Hello hello and welcome to my first joint post with Fi’s Bibliofiles and Read To Ramble for Shadowhunter Saturday! I’ve been so excited to talk about this book since I read it, and I’m even more excited to be doing it with two blogger who I not only respect as bloggers but love as friends. We’ve had so much fun talking about this book between us, and from as soon as I decided to hitch a lift on their already running Shadowhunter Saturday, I’ve been looking forward to this post.
With there now being three of us, we’re sharing each other’s answers in a bit of a round robin style. So Fiona will be posting Ellie’s answers, Ellie will be posting my answers, and I’ll be posting Fiona’s. Just like their previous posts (which you can find on their respective blogs and searching “Shadowhunters“), I’ll be following the same layout, with my spoiler free review and then onto our discussion points, where I’ll be sharing Fiona’s answers, along with a spoiling warning banner ahead of it, just in case you get too immersed but don’t want to know details!
All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.
Now Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before the cult can cause any more damage. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their romantic getaway has been sidetracked, demons are now dogging their every step, and it is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec will have to trust each other more than ever—even if it means revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping.
Rating: Five stars
Right from reading the synopsis of this book, I knew I was absolutely going to love it. I’ve always thought Magnus was an underrated character (I mentioned him here in my Characters of the Year Book Tag), so I was really excited to have more of an insight to him, rather than just the contact that Clary – or Tessa – has. At the end of City of Glass – the previous chronological book – Magnus and Alec FINALLY KISSED in the middle of the Accords Hall, just before they went off to fight in the war against Valentine. It was one of the bravest things I’ve seen Alec do; I’ve come out as queer to my family, but certainly not surrounded by a hall full of fellow assassins who aren’t well known for their open minds.
Alec has always been a bit 2D in the previous books, a bit of a side player because the focus has always been on Jace and Clary, but the moments we have had with him, especially those featuring Magnus, have intrigued me, and it was wonderful to see him actually given some personality in this book. It’s also made me reflect more on my previous thought that he was kind of 2D, and I wonder now how much of that was, firstly, not knowing how to act as a gay Shadowhunter, and secondly, not knowing how to be or do anything other than cling to the training he’s been given when he feels like he doesn’t fit completely into that mold. So I was really excited for this book. And it absolutely did not let me down.
As always, there’s the excitement and drama of the Shadowhunter world, this time with more of an insight to the Downworlders who we have only really glimpsed through Luke before. Even Simon isn’t a ‘standard’ vampire. I really loved this, as it was wonderful to see that side of things a bit more, especially seeing it with Magnus.
This was easily my favourite read in the series so far, and I am SO in love with the combination of writing between Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu; however they worked out the balance of writing between them, it worked so well. As much as I’m looking forward to the next half of The Mortal Instruments, I can’t wait already to read The Lost Book of the White.
“Magnus waited in the silence. After a moment, Alec said quietly, “I’ve never loved anybody like this before. Maybe I’m not saying it right, but it’s what I feel.”
I’ve never loved anybody like this before.
Magnus’s heart seemed to break open, spilling love and desire through his veins. “Alec,” Magnus whispered. “You said everything perfectly.””
Time for the discussion part of the post! So I’ll be posting Fiona’s answers. Spoiler warning for the rest of the post!
What was your favourite moment?
For me I think it has to be the moment Alec admits how he knew which of all the multiple Magnuses (Magni?) was the real Magnus. It was just so heart meltingly sweet, and them celebrating being home with each other hiding from the rest of the world to just be together without interruption. I really like how they interact as a couple, that we get to see their doubts and fears when we get their internal monologues and they were just so natural made me fall in love with both of them as a couple.
Who was your favourite character?
Magnus! It’s always been Magnus. This just made me even more certain!
Have your thoughts on the series changed?
This is by far my favourite book out of the Shadowhunters universe so far. I think that is mostly the focus on Magnus but I am left wondering how much the inclusion of Wesley Chu in the writing of this book contributed to that. It will be interesting to get back into Clare’s lone writing particularly in the later series to see if it is my preference for her collaboration work.
