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

Today was work and study. Study before work, work, study after work. Four chapters down, a billion to go (actually, probably something like twenty, but still). Anyway, I just checked my emails and what should I have but an email from C.J. with our discussion on the fourth book in the almost-concluded The Mortal Instruments series attached! I also found an email from Barnes and Noble saying that my signed copy of City of Heavenly Fire is winging its way to me as I type this! Finally!  I was scared I would be woefully behind the rest of us lovers of Shadowhunters when CoHF was finally released.

Though, the email did say 4-14 days until it arrives, but I’m hoping for the 4. Obviously.

Sidebar: do we have a name for our fandom? I mean, I’m a Whovian, Sherlockian, Potterhead, but for TMI I have no idea. Thoughts?).

So in the midst of my Shadowhunter happiness and psychology overload, I am more than happy to bring you my and C.J.’s City of Fallen Angels discussion. Feel free to jump in and join the fun!
Also, just in case you are new to our Mortal Instruments fan sessions, here they are in chronological order:

SPOILER WARNING: A few details from City of Lost Souls and The Infernal Devices leak in here. You have been warned.

City of Bones
City of Ashes
City of Glass 

Enjoy!

Bec: One of my favourite things about CoFA is that there is more of a focus on Simon. I always felt that Simon was an under-appreciated character. He killed Abbadon for the TMI crew way back in CoB. He turned into a vampire. His foray into the world of the Nephilim changed him way more than it changed Clary. And for the most part, we kind of just accept that Simon will always be there, like the couch in your lounge room. Simon becomes a key player in CoFA. He is no longer secondary. He doesn’t play second fiddle to Jace or Alec or any of the other Shadowhunters. My favourite representation of Simon’s sudden importance is his two girlfriends. He went from being the lovelorn teenage nerd to the vampire rock star (a happier version of Adam from Only Lovers Left Alive, basically).

So when it’s revealed that all of those tracksuited freaks were trying to get hold of Simon for Lilith (the mother of warlocks, no less), because only his blood that can be used to resurrect Sebastian (Lilith’s son, in a weird way), it’s like the Nephilim finally see how important Simon actually is. He’s not just Clary’s oldest friend, he is a person in his own right. And thank God, because poor Simon has copped so much crap for being a “mundane”. At least the Nephilim kids have to take Simon seriously now.

CJ: I could not agree more. I absolutely love Simon. He has undergone a trial in every single one of these books. Declaring his love to his best friend only to realize she prefers her brother to him, becoming a vampire, being drained of his blood and left to die only to have said brother let him live by drinking his blood, which turned him into a Daylighter, which made him an outcast to not only the human world, but the vampire community as well. Then getting the freaking Mark of Cain so that he could help the Nephilim (who don’t even really like him) win their war. Then Camille and Lillith, two of the most powerful Downworlders ever, want to use him for their own means. I mean come on, if that doesn’t make him one of the most important and loyal characters in this series, I don’t know what does!

___

Bec: Isabelle. Isabelle, Isabelle, Isabelle. She’s one of those girls you hate on sight but end up loving, am I right? She’s beautiful, kind of standoffish, and self-important. But as you get to know her you just realise that she knows her worth. There aren’t many women who are as self-possessed as Isabelle Lightwood.

So reading about Isabelle’s childhood, and how Maryse decided to tell and impressionable thirteen-year-old Izzy that her father cheated on her mother, was terrible. There’s an instance of horrible parenting right there. These things happen but you never tell the kid. Not until they’re old enough to handle it. And so we find out why Izzy treats men like they’re disposable:

“I watch my brothers give their hearts away and I think, Don’t you know better? Hearts are breakable. And I think even when you heal, you’re never what you were before.”

This is the beginning of Izzy really letting her guard down around Simon. It has been a really, really slow process which started way back in City of Bones. But after Izzy tells Simon the truth about her past, Simon says something that, I think, opens Izzy’s eyes to everything she’s missing by being so closed off:

“Maybe you’re better,” said Simon. “I know I’m better.”
“You mean Clary,” said Isabelle. “Because she broke your heart.”
“Into little pieces. You know, when someone prefers their own brother over you, it isn’t a confidence booster. I thought maybe once she realised it would never work out with Jace, she’d give up and come back to me. But I finally figured out that she’d never stop loving Jace, whether it was going to work out with him or not. And I knew that if she was only with me because she couldn’t have him, I’d rather be alone, so I ended it.”

I identify this conversation as the beginning of the Isabelle Wall coming down. She knew how much Simon loved Clary, but she sees how Simon dealt with heartbreak and thinks that maybe she can risk the pain too. (I also think that somewhere in her Isabelle mind she’s thinking “If a man can do it, so can I.” Because, well, of this quote:

‘Honestly, Clary, if you don’t start utilizing a bit of your natural feminine superiority I just don’t know what I’ll do with you.’)

