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

Five hours of study, an hour long run, and the beginnings of a migraine pretty much sum up my day. Throw in a few episodes of SHIELD to break up the study sessions so I didn’t go insane and that was basically it.

Well, except for the emailing back and forth between C.J. and me to bring you our Mortal Instruments II Discussion. As I was looking up some quotes for this post (I’m housesitting at the moment and I didn’t bring the first three TMI books with me. Rookie error) I stumbled across this Tumblr account that was eviscerating City of Ashes chapter by chapter. I was angry until I realised that if this person really hated TMI, they wouldn’t have done that. There are people in the world who try and sound smart by trashing pop culture. Like people who say Twilight or Fifty Shades suck without actually knowing why. Or those people who read classics just to lord it over other people’s heads that they’ve read them.

I’ve read some classics. But you know what? I’m trying to collect the BBC reissues of the Sherlock Holmes stories because I am a Sherlockian through and through. I found Hound of the Baskervilles with a foreword written by the Cumberbatch himself. Sure I could have gotten the “complete edition” with its fancy silhouette of a man in a deerstalker with a pipe hanging from his shadowy mouth, but I chose the ones with Martin and Benedict on the front. People will judge because they always judge.

So, without further ado, I bring you a lively discussion on the awesomeness that is City of Ashes: with the lovely C.J. Matthews.

I should probably mention that this post has a few Infernal Devices spoilers and a few quotes from all over the Shadowhunter universe, including The Bane Chronicles. I am a Shadowhunter fangirl through and through, so it’s all connected for me. I apologise in advance if there are parts you may not understand. My only advice? Read everything by Cassandra Clare.

“No.” Alec’s voice was tight. “I thought he could go to Magnus.”
Isabelle made a sound somewhere between a sneeze and a cough. She turned away as the Inquisitor looked at Alec blankly. “Magnus?”
“He’s a warlock,” said Alec. “Actually, he’s the High Warlock of Brooklyn.”

C.J.: Now I don’t mean to open this whole thing up with Magnus again, well actually I do mean too, but how in the hell does the Inquisitor for the freaking Clave not know who Magnus Bane is? I mean, it’s not exactly a secret that he has been involved in numerous Shadowhunter escapades throughout the years, as we know for sure, mainly the events of TID, as well as Valentine’s generation before the Uprising, and now this younger generation in TMI.
It makes me wonder if something happened between TID and The Uprising that made Magnus shy away from Clave affairs? Maybe something in TLH? We know that Magnus has an interaction with James Herondale in 1903, in London, but then by the roaring 20’s he is back in New York, dealing much more with vampires and werewolves than the Clave. Other than the Clave being a bunch of prejudice d-bags, they don’t even really get much of a mention until his interactions with The Circle in 1989. Why the long sabbatical? What happened? I NEED TO KNOW. Although I don’t think this fully excuses the Inquisitor not knowing who he is. I mean, I know she married into it, but by the Angel, she is a Herondale.

Sidenote: I know I am rambling about things that we don’t know yet, and probably don’t know for good reason, but I think we need to know the story behind this sassy interaction:

“I’ve held prisoners for the Clave before,” Magnus said. The joking edge had left his voice. “I think you’ll find I have an excellent record in that department. My contract is one of the best.”
Was it Clary’s imagination, or did his eyes linger on Maryse when he said that?

Bec: I’m kind of hoping for a second installment of the Bane Chronicles. I mean there were, what, a dozen stories in the eBooks and we know there’s going to be some extra stuff in the physical copy of the Chronicles, but Magnus has had such a diverse, long, exciting life that I don’t think we have even scratched the surface of all of the things that he’s done. I mean, we don’t even know what actually caused him to get banned from Peru. We just got a few stories from his times there.
I think some things about Magnus are supposed to stay mysterious, like the man himself. I totally agree with you about how the Inquisitor SHOULD know who Magnus is. HOWEVER, she was focused on hunting Valentine and the other Circle members. And if you’re right and something happened between TLH and TMI that caused Magnus to shy away from the Clave (which, let’s face it, is probably true). Magnus might not be that well known to Inquisitor Herondale. Like, she didn’t hate Downworlders, but she hated the Circle for what it did to her family. As such, I think everything outside of the Circle went by without her knowing. And all of the stuff with Will and his descendants happened so long ago. I mean, if Stephen had felt the effects of Will’s relationship with Tessa, he never would have joined the Circle, because he had diluted Downworlder blood. What was that quote from Tessa?

“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.”

So even though the Herondales and the Clave go way back (the Herondales ran the London Institute for years from what I can gather), that relationship ended way before Stephen’s time. So Magnus would be a mystery.

I reckon Magnus’ constant bonding with Shadowhunters could have caused him to pull away from the Clave. Will Herondale left a permanent scar on him and that was in the late 1800s. I think Magnus got tired of becoming attached to some of the very few unprejudiced Nephilim and having to deal with the dickheads when he was trying to help his friends. So even if nothing super dramatic happened in TLH, I think Magnus would have started to pull away anyway. Because he cares so much for Will and Tessa, and I’m assuming their progeny, that it all got too much for him. So he left. Self-preservation and whatnot.


