LORD OF SHADOWS already pulls you into its intense story from page 1 with its detailed descriptions and strong characterizations.
***mild spoilers from book 1, Lady Midnight***
Lord of Shadows is book 2 of the urban fantasy trilogy, The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare. The trilogy centers on the Shadowhunters living at the Los Angeles Institute – Emma Carstairs, the Blackthorn family, and Diana Wrayburn. Julian Blackthorn, who despite being only about 17 years old, has been running the institute himself as well as watching over his siblings.
In book two, a new can of worms has been opened after the battle against Malcolm Fade, the warlock they thought they could trust, was won. Julian and Emma’s relationship has hit an obstacle as, though they have fallen in love with each other, Emma knows she has to end it to save them both from a curse. The King of the Unseelie Court looks to end the Cold Peace in a threatening way. And some in the Clave believe more needs to be done against the Downworlders.
All in all, it’s a lot to take in. Which is why the book is so tremendously thick. We not only get points of views from one or two characters, but we get to read from the perspectives of several, including Julian, Emma, Julian’s older half-faerie brother Mark Blackthorn, Emma’s best friend Cristina Rosales, and the newly orphaned Kit Herondale.
Things you should know. This is a Cassandra Clare novel. At the least, you should already have read Lady Midnight, and gotten to know many of these characters. You should already know then that you need to prepare yourself, both emotionally and mentally, for the angst, anger, joy, and sadness (and there will be sadness) that reading one of her books can instill in you.
Lord of Shadows is actually more than just a story full of action, humor, drama, and teenagers with raw emotion and romantic idealism. Cassie tends to, not unintentionally, mirror the socio-political climate of our current state, and as I read the book, I’ve found this one in particular to be very strong in reflecting what is going on in our nation and around the world, especially now as we (in the U.S.) deal with trying to fight against a government that seems to ignite all kinds of negative ‘-isms’ into their voters.
Cassie reflects in the relations between the Shadowhunters and the Downworlders, especially the fae. She includes these challenges as a way to encourage people, especially teens, to get more involved in what’s going in the world, however small their involvement may be, as well as giving them a story they can really feel a part of.
You get to learn more about characters and the locations they go. Cassie has a wonderful way with description and giving us imagery by her words that it’s hard not to visualize the places she describes in the books, and we go to a lot of places. Each one of them described in lovely detail.
She helps us understand the characters in due time, through their struggles, their pain, their laughter, their tragedy. Understand this: Lord of Shadows is over 700 pages long, and a lot of different emotions will be felt from page to page, chapter to chapter. What you think of a character may change through the course of the book, which may be very hard for some readers to grasp. One thing Cassie tries to show is how complex all her characters are. As with in real life, there are situations that they go through and challenges that they face that are not easily solved with a simple “yes” or “no” answer. It’s amazingly thought-provoking.
Being that this is a story in urban fantasy, it’s important to make these characters as relatable to real people as possible. Cassie does that very well. Some characters will say and do things that one thinks shouldn’t. In Lord of Shadows, you’ll see that many of these characters do not fit into a “Team Good” or “Team Evil” side. Cassie enforces these differences. It’s important that readers try to understand other ways of thinking, and that’s part of the reason this book is so much more than just a fantasy. But she also points out the wrong of certain mindsets, and the effect it could have.
Cassie doesn’t waste words on filler stuff. Every chapter is full of explanation and detail, to not only let you see the world as the Shadowhunters and Downworlders see them, but to also understand that each character has something to say. They have a connection. They have a part in it, whether it be good or bad or somewhere in between.
If I were to put it in the most simple terms, you will love the Blackthorn family even more, you will find out a lot of shocking surprises, and if you’re like me, you will be affected abundantly as you turn each.
As far as “Easter Eggs” go, if you’re familiar with all of Cassie’s other Shadowhunter Chronicles books, you’ll find plenty enough to make you giddy. This should not be a surprise to anyone, but you’ll get to see some familiar characters from previous Shadowhunter books. That always gets fans going.
As for me personally, after mentally and emotionally draining myself from 19 straight hours of reading to complete this book, I can say it was well worth it.
Grade rating: A (rate the book below)
Order your own copy of Lord of Shadows on Amazon.