“The Last Stand of the New York Institute” by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Maureen Johnson

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I’m too excited to even bother with my usual rambling intro. Let’s just dive straight into how amazing this was for the Mortal Instruments canon, shall we?

First of all, we get to see Valentine’s Circle at the very beginning, when everyone was so enamoured by Valentine that they are legitimately blinded to their wrongdoings. This was driven home by Luke. Or Lucian, I suppose. Solid, dependable, upstanding Luke on the side of cruelty. That was mind-boggling. But of course Luke would have been loyal; he and Valentine were parabatai. Cassie just shows her innate ability to show the depths in her characters by putting them in all kinds of situations. Even those situations that don’t necessarily show her characters in the best light. Cassie’s characters have flaws. Hallelujah.

And then you get the comparison of Stephen Herondale to his ancestors, Edmund and Will. Can I just ask what the hell happened to the Herondale line? I wonder if it would have been different if Tessa had been able to stick around to raise them properly. But you’d think that both Edmund and William’s capacity for all-consuming love would have been passed down genetically. There had to have been a weak link in the chain somewhere.
This is the brilliance of the Magnus Bane Chronicles: the ability to see family lines and family resemblances first hand. Plus, throwing Tessa in the mix in the second part of the story to show just how much Jocelyn looks like Henry and Charlotte? Pure magic.

And can we just talk about Tessa for a moment? I have missed her! But it is obvious that she’s aged. Well, not aged exactly, but matured. It’s obvious just in the way she is with the other characters. The way she speaks to Jocelyn, with the air of someone who knows their worth, because they have proven themselves over and over again.

Even though she wore black leggings and an oversize gray T-shirt that read William wants a doll, she still always carried an air of formality and authority about her.

Cassie didn’t even really need that sentence. We get that impression from the way Tessa speaks and just how she is in the room. And don’t even get me started on that t-shirt. The name was like a stab to the heart. I’m still not over William’s death! Yes, I know he led a happy life with the woman he loved, but he’s never coming back!

Too. Many. Feels.

Moving back to my original point, it’s so interesting having Tessa in the scene with Jocelyn. Here is a warlock who Shadowhunters once fought both for and over (well, no, Jem and Will never actually fought over her, but you know what I mean), who now has to live with the fact that one of her own descendants, Stephen Herondale, would have killed her if he had ever laid eyes on her. Tessa has to be one of the strongest female protagonists in YA Fantasy. Yes, that includes Katniss and Tris and Rose. None of them will live forever. None of them will know what it is to live long enough to have  all traces of the love of their lives slowly torn from them over the passing of centuries. Tessa is my favourite. I hope to God she’s more involved in City of Heavenly Fire. 

I have only just realised that when I speak about these stories, I always praise Cassie and kind of forget about the other author. There is a reason for this, and it was pointed out to me by my fellow blogger, thebookboozer: the other authors aren’t as familiar with the characters as Cassie. So the problems I had with the dialogue at the beginning of this story? (Way too stilted, formal, and it sounded like these people should have lived in Tessa’s era, not in the late 80s, early 90s.) These were simply problems with having to write someone else’s creation. Now I think of it, this is probably the problem with Alec in What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything (and Who You’re Not Officially Dating Anyway). It must be hard to try and write someone else’s characters…but I’m too much of a purist to care very much.

I also just want to give a bit of a shout out to how realistic the time periods feel in all of these stories. Sure, most of the characteristics of the time are shown through clothing but have you met Magnus? His obsession with clothes makes this such a beautiful touch. Plus, it’s true to character. And who could really pass up an opportunity to see Magnus in the out-there clothes of the 80s? And seriously, just name one of these Chronicles and I will tell you just how true-to-time the story is. I love it.

Also: “The Great Catsby?” “Are you Magnificent Bane?” Classic!

I don’t know about the rest of you Mortal Instruments nuts but I ALWAYS knew there was a link between Fray and Gray. The names were way too similar for it to just be a coincidence. I honestly thought Clary would end up being related to Tessa, but I kind of like the way it turned out better. It was a way for Jocelyn to start making amends for everything she did while she was married to Valentine.
HOWEVER, that entire speech, where Jocelyn changes her last name on a whim? That felt awfully contrived to me. Jocelyn sounded stiff. Not just nervous, because she was speaking to a woman who had had her entire family line obliterated by Jocelyn’s husband, but actually as if Jocelyn were a robot. I blame the other guys.
And then there was a scene in which Jocelyn claims a Downworlder as her best friend and Magnus automatically knows that she’s talking about Luke. Luke hadn’t been mentioned at all in the previous scene. Maybe Cassie was assuming that Magus would know this, or just figured that the reader would figure this out, but this felt like there was a chunk of text that was cut during the editing process and the text hadn’t been changed to accommodate the changes.

“I have no quarrel with Downworlders,”Jocelyn said at last. “I…my best friend is a Downworlder, and I do not believe he is so changed from the person I always loved. I was wrong. I’ll have to live forever with what I did. But please, my daughter did nothing.”
Her best friend, the Downworlder. Magnus supposed that Lucian Graymark was still alive, then, though nobody had seen him since the Uprising.