How do you think the characters developed with what happened in the book?
I am now totally in love with Alec as well as Magnus. I loved that we got more of Magnus’ backstory and that we got to see a lot more of his thoughts and feelings building on what we learnt about him from the Infernal Devices. But the one shining achievement of this book was that it actually gave Alec a personality! He was so wooden in the first 3 books of the Mortal Instruments and that made him a really flat and dull character but in this book we really got to learn about him and while he is still a bit stiff that is a solid character flaw he is working to overcome instead of it being his entire personality and that was great!
What do you think is going to happen next?
Oh this is a difficult one as I don’t have any clue. I think with The Eldest Curse series we will need to have a hunt for Ragnor won’t we? I don’t know how The Mortal Instruments will continue. I hope we get some hints at Magnus and Alec’s relationship during the remainder of that series but with the focus back on Clary and Jace it will be interesting to see if they grow in the same fashion. I am interested in Simon and Isabelle too. Isabelle admitted some strong feelings for him in this book and I wonder if we see any of that in the next three books of Mortal Instruments, sort of retroactive foreshadowing on Clare’s part.
Plot Points Discussion
Alec and Magnus in Paris – dining on a flying hot air balloon!
This made me so happy. I loved that it opened with such a cute and very Magnus scene with the over the top romantic gesture. I love that even though he is hundreds of years old he still goes all out as he thinks that is what Alec would want. It just shows how despite the air of self confidence Magnus is still really nervous when it comes to Alec and that is really nice.
Tessa is back!
(Fiona totally shows her age by singing Eminem’s Without me every time she reads this plot point- “Guess who’s back – back again….) I gasped audibly at this reveal, after just finishing the Infernal Devices and seeing how Tessa’s side of the story ended I was not expecting her to pop up in this one. But there was no one better to warn Magnus.
Did Magnus really create the Crimson Hand?
This was a really interesting twist as it showed Magnus as being a bit more vulnerable than he seems in the first trilogy on the Mortal Instruments. Missing memories are a scary thing and not knowing if he did create the cult and the reasons behind it just seem like such a scary thing and the fact that it not only put him in jeopardy but also Alec it was a really different kind of danger than we have seen from these books before. It isn’t a physical threat like the other books but more a long past coming back to haunt him and that is very interesting.
Alec and Magnus in the Shadow Market
I was really excited to get to see the Shadow Market. We haven’t really got to see many Downworlder spaces and it was nice to get it from Magnus’ perspective moving through and exploring. I liked that when he separated from Alec he took some time to enjoy the space and to shop and look at all the items on offer. It gave us a little more insight into Downworlder life. It was interesting to see that Downworlders disapprove of their relationship as much as Shadowhunters do. I thought this was a very mysterious intro for Shinyun, as well as getting to meet more of Magnus’ global Downworlder links.
Travelling through Europe to defeat the Crimson Hand – Getting attacked on the Orient Express
I love that even though the situation is a bit desperate Magnus still moves in style. I really liked the inclusion of the Downworlder carriage. I think this disappointed me a little as I was dying for a nod to Christie and a little train mystery as that is my cultural touchstone for the Orient Express. I loved that Magnus insisted on dressing for dinner and that we got a bit of the description of the French Alps. The fight on the roof of the train was a bit touch and go but a great proper introduction for Shinyun.
At the Masked Ball
Again this is very much a Downworlder based book so it was great to explore the party both from Magnus’ perspective but also from Alec’s perspective. I love the flair that Magnus put into dressing himself and Alec and that there is some fun one-up-manship between Magnus and Shinyun on that front too. This book has such a fun and playful attitude even when it is dealing with some darker topics. I think that is Magnus’ infulence. I really enjoyed getting to see Alec experience the downworlder party through almost new eyes. He is the outsider as the lone shadowhunter and he obviously wants to be accepted by Magnus’ friends. It’s nice to see him being a bit more open. It’s in these scenes that Alec started to gain a bit more personality for me and wasn’t as wooden as he was in the Mortal Instruments. I do wish there had been fewer Americans at the party. They went all the way to Venice and they only interacted with American warlocks, American Vampires and American shadowhunters (not counting one very stereotypical french shadowhunter) It’s just a little disappointing that all of them are so Americanised. Surely there are italian downworlders etc.
