So, as promised, I already had the ball in motion and fully planned to make way onto a series of reviews based on The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare and here I have the first instalment of six! I give you The City of Bones.
(A quick note- If you had the displeasure of watching the Mortal Instruments movie that based very loosely around the first book please don’t be put off by the book series. The movie was bloody awful and the book series is exponentially better. It isn’t our fault as a fandom that they graced us with terrible “film adaptation” of a fantastic book series and I’m more than happy they stopped after the failure of the first film and didn’t continue to ruin the remainder of the series. On a side note from that, the Netflix series wasn’t terrible, it’s cringy but it’s accurate to the books. I quite enjoy it.)
Anyway! The City of Bones is the first book in the series of six books in the Mortal Instruments series. TMI is a series within the Shadowhunters series and all in there is at least 12 actual novels within the larger series and more to come, with the second Dark Artifices book coming out later in the year (hooray!). They all tie in together and we see names and families pop up in loads of the books. I really enjoy how the books incorporate loads of different families at different periods in time, we get a history of people’s families and it’s fascinating and heartbreaking knowing what happens to them and how they lived in the Shadow world. The City of Bones introduces us to modern-day Brooklyn, where we meet Clary Fray and Simon Lewis, two best friends who lead incredibly normal lives. That is until they are unexpectedly thrown into a world that they never knew existed, a world that Clary belongs in by blood. Clary’s mother, Jocelyn Fray (formerly Jocelyn Fairchild), was of the shadow world, married and part of an elite group of shadowhunters called The Circle. Jocelyn sees the error in her husbands objectives and fights against it, taking an important part of Valentine’s plan and runs far from that world. Away from Valentine. But when she runs from that life, pregnant with Clary, she promises to do everything she can to protect her from that life. So she takes Clary to a warlock, the High Warlock of Brooklyn to be precise. Enter Magnus Bane, one of my favourite characters. Magnus glamours Clary’s memories frequently, ensuring that she remembers nothing unusual and ensuring she remembers nothing of the shadow world. Fast forward fifteen years later, and Clary is none-the-wiser to the shadow world until her memories start to filter through and she starts to see weird things that she’d never noticed before. She thinks she’s going crazy and Simon is inclined to agree with her. Her mother, who is in hiding from the shadow world, is attacked and taken away from Clary. From here, Clary is thrown into the deep end and quickly learns that all the stories are true.
The Nephilim, or shadowhunters, are an elite group of demon hunters. Created by the Angel Raziel, they are charged with protecting the human world from demons that slip through from other worlds with the intent to kill and destroy. Clary learns that she is of the Nephilim, and learns that there is more to the world than angels and demons. Enter Jace Wayland and the Lightwood children. These guys are residents of New York’s Institute – a home for shadowhunters, a stronghold. it is place for the Conclave to meet.Between Jace, Alec, Isabelle and Clary they manage to gate crash a house party thrown by our favourite High Warlock, piss off a the Brooklyn Vampire Clan, rendezvous with a pack of werewolves and take on one of most notorious shadowhunters in history. Much of the City of Bones is a set up for the return of Valentine Morgenstern, the leader of the former Circle, and honestly he’s a bit of an ass. He’s a pretty good villain.
The title of the book refers to the Silent City or The City of Bones. The Silent City is part of the shadow world and is home to the Silent Brothers. The Silent Brothers are former shadow hunters who serve as medics and archivists to the nephilim. They take on powerful runes and often have mutilated face and it is because of this that they are feared by many shadowhunters. The Silent City is referred to as the City of Bones because it is also the place where the dead reside. The bodies of fallen shadowhunters are burned and used to create the very walls of the Silent City – hence the name.
It means ‘Shadowhunters: Looking Better in Black Than the Widows of our Enemies Since 1234’.
