So, my copy of City of Heavenly Fire still hasn’t arrived yet. I had a twenty second rush when the doorbell rang and I saw a delivery van carefully going back down the driveway, but instead of a cardboard box emblazoned with Barnes and Noble, a plastic bag covered in Sevenly‘s mottos was sitting on the doormat. I’m glad to have a new jumper, but come on. I’d sooner wrap myself in a blanket all winter if I could just get my hands on the last Clary and Jace adventure.
That being said, Sevenly is an amazing website and you should all check it out. You can indulge your need for new, beautiful clothes and know that $7 of your purchase it going to charity (see, Sevenly. Get it?)
Anyways, to distract myself from my Shadowhunter-hiatus, I’m re-reading The Bane Chronicles. These are the last Shadowhunter stories I have, so I’m hoping I can make them last. Thank God there are so many of them. So why have I called this post “Alec Lightwood” instead of “The Bane Chronicles”? Because TBC just reminds me of how much I loathe Alec Lightwood. Really, I don’t think I’ve ever hated a character so much. Not Valentine, Sebastian, Zoe from Bloodlines, Voldemort, Umbridge, Falco from Secrets of the Eternal Rose, President Snow from Hunger Games, or Laura, Cather’s mother from Fangirl. All of the aforementioned characters are evil, whether because they believe they’re doing the right thing, like Valentine and Zoe, or because they just don’t care about anyone else, like Laura and Falco, or because they are just evil for the sake of being evil: Sebastian, Voldemort, Snow, Umbridge.
Alec holds a special place in my heart as the epitome of selfishness. You’ve heard me say it before, and you’ll hear me say it again. Probably many, many times. Especially when CoHF finally arrives. I’ve managed to avoid all spoilers thus far, but I don’t know how much longer I can hold out.
“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.”
Whenever Alec does anything, I remember this. Every time he does something noble or brave or good, I always remember that his very first response to someone outing him was violence and death threats. That in moments of panic, stress, or moments where he himself is at risk of even the slightest hint of discomfort, he responds with brute force. I don’t care how good of a person you seem to be, it is in moments of greatest personal trauma that you see someone’s true colours.
Case and point: when Will Herondale finds out that Jem and Tessa are to be married in Clockwork Prince he steps aside. He puts his own feelings for Tessa on a shelf and lets his parabatai and the woman he loves find happiness. He doesn’t try to fight Jem or do anything terrible to Tessa even though: “Heav’n hath no rage like love to hatred turn’d”. He simply lets them be, rather than to cause pain to either of the people he loves best:
You see it, don’t you, James? Without Tessa there is nothing for me—no joy, no light, no life. If you loved me, you would let me have her. You can’t love her as I do. No one could. If you are truly my brother, you would do this for me.
But the words remained unspoken, and Jem leaned forward, his voice low and confiding. “Will. There was something I wanted to say to you, and not when everyone else was around.”
Will braced himself. This was it. Jem was going to tell him about the engagement, and he was going to have to pretend to be happy, and not be sick out the window, which he desperately wanted to be.
Jem grinned. His happiness was printed all over his face, his eyes, Will thought; he had never seen him look like this. He had always thought of Jem as a calm and peaceful presence, always thought that joy, like anger, was too extreme and human an emotion for him. He realized now that he had been quite wrong; Jem had simply not been happy like this before. Not since his parents had died, Will imagined. But Will had never considered it. He had dwelled on whether Jem was safe, whether he was surviving, but not if he was happy.
Jem is my great sin.
Tessa had been right, he thought. He had wanted her to break things off with Jem, whatever the cost; now he realized he did not, could not. You might at least believe I know honor—honor, and debt, he had said to Jem, and he had meant it. He owed Jem his life. He could not take from him the one thing Jem wanted more than anything else. Even if it meant Will’s own happiness, for Jem was not only someone to whom he owed a debt that could never be repaid, but, as the covenant said, someone he loved as he loved his own soul.
Could you honestly see Alec just stepping aside? That he would let someone else have the person he loved because he valued their happiness above his own? No! Because Alec doesn’t value anyone’s happiness above his own. Not even Magnus’, who he supposedly loves.
This is what annoys me so much about The Bane Chronicles. Well, not annoys me, more like frustrates me. In both of the stories Alec’s in, we see a side to him that we don’t usually see. We see Alec trying to protect Magnus when they’re both trying to calm the newly Turned werewolf. We see Alec ecstatic that Magnus actually likes him back. We see Alec shy and unsure of himself and open and honest. Where does that honesty go? Because I never, ever see it in the main storyline. All I see Alec do is denounce Magnus as his boyfriend, treat Magnus like crap, and try and take away Magnus’ immortality. He doesn’t do it in the end, sure, but you know why? Because he doesn’t want to kill someone for it. Because that would be going directly against The Law. Sed lex, dura lex and all that. So it bothers Alec to actually end someone’s life but not to alter the length of someone’s life. And taking away an immortal’s eternal life is basically killing them anyway.
