The Mortal Instruments – Book 1
City of Bones
by Cassandra Clare
“Clary glanced at the spot where the boy had disappeared from, and said nothing. There wasn’t even a smear of blood there – nothing to show that the boy had ever existed.
“They return to their home dimensions when they die,” said Jace. “In case you were wondering.”
“Jace,” Alec hissed. “Be careful.”
Jace drew his arm away. A ghoulish freckling of blood marked his face. He still reminded her of a lion, with his wide-spaced, light -colored eyes, and that tawny gold hair. “She can see us, Alec,” he said. “She already knows too much.”
“So what do you want me to do with her,” Isabelle demanded.
“Let her go,” Jace said quietly. Isabelle shot him a surprised, almost angry look, but didn’t argue. The whip slithered away, freeing Clary’s arm. She rubbed her sore wrist and wondered how the hell she was going to get out of there.
“Maybe we should bring her back with us,” Alec said. “I bet Hodge would like to talk to her.”
“No way are we bringing her to the Institute,” said Isabelle. “She’s a mundie.”
“Or is she?” said Jace softly.
I will try to restrain myself on this post; I am already way too excited. The Shadowhunter Chronicles is my favorite literary series, second only to the magical world of Harry Potter. I fell into this collection of books almost by accident, and it held me captivated for nearly a year as I combed religiously through the 12 (yes 12, and there are more to come!) books.
The Mortal Instruments is a set of 6 books that chronicle the lives of several different characters. Mainly, Clary Fray, a fifteen-year old teenager living in New York who spends her time dreaming of becoming a famous artist and prowling the streets in search of adventure with her childhood best friend and member of a band with no name, Simon Lewis. Clary encounters several puzzling strangers one evening in a downtown club, and watches in horror as they strike down another teenager. When the deceased vanishes before her eyes, Clary begins to suspect that something else is going on – something very wrong – and struggles to understand. The group of strangers – Jace, Alec, and Isabelle Lightwood, offer little information or sympathies, but find themselves as intrigued about her as she is about them.
Clary isn’t supposed to be able to see what was going on in the club. She shouldn’t have been able to see the murdered boy, who turns out wasn’t a boy at all, but a demon in full glamour. She shouldn’t have been able to see the other teenagers, who eventually reveal themselves to be of an elite fighting order called The Shadowhunters, a race of men and women born with angel blood and special powers – powers that are enhanced by the ancient runes they carve on themselves like tattoos. Their sole purpose is to preserve a balance between themselves and Downworlders, a sub-race that includes demons, vampires, werewolves, fairies, and other mythical and mystical creatures. They fancy themselves the true police of the world and use every opportunity as a way to strengthen their cause as they protect regular humans against evil.
“Sitting on a faded green sofa a few feet away from her was Jace. He was wearing the same dark clothes he’d had on the night before in the club. His arms were bare and covered with faint lines like old scars. His wrists bore wide metal cuffs; she could see the bone handle of a knife protruding from the left one. He was looking right at her, the side of his narrow mouth quirked in amusement. Worse than the feeling of being laughed at was Clary’s absolute conviction that he hadn’t been sitting there five minutes ago.
“What is it?” Simon had followed her gaze, but it was obvious from the blank expression on his face that he couldn’t see Jace.
But I see you. She stared at Jace as she thought it, and he raised his left hand to wave at her. A ring glittered on a slim finger. He got to his feet and began walking, unhurriedly, toward the door. Clary’s lips parted in surprise. He was leaving, just like that.
She felt Simon’s hand on her arm. He was saying her name, asking her if something was wrong. She barely heard him. “I’ll be right back,” she heard herself say, as she sprang off the couch, almost forgetting to set her coffee cup down. She raced toward the door, leaving Simon staring after her.”
Getting wrapped up in their world is difficult for Clary to manage, especially when her mother decides out of the blue that she is going to send her daughter away. But before she can, Jocelyn Fray is attacked and stolen away herself, leaving Clary at the mercy of the Shadowhunter’s hospitality. She moves into the New York Institute and begins a journey to find out who she really is. It’s obvious to everyone that she isn’t a regular “mundane”, but no one seems to know her lineage. A trip into the Silent City, a secret land hidden in a graveyard, leads to more questions when the mysterious Silent Brothers reveal that she has a block in her brain. A block that can only be removed by a warlock, as a warlock is the one who put it there in the first place.
After Clary discovers her mother has been kidnapped, she has to find out why. She and Jace inadvertently spy on her mother’s best friend, a curious fellow named Luke, and find that someone named Valentine is searching for something called The Mortal Cup, a talisman that when drunk from, can create Shadowhunters (a race that one typically is born into) from regular people. The process of becoming a Shadowhunter via the Cup is a perilous one, and not everyone survives. Valentine has held onto a hope for much of his life that he can procure this cup, create a huge army of Shadowhunters, and eradicate the entire Downworlder race, thus leaving the world pure.
