The second book in a series can be difficult to pull off. The first book tends to handle setting everything up. We learn about the world and the characters, we get a hint at the who the greater foe will and we set the stage for other side story lines. The last book in a series is the ultimate climax, everything ends and all of our questions get answered. The second book is the awkward in-between point. It has to continue the plot, develop the characters and make sure everything is set for the finale. A lot of the times this second book gets bogged down by a treading water feel. A lot of the times as a reader I feel like the second book is slower and stagnant.
Unfortunately that is what happened to this second book in Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series, Lord of Shadows. There was plenty of set up but not much actually happened. We get to know our characters better but that is hindered by the lack of communication by almost every character. While the pieces are placed on the board, everyone spends the book just hiding secrets from each other.
Lord of Shadows picked up a few weeks after Lady Midnight left off. Emma is fake dating Mark because she can’t be with Julian. She won’t tell Julian about the curse for his own “protection.”
This is the part of the book that I had the most difficult with. I have written a full post about why this type of storyline drives me crazy, here. So I won’t go into a full rant. Emma keeps saying throughout the book that she can’t tell Julian about the parabati curse because he could get hurt. She never specifies how he could get hurt or why that would be. She just uses that as her justification for not telling him.
This makes little to no sense to me. Julian has two main priorities in his life; his family and Emma. He will do anything to protect them, but ultimately his family comes first. This was well established in the last book and throughout this book. Julian would NEVER do anything that would end up hurting his siblings. If he had to choose between them and Emma, he would choose them in a second.
So why can’t Emma tell him about the curse? He isn’t going to throw away his family and say, “Screw it, I don’t care what happens. I still want to be with you.” He isn’t going to throw away everything that matters to him. He may want to find a cure or way out, but that does not mean that he will end up hurt. Julian loves Emma but he is sensible. He is smart and he thinks through his decisions. He won’t let the curse hurt his family, period.
I feel like this secret thing was put int place in order to create angst throughout this book. We go on this continued back and forth, Does she/he love me?, for hundred of pages. It wasn’t needed. This same feeling could have been conveyed better and more naturally if they both knew about the curse.
Their communication is one of their strongest points. They talk through glances, they know each other better than anyone else. They even have a special way of tracing letters on their arms or backs, to spread messages. They would have been able to handle this secret, I wanted to see them fight it together. Having this secret kept felt like cheapening that connection between the two of them. Instead of building their bond, the bond was weakened throughout the story.
While Emma is busy keeping her secret they learn that Kieran is going to be put to death for killing Iralath. Julian, Emma, Mark and Christiana go to Faire to find and rescue Kieran. In the process they make a deal to find The Black Volume.
While this is happening in the background we have a whole storyline with The Centurians and Cohort. There is a set up for a scary way of treating Downworlders and those who aren’t Shadowhunters. This storyline hit close to reality and was a bit hard to read at times just because I can see so much of it happening in our world today. I think I know where this part of the storyline is going and it is going to aggravate me in the next book.
Tucked into all of this there is the storyline from the last book about raising Annabel and her backstory. This was the storyline I thought we would stick with from the last book but it kind of got lost in the pages of the number of other plot lines going on.
One of my favorite parts of this book was what we learned about Kit. Kit is an interesting character and a type we haven’t seen yet in this series. Kit knows the mundane world, the shadowhunter world and the downworlder world. He has a connection to them all and he was raised with one way of thinking. Throughout the story we see Kit begin to change how he thinks and how he sees the shadowhunter world.
I loved his connection to Ty. Kit understands Ty because he know the mundane world and mundane medicine. I like that he never felt disconnected from Ty, he actually connected best with Ty. I am interested to see how the connection builds after the events of the finale. I have a feeling that the two of them are either going to enter into a relationship together or become parabati or both if the curse is broken.
