Hello everyone! We finally did it; we got to the end of the six-book series, ‘The Mortal Instruments’ by Cassandra Clare. I have to say, reviewing a series was a new experience for me, and something I’ve never done before. This six-week jig is finally up, and I’ve found it an interesting process. The rest of the reviews for this series are linked down below. Now onto the review.
I mentioned last week that the fifth book, ‘City of Lost Souls’ seemed to drawl and dawdle a bit, but ‘City of Heavenly Fire’ cut right to the chase, and lead us to the action almost immediately. Most of the story takes place in Alicante, the capital of Idris, which is the Shadowhunter country. Idris is supposed to be located somewhere up in the mountains of Switzerland, and is most often accessed by a Portal near the Brocelind Forest.
Let’s see what the synopsis says: “In this dazzling and long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother.
Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell.
The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris – but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?
When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee – even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned…
Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the terrible battle for the fate of the word in the thrilling final instalment of the classic urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments!”
This review will contain spoilers, so if you want to read the other books or my other reviews before this one, please go do that and come right back! We’ll be waiting!
You’re still here? Okay. To start with, let’s talk about exactly what the villain, Sebastian’s devious plan was. Nephilim, or Shadowhunters, are humans with the blood of angels. Their sole task in life is to protect normal humans from the evils that lurk in other dimensions – by keeping the gates to Edom (essentially, hell) closed and slaying demons. Shadowhunters were made by drinking from the Mortal Cup. The Mortal Cup was one of three Mortal Instruments- along with the Mortal Sword and the Mortal Mirror.
Sebastian, however, created a dark parallel to the Mortal Cup, called the ‘Infernal Cup’. Nephilim who drank from this Infernal Device became Endarkened, as they were endowed with the blood of demons, along with the blood of angels in their mortal, human bodies.
Sebastian was an experiment that Valentine conducted – by injecting him with demon blood as a new-born. This experiment was successful – so much so that there came a time when Valentine himself could not handle Sebastian, so the boy was sent to live in Edom with Lilith, a queen of Hell whose blood filled his veins.
Onto the characters. In my opinion, Jace was a bit more tolerable in this book than he was in the last two – but what really bothered me is the fact that he just kept telling everyone he had a plan, and everyone just trusted him. That part of the plot – Jace’s secret plan to take down Sebastian and the Endarkened Nephilim – diminished the stakes. It felt like there were all these consequences up in the air, stakes higher than the demon towers of Alicante, and yet the entire plan of action revolved around Jace’s surprise.
(Simon): “In D&D, my first move, when you’re dealing with an opposing army like that, would be to lure away a group of them—say five—and take their clothes.”
“Is this so they have to go back to the fortress naked and their embarrassment will negatively affect the morale?” said Jace. “Because that seems complicated.
“I’m pretty sure he means take their clothes and wear them as disguises,” Clary said. “So that we can sneak up to the gates unobserved. If the other Endarkened aren’t very perceptive, they might not notice.” Jace looked at her in surprise. She shrugged. “It’s in every movie, like, ever.
“We don’t watch movies,” said Alec.
“I think the question is whether Sebastian watches movies,” said Isabelle. “Is our strategy when we see him still ‘trust me’, by the way?”
“It’s still ‘trust me’,” Jace said.
“Oh, good.” Isabelle said. “For a second there I was worried there was going to be an actual plan with, like, steps we could follow. You know, something reassuring.”
My thoughts exactly, Isabelle. My thoughts exactly.
Simon and Alec were by far my favourite characters in this book – both characters have developed so much over the course of six books. We saw Simon go from an awkward, geeky kid – Clary’s self-proclaimed ‘nerdy best-friend’ – to a selfless, brave, and overall intriguing individual. He went from a shallow sidepiece to an integral part of the story structure – and proved himself invaluable when he offered to sacrifice his memories of the Shadow World, and his existence as a vampire – in place of Magnus. And Alec, goes from being a completely emotionless, resilient warrior and Shadowhunter, to a truly compassionate and caring individual.
As for the antagonist – Jonathan Morgenstern – or, Sebastian, as he was most commonly called, had me feeling a bit lukewarm. His plans seemed unstable, and were a bit easily uprooted by Jace’s ‘surprise!-magical-fire-powers-plan’. However, his death felt very real and honest, especially the last-minute arc he has – not one of redemption, but one of forgiveness. In the end, he is more human than demon, and more misguided than heartlessly evil.
In my opinion, a good villain is someone who has a heart: it’s just at the wrong place, wrong time, and in the wrong direction. Well, wrong according to the protagonists, really. I am yet to read a good book from the villain or antagonist’s perspective, so if you have any good recommendations then drop them in the comments below!
In this book, we also see an introduction to Emma Carstairs, Julian Blackthorn, and the Blackthorn children from the L.A. (Los Angeles) Institute. The oldest Blackthorn sister, Helen, was introduced in book five as someone who was half Seelie (faerie) and half Shadowhunter. Emma and Julian are twelve years old, and they provide an interesting alternate perspective of the war between the Endarkened and the Nephilim. They are only children but their thoughts and actions provide the readers with more understanding of exactly what the childhood and life of a young Shadowhunter is.
Overall, I thought that ‘City of Heavenly Fire’ was a good conclusion to the six-book Mortal Instruments series. Often, endings in YA series can leave readers feeling unsatisfied or let down – at least. That’s how it’s always been for me. But the sixth book in ‘The Mortal Instruments’ series was a proper conclusion, one that met all requirements, and tied up most major plot holes – though, with some openings for new stories in her other books and book series.
I will admit, I’m a little sad that this series of reviews has come to an end. It has been fun reviewing these books by Cassandra Clare. She has two more series set in the Shadowhunter world – The Infernal Devices as well as The Clockwork series. Both are trilogies, and her work is supplemented by several other novellas, like ‘The Bane Chronicles’, ‘The Red Scrolls of Magic’, and a written version of the guide book often mentioned in the series- ‘The Shadowhunter Codex’.
I will be reviewing mostly stand-alone novels for some time, but maybe in a while we can pick up another series to review! Let me know what you think in the comments. Signing off for now!
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