Monday, 6 September 2010

76-78: "The Mortal Instruments trilogy" by Cassandra Clare

Book 1: City of Bones
Book 2: City of Ashes
Book 3: City of Glass

Publisher: McElderry
Total page count: 1584 pages
Date begun: August 20th, 2010
Date finished: August 25th, 2010

WARNING! CONTAINS SPOILERS!

Clarissa "Clary" Fray's life changes one evening when she and her best friend Simon are at a night club, and she sees three mysteriously tattooed teenagers killing another teen, who then disappears right in front of her eyes. She finds out that the three are Shadowhunters, they keep the world safe from demons, and Clary, a mundane, should not have been able to see them or the demon boy they killed. Simon did not see a thing, and wonders why she is acting so strangely. Not long after the incident in the night club, Clary's mother Joscelyn disappears, and it becomes clear that demons took her. Clary manages to kill one of the demons, and Jace, one of the Shadowhunter boys, is very curious as to how a seemingly normal human can do all these things.

Of course Clary is not as normal as she first seemed, and she discovers that her mother was in fact a Shadowhunter, and that the reason she was abducted is because she is the only one who knows the whereabouts of the Mortal Cup, a mystical artifact that is needed to create more Shadowhunters. Valentine, a crazy and dangerous Shadowhunter, believed killed in an epic battle many years before, is apparently very much alive and he wants the Mortal Cup to create his own army of Shadowhunters, so he can rid the world of all Downworlders (werewolves, vampires, warlocks and fairies). Clary needs to figure out why she has a massive mental block in her head, and discover a way to rescue her mother from Valentine.

In City of Ashes, Clary has discovered the identity of her father, and the existence of a brother. She has rescued her mother from Valentine, but Joscelyn is still in a deep coma. Clary is living with Luke, an old friend of her mother's, former Shadowhunter and leader of the local werewolf pack. Jace is under suspicion by the Shadowhunter Inquisitor and mistrusted by his foster parents since Valentine has been revealed to be his father. Valentine needs to get the Soul-Sword, the second of the Mortal Instruments, and he also needs the blood of four Downworlder children to turn it into a weapon only he controls. He wants Jace to join him in his purification of the Shadowhunters, and is not well pleased when Jace refuses. Clary tries to fight her feelings for Jace and seeing if she can return Simon's feelings, but after an unfortunate incident in the court of the Queen of the Fairies, it becomes obvious to everyone that Clary only really loves Jace, and Simon runs off and does something rather stupid as a result. When he and one of the young werewolves in Luke's pack get captured by Valentine, Clary has no choice but to risk her life once again to save her friends.

In City of Glass, Clary needs to go to the main Shadowhunter city, Alicante, to see a warlock in order to wake her mother from her coma. Jace doesn't want her to come with him and the Lightwoods, as he is afraid of what the Shadowhunter ruling council will do when they discover Clary's unusual powers. He asks Simon for help to keep Clary in New York, but the Institute is attacked, and Jace is forced to drag Simon through the portal to Alicante to prevent him from being killed. Clary is furious when she realizes the Lightwoods left without her, and manages to open her own portal. Luke follows her, trying to protect her.

Once in Alicante, Clary stays with Luke's sister, and tries to find the spell that can rescue her mother. She doesn't know that Simon is in the city, and has been put in prison by the new Inquisitor, believed to be an ally of Valentine's. Jace is not happy to see her, and she is not happy to see Jace kissing another girl. She makes the acquaintance of a young, handsome Shadowhunter named Sebastian Verlac, who offers to help her, but it turns out to be Jace who can help her find the spell book she needs to wake Joscelyn. In the basement of the estate where Valentine raised Jace, they discover Valentine's abandoned library, and realize the extent of the experiments he performed. On the way back to Alicante, they realize that the city is in flames, Valentine has managed to break the seals of protection, and demons are swarming all over the place. Now they have to stop him from summoning the angel Raziel out of the lake outside Alicante, and ending life as they know it.

The Mortal Instruments trilogy is very entertaining and I'm sorry I waited to so long to read them (mainly put off by the Stephenie Meyer quote on the cover). I guess I was afraid they'd be just another Twilight ripoff. They're not. The trilogy reminds me more of Buffy the Vampire Slayer crossed with Star Wars than anything else, with impossible love affairs, love triangles, a myriad of supernatural creatures, wise-cracking teenage heroes and heroines, evil parents, long-lost siblings, unrequited crushes and the like. Much of the plot is quite cliched, but still greatly enjoyable, and I was very eager to reach the conclusion and see if everything ended the way I wanted it to. Apparently Cassandra Clare started out writing fan fiction, and if you've read some of it, these books are rather derivative. I'm glad to say that as someone unfamiliar with her fan fic, these books were an entirely new experience for me, and I will probably be reading both the prequel trilogy she is writing about the Shadowhunters, and the sequel trilogy, where City of Fallen Angels is set to come out in April 2011.

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