C.J.: Let’s talk about Luke for a second. I have always thought of Luke as kind of the older version of Simon. Caring, loyal, and ultimately, masters of the friend-zone. They are both complex characters, but not exactly unpredictable. You know they are going to be reliable, because that is what they are. They will do what they can to protect the people that they love, and even those they might not care for, as long as it is the right thing to do. What I sometimes forget is that both of these guys, Luke probably more than Simon, spend a lot of their time in the background. Luke is typically always there, but we don’t always get to hear from him. So when he drops wisdom like this, I get taken aback.

“If the boy went to his father,” he said, “knowing what kind of father Valentine was, it is because we failed him, not because he failed us.”

BOOM. I love the father/son thing that is going on with Luke and Jace in this book. It brings out a whole other side of Luke we didn’t see in CoB. Sure, he was always a father figure to Clary, but all of that was before we knew them. Flashbacks. He spends most of his time in CoB trying to convince Clary that he doesn’t even care what happens to her, or Jocelyn. So when he comes out and is willing to step up and act as a father for Jace, I developed a much stronger appreciation for his character.

Bec: I love Luke. He’s like the perfect dad. And he doesn’t even have his own kids! He takes to looking after Simon and Clary like its nothing. Some of my favourite parts of TMI are when Clary or Simon talk about Luke looking after them as kids. It’s just so gorgeous. It’s like these tiny tidbits of normalcy in a world of runes and angels vampires and werewolves and fairies and warlocks:

Clary thought of Luke, Luke pushing her on the swings when she was five years old, higher, always higher; Luke at her graduation from middle school, camera clicking away like a proud father’s; Luke sorting through each box of books as it arrived at his store, looking for anything she might like and putting it aside. Luke lifting her up to pull apples down from the trees near his farmhouse. Luke, whose place as her father this man was trying to take. “Luke isn’t a monster,” she said in a voice that matched Valentine’s, steel for steel. “Or a murderer. You are.” (I know this is a CoB quote, but how awesome is it?)

Have you noticed the different father figures in TMI? You’ve got Luke, the perfect father. You’ve got Valentine, the abusive father (emotional, physical abuse). And you’ve got Robert, the absentee father. Mothers aren’t quite as blatantly categorisable. I’m wondering why the fathers are so different. You’ve got Jocelyn and Simon’s mum, but they aren’t really that different from each other. But the dads…I’m wondering what point Cassie is trying to make.

I actually love the parallels between Luke and Simon. Because it’s so true and I totally missed it! They both get taken for granted a lot by the other characters, but they’re always there and both of them are super important. I mean, Simon with his special vamp powers and Luke with his pack leader status. Funnily enough, have you ever noticed that no one challenges Luke for pack leadership? I mean, he killed pack leaders to take control, but no one ever does the same to him. Or tries, rather. I think this shows Luke’s leadership skills. Even the Nephilim listen to him. Though, this could be the whole he-used-to-be-a-Shadowhunter thing.

C.J. To be honest, I always forget about Robert Lightwood. Not only is he absentee, he is an asshat to boot. I kind of hate that guy. I kind of think everyone hates that guy.


Bec: Speaking of Simon, the whole Clary and Simon relationship thing. Cassie says she loves love triangles but the Simon-Jace-Clary one really doesn’t work for me. When Simon and Clary kiss it reminds me of when Will and Grace kiss. You know, that quick peck on the lips that’s basically a hug, just with lips? That sounds dirty, but you know what I mean, right? I mean, there’s no sexiness. There’s no sexual tension. It’s kind of like Clary and Simon are hugging.

Kissing Simon was pleasant. It was a gentle sort of pleasant, like lying in a hammock on a summer day with a book and a glass of lemonade.

Simon is in love with Clary, we know that, but we don’t really see it. It’s all very platonic, even this whole kissing thing. I kind of see the Simon/Clary thing as a way for Clary to try and make Simon happy while she’s making herself, and Jace, miserable. Not a consolation prize, but a way for Clary to try and make something right in a world gone mad. And Simon so wants Clary, but they’ve been friends for so long that passion is hard to bring to the table. Instead, the kissing is more just like a friend thing. Like sleeping on the same bed or holding hands. These sound like boyfriend/girlfriend things, but for Simon and Clary, these are just things they’ve done since they were kids. You know what I mean?

C.J.: Agreed. It was always way weird to me, because you would think it would seem forced, since we all know Clary’s feelings for Simon have always been platonic, but it never seems forced at all. It was just…. eh. The phrase that comes to mind is “like kissing your brother”, but, well, in this case that is not even close to the best analogy.


Bec: I really, REALLY hate the way Alec treats Magnus. Let me show you another stellar Alec Lightwood moment:

“We’re not dating,” Alec said again.
“Oh?” Magnus said. “So you’re just that friendly with everybody, is that it?”
“Magnus.” Alec stared imploringly at the warlock. Magnus, however, it seemed, had had enough. He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back in silence, regarding the scene before him with slitted eyes.
Alec turned to Jace. “You don’t—” he began. “I mean, you couldn’t possibly think—”
Jace was shaking his head in puzzlement. “What I don’t get is you going to all these lengths to hide your relationship with Magnus from me when it’s not as if I would mind if you did tell me about it.”
If he meant his words to be reassuring, it was clear that they weren’t. Alec went a pale gray color, and said nothing. Jace turned to Magnus. “Help me convince him,” he said, “that I really don’t care.”
“Oh,” Magnus said quietly, “I think he believes you about that.”

