Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Dark Artifices Book #2
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Action
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Visit Lord of Shadows‘ goodreads page here
SYNOPSIS: “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. “
DISCLAIMER: This review contains spoilers for not only Lord of Shadows, but may spoil events in all other books in the Shadowhunter Chronicles. Continue at your own risk.
This book was an utter masterpiece of literary fiction, and I guarantee I will be thinking about it for year upon years. Lord of Shadows starts 2 weeks after its predecessor Lady Midnight, and it didn’t slow down in the weeks following. The main plot point of this novel is trying to locate Annabel Blackthorn and the Black Volume, who had risen from the dead by Malcolm Fade in the previous novel. In doing this, they are no longer safe at the home at the Los Angeles Institute and take up refuge in the London Institute, which is also near the Cornwall Institute where Annabel had was born and raised. The group must unravel hundreds of years of information to try and infiltrate Annabel’s mind to locate the Black Volume, for the hope of reuniting their family and restoring peace to the Faerie lands.
Can I just start out by saying I love Cassandra Clare and will always have a soft spot for her in my heart as she ignited my love for this genre, and a lot of people think that the Shadowhunters have been extended beyond reason, but I completely disagree. With every new book she releases, her writing has improved tenfold and I love seeing how much intensity and depth she creates with every additional novel! That being said, I have very mixed feelings about this story. I absolutely adored it now that I have finished, but when I was reading I felt that it was unnecessarily long and detailed in specific chapters which hindered my experience.
By now, I’m sure every man and his dog have read this book, so I thought I’d focus more on the discussion rather than a full-length review because there are thousands of them available. Nonetheless, let’s jump in!
Now I know that a lot of people dislike this novel purely because they have matured and so has their reading taste, and there is nothing wrong with that, however, I personally loved it! I pretty much give all her novels 5 stars by default because they always manage to blow me away, and Lord of Shadows was no exception.
This extra addition to the Shadowhunter Chronicles follows the beautiful Blackthorn family and their fight for survival, happiness and the ability to stay together. Their complex relationships are really my favourite aspect of the family; each member of the group, even the ‘honorary blackthorns’ care so deeply for each other and will literally fight to the death to ensure the others stay safe which I find really heart-warming and we haven’t seen a family like that before. Even Christina and Kieran who are fairly new members to the story have managed to become deep rooted into the family tree if you will, and everyone else has learned to appreciate them and their wide variety of talents. They have become a force to be reckoned with even though they are essentially a group of teenagers.
What I loved about this book was that each member has grown on their own and each has their own subplot rather than the younger members getting lost in the story. We learned about how Dru feels like an outsider in the group because they wish to protect her due to her age, which may be causing more harm. We had countless scenes were Livvy was on her own proving her tenacity and showing off her sarcastic nature, and separate scenes where Ty stole the show with his detective skills which ultimately saved the day when Annabel arrived at the institute. With that being said all of the characters, even Arthur went on such a drastic journey in character development within this 700-page novel that completely astonishes me. Emma and Julien truly show their ferocity and have started to showcase their self-destruction nature when they are alone, Diana trusts Gwyn and they dive into her past and why she couldn’t possibly be the head of the LA Institute, and Mark & Christina have such a platonic love which was a nice distraction from the overwhelming sexual tension from everyone else!
I really loved the variety of places that the story was set because the characters seemed to have different personalities in each place. The squad went from the Land of Faerie to multiple English Institutes then found their way to Alicante. I feel like each place really left a mark on each character’s emotions and motives for the remainder of the novel which I felt was lacking in Lady Midnight. They seemed to have somewhat of an epiphany in each place they visited which was interesting as they weren’t in their ‘home territory’ which severely altered their reactions, although I how different in would have ended if they stayed in the Los Angeles Institute. I guess we’ll never know.
The one aspect I didn’t like was how little Annabel had an impact on the novel. I understand the main premise of this story is the journey the Blackthorns undertake to locate her, which makes this sounds little ridiculous and I understand that, but I really felt like there was little focus on her as a character and more of the ‘idea of her’. We only got to meet her three times in the whole novel, which would be about 100 pages maximum, but I expected more from her considering the enormous lengths Malcolm went to resurrect her in the previous instalment. I can see that she will be a major influence on the events in Queen of Air and Darkness so I guess it’s understandable that she wanted to set the history of the character so we understood her motives, but it still feels extremely underwhelming.
It wouldn’t be a Cassie Cassandra book without an utter heart-shattering death, and in this case, we had a few (of which I am still not over!).
Firstly, Arthur Blackthorn was an absolute hero and I’m glad he had a death that showed his true nature rather than the injured man who we were acquainted with. The way that the selflessly sacrificed himself for his family was brave. Considering most of the interactions we had with him were short and rather disjointed due to his mental instability which was derived from torture, I was absolutely blown away by the fact that he was capable of this noble act which showed that he truly cared for his nieces and nephews even when he was unable to care for them.
