So, I suck. I was planning to do this every week, but then I decided to make an immense cross stitch for my sister’s birthday, and I massively underestimated it. As in, it’s still not finished, and her birthday was on the 18th February. Worst sister ever. On the upside, I managed to get to England for a weekend and show her the work in progress, so yay! I’ll of course be blogging it here (ha, as if I don’t have at least two posts worth of cross stitches waiting in the wings even as we speak) and now that she’s seen it, I feel like I can talk about it spoiler-free, as it were. Not that I even know if she reads this blog.
So, in other news I’ve been to a few iaido seminars recently, which have cut back on stitching/blogging time. And on the 16th/17th March, at Bad Homburg Hochtaunushalle, I’ll be competing in the German nationals, so, you know, there’s that! If you’re in the area – come along! It’s free!
Slightly related to this, I’ve been having shoulder trouble recently. Long story short, I have hypermobile joints, and my shoulders have been grinding (more than usual) and giving me some pain. I eventually went to see someone, terrified that my mother was right and I finally had arthritis to show me right for freaking out shoe shop assistants and classmates etc with my “party tricks”, but the orthopaedic guy reckons it’s muscular, not joint-related, which was a huge relief. Still waiting to find out what to do about it, but at least it’s looking manageable/fixable. Take that, hypermobility. Still got some years in my joints yet.
So that’s the life update, I’m sure it was fascinating. Let’s get on with the ~scholarly analysis~ of City of Bones.
Chapter five. Hold on to your hats, kids.
Clave and Covenant. Ominous. And alliterative!
We last left Clary being poisoned by a demon when she went against all common sense and ran home after her mother wasted what sounded like her last moments explicitly telling her not to, and being carried away by the super
obnoxious dreamy Demon Hunter Jace.
We open this chapter with her waking up. She hears a snippet of conversation above her, of Isabelle talking about how easily the boring mundanes die, and being patronised by someone else, probably Alec, about how “they don’t have runes to keep them strong like we do“.
Her thoughts run as thickly as blood or honey, because those things have similar viscosity, and she has some ridiculous prophetic dreams. Isabelle and Alec talk over her some more about how she’s super special for killing a Ravener (yeah, with Jace’s phone thing, guys, it’s not like she actually did anything herself. She threw a magical phone at it. It practically killed itself.) and Isabelle gets in a cheap shot about how she’s not pretty, because girls are always jealous of each other. It is the law.
So she wakes up for realsies and only Isabelle is there, so they talk. Isabelle’s like “You killed that thing, but you’re so dull!” and Clary’s like “I KNOW RIGHT.” They kind of bitchily dance around each other some more, throw some more names around, and Clary calls Jace rude (which he is) but seemingly for burning her bloody, poison-soaked clothes (what?) Isabelle confirms that he’s a dick to everyone, which is “what makes him so damn sexy“, holy shit, does anyone actually talk like that? Who the hell thought it was a good idea to conflate douchebag with sexy?
Oh, Cassandra Clare. Of course.
OK, let’s take a short break. Check this out. Notice how she all but comes out and says her female characters are totes feminist, yo, and anyone who doesn’t like them is either a misogynist or dealing with internalised misogyny.
Then back to the book, where she actually just made one female character tell the other female character that guys being rude and obnoxious makes them sexy.
It really doesn’t. As someone who’s known rude people in her time, it is not sexy. Why am I even having to say this. Someone being patronising and deliberately mysterious and disrespectful is not sexy.
Anyway, Jace has also killed the most demons of anyone his age, which also makes him sexy? (Yay murder…? I know they’re demons, but later on you’ll see that things aren’t as black and white as us = good, them = bad.) Also he’s an orphan, and not Isabelle’s brother.
So Clary toddles off to have a wash and change into the clothes that Isabelle has kindly lent her, only to whine through the narration that they look ridiculous, presumably to make us feel bad for her being an ugly duckling some more, and then goes walkabout through the Institute, which is a giant church or something. She can hear a piano being played with desultory but undeniable skill, which, how can skill be desultory? and I almost had to drop the book to keep my eyes from rolling out of their sockets.