Alec is so stupid. Jace is trying to be supportive and all Alec can see is that Jace doesn’t love him in the right way (let’s forget for a minute that parabatai are FORBIDDEN to be in love). Not only that, but Magnus is right there. Magnus, who is crazy about this boy and Alec just goes right on ahead and hurts him anyway. I really do hate Alec. He acts like a spoiled brat. How come Izzy came out all awesome and Alec came out all needy and whingy and someone who threatens girls by shoving them against the wall? (See, now, Jordan had an excuse. Well, not really, but you know what I mean? But Alec never did! I hate him). And poor Magnus. I love Magnus. He deserves so much better. But, you know, the heart wants what the heart wants

C.J.: At least Magnus doesn’t just lie down and take it all the time. He does give a certain level of sass back:

 Magnus got to his feet. “I do believe that’s my cue to leave as well,” he said. Clary noticed he was avoiding looking at Alec. “I’d say it’s been nice meeting you all, but, in fact, it hasn’t. It’s been quite awkward, and frankly, the next time a single one of you will be far too soon.”

Plus, we all know deep down why Magnus likes Alec so much. He fits his type perfectly. Black hair, blue eyes, damaged. He likes broken things.

Bec: Oh, the sass is strong in this one. I love Magnus so much. Like, for instance:

“And therefore,” said Magnus, squeezing Will’s arm with a meaning pressure, “we must go.”
Will blinked at him. “Go where?”
“Don’t worry about that right now, my love.”
Will blinked again. “Pardon?” He glanced around, as if he half-expected people to be watching. “I – where’s my coat?”
“Ruined with blood,” said Magnus. “Archer disposed of it.”
He nodded toward Camille. “Will’s been hunting demons all night. So brave.”
Camille’s expression was a mixture of amazement and annoyance.
“I am brave,” Will said. He looked pleased with himself. The painkilling tonics had enlarged his pupils, and his eyes looked very dark.
“Yes, you are,” Magnus said, and kissed him. It wasn’t the most dramatic kiss, but Will flailed his free arm as if a bee had landed on him. Magnus had to hope Camille would assume this was passion. When they broke apart, Will looked stunned. So did Camille, for that matter.

(Clockwork Prince)

This scene always kind of spoke to me on more than one level. One the one hand Magnus was trying to get back at Camille and make her jealous, but on the other hand Will was gorgeous and drugged. Now, Magnus kind of took advantage, but no one got hurt. And Will wouldn’t remember it. I took this as a way for Magnus to pretend, just for a second, that Will would want him. Because WIll is so beautiful. And we all know Magnus likes pretty things. But then, in Clockwork Princess:

“Do you think there’s a chance for him?”
“A chance for who?”
“Will Herondale. To be happy.”
Woolsey sighed gustily and put down his glass. “Is there a chance for you to be happy if he isn’t?”
Magnus said nothing.
“Are you in love with him?” Woolsey asked – all curiosity, no jealousy. Magnus wondered what it was like to have a heart like that, or rather to have no heart at all.
“No,” Magnus said. “I have wondered that, but no. It is something else. I feel that I owe him. I have heard it said that when you save a life, you are responsible for that life. I feel I am responsible for that boy. If he never finds happiness, I will feel I have failed him. If he cannot have that girl he loves, I will feel I have failed him. If I cannot keep his parabatai by him, I will feel I have failed him.”

Magnus helped Will discover the truth about his curse and so, it is because of Magnus that Will can finally have Tessa. But Magnus and Will’s relationship was fraught with difficulties. When Magnus sees Alec, I think he sees a way in which to have a simpler relationship with Will. Then Alec turns into a huge whiny bitch and Magnus puts up with it because he loves Alec (but I think because he carries Will’s looks and Will’s blood in him).
Say, thoughts on Magnus’ relationship with Jace? Jace is a Herondale after all. And he is the master of the Herondale wit.

C.J.: I love that Magnus and Jace’s relationship is literally sass from the get go. The moment that Jace walks into that party in CoB it’s all “Try not to murder any of my guests“….”Even if one of them spills a drink on my new pair of shoes?” and “keep it in your pants Shadowhunter” and it just keeps getting sassier. The thing I love about their relationship is I don’t think Magnus ever knew Jace was a Herondale any more than anyone else did, but he instantly liked him. There is never any real animosity between the two. I like to think that when Magnus found out that he was a Herondale it was like coming to a realization he didn’t even know he needed too. Like everything clicked into place. I also have more feelings about Magnus’ thought pattern after he finds out, but I will touch on that more in the CoG discussion because this will be forever long if I include it here!



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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3 Responses to The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes Discussion with C.J. Matthews!

  1. Pingback: The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes Discussion with Bec Graham! | thebookboozer

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

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

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