The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Discussion with C.J. Matthews!

D Day is coming. In less than a month we will all be reading the last of The Mortal Instruments cycle. So, in order to mentally prepare myself, I have been re-reading the first five books. Unfortunately, given my love of all things Shadowhunter, I’m already up to City of Lost Souls. It’s a good thing I have a ridiculous amount of uni work to do, and TV shows to catch up on, otherwise I could find myself Nephilim-less until that book arrives in my mailbox (signed by Miss Cassandra Clare herself). And that’s just not OK. The being without Nephilim bit, not the signed book bit.
Anyway, as a way to extend the awesomeness that is The Mortal Instruments, I teamed up with C.J. over at thebookboozer to discuss the first book in a series that has almost literally left a permanent mark on me. I have the designs for a Shadowhunter inspired tattoo sitting in a tattoo shop right now. So it only makes sense to delve into the book that started it all, City of Bones,  a little deeper before we start tearing apart the finale. We actually had to stop ourselves from making points because there is so much to talk about. So, please, feel free to comment. Chances are, we really wanted to talk about that point to!

Bec: “Alec moved, blindingly fast. A sharp crack resounded through her head. He had shoved her against the wall so hard that  the back of her skull has struck the wood paneling. His face was inches from hers, eyes huge and black. “Don’t you ever,” he whispered, mouth a blanched line, “ever, say anything like that to him or I’ll kill you. I swear on the Angel, I’ll kill you.”

So many TMI readers have boarded the S.S. Malec. It’s adorable, angsty, and there’s nothing like having a gay couple in a book where the fact that they’re gay isn’t the main focus. But that scene, where Alec shoves Clary up against the wall and threatens her? I will never, EVER forgive him for that. It was his snarkiness and his violence that made me hate him. When I was re-reading City of Bones, I tried to keep The Bane Chronicles version of Alec in mind. But I just couldn’t. Every time he said something snarky or awful or, you know, threw Clary up against a wall, I just found myself hating him. 

As a straight, white woman I can’t really relate to the whole coming-out thing. It is a terrifying, nerve-wracking experience for those who have to make that particular rite of passage. I have had a few friends come out to me and there’s a look in their eyes that just breaks my heart. One day coming out will be a strange concept. One day, sexuality will just be accepted. But that could be generations from now. And while I can appreciate the tension associated with Alec’s situation, especially with such a homophobic organisation like the Shadowhunters, I don’t think that gives him the right to threaten someone’s life. Whatever else he does, no matter how kind he is, he will always be the character who made an unbreakable vow to kill someone if that someone told anyone he was gay. 

Seriously, what does Magnus see in Alec? I hope it’s just the fact he looks like Will Herondale. Because I am drawing a blank.

C.J.: Well, who wouldn’t fall for someone just because they look like Will Herondale? I know I would be all over that J I’m going to take this perfect opportunity to talk about my favorite part of Malec. Magnus freaking Bane. Magnus is by far my favorite character of the entire Shadowhunter world. Not only is he one of the most beautifully created characters I have ever read, Cassie has given him the most complex storyline and it just keeps unfolding. And that sass, can we talk about that sass? When he isn’t sassing Jace, he is busy putting him in his place with a sense of age and wisdom that it’s literally palpable.

If you insist on disavowing that which is ugly about what you do,” said Magnus, still looking at Alec, “you will never learn from your mistakes.”

At this point in the story (Magnus’ party) keep in mind how much Magnus already knows. From the second he sees Clary, he knows exactly who she is, and probably why she is there. He knows who her mother is, who Luke is, who Valentine is. He was at the Uprising. Even though he may not know at this point that Jace is a Herondale, he definitely knows that Alec and Izzy are. He knows who their parents are, what they have done. What would it even be like inside that warlock’s mind? He has to navigate the present while dealing with all of the knowledge of the past hundreds of years. When he shows Clary her first runes from the Gray Book, he prefaces it with “all knowledge hurts”. I’m not sure that could more true coming from any other character.

Let’s not even mention that he is potentially spending his free time hanging out with Brother Zachariah trying to find a way to turn him back into Jem. WHAT. Mind blown right?

Bec: I had never thought of that! OF COURSE THAT’S WHAT MAGNUS WAS DOING! Oh My God. I have to wholeheartedly agree about Magnus, up until the favourite Shdowhunter universe character. Mine will always, and forever, be Will Herondale. Seriously. I don’t think any real life man can compete. But Tom Hiddleston is welcome to try. 

C.J.: Side Note: Cassie wrote TID first right? At this point I am not willing to believe anything is a coincidence. The Gray Book? Correct me if I am wrong, but that book is never even mentioned in TID right? Did it even exist yet, or was it perhaps created by someone? It’s namesake maybe??

Bec: I would so love for that to be true. But damnit, I don’t think it is. Tessa was a warlock. A unique warlock, but still a warlock. And I think the reason they might not mention The Gray Book is because of her not-Nephilimness. It’s not really relevant to Tessa so it’s not mentioned. Whereas it is incredibly relevant to Clary.

C.J.: So true. They do give Tessa the Shadowhunters Codex though. Did I mention that Magnus shows up in that too? Damn that warlock.


Bec: Can we just stop for a second and talk about the scene at Renwick’s, when Clary finds Jace all cleaned up while she goes looking for Valentine? Jace has an energy that explodes of the page in every single thing he does and says. Even when he’s only passing through a scene you can feel Jace. It might just because he has Herondale blood in his veins, and I do love me a Herondale man, but I think it’s more to do with Jace’s fierceness. He can be fierce while sitting next to Clary, glamoured, in a cafe. That’s our Jace.

