“The Course of True Love (and First Dates)” by Cassandra Clare


After finishing Belladonna about a week ago, I haven’t actually touched a novel. I had the very first exam of my psychology degree today and I’ve been spending every single second studying, or preparing for study. I think I did alright. But being the first one finished is always awkward. In my experience it means you either nailed it or completely bombed out. And I can’t afford to bomb out. The GPA to get into Honours is pretty competitive. I think I need a 6 (Distinction) overall just to get in. Which means I basically have to ace everything. No pressure or anything.

I managed to take a break to read “The Course of True Love (and First Dates)”. Thank God, otherwise I think I would have lost my mind. I haven’t gone so long without a plots and characters before. I was actually kind of glad this story took so long to come out. It meant that I got some new TMI to prepare me for City of Heavenly Fire in two months. I am both ecstatic and terrified that CoHF is the last in the TMI series. Once I’ve finished reading it, it’s all over.

I’m distracting myself. Moving onto “The Course of True Love (and First Dates).

I loved it. I absolutely loved it. And you know why? Because this was pure, unadulterated Cassandra Clare. Did you notice how funny this was? She got to write her characters on her own without outside influence and it really showed. Magnus is a hilarious character and that was something that was tempered with Ms. Clare writing these stories with other people. Those authors may be talented, but they don’t know the Shadowhunter crew like Cassie does.

What I loved most about this story was Alec’s character development. Seriously, I hated Alec all through The Mortal Instruments. I thought he was weak-willed, selfish, and a coward – putting Magnus through all that pain just because he couldn’t let go of Jace. Even after it was painfully obvious that Jace was so obviously in love with Clary from day one. (I know, I know, it takes a while to get over someone, but I would have though Jace falling in love with a girl would have told Alec that Jace just didn’t swing that way). As I have said countless times before, Alec’s throwing Clary up against the wall in City of Bones basically made me want to hate him for life. And the only reason I tolerate his character is for Magnus’ sake. Magnus is incredible and if he loves Alec then he, Alec, must have some redeeming qualities.

But I think, because The Mortal Instruments revolves around Jace and Clary, we don’t get Alec’s full character. I am in no way saying that Alec is a two-dimensional character. But we don’t see enough of him to get the full picture, if you know what I mean. It was like seeing Luke being a bigot in “The Last Stand of the New York Institute“; we are getting new facets of the characters’ personalities in these adventures with Magnus. Honestly,  the only time I ever saw Magnus’ Alec was in City of Lost Souls:

“Iz,” Alec said tiredly. “It’s not like it’s one big bad thing. It’s a lot of little invisible things. When Magnus and I were traveling, and I’d call from the road, Dad never asked how he was. When I get up to talk in Clave meetings, no one listens, and I don’t know if that’s because I’m young or if it’s because of something else. I saw Mom talking to a friend about her grandchildren and the second I walked into the room they shut up. Irina Cartwright told me it was a pity no one would ever inherit my blue eyes now.”
He shrugged and looked toward Magnus, who took a hand off the wheel for a moment to place it on Alec’s.
“It’s not like a stab wound you can protect me from. It’s a million little paper cuts every day.”

At every other point in TMI, I saw a coward who was too afraid of himself to realise that he was treating people like crap. He even tried to take away Magnus’ immortality without talking to Magnus about it first. I mean, what?! But now, seeing Alec through Magnus’ eyes, I am really looking forward to giving him a second chance. There aren’t a lot of characters who get second chances with me, but Alec may be one of the lucky few.

I think the reason I love Magnus so much is that he is so who he is. He doesn’t change for anyone. He has never been anything but a glittering, magical, omnisexual man with a heart of gold. Actually, he kind of reminds me of Captain Jack Harkness. I’d say minus the glitter, but I don’t doubt that Captain Jack has doused himself in glitter for some kind of fantasy at least once.
The fact that Magnus charms his wallets to bite, tried to force Alec to wear his clothes, and does’t apologise for getting Jace’s name wrong, are all reasons that I love him. One day I will be as comfortable in my skin as Magnus is in his. Even though, Magnus has a few centuries on me.

And another reason Magnus is magnificent? He mentions Will Herondale a lot. That will never get old. I miss Will. Thank God for The Last Hours, eh?

The only thing I want to say is that Magnus seemed too in love too quickly. I mean, the word love is never said anywhere in this story, but the way Magnus talks about Alec is pretty full on for a first date. Like this, for example:

If Jace was gold, catching the light and the attention , Alec was silver: so used to everyone else looking at Jace that that was where he looked too, so used to living in Jace’s shadow that he didn’t expect to be seen. Maybe it was enough to be the first person to tell Alec that he was worth being seen ahead of anyone in a room, and of being looked at longest.

Honestly, I thought that was a bit intense for a first date. However, that could just be more of Magnus’ outrageous characterisation. He is, after all, a very OTT person. I suppose it’s only to be expected that he is very OTT in his relationships as well.