CJ: There are some things that I just don’t get about the Enclave, especially Maryse. She is so hard-core bitch the majority of the time, but then when Simon comes clean about Camille’s proposition, it’s like she hands over the reins to Simon and Jace. Not only do they agree to Jace’s plan about the cell phone pictures, but then Jace comes with them to apprehend her, and then is the one to actually apprehend her. Last time I checked, even though Jace is half-angel, if a Shadowhunter is underage, they basically can’t be involved in anything.

Remember in Clockwork Angel when Will had to fight for like a whole chapter to be able to attend De Quincy’s party? Sure, our teens in TMI usually just accept the whole underage thing instead of fighting it, but usually that is just because they never even involve the Clave in things until they absolutely need too, presumably because they would be told no and it would be taken out of their hands.

Maybe it’s just for the ease of the story, but the discrepancy just kind of bugs me. But it also leads to my ill feelings towards Maryse. When Charlotte is spending half her time fighting with Will and telling him no on things, it’s not because the Law says he can’t because he is underage, or because she thinks he isn’t capable. It’s because she is worried he might get hurt and she cares about him. I guess the lack of that from Maryse makes me feel like she doesn’t really care about Jace. Or Alec or Izzy really.

There is something sketchy about that lady, and I think that maybe we will find out more of her story in CoHF. Hopefully!

Bec: Just quickly, because you brought up Will, and I can’t give up an opportunity to talk about Will: when you think about it, the parallels between Will and Charlotte and Jace and Maryse are astounding. Both of the Herondale boys came from traumatic family lives to their respective Institutes and threw themselves hard into their studies. Both Charlotte and Maryse adopted these boys and loved them as if they were their own. Thing is, Will was always horrible to Charlotte and Jace loved and respected Maryse openly, in his way. But whereas Jace accepted his life at the Institute and everyone inside it, Will rejected everyone and everything until Jem. I think Charlotte, more than Maryse, detected Will’s essentially suicidal tendencies. I mean, Will became parabatai with a dying boy. Jace at least chose someone healthy.
So when it comes down to Maryse letting Jace apprehend Camille and Charlotte making Will’s plan to infiltrate de Quincey’s party almost impossible, I think it was because Maryse knew that Jace had some self-preservation whereas Will didn’t. Especially because, at these points in the stories Jace had Clary to live for and Will still thought he was cursed. Maryse was giving Jace some freedom to prove himself, probably because she came down so freakin’ hard on him at the beginning of City of Ashes and wanted to show she had faith in him. Charlotte was just trying to keep a boy who bites vampires on a regular basis alive. 

___

Bec:

Ay me! For aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth.

If you stop and think about it, there is not one single relationship in any part of the Shadowhunter universe that isn’t fraught with intense drama. All relationships have issues every now and again, but relationships don’t usually have to overcome lycanthropy, demon possession, constant threat of war, the Mark of Cain, vampirism, murder, or secret societies…

Let’s break it down:

Luke and Jocelyn – Jocelyn was married to Luke’s parabatai who turned out to be an evil fanatic. She bore his, Valentine’s, children and one of those children turned out to be offspring of one of the first ever demons. And so Jocelyn always kept herself away from Luke, romantically, because she didn’t want to burden him with her messed up past. And then, of course, the whole Jace/Simon/Clary/Lilith/Sebastian thing interrupted their wedding.

Robert and Maryse – He cheated on her. They stayed together because of their kids and because they were exiled together after the integral part they played in the Circle.

Amatis and Stephen – Amatis and Stephen divorced because Valentine didn’t think Amatis was right for Stephen. I mean what? Valentine ended the relationship just because Amatis happened to have a werewolf for a brother and that messed with the whole “blood purity” thing of the Circle.

Magnus and Alec – Magnus is immortal and so has been with many, many people throughout the course of his long life. People of many races, species, and genders. And Alec just can’t deal. So he decided to play with the idea of taking away Magnus’ immortality. Alec is a whiny, selfish bitch. Magnus deserves better, I can’t say it enough.

Jordan and Maia – When Jordan first Turned he started beating Maia. Emotionally and physically abusing her, leaving Maia with deep trust issues. They were deeply in love and then he turned violent. Not in the mundane sense, where he knew exactly what he was doing when he was beating her. But still he raised his hands to Maia.

Simon and Isabelle – Simon’s still a little in love with Clary, Isabelle has serious trust issues with men. Simon has the Mark of Cain on his head and happens to be a vampire. And Isabelle is a member of the Shadow World police, responsible for maintaining the order between vampires and the rest of the world.

Jace and Clary – *deep breath* They thought they were brother and sister. Jace “found out” he had demon blood. They finally realise they aren’t brother and sister, and then Jace dies. Jace is resurrected by the angel Raziel only to have his mind taken over by Lilith, one of the oldest demons and mother of the warlocks. Clary destroys the rune that binds Jace to Lilith, only to realise that the rune can’t be destroyed that easily and it heals, putting Jace back under demonic control, only now it’s Lilith’s “son”, Sebastian, controlling Jace. Jace disappears with Sebastian, Clary goes after him and manages to separate Jace from Sebastian, but the means of separation means that Jace, as of the end of City of Lost Souls, has the fire of Heaven running through his veins, and therefore can’t be touched without burning the person who touches him. *deep breath*

But my favourite romantic, gooey part of the series thus far (and there are millions of them), is a Jace and Clary moment: the part where Jace changes the meaning of the Morgenstern ring. We all know by this point that Morgenstern means “falling star”, right? So the family ring Jace wears has a pattern of stars on it. Only, when Jace gives the ring to Clary to wear he changes the meaning of the stars, to that beautiful quote that gives me chills whenever I hear it:

“L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stele. It means that love is the most powerful force in the world. That love can do anything.”