Secondly, Robert Lightwoods death was sudden and shook me to the core. To be fair I was surprised that the entire Lightwood family had survived the Dark War in The Mortal Instruments, and they were all happy so I thought it was all too good to be true, but it didn’t hurt any less. The way that Alec had run to his side for his dying moments and clutched to his body like nothing in the world mattered to him shook me to the core. We all know the Alec doesn’t show emotion unless it’s deep, so the way that he screamed out for this father was utterly heartbreaking. Although he wasn’t exactly my favourite character because he has a rather shady past, he somewhat redeemed himself in my eyes.
Last of all and probably the worst was precious little Livvy. Livvy and Ty are my absolute favourite Blackthorns and I loved that their love for each other was so deep that they were practically one person, so the thought of Ty waking up without his twin absolutely obliterated my heart. She was hilarious with her sarcastic and snarky comments about everything remind me so much of Will and Jace, but she was also the perfect balance of Ty’s shy nature and I hate how it was left on the cliff-hanger! I need to know that my precious little bean Ty will be alright but no- I need to wait 2 freaking years!
What I absolutely adored about this novel is that she was that she clearly drew inspiration from the world around her, and added her own fantastical twist to make it less daunting to talk about. The way the Cohort and the Dearborns were depicted closely mirrored the current far-right activists in America. Their complete aversion of all downworlders was heartbreaking, yet was even worse when you compared it to Islamophobia and the anti-Mexican sentiment held by the minority of the population, and even the president. I love when authors use characters as a way of allusion to the bigger picture, or as a political statement to lend a hand of support and comfort to their readers who are in the harassed communities.
From some reviews I have read, it seems that people have a problem with how some characters are portrayed. I can agree that the more diverse characters might be a little problematic at times, but when you contrast that to the characters in Cassandra’s first released novel, City of Bones, there is a vast improvement. The main character arcs in her first series mostly followed white characters with very little variance in religion and ethnicity; however, in Lord of Shadows, I was blown away by the diversity. Not only were there characters from other ethnic backgrounds, but there was a range of sexual orientations, mental disabilities and disorders, and even gender including transgender representation. So perhaps they were accurately portrayed, but it is a huge step in the right direction and hopefully, it will start a movement in the Young Adult genre to include a more varied character list (because I think we can all agree the ‘teenage white girl saving the world’ trope is getting a bit old)
THEORIES AND PREDICTIONS FOR THE QUEEN OF AIR AND DARKNESS:
- Who is the Queen of Air and Darkness?
I think it’s safe to assume that the Queen of Air and Darkness is alluding to the Seelie Queen as the Lord of Shadows was revealed to be the Unseelie King. With that being said, if she were the Queen of both Air and Darkness perhaps this means that in the foreboding war between the two, it ends with her conquering the entire kingdom; due to the evil and darkness of the Unseelie and the purity and air of the Seelie Court.
Although, this may seem too obvious so I think that it could also be alluding to Annabel who will side with the Unseelie King to gain revenge of the Shadowhunters that have hurt her. Considering she still has the Black Volume in her possession she will be a rather valued asset that will bring evil to the Kingdom, hence Queen of Darkness. However, I’m unsure of how the Air would be brought into play but the Riders are allied with the Unseelie King so perhaps they will have a connection, as of now I am unsure what but I’m hopeful!
- Emma and Julian’s relationship
With Robert now dead it seems very unlikely that Emma will be exiled as they can’t trust the other members of the Consul, and even if she was I doubt it would last with the upcoming war between Faerie and Shadowhunters. Due to this, their parabatai bond is likely to become stronger leading to their destruction as the Warlocks also have issues of their own regarding the strength of their power.
As in most Cassandra Clare books, everything is right in the end so it’s likely that they will find a loophole and that the spell in the Dark Volume will only terminate their parabatai bond, but I hope it doesn’t. A big theme of this series is that life is often unfair, but you must learn to adapt and survive, so I hope not every problem is solved by the end. I hope that they remain parabatai and must figure out a way to survive and manage their feelings for as long as possible. You might think that I’m cruel, but I find that it would be the most satisfying ending; because let’s face it, life isn’t perfect.
- Kit and Ty
It’s clear that Ty is going to struggle with the loss of his twin, partner in crime, and future parabatai Livvy, and it seems that Kit will be his new person of comfort. Their relationship has flourished within the few weeks they were together in Lord of Shadows and I see their future going 1 of 2 ways.
Firstly, they may agree to become parabatai because Ty will struggle now that ‘his other half’ is now gone. However, I think this may cause an issue. Kit seems to be infatuated with Ty and wishes to protect him no matter the cost, which could be interpreted as their parabatai bond, but I like to think of it as romance. When Julian was thinking about when he first realised he was in love with Emma he mentioned how his behaviour had changed and how she was the only thing that mattered; I think we can all agree that this is extremely like how Kit feels about Ty. I would ironic how death would bring these two together, just for them to fall in love. A full circle of events if you will.
