Have you read any of the Shadowhunter series by Cassandra Clare? If you have it’s likely you’ve been following it for a while, the series is huge with more works still appearing.
One of the things I love about Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter series is the way that all the subseries are linked. Most of the time, it is through families that they are linked (so we see the Herondale family and the Fairchild and the Lightwoods in all of the various series’) or the Silent Brothers but there is one character that always reappears without fail throughout it all. Magnus Bane. (As it stands at the moment, he is the only character that appears in all of the main instalments of the series).
So let’s talk about Magnus Bane.
Magnus Bane is a Warlock, one of the few mentioned on the series. Warlocks are of the Downworlder species, a somewhat derogatory term used to describe species of the shadow world that aren’t the shadowhunters and so, as most of the downworlders are, he is treated as a lesser being. He is an excellent character, by far one of my favourites for the series but I also feel like he is one of the characters that are most frequently looked over and underrated for what he brings to the series as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, he has an entire collection of short stories (see the Bane Chronicles) but his participation in the main series is definitely not appreciated as much as it should be. Most love his character for his wit and charm but is he really appreciated like he should be? I don’t think he is. (I should mention that I haven’t read all of the books that are currently available in the Shadowhunter series. That is because there are SO many of them and I don’t have the physical space to own that many more books. But I know that Magnus is present throughout all of the books, including the more recently published ones, however, I am mostly basing this off of my current knowledge).
One thing that is important to note about Magnus is that he is old. The Shadowhunter series is great because it spans across various generations and it’s amazing especially when you see all the links between the different families but one of the constants throughout the series is Magnus. However, it is easy to forget just how old he actually is (probably because he remains relevant with the times). He tends to keep up to date with the times, with his fashion and tastes, and so often appears to be younger than he actually is but as a character appearing in books set in the 1800s he is at least four centuries old.
“I was alive when the Dead Sea was just a lake that was feeling a little poorly.”
He has a sad history. From a very young age, his parents hated him and when his mother found out he was a warlock, she hung herself. His father (not his biological father) tried to drown him which resulted in Magnus burning him where he stood. His real father is Asmodeus, a Greater Demon, and a Prince of Hell. (There are definitely advantages when your father is the Prince of Hell and Magnus, aware of his father’s influence, occasionally used his father’s influence in his favour) Magnus was brought up by churchmen and raised by the Silent Brothers in Madrid in the 17th century. One of the characteristics of warlocks in the Shadowhunter series is their Warlock Mark and for Magnus, his warlock mark are his cat eyes and the lack of a bellybutton.
And as a warlock, he is also then a Downworlder as I mentioned. Throughout the series (or at least until the point that I have read up to) Downworlders have a bad reputation in the eyes of many of the Shadowhunters. There is a very unhealthy relationship between the Downworlders and the Shadowhunters brought on by a long and bloody history, and regardless of the changes within the Shadow World, there will never be the equality between them all that there should be.
“That you freed a possible criminal by trading your brother to a warlock who looks like a gay sonic the Hedgehog and dresses like the childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
(This quote is fantastic)
This discrimination is inflicted upon Magnus as many points throughout his life and although he is often sought after by the Shadowhunters for his magical abilities they still see his help as simply a means to an end. But despite the discrimination towards the downworlders, Magnus is often seen aiding the shadowhunters. He responds to their calls for help and on many occasions is the reason why they don’t fail in their quests. It takes a particular kind of strength to aid those who don’t appreciate it but also to look past years of mistrust and violence towards his kind.
Magnus invented your Portals, not that he receives any credit for it from Shadowhunters. He is one of the most powerful warlocks in the world, and so tenderhearted he rushes to the aid of vicious killers. He is the best the Downworld has to offer.
One of the things that pull at my heartstrings is the pain that Magnus feels constantly and he does not hide that. Those he tends to fall in love throughout his life are often mortal and he loves them knowing that their time is limited, that they will grow old and die a mortal life while he does not age. He loves knowing that each time he will outlive them, that he will grieve for another. He is a character, I feel, who suffers pain as many do and is shown in a very human way for someone who isn’t quite human.
During the time of the Mortal Instruments, Magnus becomes involved with Alec Lightwood, a shadowhunter of the Brooklyn Institute. This relationship shows the discrimination of not just those who are openly gay in the shadowhunter community but also the backlash faced for association with a downworlder. Alec is scared of the reaction of his parents and those around him for being with Magnus and ultimately it is Magnus who suffers. He tries to further their relationship but has his efforts hindered by Alecs on refusal and fear to admit what he actually wants. When the relationship does move forward though, it’s beautiful, with Magnus and Alec experiencing the world together and the witty banter between the two. Magnus becomes more accepted by the Lightwoods (not that it would have made a difference had he not). Again, however, Magnus allows himself to love those he knows he will outlive, knowing the pain he will ultimately feel.
“They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite.”
During the Infernal Devices, Magnus meets the inhabitants of the London Institute, in particular, William Herondale and Tessa Gray. Magnus quickly finds a place in his heart for the young Will Herondale, understanding the troubled heart and self-sacrificing nature of the boy. He finds himself drawn in to helping him and the London Institute on several occasions, even going so far as to helping find a way to save Jem.
There is a running joke throughout the series about Magnus being banned from entering Peru although the reason is never really disclosed. One of the stories in The Bane Chronicles is called What Really Happened in Peru but even then the true reason is never really made known to why he is no longer allowed there. I think this couldn’t be more Magnus in the sense that there are certain mysteries about the warlock that add to his character and without ever being told what truly happened it leaves our imaginations open to the ‘crimes unspeakable’ that he could have committed there.
Then there was the time he saved Marie Antoinette in a hot air balloon from vampires and a revolting France.
He is the wit and the sass throughout the series but also one of the most relatable, human characters. He feels, he loves, and he endures for the sake of those he cares for and, despite himself, for the sake of good.
“You endure what is unbearable, and you bear it. That is all.”
Magnus Bane is one of my all-time favourite characters and deserves so much recognition.
Until next time.