Magnus opens up to Alec (at the campsite)
This was such a cute scene. Again I adore how OTT Magnus was with the campsite. It was really nice getting to learn more about Magnus, his life and how he has tried to find happiness in it. It was really nice to see him drop the eccentric facade and be him with Alec.
Alec goes to find answers at the Rome Institute and Magnus swans off with Shinyun
First, this was another awesome relationship moment for Alec and Magnus, the wanting to just go what the hell we can save the world from the evil cult tomorrow just to get to be alone together would have been so awesome. Second, why are there no Italian shadowhunters in the Rome institute?
It was kind of obvious that Magnus was not going to wait patiently for Alec, we knew that Magnus feels he is ruining the trip for them and I had assumed he would have been out the door a lot quicker trying to head it off before Alec got involved I was actually surprised he had waited for Shinyun. It was really interesting to get her backstory in the roman baths though it did sow seeds of doubt in my mind about her full story especially as we knew Magnus had his phone but wasn’t answering right after she had moved it.
Alec, Aline and Helen caught in the forest with fire demons
The seeds of doubt about Shinyun were already growing so it didn’t surprise me that as it was her and not Magnus that had led them there, it was some form of trap. I really enjoy the battle scenes in these books and this book didn’t have all that many of them so it was nice to see the Shadowhunters get to do what they do best for a bit.
Shinyun is the leader of the Crimson Hand
This was such a good twist, while the seeds of doubt had been sown I didn’t guess at her being the leader I had thought maybe she had been hired to track Magnus etc. It was a really good reveal to have the villain of the whole thing with them that whole time. It was a really nice bit of writing.
Battle between cultists, demons and the Shadowhunters
Ok, before we talk about battles and demons, Magnus’ father etc… can we just talk about how freaking funny the cultists were! I was in tears laughing. It is exactly how I pictured cult members of a cult founded by Magnus. I might need to change my favourite part of this book as I forgot about them till right now but I loved how funny they were. I even made Euan read that part. The battle itself wasn’t the best I have read as we didn’t get much from the shadowhunter perspective other than them barging in and throwing their weight around and that’s kind of what I expect from the shadowhunters.
Asmodeus pays a visit to Magnus
This section was really emotional; you could feel how hard it was for Mangus and how protective he was of Alec. It was a really poignant scene for Magnus, like at the campsite he had to put aside the bravado and the party image and be himself and really own his emotions and it was nice to see him be fierce and brave.
Alec picks the right Magnus
This was one of my favourite moments as it was one of those really cute, heart singing sweet moments when you know they really love each other and sometimes under this hard black gothic shell I have a mushy centre that loves the romantic crap. This was one of those times…
Alec lets Shinyun go
I really kind of respected Alec for this. It was really nice to see him question the Clave and be determined to change that. Change the impression shadowhunters have of downworlders and vice versa. This is another ‘oh he has a personality’ moment that is just awesome. Whether his decision of leniency will come back to bite him in the ass is yet to be seen but for now I think he made the right choice with the information he had.
Alec and Magnus head back to New York
I really loved this is was such a sweet ending to there story, the being home and hiding away from the rest of the world so they could finally get the time together they wanted, faking all the pictures so they could show off memories without really caring if they were real as it only mattered they had the time together. It was just a really nice and fitting ending for both of them. I totally love them as a couple and how much they care for each other.
RAGNOR FELL IS NOT DEAD! 😮
Gasp! Like this was a total WTF moment. It changes so much of the previous book and of the grief Magnus has been going through, sharing in this book and suddenly he is alive and imprisoned. The second book is going to be interesting!
Well there we go! Thank you for coming along the ride, and I really, really hope you’ll enjoy reading this book as much as we all did.