like that (it’s Christabel) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, for those interested, though I doubt there’s any real connection), and basically says that’s kinda why Valentine hates Luke so much. As for why Val didn’t off Luke, Jace figures he’s got some other plan for Luke.

Clary moves the topic to the coming fight, claiming that Valentine can’t win, because he’ll be up against Shadowhunters and Downworlders. Jace is somewhat skeptical of the two groups working together, though. Then he gets all mopy, and we get this bit of narration:

Despair, anger, hate. These are demon qualities. He’s acting the way he thinks he should act.

Yes, because Jace has just been such an up-beat optimist before. And since when are despair, anger, and hate “demon qualities”? This isn’t Star Wars, CC – Jace isn’t going to suddenly fall to the Dark Side because he started whining.

Finally, they reach Amatis’s house, so this scene is almost over.

But then, the author’s hand descends to provide a way to progress the plot. Jace notices there’s blood on Clary’s sleeve. But it’s not Clary’s blood. And Clary realizes that it’s not-Sebastian’s blood!

So the “we don’t have a way of finding not-Sebastian” subplot lasted all of five minutes. Not that I’m surprised, but still.

But of course we don’t go rushing off to tell anyone about this. Oh, no. Instead, Jace surreptitiously snags a single blood-stained thread, because keeping important stuff secret from Clary has worked out so very well for him lately.

Anyway, that’s the end of that scene.

The next scene is from Simon’s POV, so right off the bat it’s better than the last scene. He’s at Isabelle’s door, asking to be let in.

There’s a good bit of back and forth between Isabelle and Simon: she says she doesn’t want to talk to him or Clary; Simon says Clary isn’t there, and he’s not leaving until they talk; Isabelle yells for Alec and Jace to get rid of Simon; Simon explains that he’s up there alone.

I know it’s not much, but I like that Isabelle requires at least some convincing to let Simon in. Which she does.

Isabelle’s looking a bit rough – hair is a tangled mess, and no makeup. Again, it’s not much, but given how much pride she seems to take in her appearance, this is a nice, understated way to convey how she’s responding to this situation. Her room is also a mess, with clothes scattered around the floor.

Isabelle sits down on the bed and asks Simon what he wants. The narration follows Simon’s thoughts, noting the various light scar marks all over Isabelle’s skin. And, unsurprisingly, his thoughts drift to Clary, and if she’ll eventually look the same. Is this really the time to be thinking about Clary?

Both Hands, Ma’am: 3

Isabelle starts to open up, but for some reason, decides to discuss Jace’s relationship with Max, rather than her own. She shows Simon a toy soldier that Jace had when he was a kid, and which he eventually gave to Max. How is this relevant? Well, uh, Max had it in his hand when they found his body?

Yeah, I don’t get it, either. Isabelle spends more time explaining the toy’s origins than its relevance to the topic at hand. Maybe this is CC’s way of showing that Jace really did like Max, because it’s not like we got to see much interaction between them in the book and a half that we knew of Max’s existence.

Anyway, Isabelle starts getting into her perceived failures leading up to Max’s death, including brushing off Max’s claims of seeing someone climbing the anti-demon towers. Simon does a decent job of pointing out that it’s not her fault, because no one else suspected a thing.

Then Simon starts opening up, discussing his father’s death, and thinking about stuff he should have done, even though there was nothing he could do. Isabelle doesn’t quite buy it, especially when it turns out that Simon’s dad died of a heart attack, so there really was nothing he could have done about it.

And then something completely out of left field happens. Isabelle, for no discernable reason, decides to jump Simon’s bones. Why? Because she, “needs to be distracted.”

I mean, I kinda get it, but this does not strike me as healthy behavior.

Also, I’m not quite sure if this qualifies as slut-shaming, or if it’s just CC’s weird Madonna-Whore thing going off again.

But that’s the end of that scene. Never thought I’d be happy to see the end of a Simon POV scene.

The next scene has us back in Clary’s head. And oh, boy, it’s a doozy. But at least it’s the last scene of the chapter.

Clary’s lying in bed, still awake. She expressed some concern over Simon when he didn’t show up for dinner, which I guess is fair, but so is Luke basically going, “he’s not a child, drop it.”

And then Jace climbs in through her window, because that’s not incredibly creepy and invasive.

Clary rightfully asks what he’s doing in her room, and gives some vague explanation about being restless and constantly finding himself walking back here. Because that doesn’t sound creepy and stalker-ish at all.

After a bit of dancing around a real answer, we finally get one – Jace is feeling all angsty about their whole incest thing. He’s feeling kinda messed up because he really wants to boink her, but again, incest.

And the whole conversation is so fraught with so much over-the-top, soap opera-esque angst that I’d probably be dinging every other line. So instead, I’m just going to drop five of these and move on.

Both Hands, Ma’am: 8

Honestly, that’s really all this scene is – Jace and Clary talking about how much they really, truly, deeply love each other, but how they can’t indulge in it, because it would be wrong.

I swear, if Game of Thrones had been a soap opera, the scenes between Jamie and Cersei couldn’t possibly have been anywhere near this over-wrought.

Finally, Jace just comes out and says that, what with Valentine’s ultimatum, this might be their last night alive, and he wants to spend it with Clary.

But not like that, oh no. Because theirs is a more pure, more true love than that. To which I respond, pull the other one, CC. I didn’t buy that whole “courtly love” crap from Thomas Malory, so why the hell would I buy it from you?

(Side note: Dinadan and Palamedes) are the best characters in the story of Tristram, and I will fight you if you say otherwise.)

Anyway, Clary agrees – big surprise there. But not before we get this wonderful line:

There was nothing she had ever wanted in her life more than she wanted this night with Jace.

