“Everyone is afraid of something. We fear things because we value them. We fear losing people because we love them. We fear dying because we value being alive. Don’t wish you didn’t fear anything. All that would mean is that you didn’t feel anything.”
― Cassandra Clare,
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.
Eden: I think Cassandra Clare is a phenomenal writer. She has an ability to create worlds that are really fleshed out and that’s what has made readers fall in love with her stories. Lord of Shadows is not like those stories. I wasn’t nearly as invested in this story as I have been with her others and I think part of that is because Clare has overexhausted the Shadowhunter world. I don’t think I’ll read the next book but who knows. 3/5 stars.
Caitlynn: I don’t know if I’m not reading the same book as everyone else in the world, but this really fell flat for me. There were some great redeeming scenes, but overall the book was majorly lacking, which is sad for a 700-page book. The ending got me hooked though, 3.5/5 stars.
Jenn: I’ve really enjoyed Cassandra Clare’s books in the past. However, this series just doesn’t do it for me. Clare seriously knows how to do endings. She’s keeps me reading her series because of the way she concludes them. I anticipate reading the next book in the series but I don’t have the highest of hopes. 3/5 stars
Caitlynn: Ok, Lord of Shadows ratings?
Eden: 3/5 stars.
Jenn: 3/5 stars.
C: I gave it 3.5/5 stars.
E: What did we like about the book?
C: Like Jenn mentioned earlier, the ending really did help the book for me, it helped it that one last half star.
E: What I liked about it… I liked the trio of Livvy, Kit and Ty.
E: Jenn said earlier this week that she could read a book of just those three and I definitely agree with that. Their story line is much more interesting and I think they are a more fun group.
C: But honestly, say that were to happen… Do you think that Clare would just ruin what we like about them eventually?
J: I don’t know, the thing about those three that I liked was that she made them more dynamic characters. There was more to them than just one particular trait that she brings out and I think maybe because she couldn’t sexualize them that took away a lot of fluff that she adds into the other characters.
C: That’s true.
J: We get to see more character development because we got to see that much more of them.
C: That’s so true, because I felt that way about Emma the whole time.
E: Not just Emma, but Mark, and Christina, and Kieran. That’s all those characters are.
C: And Julian the whole book was literally just sexualized the whole time.
E: Yeah and I think that might have been the issue. I feel like when Clare can’t rely on these romantic scenes, then she has to build characters…
J: I don’t know if it’s the “romantic scenes”, it’s the sexualizing every interaction. Rather than having interactions between the characters based off of their relationships, it has to be sexualized, so the relationships don’t come across as real. In a normal relationship, not every time that you are talking to someone are you thinking about sleeping with them… There’s more to relationships than just that.
J, also: You can use the kiss between Livvy and Kit as an example… Clare was still able to build tension and not take away from them. That’s what was missing in all of the other relationships, they all felt very surface-level and all just about desire and not actual intrigue or an connection.
C: It really felt that way in the first book between Emma and Julian. I think that’s why I’m so I’m so upset about the way this book turned out. They felt so much more like parabati in the last book.
J: I think Clare felt stunted by what she developed through the relationship, so she’s trying to make this thing where they are feeling awkward around each other, so their conversations are very surface-level. What she doesn’t realize is that, if they have this whole past behind them, their conversation is still going to flow no matter what is going on because they are parabati. It’s not going to be small talk all the time, which is what we got.
C: I really felt like she was really pushing for Emma to say something clever or snarky every single time she spoke and it felt forced.
J: And the thing that was strange was that it would go from 0 to 100 in a single scene. They would be talking about how awkward it was and then they would be on top of each other.
E: Yeah and taking each others clothes off.
J: There was nothing that led to it so it felt very disjointed throughout the book, it felt like it was going back and forth and back and forth and no gradual climb that you could follow along with. You were being jerked in so many different directions, so that’s what was so unsatisfying about it for me.
E: I think in the first book, I was super into Mark and Kieran’s relationship, but in this book Kieran comes back and the relationship no longer felt right, so I wasn’t interested in seeing them interact. Every time they got into the room together, they would have a random vague conversation and then immediately making out with each other. I got really tired of going into a scene and–
C: I know what’s going to happen…
E: Oh Christina and Mark are in a room together, they are probably going to end up kissing… Oh Mark and Kieran are in a room together, they are probably going to end up kissing… It was really frustrating.
C: I think that was my biggest issue with the book and it just so happens to be the whole book. If that wasn’t in the book, it would have been like 200 pages long instead of 700…
E: Exactly, there was a part in the beginning where Julian and Emma are making out on the front porch of the Institute and they just never talk about it again and she is supposed to be dating Mark at the time… They just never bring it up again, it’s just like that happened now let’s just continue. I couldn’t get into it, I didn’t like it.
