The Dark Artifices Two: The Lord of Shadows is not my favorite Shadowhunter tale

Spoilers….

Well, that was a lot to take in, and that ending was certainly a killer. Literally.LoS

Cassandra Clare, you can’t just drop the Clary-is-going-to-die-soon bomb on us, and then not mention it again in the remaining near 700 pages. Because once that exploded in my face, I couldn’t be bothered to care about Emma and Julian and their relationship woes. All I could focus on was that a member of one of my all-time favorite YA couples had portended her death. Clary and Jace, a couple who overcame pure evil multiple times to get their HEA, aren’t going to get it now? And you just drop that little doozy, send them on an impossible and highly dangerous mission into Faerie, and then don’t mention it again? WTF, Cassandra Clare?

Since I have many months to ponder and wonder over that, I guess I might as well get on with this review. I didn’t love Lord of Shadows. In fact, of all the Shadowhunter books I have read (and that would be all of them) this is my least favorite. The day this book was released, I eagerly opened it up and began reading with an intensity that few authors can elicit from me, but Clare did…for about 450 pages, which was about the time that I realized my reading pace had become glacial. I was bored with it. There was simply too much relationship drama and not enough momentum with the overall storyline. There was too much Christina and all her potential suitors. And who can forget the endless, angst-ridden saga of the Emma/Julian forbidden love? Their relationship doesn’t hold my attention. I said this when I read Lady Midnight and the second Dark Artifices book only enforced my opinion: I do not like Julian. I find him completely untrustworthy. There isn’t anything he won’t do for his family. From anyone else, it seems like a cliché, but there really isn’t anything he won’t do to get what he wants, which is one big happy family and his Emma. He doesn’t care who else might get hurt in the process. Kieran says that Julian has a ruthless heart, and he’s right. In his desire to get what he wants, Julian has found a way to break his parabatai bond with Emma even if it means destroying every parabatai bond in the Shadowhunter world. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he goes through with it. Of course, with an ending like that, it might be a moot point.

I also didn’t care for all of the jumping about from one storyline to another. In most of Clare’s books, this method works well to move the story along and provide multiple points of view, but in Lord of Shadows, it happened so frequently that it bogged down the momentum. In some instances, the new viewpoint was so brief that it didn’t serve much of a purpose. I’d rather keep the story going than interrupt it.

And was it just me or was anyone else astounded that The Cohort didn’t elicit a single comparison to Valentine? Here is a hate group that is calling for a registry of Downworlders – think Hitler’s Germany – and thrives on their belief that Shadowhunters are better than faeries, vampires, werewolves, and warlocks, yet not a single character who fought Valentine or survived the Dark War brought on by Valentine’s son compares The Cohort to The Circle. Seriously? How does that not get a mention?

The ending, which was tragic and abrupt, seemed to come out of nowhere and wasted characters who had the potential to be amazing and instead were just fodder for shock value. The conclusion certainly leaves a lot of questions. What’s up with Cortana? Why are the universe’s oldest faeries afraid of it? Why can it destroy the Mortal Sword? Who is Mark eventually going to end up with? What is really wrong with Magnus? Will any of our beloved Shadowhunters and Downworlders ever get a happily ever after? We’re in for a long wait to find out. And despite not loving Lord of Shadows, I still can’t wait for the next Dark Artifices release….which according to Goodreads won’t be published until 2019. WTF, Cassandra Clare?!?!?!?!

 

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The third visit to Clare’s Shadowhunter world is just as intriguing as the first

*Mild spoilers*

One of Cassandra Clare’s greatest strengths is that she built a fictional world that never gets old. The Dark Artifices is her third series set in the world of Shadowhunters, but it’s every bit as fresh and intriguing as the original Mortal Instruments series.

Set entirely across the country from the New York Institute where we first met Shadowhunters, Lady Midnight takes place in California where the Institute is backed by the desert and fronted by the ocean and that body of water is just about the only thing that scares main character and heroine Emma Carstairs. I liked Emma from the start. She’s a fearsome fighter, a dedicated friend, and hellbent on discovering who murdered her parents. I liked the diversity of the Blackthorn children as well and how they were such a devoted family despite the loss of their parents and the struggles they faced. I must admit, though, that Julian didn’t really do much for me. He was a little too perfect, a little too intense. When he confessed his big secret to Emma and Mark, I didn’t really think it was much of a secret. Wasn’t it rather obvious to anyone reading the book that Arthur wasn’t the Blackthorn who was running the Institute? And I didn’t buy for one minute that Julian actually believed the others would hate him for lying to them. His lies kept the family together. No way anyone could hate him for that. I also thought it was hard to believe that Emma didn’t realize what had been going on for so long. For me, that plotline was a bit weak.

Speaking of Blackthorns, the one I was intrigued by and wanted more of was Mark. Half-fae, half Shadowhunter and forced to ride with The Hunt for incalculable years in Faerie, his reintroduction to his family and life in the mortal world was interesting. I wanted to see more of his thoughts and reactions. I hope there is a lot more of Mark in future Artifice books.

And what Clare fan didn’t love revisiting our favorite characters from The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices? Jem and Tessa, Jace and Clary, and the fabulous Magnus Bane. I hope they reappear in future books. Lady Midnight left a lot of unanswered questions and many, many paths for the characters to follow. I can’t wait to see where those paths lead.

A fitting end to the Mortal Instruments series, er, not really

hfYes, it was a fitting end, but it’s not really the end, is it? As we learned with the introduction of Emma and the Los Angeles institute, the series will continue. The amazing world that Cassandra Clare created in the Mortal Instruments will live on in The Dark Artifices series coming next year. But back to City of Heavenly Fire. Yes, I’ve griped a lot about the time gap between City of Lost Souls and the series ender. Yes, I said I was annoyed by Clare taking time to write so many Bane Chronicles when she should be giving us readers the ending we deserve. Yes, I said my interest had waned. And yes, my humble pie tastes delicious.

City of Heavenly Fire was everything a series ender should be. Packed with action and suspense, I wondered throughout if we would get a happy ending or if everything would go to pot and leave us devastated. As usual, I will avoid spoilers, but I will say that I am glad Clare took the time to wrap up the storylines of characters whose lives we have followed for seven years. Our characters grew so much in this book. They aren’t children anymore, no matter their ages. They’ve seen too much death and experienced too much loss to be innocent, and they know it. I loved the insight that Clary and Jace had into themselves and into each other in this book. They have matured so much, and it was obvious in their thoughts and observations, like when Clary reaches this conclusion:

“She had thought once that there were good people and bad people, that there was a side of light and a side of darkness, but she no longer thought that. She had seen evil, in her brother and her father, the evil of good intentions gone wrong and the evil of sheer desire for power. But in goodness there was also no safety. Virtue could cut like a knife, and the fire of Heaven was blinding.”

The book, at a weighty 725 pages, is a lot to absorb. There are many storylines to follow and to remember from previous Mortal Instruments books and Clare’s Infernal Devices series. My advice, if you’d like it, is to reread City of Lost Souls and Clockwork Princess for a refresher before reading City of Heavenly Fire.

So, did anyone else get to the end of Heavenly Fire and immediately want to go back and read the entire series? Had anyone else forgotten just how much they loved Clare’s characters and the dark world of the Shadowhunters and Downworlders? Who’s going to read the new Clare series next year? I know I will. Hopefully, our favorite Shadowhunters, warlocks, and werewolves will make an appearance or two or three.