So for the most part, it’s pretty action-packed and set up the rest of the series quite nicely. We have our fair share of love interests within the first book. Let’s start with Jace and Clary. This is my second favourite pairing in the series (we’ll get to Malec soon). Jace is the bad boy that deep inside we all want but won’t readily admit to so it is completely understandable when Clary falls for his boyish, bad-boy charm.
“Have you fallen in love with the wrong person yet?’
Jace said, “Unfortunately, Lady of the Haven, my one true love remains myself.”
“At least,” she said, “you don’t have to worry about rejection, Jace Wayland.”
“Not necessarily. I turn myself down occasionally, just to keep it interesting.”
At this point, all of the ships are new and there isn’t too much to go with for now but there is still five more books. Jace had an interesting start to life, raised by a tyrant who believed whole-heartedly that to love is to destroy, a mentality he drummed into Jace. Jace continues to remember his roots to a father he saw murdered when he was a child, who believed that love is a weapon. Jace knows that he wants Clary but his bones tell him that one of them will be left in pieces should he chose to give in to basal urges and have her. Towards the end of the book we learn something quite devastating that might perhaps change the way that the two visualise each other!
“The boy never cried again, and he never forgot what he’d learned: that to love is to destroy, and that to be loved is to be the one destroyed.”
On top of this we learn that Simon Lewis, Clary’s best friend and friend-zone resident, is in love with Clary. He doesn’t think highly of Jace, not understanding the attraction that Clary has to him and he truly just wants Clary to realise that he has been there the whole time, with more love for her than she might have anticipated. It is sweet, in a sense, that he has loved Clary for years and he has always operated in her best interest but as soon as Jace comes onto the scene, he realises that he has to try harder if he has any chance of getting the girl. It does bother me a little though. Simon is a great guy, and a great friend to Clary, but I feel like he needs to grasp that you can’t change someone’s feeling for you. You can’t make someone love you and I feel like that is what he starts trying to do. I mean, of course she loves him but not in the non-platonic way that he seems to hold out for.
To conclude our list of love interests for The City of Bones, we have Alec. Alec Lightwood is Jace’s parabatai, brother by bond and equal. They are there for one another, bound to protect each other by oath from the Clave. You can only commit to one parabatai in your life, and when you do your souls become entwined. There is, however, a rule. You cannot fall in love with your parabatai and that is exactly what Alec has done. He keeps it between himself and Isabelle, Jace is none-the-wiser to this development. Not only would such a thing disgrace his family name and he would face trail by the Clave, it also means that he a gay shadowhunter which is something that is not readily accepted by the nephilim. It is hard for Alec to see Jace and Clary take to each other like a moth to flame, and he reacts badly to it for most of the first book. Clary sees Alec for what he is straight away, accepting it but not appreciating how she is treated because of his feelings. It starts messy, and Alec tries his hardest to push Clary out, encouraging her to go back to her life in the human world.
I was going to talk about Magnus Bane but I think I might just have to make an appreciation post for him seperately. Magnus is one of the most down-to-earth characters in the series, I think. Not that there is anything real about being the High Warlock of Brooklyn, but I mean he is the most sincere. He has lived a life, many lives, and he understands feelings and emotions. He has seen a great deal, has been hurt but still holds a soft place in his heart for shadowhunters, no matter how they have treated him in the past. He cares for the shadowhunters of the institute even when he is under no obligation to do so and all the while he feels more than he knows he should. He is destinctly human dispite it all. On top of this, he is fabulous. I wish I could pull off wearing half the clothing that Magnus can.
It is a fantastic start to the series and it introduces many stories within the stories meaning there is enough to keep you interested in the series. We meet a good number of the main characters and we get enough background to the shadow world without getting confused. There is a really fantastic Wiki page for the entire shadowhunters series which is helpful for some terms in the book you might not yet be familiar with but beware! There are spoilers inside. As always, I hope you enjoyed this and I’ll have a review for The City of Ashes very soon!
The City of Bones
The City of Ashes
The City of Glass
The City of Fallen Angels
The City of Lost Souls
The City of Heavenly Fire