When I was taking notes, I wrote down that 453 people had highlighted that sentence. Here’s my actual response to seeing that:

Okay, just a bit more to go.

Jace gets into bed – remaining dressed, of course – and they both lie there. The chapter ends with Clary holding Jace’s hand as she falls asleep, with the narration describing it as “like children in a fairy tale.”

Because who doesn’t think of incest when they think of fairy tales?

Seriously, you can’t go from “I really want to have sex with you, even though you’re my sister” to “oh, they’re just so innocent and pure,” like that. It just doesn’t work.

So that was chapter 14. And while I can’t say it’s the absolute worst chapter I’ve done so far, that’s hardly great praise. The few good bits don’t really balance out the bad bits.

I’ll see you folks for chapter 15. Hopefully I won’t have more technical problems getting in the way.

Counts

Both Hands, Ma’am: 8 (Total: 60)
Entirely Pointless: 0 (Total: 11)
Our “Heroes”: 5 (Total: 72)
Plot Hole: 0 (Total: 11)
Rapier Twit: 2 (Total: 8)
You Keep Using That Word: 0 (Total: 103)
Shoddy World Building: 0 (Total: 27)
No Shit Sherlock: 0 ( Total: 2)
A Word From Our Sponsors: 0 (Total: 8)

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Comment

  1. Aikaterini on 30 August 2019, 09:44 said:

    Wow, dude. Just… wow.

    Keep in mind, not only is this a little kid that he’s talking about, this is a little kid that Jace grew up with. This is the little kid who was supposed to be Jace’s Morality Pet, whom he was described as regarding with ‘protective fierceness’ or something like that. Well, good to know that that was all a sham so that Clare could try to make Jace ‘witty’ again.

    Yeah, tell me more about how evil Sebastian is for killing Max, when our supposed heroes couldn’t give a rat’s rear that he’s dead. Could the narrative make it any more obvious that the only reason why Max died was to make the villain look bad?

    Jace is entirely clueless about what he might have said to offend Alec, because he’s a sociopath.

    And a complete and total moron. Yes, this is your dreamboat, readers, someone who makes jokes about a little kid after they’ve been killed and is clueless as to why his relatives are upset.

    When did Jace suddenly become British?

    Since Clare stopped trying to hide the fact that Jace is really her sociopathic version of Draco in the Draco Trilogy. What’s funny is that Jace is played by an English actor who keeps his accent in the movie, but in the TV series, Sebastian’s actor is English.

    Second, I’m actually pretty certain that this is supposed to be “endearing” or something. Because nothing makes me like a character more than them being a self-centered douchebag.

    I have to wonder if Clare committed a Freudian slip or she’s just being brazenly honest here. Yes, everything in this series revolves around Jace. So, why is Clary the protagonist again?

    Is this really the time to be thinking about Clary?

    Of course, because everything revolves around Jace and Clary. Everyone must pale in comparison to them.

    But not like that, oh no. Because theirs is a more pure, more true love than that.

    Oh, yeah, sure. The guy who casually macked on a fairy waitress for the heck of it in “City of Bones” is just going to lie down there chastely with Clary without any development or growth that led to this point. Yes, the fairy waitress wasn’t related to him, but given how selfish and entitled Jace is, I don’t buy that he would be satisfied with only lying down next to Clary without trying to get at least a kiss or something.

    How on earth does this match up with what just happened in this chapter? There is just no consistency with this character. He’s whatever Clare wants him to be. One minute Jace is a sociopathic idiot who callously jokes about a dead child, the next he’s a racist and overbearing jerk who mocks Simon and keeps things from Clary, and now he’s meant to be a courtly gentleman who’s satisfied with just holding Clary’s hand in bed while they wait for tomorrow.

    Basically, he suffers from the same problem that the characters in the Star Wars prequels did: he’s just a puppet who does whatever the plot/writer wants him to do. Clare wants to write a romantic scene between Jace and Clary? Okay, Jace is sweet now. Clare wants to show off how ‘witty’ and ‘devil-may-care’ Jace is? Have him make spiteful and heartless quips to the other characters, because that counts as ‘suave’ in her book. Clare wants to show off what a hardcore fighter Jace is? Have him act like a psychopath when going after someone. Who cares about build-up or development or any of that nonsense? Just warp the characters into whatever you want them to be for a certain scene, then have them revert or switch back to their older selves in another scene without any explanation.

    with the narration describing it as “like children in a fairy tale.”

    Except that they are not children in a fairytale. They are hypocritical, insufferable narcissists who would do everybody a favor if they shut the heck up. There is nothing charming or sweet about either of them, so I don’t find this scene charming or sweet at all.

  2. Juracan on 2 September 2019, 07:35 said:

    When did Jace suddenly become British?

    Probably because that’s what Clare and her fanbase find hot. A lot of people think British people are just naturally more attractive for Reasons.

    Jace quotes something, because he’s a pretentious ass like that (it’s Christabel) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, for those interested, though I doubt there’s any real connection)

    Methinks this is another trait that I think was tacked on to make Jace seem more “dreamy”: being able to quote stuff you might read or heard of in high school English. He’s done this before, right? Yet Jace doesn’t really seem like the reading type. He certainly hasn’t picked up any depth from the reading he acts like he’s done.

    Seriously, you can’t go from “I really want to have sex with you, even though you’re my sister” to “oh, they’re just so innocent and pure,” like that. It just doesn’t work.

    Just reading about this relationship second hand, from the sporkings, makes me feel… gross. Why! Why do we need incest shipping? Yes, we know they’re not actually related, but they don’t know that, and it makes this whole thing disgusting to look at.

    …I feel like I need a shower now.