At last, the wait is over, and Cassandra Clare’s second book in The Dark Artifices trilogy is out in the world! I have only been a fan of Clare’s books since the beginning of this year when I started The Mortal Instruments series, but it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the Shadow World. And here I am, caught up with the crowd and reviewing the latest book from the ‘queen of fantasy’! Just a quick word of warning: it’s a long one (the book, and this review!)!
Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:
Please do not read any further if you have not read Lord of Shadows, or any of the other Shadowhunter Chronicle books! This review contains spoilers!
About The Book
‘Lord of Shadows’ by Cassandra Clare
Emma Carstairs has finally avenged her parents. She thought she’d be at peace. But she is anything but calm. Torn between her desire for her parabatai Julian and her desire to protect him from the brutal consequences of parabatai relationships, she has begun dating his brother, Mark. But Mark has spent the past five years trapped in Faerie; can he ever truly be a Shadowhunter again?
And the faerie courts are not silent. The Unseelie King is tired of the Cold Peace, and will no longer concede to the Shadowhunters’ demands. Caught between the demands of faerie and the laws of the Clave, Emma, Julian, and Mark must find a way to come together to defend everything they hold dear—before it’s too late.
Lord of Shadows is the second installment of The Dark Artifices trilogy, written in the fantasy YA genre, and continuing with the mystery, thriller vibes in the Shadow World as well. In the story we follow the Blackthorn family on many different quests, if you like. Trying to deal with relationships, living with a group of Centurions at the LA Institute,a and going on the ultimate journey to find Annabel Blackthorn, and recover the Black Volume. There are a few different place settings for this one, but we are mainly focused in LA, which is of course where we started, and London, which was a great surprise!
Each plot point in the book as been carefully planned as different parts of a web. This web is perfectly connected with no loose threads, as everything that happens seems to happen for a reason. There are plenty of unanswered questions but what would expect from a book awaiting a sequel. There were so many parts that were completely unpredictable, which is what made the storyline so fast paced and shocking at times (as well as devastatingly heart-breaking!) And boy, was the ending climactic! I can’t remember the last time I read a book with such a cliffhanger! Having to wait two years for the sequel is going to be tough! Everything that could be logical, was logical. Everything that didn’t quite add up, I know will be tied together in the sequel because I trust Cassandra Care as writer to not leave any question unanswered.
As I have fallen in love with so many characters in the series so far, I would like to discuss each of them separately.
Firstly, Emma continues to be a key character for us, as well as Julian, and their relationship goes through many ups and downs. We begin the book how Lady Midnight ended, with Emma and Mark starting to ‘date’ as a way to prevent Julian from falling further in love with her. Mark being a slightly more complex being, what with being half faerie and half Shadowhunter, it makes their relationship less convincing than it should be. Of course, this partnership doesn’t last very long, as with Julian supposedly suppressing his love for Emma. It’s difficult to avoid their close bond when they are on a mission together in Cornwall, and the closer they become, the more dangerous they realise their relationship is getting. Aside from the relationship side of things, Emma continues to grow into an incredible fighter, and living up to her status as ‘the next Jace Herondale’. With Cortana on her back, it seems like there is nothing and no one that can come between her a victory. We see solid evidence of this in the Unseelie Court, when Emma is chosen to fight to the death against one of the King’s men, to save Kieran. Her strength, and capacity to keep going against an even stronger opponent, is so clear in this scene, up until the end when the faerie fighter is revealed to her, and appears as her father. We can see from this that Emma’s weakness is harming those who she cares about, whether this is physically or mentally, in combat or otherwise. The very end of the book does throw some interesting thoughts into the mix, when Cortana comes into contact with the Mortal Sword, but what will become of this will hopefully be explored further in book 3.