Also, the fact that a future trilogy, The Wicked Powers, follows Ty and Kit after TDA solidifies the fact that their relationship is going to evolve and become the main plot point.
- The destruction of The Cohort and the Dearborns
I think we can all agree that The Cohort was the absolute worst and that the ring leaders were partially responsible for evoking Annabel to murder Robert and Livvy. Although they hold the minority of the Shadowhunters, they have immense power due to the Dearborn name at the centre, but Annabel’s confession is bound to have some type of effect on their control in the Clave. I hope that their own ignorance of the downworlders power will lead to their death, but that is far too obvious and therefore, not likely to happen.
I believe they will use Robert and Livvy’s deaths to their advantage, and use them as some sort of leverage to prove that downworlders are dangerous that will lead to them gaining more power. Perhaps to the point where they gain the LA institute to put forward their law to register all downworlders before they are overthrown by the destruction of the Cold Peace.
Whatever happens, I hope the novel ends with the destruction of The Cohort and even the Dearborns because God they deserve it!
- Christina and the faerie duo
The weird love triangle between Christina and Mark & Kieran was perhaps my favourite relationship in this novel. I love how they weren’t all romantic towards each other, yet all three of them would protect the other two no matter what and I really respect that. However, I believe that Mark and Christina will get that step further now that Kieran has established that he no longer loves Mark the same as he did in the Hunt. Honestly, I love the threesome as it is now, mutual love much like the infamous The Infernal Devices triangle, but I don’t necessarily hate the thought of them together. They have an incredible amount of chemistry they absolutely help lift each other to become the best version of themselves so I approve!
- Clary and her vision
During the opening chapters, Clary says to Emma that she has a reoccurring dream that a terrible event is going to happen which will lead to the destruction of the Shadowhunter race and ultimately leading to her death: it can be assumed that it will be the faerie war. This is supported by the fact that Magnus also senses danger coming which makes me think that it can’t be a coincidence. As I said before, the most satisfying ending for this trilogy would be one of imperfection, and the ultimate flaw will be her death.
When Julian was looking through the scrying glass there was a brief scene where he saw Jace and Clary lying in a grass field. Clearly, this scene is meaningful, and I believe that they were in the land of the Faerie. At the beginning, they mentioned how they were on a mission to take a weapon which was left there by Sebastian Morgenstern, and from past descriptions of the Land of Faerie it is practically a giant meadow; these two are too alike to be a coincidence.
As Clary is a hero within the Shadowhunter world, I believe she will somehow sacrifice herself for the weapon and the greater good of the race so that they win the war. Obviously, this will be hell for her family and friends (and frankly for all of us as well), but it needs to be done: it will show the absolute danger and uncertainty of being a Shadowhunter by bringing down one of the strongest and most talented.
I think that someone from Christina’s past is going to die and we know that it can’t be Jaime, so I’m leaning more towards Diego purely because he’s ‘Perfect Diego’. When the group where in the London Institute Jaime mentioned that their family were hiding something from the Dearborn’s and the Cohort, and I think this might come into play. From my recollection, Jaime wasn’t quite sure what this item was capable of, and if they were to fight in the battle with the Faerie it might become some type of weapon that Diego will be willing to protect with his life. He will have the courageous death and everyone will think of him as a hero, which to be fair, he deserves for putting up with Zara’s shit for so long!
I think we can all agree that Annabel is probably going to die after her outburst in the final scenes of Lord of Shadows. As she is a major Villain to the story right now, and one who is missing with a weapon that could cause utter destruction to the world of Shadowhunters whom she also hates with a vengeance, it’s likely she will be hunted killed. I’m not sure this is going to occur exactly, but if my predictions are correct, I think she might be killed in the Faerie war when she sides with the Unseelie King. I imagine that the Unseelie Court will fall at the hands of the Seelie Knights and Shadowhunter fighters and she will be among the crew. I also hope one of the Lightwoods are the one to finish her as some sort of vengeance for Robert.
Now, this last character all depends on how the Clave deal with the Cold Peace. If it is eradicated Helen can come home to her family which will be a happy ending to that sub-plot; but Cassie is too cunning for that to happen. She will allow them to have some well-earned family time, then I think either Mark or Helen will die. It would be a little ironic for one of the half-faerie siblings to die within the war after the major threat to their safety and well-being has been removed.
Although, if it’s not removed I think the fallen one may be Kieran. He has a great relationship with most of the Blackthorn squad, especially Mark and Christina. It also doesn’t seem too unlikely considering he has no wish to become the new Unseelie King, and he is hated by most of the population for murdering two members of the court in cold blood. He has a lot of enemies, including the Shadowhunter population, and it’s likely to catch up with him at some stage.
As you may be able to tell, I loved this book. My heart has never been so full of love and full of despair at the same time, and the next 2 years are going to be hell waiting for the next instalment!
So have you read this book, and did you enjoy it? Let me know below and please tell me about your predictions and theories for Queen of Air and Darkness! I hope you enjoyed and I’ll see you next time