To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.
As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City – whatever the cost?
Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the final instalment of the New York Times bestselling trilogy The Mortal Instruments.
Clary Fray is preparing to enter Idris, the Shadowhunters’ home city, in search of Ragnor Fell, a warlock who offers the only chance of a cure for her mother who remains in a magical coma. Jace doesn’t want her to go but won’t say why and manipulates the Lightwoods into leaving without Clary but a sudden attack by Valentine’s Forsaken means that they take Simon with them.
By the time, Clary finally gets to Idris she discovers that Simon has been thrown in jail by the new Inquisitor and the city is in turmoil. With Clary and Jace battling their feelings for each other, each turns to the Lightwood cousins Aline and Sebastian for support. As Valentine musters his forces, ready to recover the last of the Mortal Instruments, Clary’s search takes her into his past and specifically his relationships with her mother and Jace. Soon the Shadowhunters are faced with a dreadful choice and Clary and the Lightwoods must help determine their future and what they stand for.
Whether you like this book turns on whether you’re interested in the relationship between Jace and Clary because it’s instrumental to the story. Previously portrayed in a shallow way, Clare does try to go deeper into the emotional consequences of incest, but this doesn’t go much further than Jace repeating that he’s a monster and Clary telling him that he’s not. Much of the problem is that the resolution of this storyline isn’t really in doubt, meaning that the stakes are unnecessarily artificial and it goes on for too long.
Clare handles her set pieces well and the action scenes are pacy and authentic. Descriptions are vivid (notably a flashback in Valentine’s lab) and although the prose still strays into purple at times, it’s more restrained than in the earlier books. Unfortunately there is a certain drift to the plot at times. Clary’s search for a cure for her mother is too readily sidelined by other events (notably her relationship with Jace) and the resolution takes place off-page, robbing it of any resonance. Similarly a character death should give those affected by it an emotional kick and making for a moving reading, but again is handled superficially. Unforgiveable is the fact that Clare recycles a plot twist from CITY OF BONES - the idea that Shadowhunters don’t have up-to-date photographs of each other. Just as it didn’t work there, it doesn’t work here. I also had issues understanding why a Shadowhunter would disguise their appearance through hair dye rather than the use of magic.
With such a large cast, it’s difficult for Clare to wrap up each of their storylines in a satisfying way. Simon and Alex fare better than Luke and Isabelle, although Clare does weave in characters referred to or seen in the earlier books. Clary continues to be bland and somewhat irritating, for all her Mary-Sue superpowers and Jace is arrogant, smug and sold as a hottie. At times the dialogue doesn’t quite seem to fit the characters (particularly jarring is when a US-raised character uses the British expression ‘knobhead’) and the repartee is more suited to 30-somethings than teens.
Fans will be delighted with the conclusion and Clare leaves open the potential for more books set in this world, which will no doubt be popular.
There’s more originality to the material in this book than in the first of the trilogy and the conclusion will no doubt delight the fans. However, the glibness to it remains off-putting and it while Clare’s worldbuilding has improved, I’d be more interested in something that combines urban fantasy with an emotional punch.