But in that scene, Jace isn’t Jace. He’s awestruck and placid and stunned into a confused happiness when he gets his dad back. He is so happy that he forgives Valentine his horribleness to Clary. Jace had been on his own for so long that when he got his dad back, he didn’t want to lose him again. Can you imagine City of Lost Souls (at the end) Jace letting Valentine get away with the crap he let him get away with at Renwick’s? No, I don’t think so. I can’t even choose a quote from that scene to explain myself. The whole thing is way too painful. But seeing Jace like that spoke volumes to me. That hard, “impenetrable” shell that coats Jace is wafer thin. The emotions he hides could drown the world.

Usually that vulnerability is only seen in glimpses. And usually only Clary’s there to witness it. But this…this was Valentine and Clary and Luke, all seeing Jace contemplating his “private miracle”. He can’t hide what he’s feeling. But more than that, it’s those emotions that blind him to Valentine’s true nature, even when it is laid out bare in front of him. Who could say that they wouldn’t react the same way in Jace’s situation? Valentine was his entire world until he was ten years old. How do you turn your back on that? How can you turn those feelings off when you see your entire world acting like…well, a villain? You can’t. This scene….I could write essays on this scene. Jace Wayland/Morgenstern/Lightwood…you are one complicated fellow. But maybe complicatedness is just part of the Herondale DNA?

C.J.: Speaking of painful moments, let’s turn the tables a bit and talk about Hodge Starkweather. One of the beautiful things about re-reading, is that in some cases you already know how a character’s storyline is going to end, so everything that they do or say takes on a whole new meaning. In Hodge’s case, almost everything that he says, advice he gives, is a reflection of himself.

Where there is a feeling that is not requited,” said Hodge,” There is an imbalance of power. It is an imbalance that is easy to exploit, but it is not a wise course. Where there is love, there is often hate. They can exist side by side.”

In this situation he is talking to Clary about how Simon might come to resent her in time because she doesn’t love him the way he wants her too, but really he is saying so much more. Hodge loves Valentine, and it just might be the thing that he hates most about himself. He loves the Clave, but knows that he got the shit end of the deal after the Uprising.

Hodge knew there was a good chance that Jace had been raised not by Michael Wayland, but by Valentine. He spends the next 7 years helping Jace mold into the best Shadowhunter of his age. Not because he thinks Jace will ever join Valentine, but because he knows that he will do the opposite. He knows that he isn’t strong enough to resist his love for Valentine, so he trains those who he knows are strong enough to defeat him.

Hate the man all you want, but you have to admire his self-awareness and commitment to the cause.

Bec: I never really hated Hodge, I pitied him. But you are so right. And, plus, the whole fact that he knew he would betray the Clave? That he knew how he would act and knew that he wouldn’t do anything to change it? That takes a certain amount of strength. He didn’t even try and better himself because he knew he couldn’t. I kind of admired that, even though it caused him to do despicable things. Hodge had accepted himself. Like, he should have tried to be a better person but he didn’t. Maybe that’s a bad thing – actually it is a bad thing – but he showed an understanding of himself that many people just don’t have. 

C.J.: Hodge is definitely one of those characters that I want to know more about. We get so little of his backstory that it’s hard for me to understand his motives sometimes. He kind of reminds me of Sheppard Book fromFirefly. Except that Book is obviously a way better person than Hodge ever was. Or is he? *cue mysterious Joss Whedon laughter*


Bec: I have a conspiracy theory. You ready for it? Alec says something about there not being a mundane in the New York Institute for about a hundred years. But if we throw our minds back to TID, Sophie was a mundane. A mundane with the Sight, but a mundane nonetheless. She Ascended, but in the beginning, she was a mundane. So, my conspiracy theory is that something happens in The Last Hours that means no mundane servants are allowed within the Institute’s hallowed halls. Although, it may just be because Nathaniel Grey was such bad news for the London Institute back in Victorian England that word spread to New York and mundanes were forbidden from entering the Institute, lest something similar happen. 

I wonder who the bad guy will be in TLH. Any ideas guys?

C.J:I bet Magnus Bane knows. Man, if I could spend one day in that warlock’s mind! Okay, I’ll stop talking about Magnus now. Probably.

Bec: Agreed. Magnus Bane knows everybody’s business, he knows everything about everyone. That’s why his hair is so big, it’s full of secrets.

And now, your turn. Your thoughts on City of Bones?


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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5 Responses to The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Discussion with C.J. Matthews!

  1. City of Bones was recommended to me by a friend in a phD program (who really shouldn’t have time to read!). She mailed me the book, and I took it home and sat on the couch and didn’t budge until it was done. Then I handed it to my roommate and she did the same thing. We didn’t eat, didn’t sleep, didn’t attend class (shame on us!) until we’d finished the first 3 books. I’ve been hooked ever since, and, well, Magnus Bane is a large part of the reason why. 🙂

    I loved reading your thoughts, and I’m so, so excited for City of Heavenly Fire! Less than 3 weeks now, right??? -The Collectress

    • Bec Graham says:

      That is awesome! I got hooked by a friend of mine in high school. He’s also the one who got me into Doctor Who. I think I fell in love with the way Clare dealt with vampires and werewolves; they were in the background! It made such a nice change. If you love Magnus…have you read The Bane Chronicles? They’re all out in eBook form now, but they’ll be combined into hardcover in…November I think.

      May 27 is CoHF day! Mine’s getting shipped from the US (they were doing signed copies at Barnes and Noble), so I may have to wait longer 😦

  2. Pingback: The Mortal Instruments: City of Glass Discussion with C.J. Matthews! | My Infernal Imagination

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  4. Pingback: The Mortal Instruments: City of Fallen Angels Discussion with C.J. Matthews! | My Infernal Imagination

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