Today I’m reviewing Lord of Shadows, the second book in The Dark Artifices series by Cassandra Clare. There will be mild spoilers for Lord of Shadows, and as this is a sequel there will be spoilers for Lady Midnight, so please beware!
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?
Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.
When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.
My rating: 4.25 stars.
Ohh this book.
Cassandra Clare never fails to deliver brutal cliffhangers, and I think that the ending of Lord of Shadows is the most emotional. I will say now, I don’t think Lord of Shadows is as good as Lady Midnight. That’s not to say it’s a bad book! I adored Lady Midnight, and I loved returning to the Blackthorn family. For me, though, while Lady Midnight was very tightly plotted, Lord of Shadows was a bit more sprawling if that makes sense?
These are always the best parts of any Shadowhunter novel. The characters in Lord of Shadows just feel so real; it doesn’t feel like you’re reading a book, it feels like you’re following these people as they navigate their lives. Emma is wonderfully refreshing and I love her sense of humour, but I don’t think we perhaps saw as much of her in LoS as we did in Lady Midnight. I love Cristina’s quiet strength, Livvy’s optimism, Ty’s intelligence, Julian’s very Slytherin-y heart. It was also interesting hearing from other perspectives like Kit, Diana, and Dru. I haven’t actually warmed to Dru that much yet, but Kit was so funny at calling out the archaic Shadowhunting world, and Diana’s story is so important. I love that Clare has such varied and realistic characters!
While it was nice to see recurring characters from The Mortal Instruments, it was a little jarring and it took a while to get used to. However, once it became clear that they weren’t meaningless cameos but actually contributed to the overall plot I was so impressed with Cassandra Clare’s storytelling!
‘We get used to living one way, even if it’s a bad way or a hard one. When that’s gone, there’s a hole to fill. It’s in our nature to try to fill it with anxieties and fears. It can take time to fill it with good things instead.’
I do love Emma and Julian, and there were some moments in Lord of Shadows that was beautiful. I feel like we really got to see how well-suited they are and how good they could be together, especially when they were in Malcolm’s cottage. I was relieved that the whole Mark-and-Emma thing was resolved quickly, too. The Mark-Cristina-Kieran love triangle honestly stressed me out because I CAN’T DECIDE WHICH SIDE I PREFER. Normally I have some sort of idea (In The Infernal Devices I was firmly Team Will) but this time I am so undecided. However, my favourite relationship in LoS was one that hasn’t necessarily happened yet – Kit and Ty! I just love how in Kit’s chapters there are so many times when he’s protective over Ty, and how he listens and understands Ty. And he’s definitely going to be needed after that ending.
‘Break my heart,’ he said. ‘Break it in pieces, I give you permission.’
This is why I like Lord of Shadows less than Lady Midnight. The plot is fantastically complex, and the amount of thought and detail put into every plot point is astonishing. However, there was a lot of moving about in this book and it’s perhaps a bit too complicated. I do think this was partly because of how I read it, as I had two very busy weeks and had to put the book down a lot. That being said, I loved how involved we were in the different Faery societies and it was so interesting finding out about how the Cold Peace has affected the Seelies as well as the Shadowhunters.
Another aspect of the plot that I loved was the arrival of the Cohort. To read something that so clearly reflects parts of society today was chilling, and the way that Zara (I HATE ZARA!) and her followers truly believed in the hatred that they were trying to achieve was terrifying.
‘When a decision like that is made by a government, it emboldens those who are already prejudiced to speak their deepest thoughts of hate. They assume they are simply brave enough to say what everyone really thinks.’
This deserves its own section of the review because WHAT WAS THAT ENDING. Let me set the scene: I was trying to finish Lord of Shadows before the end of August. It was about half past midnight, and I only had about two chapters left, so I decided to carry on.
This was a mistake!
That ending was just utterly heart-breaking. The deaths were – obviously – devastating, especially Livvy (I had this big theory that Julian or Emma would die and the other would use necromancy in the last book – and I was completely wrong!). But what was more heart-wrenching, I think, was that this plan that our team had worked and worked on, that they had put all their hopes on, that would save Emma and Julian and the Downworlders – that this plan could have gone so catastrophically wrong. And there are even bigger problems on the horizon – Warlocks losing magic? A new Inquistor needed (Please say it won’t be Dearborn!)? The Unseelie King getting rid of Shadowhunter magic?? There are so many unanswered questions!!
‘There is truth in stories,’ said Arthur. ‘There is truth in one of your paintings, boy, or in a sunset or a couplet from Homer. Fiction is truth, even if it is not fact. If you believe only in facts and forget stories, your brain will live, but your heart will die.’
What did you think of Lord of Shadows? Are you excited for Queen of Air and Darkness? (I’m not looking forward to the year long wait!) Who’s your favourite character in TDA?
Thanks for reading 🙂