You can argue with me until you’re blue in the face about what it means that Alec went so far along with Camille’s plan. But Alec lets his own selfish insecurities about having a boyfriend not age at the same time as he does blind him to the fact that he is contemplating ending Magnus’ life. I can’t see Jace, Clary, Will, Izzy, Tessa, Jem, Jocelyn, Jordan, Maia, Simon, Luke, Sophie, Gideon, Gabriel, Cecily, Henry, Charlotte or any of the other fabulous Shadowhunters I’ve neglected to mention doing that. They would accept it. Or let the other person be happy without them. Alec is a selfish son-of-a-bitch and Magnus deserves so much better.
I know already that Malec is probably reformed in CoHF. That’s just a given. Like it’s a given that Clary and Jace will finally be able to be together. But Alec does not deserve Magnus. However, I will concede that Magnus deserves to be happy, and if a selfish spoiled Shadowhunter brat makes him happy, then so be it. But that doesn’t make this scene any less awful:
“Magnus,” Alec said again. “I thought you were asleep.”
“Evidently,” Magnus said.
Alec swallowed hard. He had never seen Magnus angry, not really. Not like this. Magnus’s cat eyes were remote, impossible to read. “Did you follow me?” Alec asked.
“You could say that. It helped that I knew where you were going.” Moving stiffly, Magnus took a folded square of paper from his pocket. In the dim light, all Alec could see was that it was covered with a careful, flourishing handwriting. “You know, when she told me you’d been here—told me about the bargain she’d struck with you—I didn’t believe her. I didn’t want to believe her. But here you are.”
“Camille told you—”
Magnus held up a hand to cut him off. “Just stop,” he said wearily. “Of course she told me. I warned you she was a master at manipulation and politics, but you didn’t listen to me. Who do you think she’d rather have on her side—me or you? You’re eighteen years old, Alexander. You’re not exactly a powerful ally.”
“I already told her,” Alec said. “I wouldn’t kill Raphael. I came here and told her the bargain was off, I wouldn’t do it—”
“You had to come all the way here, to this abandoned subway station, to deliver that message?” Magnus raised his eyebrows. “You don’t think you could have delivered essentially the same message by, perhaps, staying away?”
“And even if you did come here—unnecessarily—and tell her the deal was off,” Magnus went on in a deadly calm voice, “why are you here now? Social call? Just visiting? Explain it to me, Alexander, if there’s something I’m missing.”
Alec swallowed. Surely there must be a way to explain. That he had been coming down here, visiting Camille, because she was the only person he could talk to about Magnus. The only person who knew Magnus, as he did, not just as the High Warlock of Brooklyn but as someone who could love and be loved back, who had human frailties and peculiarities and odd, irregular currents of mood that Alec had no idea how to navigate without advice. “Magnus—” Alec took a step toward his boyfriend, and for the first time that he remembered, Magnus moved away from him. His posture was stiff and unfriendly. He was looking at Alec the way he’d look at a stranger, a stranger he didn’t like very much.
“I’m so sorry,” Alec said. His voice sounded scratchy and uneven to his own ears. “I never meant—”
“I was thinking about it, you know,” Magnus said. “That’s part of why I wanted the Book of the White. Immortality can be a burden. You think of the days that stretch out before you, when you have been everywhere, seen everything. The one thing I hadn’t experienced was growing old with someone—someone I loved. I thought perhaps it would be you. But that does not give you the right to make the length of my life your choice and not mine.”
But why does the fandom turn on Magnus after this? Why do people suddenly think Magnus is a terrible guy because he doesn’t want to see Alec or his friends ever again? is Magnus not allowed to be hurt? Does Magnus just have to sit there and take this abuse because people “prefer” the Shadowhunters? I’m going to end my Alec Lightwood hatred rant with an excerpt from Cassie Clare’s interview on GoodReads, because she can explain things better than I can:
Magnus has been badly treated for years by Shadowhunters. He talks about Shadowhunters throwing AWAY??? the plates he’d eaten from because a warlock touched them. His friends have been murdered by Shadowhunters. Alec, and Isabelle, and Jace, and Clary’s parents were all once part of a fanatic organization bent on eradicating Magnus’s kind. I think framing it as Magnus being in a sulk because his boyfriend did something to hurt him ignores the larger implications of his situation: Alec didn’t just do something to hurt Magnus; he did something fundamentally untrustworthy, and he didn’t do it in a vacuum. He did it in a world in which Magnus has good reason not to trust Shadowhunters, a group who have long disenfranchised warlocks, and by whom Magnus has been betrayed before. Questioning his trust in other Shadowhunters afterward seems natural, especially considering that Magnus is in a position where he needs to make decisions not just for himself, but also for other Downworlders about what is safest for them.
I’ll just say it: I hope Alec dies in City of Heavenly Fire.
DEAR GOD PLEASE NO SPOILERS!!!!!
P.S. All of the illustrations were drawn by the infinitely talented Cassandra Jean. She illustrated The Shadowhunter’s Codex and does the most amazing Shadowhunter artworks. If you click on any of the pictures, they’ll take you to her Tumblr. I hope you have a spare few hours because there is a lot of awesome stuff on there!