Now how did he know that? I mean, Magnus is pretty spectacular, but he’s hardly omniscient. This bugged me.

But, on a whole, I loved this. It was amazing. The detail, the depth, and how much this added to the canon was just sublime.

★★★★

And now, my favourite part:

“Stephen Herondale would have killed me if he’d ever met me,”said Tessa. “I would not have been safe living among people like you, or like him. I am the wife and mother of warriors who fought and died and never dishonored themselves as you have. I have worn gear, wielded blades, and slain demons, and all I wished was to overcome evil so that I could live and be happy with those I loved. I’d hoped I had made this a better, safer world for my children. Because of Valentine’s Circle, the Herondale line, the line that was my son’s children’s children, is finished. That happened through you and your Circle and your husband. Stephen Herondale died with hate in his heart and the blood of my people on his hands. I can imagine no more horrible way for mine and Will’s line to end. I will have to carry for the rest of my life the wound of what Valentine’s Circle has done to me, and I will live forever.”

Cue goosebumps.

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About Bec Graham

Bec Graham, 24, was born on the wrong continent. Everything from her burns-like-paper skin tone to her inability to cope with the slightest hint of a hot day suggests she should have been born under the gloomy skies and mild sun of the UK. She hopes writing will get her to her rightful home one day. Failing that, she scans the skies for a spinning blue police box, hoping to catch a lift back to the motherland.
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9 Responses to “The Last Stand of the New York Institute” by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Maureen Johnson

  1. I am still kicking myself over the Gray/Fray thing. How did I not see that coming!!
    I could not agree more about how well each time period is represented not just in TBC, but in TID/TMI. Cassie has a way of capturing a time through the language and style of her characters that is near flawless, but still entirely relatable. I don’t feel like I am reading something written in the 1800’s when I read TID, but the era is evident, if that makes sense?

    Also, I think I may have a solution to the Magnus knowing Luke/Jocelyn were bff’s thing. The interaction in the second half of the book took place after The Uprising right? And as we know from TMI Magnus played a pretty large role in it, even though he doesn’t go into detail about it in this particular story. I think he probably found out along the way that they Jocelyn and Luke were on the same side since he was fighting alongside Luke and the other downworlders against The Circle, right? I may have just assumed that in my brain though!

    • Bec Graham says:

      I was starting to think I was wrong about the names after Clockwork Princess. I’m glad Cassie didn’t let me down. But then again, she never does. And I totally get what you meant. Cassie somehow makes the past relatable. Like those scenes with Jem? Tessa totally would have thought she was forward in kissing him like that, but as 21st century readers, we can totally relate 🙂 plus that whole “up and dusted” exchange where Tessa apologises for her slang? Genius!

      I agree about the whole Uprising thing, and how Magnus basically knew everything about everyone, but it just seemed like a huge leap for other readers. The ones who haven’t read TMI yet, or the ones that read the Bane Chronicles because of the other authors, or because they just look cool (because they totally do). It was just too big a leap in logic for my liking…but that’s just me 🙂

      • I get what you are saying. I forget that some readers may not have read TMI or TID. Honestly, I am so incredibly sad for the ones who have not read TID, but have read The Midnight Heir. Talk about spoilers!!

      • Bec Graham says:

        It’s my training: always think of the reader haha. Aww man, I accidentally mentioned Midnight Heir to a friend of mine who hasn’t read Clockwork Princess yetI felt awful! And then another friend, who hasn’t read Mortal Instruments yet, I accidentally said Jace Herondale instead of Jace Wayland. Good thing she loves the Herondales so much that she wasn’t mad!!!

      • Haha I do the Jace Herondale thing so much. Just because it is wired in my brain that way now. Wayland just sounds weird and Morgenstern just makes me hateful and I ignore it all together!

      • Bec Graham says:

        Me too! It’s weird to re-read City of Bones and hear him called Jace Wayland. But I do love that scene with Isabelle where she basically says “you’re an idiot, Jace, you’re Jace Lightwood”. That’s how I want to think of him, but I love the Herondales too much , haha.

  2. I don’t think it was strange that Magnus knew who Jocelyn was talking about. At the werewolves’ lair Valentine said to Luke to stop by his house that night because Jocelyn wanted to talk to him. Luke replied instantly: ” Of course. Anything for you and Jocelyn”. Then, Valentine and Luke started organizing another attack to the werewolves. Later, Magnus says that there were rumors about some Shadowhunter turning into a werewolf. So when Jocelyn used the words “best friend” and “Downworlder” Magnus linked these facts and concluded that Luke must be who she was talking about.

    • Bec Graham says:

      I totally agree with you. But it just felt a little jarring as a reader. Magnus just knew. And we only knew because we’d read TMI. I was trying to lool at the story as an outsider. Just one sentence saying that Magnus had linked the two details together would have helped anyone who hasn’t read TMI, that’s all.

  3. Pingback: “The Course of True Love (and First Dates)” by Cassandra Clare | My Infernal Imagination

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