OMG JACE PLAYS THE PIANO SO HOT AND ORIGINAL.
I know, I know, I can’t really bitch because omg he plays piano, but seriously, guys. You guys. Seriously. Obnoxious, socially-stunted male leads should be BANNED from playing musical instruments. I just do not associate it with good things anymore. Blame YA lit.
She interrupts him and he’s like “OK let’s go see Hodge” after she makes a snide remark at him for burning her clothes. Dude, they were full of demon poison. For fuck’s sake. Were you really going to wear them again? No. So drop it already.
As they walk through this ridiculously opulent place, Jace explains more about what it is, an embassy for Shadowhunters, and Isabelle, Alec and unseen younger brother Max are children of some “diplomats”. No more is explained about what they actually do, as far as I remember, or why they need diplomats, who they visit, what they talk about, etc. Enjoy the not knowing. I mean, they’re hammering out some “delicate peace negotiations” in Shadowhunter country right now, but on behalf of whom? THEY ARE SHADOWHUNTERS. WHO ARE THEY REPRESENTING?
Whatever, so Shadowhunter land is called Idris, and it’s full of Harry Potter-esque spells so no one can find it and it’s on no maps. Jace is so smug even Clary notices, and he’s all like “For our purposes you can consider it a small country between Germany and France.”
Now I’m not sure if he means it’s actually there, or if he’s giving a hypothetical answer. As far as I’m concerned, neither the author nor any of the characters are smart enough for that.
Clary, ever the brightest crayon in the box, says, “But there isn’t anything between Germany and France. Except Switzerland.”
NO YOU DON’T SAY. IT’S NOT LIKE THAT WAS HIS POINT.
Also, really? Nothing but Switzerland? That’s your final answer? Don’t want to phone a friend? Belgium and Luxembourg, sorry, you no longer exist.
Unless… Idris is Luxembourg.
Jace was brought up in Idris, Clary muses that it’s like Mecca or Jerusalem (dude) and then they’re at the library, where there’s a cat called Church and also Hodge, who you can consider for our purposes to be
a small country between Germany and France Giles, the sarcastic British librarian. Clary looks around the library, which is as luxurious as everything else ever, and Hodge is like “HEY JACE YOU NEVER TOLD ME SHE WAS A BOOK LOVER”.
1) How is Jace meant to know this, as it would require him to actually know Clary at all, and also require him to stop thinking about himself for two minutes.
2) I’m sorry, you can’t tell someone is a book-lover by how they walk into a library. Maybe she’s an architecture fan and was checking out the room. Maybe she was looking at the wood carvings. OMG this book annoys me.
Blah, Hodge has a raven called Hugo (I’m going to cut the bullshit and tell you that YES, he is named after Huginn, because that’s totally not overdone or obvious at all, GOD JUST STOP TRYING TO BE CLEVER). Hodge (Starkweather) is all self-deprecating and admiring of how Clary killed a Ravener, and Jace is like “She threw my Sensor down its throat and it must have choked on the runes I guess, because that sounds like a plausible thing that would happen” so that’s one mystery solved, I guess.
She sees Alec, who seems to hate her for no reason, even weirder when you consider that he was the good cop when he was talking to Isabelle over her poisoned body, and is predictably pretty. Blah he insults her being from New Jersey (“OMG I’M FROM BROOKLYN YOU SPOILED BRAT”) and Jace is like “lol poor people” and Alec is like “why are you letting her be mean to me, we’re parabatai!” which means they’re hunting BFFs which means Cassandra Clare is fandom-baiting!
