City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
4 stars – I liked it; it was good
As some of you may know, I found this book at one of my local used bookstores, The Bookman, after previously only having the first five books in the series for nearly a decade. Of all books in 2022, this is the longest book, being over 700 pages, and it also took me the longest to read. I started reading on July 23, 2022.
Finished on September 14, 2022.
The Perfect Ending to This Series
This is the final installment of The Mortal Instruments series. If you’ve been reading this long, you know the gist of the story by now, but I’ll give a brief overview of what happens in this book: Clary and Jace have escaped from Sebastian’s grasp. Unfortunately, he now has his own mystical relic which is the opposite of the Mortal Cup, and he uses it to create Endarkened soldiers by converting shadowhunters. They are stronger, faster, and overall better fighters than regular shadowhunters, and Sebastian is creating an army by attacking the Institutes around the world. To prevent their numbers from shrinking any further, all shadowhunters are called back to Idris, where they and the council of Downworlders must decide future moves.
I’m going to start by saying that I don’t typically like long books. This book was over 700 pages, and while it was a good book, I’m the type of writer who uses words sparingly. I’ve been told that I don’t “waste words” and I like that description. The reason I do this is because I firmly believe that everything in a book should have a purpose for the book. Is it setting something up that will lead us to the main problem? If not, scrap it. Now, I think this book still did very well with making sure every scene was necessary to the plot, either by building characters, relationships, problems, or solutions. Some scenes may have lingered a bit, but it’s the last book, and fans are desperate for every bit of content they can read, so I’ll forgive it. I’m a sucker for that last bit of extra time with the characters.
The ending was unexpected for me. It wasn’t big or flashy, which was unique, and I love how the author kind of kept it quiet. It was a lineup of different, smaller problems rather than one big one, and it allowed the characters to “win” while keeping major threats in play. Of course, we know that Sebastian is eventually defeated, as this is the last book, but the Clave’s victory invites new problems for the future, with the depleted sense of urgency that comes from the final book in a series.
A few new characters are introduced in this book right in the beginning in the form of the Blackthorn children and Emma Carstairs, who are a few of the victims left behind after the attack on the LA Institute. The plot keeps coming back to these children and how they’ve been affected by the war. It also emphasizes that while they’ve been affected, they are all still too young to fight back and be a part of the action; Julian Blackthorn and Emma are especially in the spotlight of this dilemma, and I was always happy when I got to read more of them.
As for the other characters, as we know, Jace and Clary are still going strong, Simon and Isabelle are together, but Alec and Magnus have been on rocky terms lately after Magnus found out that Alec was conspiring behind his back to take away his immortality. They’ve broken up, which is tragic because they are both still intensely in love with each other. This book navigates their relationship a lot more from separate perspectives, as somewhere in the middle, Sebastian’s plans see the Downworlder council members kidnapped from right under the Clave’s nose, and Clary, Jace, Simon, Isabelle, and Alec venture out to Hell to rescue them.
And we finally get to know who Magnus’s father is! (I am proud to say that I managed not to spoil this for myself.)
I might have mentioned before that I like urban fantasy—meaning fantasy that takes place in the real world, with explanations of how regular human beings aren’t seeing whatever magical elements there are. This includes Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flammel, among others. While I wasn’t always certain how much school Clary was missing because of her fights with demons, I enjoyed reading about her and the other characters both in the real world and in the fictional country of Idris. In this book, they return to Idris, but they also must travel to Hell, better known as Edom, which is the demon dimension that has become Sebastian’s evil lair. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the characters exploring and surviving in this new environment.
In other exciting news, one of my best friends (who also loves this series) gifted me two books for my birthday. She gave me hardcover copies of The Shadowhunter’s Codex and An Illustrated History of Notable Shadowhunters & Denizens of Downworld (which is illustrated by Cassandra Jean, whose artwork I featured in The City of Lost Souls review). If you know anything about me, I love, love, love these collectable “extra” books, but only after reading the entire series and enjoying it all the way through. I have similar books for the previously mentioned Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series.
Back to the book: I think the epilogue perfectly wrapped up the ending with one final collection of scenes where the heroes come together in a celebration. Fractured bonds are starting to mend, and while there are still problems, they are navigating the new peace. There is nothing lurking on the immediate horizon, but it’s still not that “picture perfect” ending that I kind of hate. I think it ended bittersweet in a way, and I really enjoyed that. Still not an “over the top favourite” 5-star book, but it is definitely on my upper scale of 4-star reads.
Once again, this is an excellent series finale, so of course I recommend this book to everyone who’s read all the books up until now. You’re in for a wild ride!
Now all I’m wondering is if the TV show and movies are any good and if I should watch those for the full Mortal Instruments experience. I already have The Infernal Devices series on my TBR shelf, ready and waiting to be read (after a short break from this author). I am also on the lookout for The Dark Artifices series, but that is low on my priority list at this time.
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