As for Julian, he had plenty to worry about in the book, and his relationship with Emma is just one of his many problems he has to deal with. As we know from Lady Midnight, Julian is basically running the LA Institute in place of Uncle Arthur, who is technically unfit to be in charge. He has to take care of his younger siblings, as well as dealing with Mark (and his short-lived relationship with Emma), and helping Kit at the beginning of the book as well. He also has plenty to think about after his trip to Seelie with Emma, Mark, and Christina, when the Seelie Queen confesses many truths that could change his life, should he choose to make certain decisions. The way Julian thinks about these things definitely shocked me, especially those regarding the Parabatai bond, and how he reacts to the information. It seems like he is losing his Shadowhunter morals slightly, and is possibly blinkered by the hope that he can find a way to be with Emma. However, towards the end, we see that he still keeps his options open, and is there for his family when they need him in the final Council meeting, which has always been his main priority.
Mark, Christina and Kieran are also very key characters throughout this story, and grouping them together in this review is intentional. I’ve talked quite a bit about Mark’s ‘relationship’ with Emma, and I love his awkwardness when they are together, particularly when he wins her Magnus the fish in the beginning. From reading Lady Midnight, we also know that Mark and Christine have a bit of a thing, which definitely develops further in Lord of Shadows, with the addition of a faerie bond they unintentionally gain when in the Unseelie lands. This only brings them closer together, but then cause problems when Kieran believes Mark is still in love with him. This trio are in a constant web of confusing relationships, which is particularly evident in the ballroom scene. I’m very excited to see where this goes, but I will always be rooting for Mark and Christina! Christina also has the added shock at the end when Jaime arrives at the Institute, and she learns about the logistics behind Diego and Zara’s engagement. I loved the introduction of this new character, in particular his interaction with Dru, which I will explore more in a bit. He also come with the addition of a new object- a faerie-made heirloom which has magical abilities only a Rosales can activate. This, along with Jace and Clary’s weapon (again, will be discussed later), could make the final instalment of this trilogy very exciting indeed.
Moving onto Ty, Livvy and Kit, I absolutely adored this trio’s relationship! As Kit got more and more adapted to his life as a Shadowhunter, he seemed to become more connected with Ty and Livvy. It’s amazing for him to have other characters his age who he can talk to and have in this new environment. With Kit coming to the Institute, and his mundane knowledge, we learn more about Ty and his condition we now understand to be autism. We’ve always known Ty to be very smart, and interested in very particular things, as well as his headphones, which others assumed to be a cute quirk. Being able to identify what Ty suffers with, through Kit’s channel of mundane knowledge, it makes him a more relatable character, and quite possibly one of the most realistic. I love how Clare has introduced this into the book, as it brings the Shadowhunter and the mundane world closer together, and therefore more relatable for readers, which I believe is so important for those who use reading as a way to find meaning in life. We can also see this in Diana’s character and her storyline, which will come up later. We can also read Ty through his relationship with Livvy. Besides all of the romantic relationships in this book, it is refreshing to have a connection like Ty and Livvy do; that brother and sister bond that they share is so special and again, makes their character’s more realistic. The part where Ty is distraught to think he could have helped Livvy when she was injured if he had only agreed to be her Parabatai was such a heart-breaking moment for me, because he felt like he failed when he had no idea this would happen, and doesn’t deserve to feel that way! Throughout the book, and also a small section in Lady Midnight, we see subtle hints of Ty’s sexuality as well. The way he talks about Kit, wanting him to be his Watson so they can solve mysteries together, maybe I’m reading it wrong but I feel as though there could be something between them. I was confused at whether Livvy and Kit might be a match, but I now understand from the end of the book that that wasn’t Clare’s intentions!
Livvy really grew as a character in this story because I feel like she didn’t get a lot of the attention in Lady Midnight, but she has really stepped up her game in Lord of Shadows! Of course, we have her connection with Ty, and her newly formed friendship with Kit, but I feel like she really takes charge when she can when the trio are together, particularly when she leads them to find out what Zara’s plans are, and to tell Julian what they know about Uncle Arthur. She has grown in strength as a Shadowhunter and a person, and that was a really important part of her character for me. I did, however, pick up on subtle hints of her fate at the end of the book, possibly because I was unfortunately spoiled for this, so they seemed more obvious to me, like I was constantly on the look out. For example, when she got hurt at the Shadow Market, or when the trio were found by the Seven Riders. The final few pages completely broke me! I was devastated and heart-broken and so many other feelings! I was sobbing so hard when the realisation hit me that Livvy had died. Even though I knew and I was expecting it, it was still such a shock when it happened, and it had to be right at the end on a cliffhanger to have us mourning for two years until the final book!