As a teenager living in Idris, Valentine rallied a group of like-minded individuals together and they formed The Circle, a group whose sole purpose became destroying all Downworlders. Clary’s mother Jocelyn was involved in the group, and Valentine is convinced she is hiding the Cup. He has kidnapped her in an attempt to force her into revealing the Cup’s location. Clary decides that the only way to find her mother is to first find the Cup, and so she begins her quest.
” “So what are you Shadowhunters?”
“We are sometimes called the Nephilim,” said Hodge. “In the Bible they were the offspring of humans and angels. The legend of the origin of Shadowhunters is that they were created more than a thousand years ago, when humans were being overrun by demon invasions from other worlds. A warlock summoned the Angel Raziel, who mixed some of his own blood with the blood of men in a cup, and gave it to those men to drink. Those who drank the Angel’s blood became Shadowhunters, as did their children and their children’s children. The cup thereafter was know as the Mortal Cup. Though the legend may not be fact, what is true through the years, when Shadowhunter ranks were depleted, it was always possible to create more Shadowhunters using the Cup.” “
Enter one Magnus Bane, a cocky, handsome, and skeptical warlock hundreds of years old, who is none too thrilled to be forced into helping the Shadowhunter cause. He has apparently been blocking Clary’s brain since she was very small, a favor to her mother, who as it turns out was married to the single most terrifying Shadowhunter in the order’s history – Valentine himself, making the villain Clary’s father. Despite his reluctance, Magnus develops one strong reason for wanting to help Clary and her Shadowhunter friends. . . the reason being that one of those friends happens to be exactly the type of person Magnus could fall in love with.
” “Magnus. Magnus Bane?”
“That would be me.” The man blocking the doorway was as tall and thin as a rail, his hair a crown of dense black spikes. Clary guessed from the curve of his sleepy eyes and the gold tone of his evenly tanned skin that he was part Asian. He wore jeans and a black shirt covered with dozens of metal buckles. His eyes were crusted with a raccoon mask of charcoal glitter, his lips painted a dark shade of blue. He raked a ring-laden hand through his spiked hair and regarded them thoughtfully.
“Children of the Nephilim,” he said. “Well, well. I don’t recall inviting you.” “
The story progresses and Clary, her best friend Simon, and the Shadowhunters begin to merge seamlessly into one another’s lives, despite initial protestations. The race to find the Cup is on, the quest to find Jocelyn is paramount, and the subsequent training of a new Shadowhunter is dawning on the horizon. The novel(s) is writ with underlying and complicated first-love romance, staggering adventure, unbreakable friendships and complicated relationships – all built around a world within a world, a true good and evil epic.
The Mortal Instruments is just one of (currently) four sub-series in the set of books written about the Shadowhunter order. In completion they are as follows (and in my opinion, should be read in this order):
- The Infernal Devices (prequel to the originally written Mortal Instruments, the reader is introduced to an important series of characters that pave the way for the Shadowhunters to come. Set in London in the late 1800’s, the trilogy centers around Tessa Gray and her time in the London Institute.)
- The Last Hours (currently not in publication; first book due sometime 2018. Follows life after characters from The Infernal Devices become the head of the London Institute)
- Chain of Thorns
- Chain of Gold
- Chain of Iron
- The Mortal Instruments
- The Dark Artifices (set a few years after the ending of The Mortal Instruments, familiar characters take a back seat to a new regime of Shadowhunters in training. The story is centered around a famous Shadowhunter family in Los Angeles who are struggling to find normalcy in the wake of the Dark War,)
Also included in the series are offshoots such as The Bane Chronicles (in my opinion, can be read at any time) and Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy (to be read after The Mortal Instruments, as it picks up right after the ending of City of Heavenly Fire; it is the account of Simon’s training told through short stories that were previously only available online). Several guides to Shadowhunting have been also been published and can be read at any time. They include: The Shadowhunter’s Codex, Shadowhunters and Downworlders, and A History of Notable Shadowhunters & Denizens of Downworld: Told in the Language of Flowers. An adult coloring book is set to be released April of 2017.
In addition to the multiple books in the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders, a popular movie was made in 2013 for City of Bones, starring Lily Collins as Clary Fray and Jamie Bower Campbell as Jace Lightwood Herondale. A television series called Shadowhunters is currently on the Freeform Network and is several episodes into it’s successful second season. While the casting for both the movie and the television show has been close to the literary form, writers have taken complete liberty over the original storyline. Facets of the book are in both the movie and show, but readers should beware – the plot is far removed from the book.
I am certainly biased, because I truly fell in love with this series. I am a true serial reader, and getting to know characters inside and out through multiple books is my literary bread and butter. There is nothing I love more than finishing a book and picking up the next, over and over, without ever breaking the fantasy world I am immersed in. I am counting down the days until May when the new book comes out, and I highly recommend that you fall into the land of the Shadowhunters and take a break from reality.
I give City of Bones a 5 out of 5 star rating. I recommend this book for readers ages 15+ due to some mild language and brief sexual allusions.