Cassandra Clare, much like Thanfiction of DAYD fame, is very familiar with fandom. It doesn’t surprise me that she baits hers now that she has her own. But it’s so lazy. Just as Thanfiction’s “Oh I wrote this ambiguously gay duo COMPLETELY UNINTENTIONALLY! What is this human emotion you call slashfic?” rang utterly hollow, I refuse to believe that Clare didn’t know exactly what she was doing when she wrote this parabatai stuff. Laying out a little trail of breadcrumbs for the slashers. Now, instead of character dynamics, they have this made-up word to spark the fanfiction! Much easier!
Jace and Alec argue over whether Clary killed the thing or not (Jace on her side, of course) and then Alec’s like “But Raveners are search-and-destroy machines! [Stellar writing, there, Clare. Keep it up] What were they doing in a mundie household?” and insinuates that they were after Clary’s mam for ILLEGAL DEMON SUMMONING and Clary’s like “doubt it, it ws probably Madame Dorothea downstairs”, but that turns out to be a dead end, because Jace has already checked her out and she’s a fake. Apparently.
So they talk about informing the Clave (don’t know who they are? That’s because they haven’t been explained. Cassandra Clare seems to know only one way to worldbuild, and it’s by namedropping to confuse the protagonist and then explaining it clumsily later. Get used to it) and Jace is all NO and Hodge is like but she’s the first mundane to cross our threshold in five hundred years and Jace is like NO, SHE IS NOT A MUNDANE.
Dun dun dun.
Then Jace confesses that he drew a rune on her and it worked, whereas if she was a mundane she would have just died or turned into a zombie, and Hodge is like WHAT ARE YOU CRAZY. Clary’s like well I guess Luke would know OMG MUST CALL LUKE!
So she does, and he’s a massive dick. He tells her not to go to his place because it’s too dangerous, which, OK, and then not to bother him with her problems again because he’s got his own.
Now actually at first I was like “Wow, harsh.” But then I thought, maybe this is the only way Clary will get it through her thick skull not to go running to places she’s told not to go. You have to admit, she has no sense of self-preservation.
So she’s all I WILL NOT CRY and Alec and Jace bog off to the weapons room, because OF COURSE they have a weapons room, and Hodge is like “Most people don’t cry when they’re upset or frightened, but rather when they’re frustrated.”
Are you serious? Do you know ANYTHING about human emotion?
Hodge offers her tea and she’s like “NO I WANT TO KILL WHOEVER TOOK MY MOTHER,” and he says “Unfortunately, we’re all out of bitter revenge at the moment, so it’s tea or nothing.”
Maybe this is me being paranoid and holding the sins of the past against Clare, but… did she steal that? It sounds like something she would have stolen.
So she tells Hodge what happened, tells him her mam didn’t even like her reading manga (of course) because she was so against stories of the fantastic, which Hodge thinks is super weird probably because he hasn’t read Harry Potter. Dursleys, much?
Then she mentions Valentine and he’s like OH MY GOD NOT VALENTINE. BUT HE’S BEEN DEAD THESE FIFTEEN YEARS GONE and it turns out the Accords are the peace negotiations Isabelle and Alec’s parents are involved in, which is for peace between Shadowhunters and Downworlders. So why they need their foreign diplomats to go home to work on this is still not explained.
So Downworlders are like werewolves, fairies, anything supernatural, and Shadowhunters are the Nephilim. Spare me. Are the Nephilim the new thing now? Can we not, please?
Blah Nephilim legends, a load of men drank the angel Raziel’s blood from the Mortal Cup and now the cup can be used to create more Shadowhunters. But there is no more cup, because Valentine, a rogue Shadowhunter not unlike the Forsworn in Eragon, burnt it. He hated Downworlders, blah blah, Hodge is all “BUT DOWNWORLDERS ARE TOTALLY ENTITLED TO LIVE IN THE WORLD AS MUCH AS WE ARE” and he’s like wow this is probably really boring for you, sorry, making him the only self-aware character in this whole book. He sends her off to see Jace in the weapons room, and the cat leads her there.
The chapter ends with Hodge writing a letter and remembering some battle in Idris and bleeding on the paper.
What will happen next???