Kit was such an exciting character in Lord of Shadows, because he was the newbie and we got to see what it’s like starting out as a Shadowhunter for the first time since Clary. The different with Kit is he is a Herondale, Shadowhunter royalty and he didn’t even know it, Kind of like Harry Potter! I constantly felt like he was trying to avoid being a Shadowhunter because of this massive burden that had been out on him that he is related to Jace, who is one of the best known Shadowhunters of today. Kit feels so much pressure to live up to his ‘new’ name, so much that he is trying to avoid it as much as possible. I found it a really special moment when Ty gave Kit his first rune. I feel like this solidified a connection between them that I sincerely hope continues in the next book!
The development of Dru’s storyline was interesting in this installment, because I’ve felt like she wasn’t really included in Lady Midnight. Her small storyline including Jaime reminds us that she is still part of the Blackthorn family, she is living in the Institute, and she is still a Shadowhunter, despite some of the comments she receives about her weight. Again, I feel like this is a way Clare introduces issues that appear constantly in mundane life that are often overlooked in fantasy literature, particularly those detailing warriors in training. It’s important to know that these characters come in all shapes and sizes, with different meant capacities and different ways they deal with things, which reveals a deep and diverse nature to these books, which began with Alec’s homosexuality in The Mortal Instruments. To continue with Dru’s character, she has always been the one I have felt a bit sorry for, so when she meets Jaime, and becomes less shy and more confident in herself when they are together, it made me feel so happy for her that she has more inclusion wth what’s going on in the book. Jaime’s appearance adds a spanner in the works when he reveals information about this heirloom, and even though he has to make a hasty exit after seeing Christina, I really hope this isn’t the last we see of him, for Dru’s sake.
I feel as though Diana, while still a fairly minor character in comparison to others in the book, had a very important storyline. We find out that Diana is transgender, and was born ‘David’ before using mundane medicine to go through the gender transformation. Due to going through a medical route that is not accepted by the Clave, Diana is worries she won’t be accepted to run the LA Institute. Further to the idea of diversity in old of Shadows, we can see with Diana that she is overcome with the fear of not being accepted for who she really is. On top of this, we have her growing relationship with Gwyn. The idea of Shadowhunters and Downworlders being intimate together has become more accepted with regards to the Clave, but it is still frowned upon.
Speaking of the Clave, the Cohort is introduced in this book as well, mainly in the form of Zara and her father. I just wanted to say that I really disliked Zara with a passion! She was so power-hungry and has extremely deformed ideas about what the relationship between Shadowhunters and Downworlders should be! the way she has twisted everyone around her into thinking that the Cohort’s way of thinking is the only way of thinking is disgusting and I think Clare has done an amazing job at writing such an intensely dislikable character. I’m not going to dwell too much on Zara and the Cohort because they make me angry!
Another character aspect of Lord of Shadows I absolutely loved was the inclusion of Magnus and Alec, and how much more involved they were after the end of Lady Midnight. Now Malcolm is gone, Magnus is probably the closest warlock that the Blackthorn’s know, because of their joint relationship with the New York Institute. When Alec became temporary head of the London Institute, I felt so much pride as a reader to see how far Alec has come from City of Bones to now. Magnus and Alec have adopted children, which severely set of Malec feels for me! But the end when we find out that the warlocks are suffering with diminishing powers, and Magnus is really ill, I was (and still am!), fearing for his life! Magnus is such a key character, and came so close to dying at the end of City of Heavenly Fire, before Simon stepped in, I just don’t have the capacity to almost lose him again.
