Although I have reviewed The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices,
and quite enjoyed both series, I forgot to review Lady Midnight, the first book in Clare’s newest Shadowhunters trilogy, which is known as The Dark Artifices. I read Lady Midnight last year some time (I think) and while it was fine, it wasn’t mind-blowing, or even really as compelling as the original TMI trilogy, and TID. The one good thing it had going for it was that it had moved away slightly from the three characters which pervaded the first nine Shadowhunters books. I know that, actually, Tessa and Clary aren’t the same person, but they seemed that way, and the Herondales weren’t the same, but they sure seemed that way. In any case, Lord of Shadows has some original points, but also a few points that really feel like they’ve been done before.
Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?
A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.
Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?
Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.
When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.
As Shadowhunters, the main characters of this book are expected to be special perfect snowflakes. They’re stronger, faster, cleverer than mundane humans, and these specific Shadowhunters are set up to be the next great thing (the next Jace Herondale, in fact), so they can grate a little bit.
While the main story arc in this book is Emma and Julian trying to find a way for their fobidden love to succeed (and believe me, that’s been done. Jace and Clary thought they were siblings for at least a book and a half in TMI), and it’s not that interesting, the others are a bit more compelling.
There’s a whole lot of stories going on in this book – more than I could really fit into a blog post. But what really comes out in this book, and God it can be annoying at times, are the relationships and the fake relationships. Jules and Emma, Emma and Mark, Mark and Kieran, Mark and Cristina, Cristina and Diego, Diego and whatsherface, Kit and BOTH of the twins. There’s a lot of will they/won’t they, is this relationship real, is it fake? There are a LOT of fake relationships going on here, and to be honest, it’s really quite disturbing how okay everyone seems to be with faking them. But I guess all the demon hunting and undead people running around and wild grabs for power aren’t enough – you’ve gotta have some shipping wars to keep people interested.
There were a lot of interesting threads in here. The Faerie bargains were interesting. The blight in Faerie was interesting. Annabel was interesting. But it was all concealed under a patina of relationship drama which was somehow shoehorned in to be essential to the plot.
Also, all these people who aren’t supposed to be together seem to spend a lot of time kissing. Like, a LOT of time kissing.
Maybe if there were less kissing, this book wouldn’t be such a behemoth. There’s the potential for a great story here, it’s just lost in hundreds of pages of relationship drama. This book is really much longer than it needs to be.
Still, despite all my moans, I do still enjoy a foray into the Shadowhunter world. There’s only one installment left in this trilogy, although it’s not out for another two years, as The Wicked Powers will start in the mean time. I’ll probably read them both. I’m some kind of sucker for punishment. And relationship drama. Did I mention the relationship drama?