What I wouldn’t give for one relationship in Shadowhunter land where they actually get a substantial period of happiness. But I can’t see that happening any time soon, because we are losing SIX NAMED CHARACTERS IN LESS THAN A WEEK.

Too bad if you’re born Nephilim, eh?

CJ: Sidenote on the Alec/Magnus relationship in this one. When Alec is being all “who haven’t you slept with” to Magnus, I literally laughed out loud at this part:

“Good organization,” said Magnus. “I knew the man who founded it, back in the 1800s. Woolsey Scott. Respectable old werewolf family.”
Alec made an ugly sound in the back of his throat. “Did you sleep with him too?”
Magnus’s cat eyes widened. “Alexander!”
“Well, I don’t know anything about your past, do I?” Alec demanded. “You won’t tell me anything; you just say it doesn’t matter.”
Magnus’s face was expressionless, but there was a dark tinge of anger to his voice. “Does this mean every time I mention anyone I’ve ever met, you’re going to ask me if I had an affair with them?”
Alec’s expression was stubborn, but Simon couldn’t help having a flash of sympathy: the hurt behind his blue eyes was clear. “Maybe.”
“I met Napoleon once,” said Magnus. “We didn’t have an affair, though. He was shockingly prudish for a Frenchman.”

Magnus has banged Woosley like a screen door in a Hurricane.

Bec: I seriously just snorted Pepsi out of my nose. That is so true. Magnus kind of reminds me of Barney from How I Met Your Mother in a way: one night stands and flings left, right, and centre but when he falls in love, he falls hard. Plus, I just wanted to chuck this quote in because, well, it’s one of the reasons I hate Alec so much: because Magnus adored him and Alec just kept treating him like shit:

Magnus’s heart broke.
“Alexander,” he murmured, wanting to say more than just “Alec,” to call him by a name that was longer than and different from the name everybody else called him, a name with weight and value to it . He whispered the name as if making a promise that he would take his time.

___

Bec: I really want to talk about Jordan. Specifically, his relationship with Maia. When we find out that Simon’s roommate Kyle is actually Jordan, Maia’s abusive ex, we’re all shocked, yeah? Because Jordan seems like such a nice guy. But then we find out that Jordan only turned violent because he was Turned, into a werewolf, and he couldn’t control his murderous impulses. The rage, jealousy, violence…it was all a result of the transformation. But he still abused Maia. I touched on this a few points ago.

What I want to talk about it why we forgive Jordan for that abuse. More importantly, why we crave a Jordan/Maia reunion. I honestly think that we wouldn’t feel so kindly toward Jordan if it weren’t for the whole “possession” theme of the book. Jace is possessed by Lilith, Alec is possessed by his obsession with immortality, Simon is possessed by the Mark of Cain, Jordan was possessed by the changes to his body he couldn’t control. The Jordan we meet is such a lovely guy, obviously still in love with Maia, that we kind of melt for him. We want him to get the girl in the end. It is so confusing. Because we don’t forgive Valentine or Sebastian or Alec (well, I don’t forgive Alec) for being abusive. So why do we forgive Jordan?

“I want to know how to go on, now, and maybe you can tell me.” Simon leaned forward. “Because you’ve been a good guy to me since I met you. I’ve never seen you be mean or get angry. And then I thought about the Wolf Guard, and how you said you joined it because you’d done bad things. And I thought Maia was maybe the bad thing you’d done that you were trying to make up for.”
“I was,” said Jordan. “She is.”

___ 

CJ: Alright, it’s theory time. Remember back in the CoA discussion when Bec talked about a mundane not being in the institute for hundred years? Guess what came up again?

 “I thought getting hold of you would be easy. Dealing with a simple vampire. A newly made one, at that. Even a Daylighter is nothing I haven’t encountered before, though there has not been one for a hundred years. Yes,” she added, with a smile at his glance, “I am older than I look.”

We know that Lilith was in London during TID, because she made an appearance at De Quincy’s party canoodling with Benedict Lightwood. Also, she mentions that she only came through from the Demon Realms because Valentine had opened the door and she was curious. We also know that the other time we have seen her, when she was giving Valentine her blood for Jonathan, and in that instance she had been summoned. Can Greater Demons just go through a portal whenever they want? Or do they have to be summoned to Earth? If so, what got Lilith thrown back out into the demon realms? What the hell happened one hundred years ago that changed the Shadow World so evidently? Does this mean that Lilith might be the antagonist in TLH? It would make sense. If none of this mattered at all, why would Cassie mention another Daylighter? I NEED TO KNOW.

 

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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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