Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Summary from Goodreads:
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.
This book was intense. Book 1 ended in such a dramatic spot that I could not wait to dive into this one. And dive I did. I read this 699-page monster in a couple of days. That being said, the beginning was almost painful to read.  After how Emma made a terrible decision in the end of book 1, I had to watch the separation of my ship. And ugh, it was painful. Painful to watch Emma with Mark. And painful to watch all the pain Julian continued to go through.
On top of that, there is everything else! The L.A. Institute is invaded by the worst shadow hunters in training. More and more sea monsters are popping up. And soon it becomes clear that a certain evil warlock from book 1 is not in fact actually dead. There is a ton of animosity between the shadow hunters and the fey.  This however, does not stop our favorite characters from venturing into the land of fairy to rescue someone. It also doesn’t’ stop a big deal from being made.
It soon becomes evident that another big downworlder war is on the horizon. It’s not clear what side the shadowhunters will be on: that of the ignorant and hateful new group of shadowhunters who want to cut all ties with all downworlders, or the right side (which involves making allies with past enemies.
There’s a lot of parallels between this installment and current American politics. I couldn’t help but compare the ignorant, hateful shadowhunters to ignorant, hateful Americans…but also, this book really opened my eyes as to why the series couldn’t have ended where I initially wanted it to. Things cannot be left this way between shadowhunters and fairies. And stuff needs to seriously change for the better in shadowhunter politics.
Why was this book intense? Mostly, the last hundred or so pages destroyed me emotionally. Clare is not afraid to kill off characters I love. And I was not prepared for that ending at all. This wasn't just a sad ending and a cliff hanger. This was an ending in the middle of utter insanity, chaos, and destruction. How long until the next book?

Also, Clare improves and gets better with each book. Her character development is above and beyond anything I've read so far this year. I feel like these characters are my friends. They are so real. I loved getting to see Alec and Magnus’s matured relationship. I loved learning about the L.A. tutor and seeing her get her own love story. I loved watching Julian and Emma try to stay away from each other. Clare knows how to write forbidden love, really, really well. I love how Clare touches on the topic of autism. She now has bisexual characters, mentally ill characters, gay characters, characters from institutes around the world, and a shadowhunter with autism. Keep bringing the diverse casts, please.
All in all, I was impressed with this volume. I loved the politics. I loved the character growth. I loved re-visiting old friends. I loved getting to know new friends. The action, especially at the end, was beyond crazy. There’s also this depth to the characters and sadness to them that wasn’t there with the generation before them. These main characters are already survivors of so much war and loss. And knowing more is coming for them, is just so intense and hard to read, but also addicting. I give it a 10/10.

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