A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{November 19, 2010}   City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Plot: There have been a lot of changes in Clary’s life. She once thought she was just a mundane, a normal human. She has since found out that she is a Shadowhunter, descendant of a line a warriors granted powers by an angel to fight demons. She has loved and lost and discovered horrible truths about her past and her family. And there is worse in store for her. In this volume she travels to the Nephilim capital of Alicante, the City of Glass, to find a way to wake her mother from her coma. The mystery of the mortal instruments and the war with the rogue Shadowhunter Valentine are about to come to a head and the Shadowhunters’ world will be changed forever.

You can’t believe how hard it was to write that summary without spoiling the first two books. ;P I feel like I ended up saying nothing. Anyways, on to the review.

This book is long and dense compared to the ones I’ve been reading lately; don’t expect to read it in an afternoon. Nor is City of Glass the place to start reading. This is the third book in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series (the fourth, City of Angels, is due out in spring 2011) and there are enough twists and revelations in the first two books to leave a new reader completely lost. But for all that, this is a truly enjoyable read and well worth the time I invested in it.

I love Clare’s characters, all of them from Clary to the nameless Shadowhunter met for two pages on the battlefield. They are complex and unique, never falling into a stereotype. They feel like real people with real feelings, failings and strengths. Their reactions to the events and people around them are always true. Clare explores and develops a number of her characters in this volume. Most interesting, I think, is her development of the two villains of the piece who you come to understand better, if not forgive.

And yet, for all that character development, the pace never seems to slow. This is a book full of action, mysteries and twists. A few times I found myself thinking: “Ok, they’ve found the [quest item], how is Clare going to fill another 250 pages?” And then she throws five more twists at me before I have the chance to catch my breath. I won’t say the plot is surprising. I guessed most of the big revelations before they happened. But somehow, it didn’t matter if I was caught off guard because the emotional effect on the characters is almost palatable. You care about the characters and thus you care about how these new truths affect their lives.

Clare’s mention of the Angel Sanctuary manga made me laugh (though I can’t believe she had a 9 year-old reading it!). The parallels between the two series are unmistakable. They are both about angels and demons, an upheaval in heaven and incestuous love with enormous casts of characters. Though I do think, that while this series lacks Kaori Yuki’s breathtaking art, Clare does a much better job of constructing a coherent plot.

If you are a fan of urban fantasy and forbidden love of all kinds, this series is a must.

I don’t much care nearly as much for the trailer but I’ll let you make up your own minds about that:


H.L.Fatnassi says:

Ah, I’ve seen this one in the bookstore before and was curious but hadn’t yet picked it up. I tend to shy away from urban fantasy not because I don’t like it, but because I don’t really know the genre and I picked up a couple of forgettable books in the past.

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