Today I have a mighty long review for Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Most of it is spoiler free with a spoiler section at the end. However, you may be spoiled for book #1, Lady Midnight so you may want to avoid this review until AFTER you’ve read that one. And you should definitely avoid that synopsis below. Otherwise, let’s go on!
Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Dark Artifices (#2)
Publication: May 23rd 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
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.
I feel that I connected with the characters more than the overall plot arc in this novel. There were so many subplots that fitted well into the storyline. The layers gave the story sophistication and characters a great deal of depth.
It didn’t feel as intense as the first novel, but you could really feel the rising tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters from the Cold Peace. I enjoyed the fight scenes and action sprinkled throughout the story, and I fully believed that they were in danger and people could die.
I admire how Clare manages to weave current world issues into parallel storylines in the novel. I’m also super impressed that it’s done in a way that feels real, but not glaring or overwhelming. It was interesting to see the relevance of the messages conveyed in the story, and it really felt like some interesting, mature political discussion. The progression from the mild annoyance of opinions coloured by prejudice, to the active motion to the oppression of minorities. This ignorant thinking sound familiar?
The Parabatai forbidden love situation is another thing that’s scaring me. It’s looking like a disaster, but I’m kind of looking forwards to seeing how it will play out.
There is greater movement in terms of locations in this novel. We go to Faerie realm and I know those shenanigans are going to come to haunt the characters. It was super fun exploring Faerieland and it really brought the adventure. I don’t trust anything the Seelie Queen says and the whole time there, I was like “everything is a huge trap!!” I was kind of petrified when the gang visited the Unseelie Lands, especially since they broke the golden rule of no separation in unfamiliar territories amongst untrustworthy people. I’m still confused about the Faerie rules, lands, time, and all those intricate details. There was so much Faerie stuff in this novel, and it was super interesting.
I loved visiting London and being back at the Institute. It was great seeing the ghost of Jessamine and all the fun conversations between her and Kit.
These characters are too precious for the world. I adore (almost) all the characters in this series. I was genuinely concerned about all the characters. It was nice seeing a greater variety of character perspectives. I was super impressed with how much we got to know most of the characters considering the gargantuan amount, and the fact that there are eight Blackthorns with distinct personalities.
Emma Carstairs is probably my favourite protagonist from all of Clare’s series so far. She’s smart, brave, loyal, and so protective of all she cares for. And it really makes me upset about how much pain she’s in, trying to ignore her feelings. I admire her fierceness and that she doesn’t take any trash from anyone. I’m pretty sure Emma has some hidden powers, ready to be unexpectedly unleashed in the next novel. I’m super interested in Emma’s sword, Cortana, and I hope we explore more of its powers. Honestly, she’s a legend.
Julian Blackthorn is such a complex character full of conflict and inner turmoil. Seeing more of his dark side has got me in a mix of concern, dread and excitement about his character arc and how it ends for him. I’m guessing that we’re going to end up being somewhere between a world of pain, devastation, and sacrifice – it’s gonna be a mess. This novel constantly alludes to him containing his darkness, ready to be released. His love for his siblings makes me so emotional, and it’s touching to see how fiercely parental he is. But also, how reckless and drastic his actions would be to protect his family. He’s such a compulsive liar, and I feel that we’ve only caught a glimpse of his potential.
Cristina Rosales is pretty fantastic. I love her friendship with Emma and I wish they had more interactions. I just want her to be happy and stop being manipulated.
The Blackthorn siblings must be protected at all costs. I love every member of that family. I’ve grown quite attached to the Blackthorn children, and increasingly concerned about Julian.
I like Mark, but I don’t love him as much as many others.
Dru had less page time than her siblings, but I really felt for her and what she was going through with her self-image issues and feelings of isolation.
Ty is seriously one of my favourite characters from this series. I just want to give him a huge hug. I love that he’s such a complex character with autism, but that isn’t the focus or the whole of his personality. I’ve heard from many that the autism rep is accurate, and that’s amazing. It’s great to see how his brain is wired differently and I love how clear and detailed it is that Ty has a different thought process and habits.
I loved the scene between Kit and Julian talking about Ty having autism, and it’s just amazing that it’s stated on page. I thought it was interesting to see how he had a different reality interacting with the Shadow World, but it’s with all these things combined together that makes him such a badass Shadowhunter.