Kit was the character that grew throughout the book. He development felt natural. He is accepted into this family, though he at first doesn’t want to be. He begins to understand how they operate and he sees that he may have a place in this world if he wants it. I am eager to see what happened with him in the next book.
I didn’t hate this book at all. I was just expecting more from it. I think the secret keeping is what made this book difficult for me. It might just be me and my dislike of that particular storyline. I felt like it was used in order to force storylines instead of finding ways to do it naturally. Emma and Julian could have had strife in their relationship without the secret keeping. Christina could have gotten closer to Mark without Diego keeping secrets from her. I just wish this idea wasn’t the main point of this book.
I am interested to see how this story ends. Julian is going to be interesting in the next book. After the way the book ended i think we are going to see a very dark side of his character. I hope we see his dark side, I hope he loses it and has to be brought back. That will be interesting and will give us an interesting moral gray line to focus on. I have hope that this series will end in a satisfying way, but we will have to see.
As I have said before I love a book that captures me with the characters. I love to get close to characters and feel as if they were people I could meet on the street or in the store somewhere. I like to feel attached to them; want them to succeed, cry with them and feel their joy. I started reading this series after the third book came out (I believe) and though I picked up the first one initially for the fantasy elements (shadowhunters, demons and angels) it was the characters that kept me coming back for each sequential book.
This last book in the series is the end to the battle between Clary, her friends, her family and Sebastian, her brother, who is kinda part demon. It is their struggle to save their way of life and the lives of those they love. This story line is wrapped up well and all our characters get resolution to their own story lines.
I was invested in each characters story from the beginning of the series but what I loved most about this book was how the prequel series and the sequel series were incorporated so seamlessly.
I love series that have sequels and prequels. Any book that lets me delve deeper into how the story came about and how it moved on from the main battle or conflict is always entertaining. It always makes me feel like I am apart of the stories world more. A lot of the times though the sequels and prequels are only incorporated in the other parts in a very basic way. We might get a quick word from the characters we know or we see them or they are mentioned but rarely do they play any significant part in the story. They are there to remind us they exist but it isn’t their story so they are placed in the background. I know as writer that this is done a lot of the time to keep them from overtaking the story and to keep us in the current problem and not end up just following them around like some reality show. But this series found a way to incorporate everyone in a very satisfactory way.
This book opened with us meeting Emma and Julian and his family. We got to see firsthand how their world deteriorates around them. Instead of just getting the backstory through flashbacks and retellings we actually get to see what happened. We get to watch Emma breakdown and we get to see her become determined to avenge her parents. Emma and Julian don’t even have their own books yet and I am invested in their story. I am rooting for them, even though I don’t actually know what is going to happen to them. But I like them and I want to read the next books just to see them grow.
Clare also incorporated Tessa and Jem from the Infernal Devices series. I know they were mentioned earlier but we didn’t have their full story yet and didn’t quiet understand them but we got to see in this book how Jem was cured and we go to see where he and Tessa are now in their lives. They didn’t just fade away like so many other prequel characters tend to do. They are there as more as support characters but they still play a significant part. It will also seem that they will be around for the sequels as well. They are an intricate part of this world and instead of finding a way to shove them to the side Clare uses them. She uses who she created previously and creates a world where all the pieces interconnect.
You don’t have to have read the Infernal Devices to understand Mortal Instruments series but I highly suggest reading them. If you read for the plot and the action, then you will be fine reading these series alone. But if you connect to characters and love to read as they become real breathing people in your mind then I suggest reading the prequel series before this last book.
The ending of this book was very much like Lord of the Rings; Return of the King. movies where you think it has ended but you are wrong. There are multiple times this book seems to end and the Epilogue is extensive but it ties up all the strings and sets up the next series nicely. We get a resolution to Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, Alec and Magnus’s stories. You are left wondering about what will be coming in the sequels but if you stopped reading here you would feel satisfied with this ending as well. I am eager for Emma and Julian’s story as well as to see how our favorite characters play a part.