Speaking of The Mortal Instruments gang, lets discuss Jace and Clary. Their role in Lord of Shadows is small, but there is still a lot to take about. We learn they are currently on a mission in the Seelie lands to find a weapon that Sebastian left behind, that has the ability to destroy Shadowhunters. I seriously hope we get more detail on this! Cassandra Clare said in a recent interview that it may not be a ‘what’ they are looking for, but a ‘who’. If you are interested in this more, and you want to know more theories, go and watch PolandBananasBOOKS booktalk for Lord of Shadows, where she goes into more detail about who this ‘who’ could be! There is also a very big deal with jace and Clary’s relationship at the beginning of the book, where we learn that Jace proposed to Clary, but Clary said no! Why?! She has a feeling she is going to die. THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING! We know that Clary has angelic abilities further than ordinary Shadowhunters because of her angel blood, so could this be a way of telling us she can now has a psychic and she is going to die? Could this be foreshadowing for book 3?! Now I have two character’s lives to fear for!!
Finally, we come to Annabel, Malcolm and Arthur. Malcolm has a surprisingly small role in Lord of Shadows considering his major involvement in Lady Midnight. We find he is a live, only for him to die shortly after. I feel his appearance was semi predictable, because killing warlocks, or anything in the Shadow World for that matter, is never that easy. Annabel’s character was quite a mysterious one, and she gave some uneasy feelings at times. I think she is definitely not a normal Shadowhunter anymore, after being dead for goodness knows how long. Does this mean she is half dead? Does she have magical powers, like how she managed to disappear at the very end of the book? On important question is does she still have her runes? Do they work, or can she still receive runes and their powers? I will be interested to learn more about Annabel in the final book, and also hear your thoughts! Arthur, one of our more minor Blackthorn family member’s, sacrifices himself to save the children. Despite knowing he was not well mentally, what he did was so brave and showed that he really did care about taking care of the children, even if he didn’t seem to care much in the past.
I had not idea what turns this book would take, but I was doing less guesswork and more just following the story and reacting as I went along. It was pretty tough to guess, because I still find the Shadow World so unpredictable, with new surpirses that Clare slides into the narrative when you leadt expect it!
I loved the scenes with Emma and Julian in Cornwall, at Malcom’s house. I thought they really embodied their relationship, and summed up what it was like to be Parabatai in love. I also enjoyed watching Kit’s relationship with Ty and Livy grow. They were becoming my favourite characters, and reminded me a bit of the trio from Harry Potter! A final addition that caught my attention was the subtle hints in the writing about characters from The Infernal Devices series, when they living in the London Institute. Jessamine returned as a character, which was amazing, and small things like carvings and writing in books that reminded me about this other era of the Shadow World.
It’s hard to say which scenes were written better than others, because it was all so well written, but if I had to choose, it would be a later scene with Diana and Gywn, where Diana talks more about her past (those who have read the book will understand this in more detail). I thought it was so sensitively written, and really brought Diana’s character to life in a way I have been waiting for since Lady Midnight.
There were some lovely lighthearted moments in the books, and ones that made me chuckle, and they were really enjoyable when they popped up, because the storyline as a whole was a lot darker than the previous book. When it comes to whether or not I cried when reading this… let’s not go there! I can tell you my face was far from dry when I closed the book!
It did take me quite a while to get through Lord of Shadows. It’s by no means a small book, my edition coming in at just shy of 700 pages, but I whizzed through the last 300 pages or so. The story was gripping, there were was no point were I was getting bored, but finding time was an issue for me whilst reading this.
You think you know everything there is to know about the Shadow World? Read Lord of Shadows and then get back to me. I had no idea how complex Clare had made this world, and she still manages to go even deeper into complexities of this fanatsy realm. There was a lot of information about binding in this installment, as we know, the Parabatai bond was a big focus in Lady Midnight, and remains so in Lord of Shadows. I learnt so much about the depth of Cassandra Clare’s writing, and can only imagine how much further it can go in upcoming books/series.
I would highly recommend reading this book if you haven’t already done so, just make sure you read all other books first! If you’ve reached this point, then you’re probably like me, and so deep into the Shdowhunter Chronicles that the only way t is to keep reading. And keep reading I will do! As lonf as Cassandra Clare is writing, I am reading.
My Rating: 5 Muffins out of 5
Where To Buy
If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):
Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)