★★★★ 1/2

Can’t wait to see you again in May, Magnus!



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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11 Responses to “The Course of True Love (and First Dates)” by Cassandra Clare

  1. I think, my dear, that we are kindred spirits! I currently have Clockwork Prince on my to-read shelf, and I think that I shall put this one right next to it. (I’m a Magnus fan too!) Lovely review! xx-The Collectress

    • Bec Graham says:

      Thanks so much! How amazing is Magnus? If you would rather a physical copy of the Bane Chronicles, the whole lot are being printed, bound, and available in book shops in November. But I understand if you can’t wait. Me? I’m such a sucker for Shadowhunters I’m buying the physical book EVEN THOUGH I have the eBooks on my Kindle App. But Ms Clare is promising extra content! YES CLOCKWORK PRINCE is a MUST. But, for your emotional sanity have Clockwork Princess handy straight afterwards. What did you think of Clockwork Angel? Team Will or Team Jem?

      • Magnus is, as my grand mum would say, the best thing since sliced bread. He’s by far my favorite character in any Cassandra Clare novel.

        So far, I’m team will, but I’m keeping an open mind until I finish the trilogy 🙂

      • Bec Graham says:

        Magnus’ sass is so prevalent in the series, you will LOVE it! Just FYI, there are a few spoilers for The Infernal Devices in there. The major spoilers are in a story called “The Midnight Heir”. I highly suggest finishing TID before reading that one. I am Team Will, all the way. As much as I love Jem (his addiction and the fact he plays violin? Based on Sherlock Holmes!)

  2. Bec, sometimes I think we are the same person! I love that you love that Magnus mentions Will as much as I do. I just finished listening to Clockwork Princess on audio, and I miss him already. It’s kind of a problem.

    I have the same problems with Alec. I really do want to give him a second chance, but at the same time I feel like if he maybe was one of the seven that die in CoHF, I would be okay with it. I know that probably makes me a semi-horrible person. The only thing that keeps me from being 100% okay with it is knowing how it would affect Magnus. Even though they are “broken up” right now, we all know he still loves him.

    But, knowing the tidbits that The Bane Chronicles have given us about Alec, and this new side of him, I am going to keep an open mind during my re-read so maybe I will understand him better. We will see!

    • Bec Graham says:

      I feel like I really need to read TID again. I am having serious Will Herondale withdrawals. Unfortunately, my reading schedule is pretty mapped out. The second book in the “Every Breath” trilogy comes out in June and I can’t tell you how excited that makes me. Cannot WAIT until The Last Hours. More William!!!

      OMG I’ve been having the same thoughts about Alec. Exactly the same. If he died I would be cool with it. EXCEPT for the way it would effect Magnus and Izzy. Magnus doesn’t deserve it and neither does Isabelle, after losing Max. Currently re-reading at the moment and I have got to say, Clary and Isabelle’s relationship certainly comes a long way. Just passed the bit where Izzy lets Simon turn into a rat and then wanders off to flirt with someone else. Izzy definitely grows up a bit (hey, character development!) I’m still not so fussed on Alec. Rereading with all of Magnus’ perspectives on Alec in my head isn’t really making a difference. I’m just trying to figure out the Malec timeline in my head as I read. Honestly? You reckon the fact that Alec looks like Will has anything to do with the Magnus thing? Because I’m still not seeing the likeable side to Alec…

      • Haha oh I have no doubt that Alec’s likeness to Will is a motivating factor in Magnus’ feelings. His feelings/relationship with Will is such a complicated one. Honestly, it is probably even more complicated than we can imagine, since I am sure Magnus is going to be showing up in The Last Hours to help keep the Herondale kids out of trouble.

        The Magnus of TMI time has already been through all of that. Cassie is brilliant, and I am sure already knows Magnus’ whole storyline. Where it began, how it is going to end, and everything in between. I am sure that as we find out more about his life, we will look back and realize that stuff we don’t even know happened yet affected his reactions to things we have already read! Absolutely brilliant.

      • Bec Graham says:

        If Magnus isn’t in every series of the Shadowhunters I will be so disappointed! He can’t be one of the seven. He just can’t be!!! Those Herondales, man. They need all sorts of help. 🙂

        I have no doubt Cassie knows everything about Magnus’ life. I’d be a little disappointed if she didn’t! Can’t wait to find it all out. Magnus is definitely one of my favourite characters. I love those tiny flourishes of Cassie’s. Like the origins of Isabelle’s necklace, for instance!

      • Exactly! Or Jace’s scar? Ugh. Perfection.

      • Bec Graham says:

        I love that it means the Herondales are actually touched by an angel. Maybe that’s why they’re all so damn beautiful. Well that, and they’re related to Will

      • Both very valid points 🙂

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