Series Sunday: ‘City of Ashes’

Many books in my book queue are waiting to be read, and a common theme among them is they’re all part of a series, trilogy or saga. Each Sunday, I’ll share a book from a series. You can read along with me, or add the books to your own reading list. This week, I read “City of Ashes,” the second book in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.

Last week I complained at length that “City of Bones” was way too much like the “Harry Potter” series, with a hint of “The Empire Strikes Back.”

But I was interested to see where the story would go. “City of Bones” was the first book in a trilogy, after all. And as I’ve learned from other trilogies, the first book introduces us to everything, as disappointed as we might be about it. It’s where we meet all of our lovable characters and unlovable villains. It’s where we learn where they live and what they do. It’s where all of the rules to the fantasy world are explained through expositional dialogue.

In the second book, we learn that our precious characters are exceptions to the rules of their world.

In “City of Bones,” Clary was the central character. Cassandra Clare focused on her ignorance to the world of demons to introduce readers to the same world. In “City of Ashes,” Jace takes center stage. He’s conflicted after finding out that Valentine is his father. While he’s glad to have a father, he’s bummed that his father is pure evil. He’s even more bummed that in true Luke Skywalker fashion, he’s resisted the dark side, but unfortunately made out with his sister in the process.

Maryse Lightwood, Isabella, Alec and Max’s mother, calls an inquisitor from the Clave to talk to Jace about Valentine’s return. The inquisitor, Imogen Herondale, is kind of like Dolores Umbridge from “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” She’s unyielding when it comes to rules, and meets her untimely end because of it.

Valentine steals the Mortal Sword from the City of Bones, killing all of the silent brothers in the process. The Mortal Sword is supposed to be a truthtelling tool for Shadowhunters, but Valentine wants to turn it evil using the blood of different Downworlders.

Meanwhile, despite the inquisitor’s warning, Jace goes to visit his father on a ship where he’s keeping a fear demon, Agramon. The inquisitor later finds out where Jace has been and keeps him in a prison of sorts, until Jace escapes.

Valentine kidnaps Maia, a werewolf, and Simon, who has been turned into a vampire, and takes them onto his ship. Clary, Jace, Isabelle and Alec go after them. Jace battles Agramon easily because Clary draws a “fearless” rune on him. She also constructs a rune that causes the ship to fall apart and the Shadowhunters prevail.

In the end, Clary is still torn between Simon and Jace, but each rejects her. She’s all alone in the end, pining after Jace, who promises to be a better brother to her.

“City of Ashes” wasn’t as much of a major “Harry Potter” knockoff as “City of Bones” was. I’m excited to read “City of Glass,” the third book in the series because it seems Cassandra Clare has branched off into some original territory. Many of the characters possess only a muddy, vague history of themselves, and I’m interested to see how they go about finding the truth.

I was also happy to see that the Mortal Instruments isn’t just a trilogy. A fourth and fifth book exist, “City of Fallen Angels” and “City of Lost Souls” respectively. “The Mortal Instruments” also have companion series, “The Infernal Devices” and “The Dark Artifices.” How fun!

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One Response to Series Sunday: ‘City of Ashes’

  1. Pingback: Book Buzz | BAM best-sellers for the week of Aug. 24

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