Kit coming to terms with the Shadowhunter part of himself brought a new perspective about being a Shadowhunter. It was interesting seeing him holding a hesitant and untrustworthy view of Shadowhunters, and actually resenting being part of the famous Herondale family. It was fun seeing Kit’s clash of mundane culture with Shadowhunter culture. The Kit, Ty, Livvy trio was adorable and I loved their action scenes.
Diana Wrayburn sounds super wise so I was surprised when I found out that she was 28 years old. I loved the bigger role Diana played in this instalment, and learning about her past.
Perfect Diego is still trash even after his “explanation” about engaging Zara without telling Cristina. These Centurions make me roll my eyes with their snobbery and elitism.
Zara Dearborn can shut up and leave. There is absolutely no aspect of Zara that I like. I just want her to shut up every time appears in a scene. In fact, the whole Cohort can all choke. the Circle 2.0 needs to go in the trash.
I really enjoyed cameos of characters from Clare’s other series. It felt so strange seeing the TMI characters aged up. I’m so interested in Clary and Jace’s secret mission with the faeries. I was so happy to see Aline and Helen but most importantly; together. Moments with Magnus and Alec with their kids brought all the sunshine. I love that Magnus is just as intolerant with Shadowhunter nonsense as usual. Sassy Magnus is always fantastic.
So. Much. Angst. A little excessive at times, but it wasn’t necessarily annoying. But I kid you not when I say that there is some sort of sexual tension in every conversation. The forbidden romance and love triangles were ever-present and got tedious sometimes. However, it isn’t as irritating and eye-rolling as previous novels.
People really need to stop kissing at inappropriate times. One of my major problems with this series is the need for every character to be in a romantic relationship, and how melodramatic they tend to be. Communication is key, people!!
I’m glad that Emma and Julian actually started talking about their complicated relationship and tried to work it out together. A clap for (sort of) open communication and honesty. (The miscommunication in the last novel pained me). I am seriously afraid about the eventual result of their impossible situation. One of my favourite scenes was Emma and Julian’s conversation mocking Shadowhunter family mottos.
Whether it be a romantic relationship or friendship, I ship Kit and Ty so much #Kitty. Their Sherlock and Watson adventures warmed my heart and I love how supportive they are of each other and how Kit does his best to treat Ty and his needs with respect, but not as a “freak” or a burden. Every one of their scenes together is fabulous and pure and they can literally save a book.
I don’t support Mark and Kieren’s relationship because I’m convinced that although it might have started as something authentic, it has evolved into one unhealthy and emotionally manipulative relationship.
Gywn and Diana are so adorable together, and it was cute seeing Gywn court Diana. I’m not too invested in their relationship, but it’s cute.
The humour was executed perfectly. Clare never fails to surprise me with clever connections and twists written into the story. YAY foreshadowing!! I love that there was on page discussion of autism and the exploration of mental illness in the Shadow World, as well as what it means for a Shadowhunter.
The plot dragged at some parts of the novel. Unlike the first novel, I didn’t fly through this novel. It was a slow start, but I was hoping the pace would pick up more than it did. Even though the plot was a bit slower, I found Clare’s writing super addicting.
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3… 2… 1…
Annabel scares me, but I also feel sorry for her. Being conscious but unable to do anything in the tomb while listening to Malcolm talk to her about her plans really makes me feel for her. I would kill him too listening to that jabber. And I did not see that coming. Like whoa. It was hard seeing Annabel holding the Mortal Sword, knowing that it was torture for her.
I don’t know how I feel about Diana being revealed as transgender in a plot twist fashion or even whether this is a spoiler, but it was a lovely surprise and a truly raw moment.
How morbid. But we gotta talk about them. I was absolutely devastated about that last death. Sure, the other ones were sad, but that last one was almost unbearable. I didn’t have the biggest connection with Robert Lightwood. He wasn’t the best father or person so I wasn’t that upset about his death… until I realised that he was the only person Emma and Julian confided to about the Parabatai bond problem, so now they’re back at square one. It’s wild y’all.
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Lord of Shadows was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017, and it mostly satisfied my expectations. The Black Volume is a super mysterious object and it seems like its full power is going to be revealed in the next novel. was so emotional pain and frustration, and it was pretty great. I am definitely not calm from that chaotic ending, and I need book #3 NOW!
What did you think of the book? How do you feel about the characters? What was your favourite aspect or scene in the novel? Comment below!
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