J: Honestly, throughout the book, we didn’t really have an end point that we could see it going towards. There was no trajectory that we could see it going towards, so it felt like four different books shoved into one, but it felt like four books that she ripped different chapters out of, mixed them up and then put it together.
C: The only stipulation was that every character had to have a romantic relationship with someone else.
J: Right, so she wrote a book for each character and tried to splice it together to make one book. Nobody was interesting with each other or acknowledging things. Like a scene would happen and it felt like it was totally ignored by everybody, like Eden said. But even people that were in the scene didn’t acknowledge it, so I would be like “What happened?” I can get past throwing in fluff and throwing in this and that, IF there’s a plot point that it’s going to. Instead, Clare’s goal was to get characters in a room together.
E: It felt like 400 pages of this book was just fan-service.
J: I don’t even think it was fan-service.
C: Yeah, it was doing a disservice to fan-service.
J: I legit think that Clare got so much love for sexualized characters in her other books so that’s what she thinks her strong suit is and I’m really disappointed. Really, her strong suit is building worlds and intricate characters. She’s lost that with this book, she’s reverted back to what she thinks people want.
C: Yes, and it’s sad because literally every single chapter has some mention of a previous character that she thinks people love. Herondale, Jace and Clary, so it felt like she was just name-dropping throughout the book.
E: I could be okay with that if more about them came in about them. Nothing else was mentioned about Jace and Clary, there was no reason for them to even be mentioned in the book.
J: There was a line in this book that was in The Copper Gauntlet, almost word for word.
J: I don’t remember exactly what it was…
C: But it must have been significant if you noticed it.
J: I can’t exactly remember, it was something about darkness… I was like girl… stop. That’s what was so frustrating because those books show what she is capable of outside of this world and I really think she is limiting herself because she knows fans love it. If she were to break out and do another series I think her fans would still love it. But I think she’s getting a lot pressure to continue the Shadowhunter world from her publishers.
E: Clare is genuinely a very good writer, she incredibly detailed, you can imagine exactly where a person is standing and exactly what they look like. But this book, in my opinion is a very poor example of her writing. There are people that are saying that this series and this book in particular are the peak of her writing.
J: I don’t feel like I don’t know anything about this book.
C and E: Yeah!
J: I feel like I read this book and don’t remember anything that happened. This issues in the book where issues that didn’t feel like they needed to be solved. It was kind of like them inserting themselves into problems, just to have those problems.
C: Yeah, just have to have that plot point.
E: Exactly, Kieran for example shouldn’t have been their issue at that point. The black volume was not really their problem.
C: If they wouldn’t have gone into Faerie to rescue Kieran then it really would have had no point in the book…
E: Some of these things that are happening really didn’t make sense for the story. I loved the Annabelle concept but we didn’t get nearly enough of it for me to fully enjoy it. I loved that it was this creepy weird concept and you are learning things about the relationship with Malcolm and we would fall back into the sub-par work. There were so many moments that could have been great if Clare would have embellished and fledged them out better.
J: Really, Clare did herself a disservice by putting old characters in…
E and C: Mmhmm.
J: I came out of this book wanting to read the Bane Chronicles again because Magnus is such a great character. Him and Alec compared to the rest of the characters in this book stood out because they were fully fledged characters.
C: Alec and Magnus really stood out to me, especially since this is my first interaction with them since I haven’t read the City of Bones novels or the Bane Chronicles.
J: They had depth to what they were saying and it held significance where everyone else just felt like she just wanted them to speak just to speak.
C: The part where Zara attacks Alec about him dying and Magnus not dying was such an interesting and significant part of the book to me and I wanted to know more about their relationship and who these characters were.
E: When Magnus and Alec walked into the story, it really felt like the story finally woke up.
C: But still not, because it still felt like a whole seperate novel thrown into this book…
J: Which is why the ending was the only reason this book got 3 stars.
E: Yeah, the ending got me, but I’m still like girl… you gotta hold onto me the whole time.
J: I felt like she had to reach page count the whole time I was reading it.
E: Yup, that’s how it felt.
J: She was writing a research paper and had to restate the same thing four different times to get page count.
C: And Herondale is a pretty long last name… I want to know how many times it was said in this book.
E: There was a whole page and a half where Julian and Emma talked about the last name mottos.
J: I liked that part.
E: Me too. I wanted more of that! We only got a page and a half of significant information…
E, also: So 3/5 stars. I probably won’t read the next book…
J: I probably will
C: I’m committed.
E: This is probably a six book series.
C: Did you guys feel like this was a second book syndrome type book.
E: No, we still had issues with Lady Midnight.
J: No, not second book syndrome.