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City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments (Quality))…

City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments (Quality)) (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Cassandra Clare

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6,721278555 (4.13)153
Title:City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments (Quality))
Authors:Cassandra Clare
Info:Margaret K. McElderry Books (2009), Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Read and Released
Tags:mortal instruments, ya, fantasy

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City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (2008)

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City of Ashes is the second book in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series. It continues to expand upon the world-building that began in the first book. I really like the world the author has created. It's populated with a variety of supernatural creatures, all of whom have their own quirks, rules, and sub-level mythology. I can see tidbits that are similar to other sci-fi/fantasy worlds, mixed with a touch of Biblical legends, and a flavor that's all it's own. It's a very imaginative story realm that makes for engaging reading and which I very much enjoy inhabiting.

Where City of Bones primarily belonged to Clary, City of Ashes is fairly equally divided between her and Jace. I'd even argue that the focus is slightly more on Jace this time around. Now that it's been revealed that Jace's father is really the evil Valentine Morganstern and that he's still alive, virtually no one believes that Jace didn't know these things even though he's spent the last seven years growing up with the Lightwoods. Jace just doesn't seem to be able to shake the stigma of who his father is, and he's come to be viewed by most, including the Lightwood parents who raised him, as untrustworthy simply because he's Valentine's son. Everyone sees his father in him, but few see him as an independent young man with thoughts and feelings of his own. Of course, Alec and Isabelle are still on his side, as is Clary and Clary's father-figure, Luke, and best friend, Simon, but most of the older Shadowhunters are against him, none more so than the Inquisitor. She's brought in to judge Jace, but she has a major chip on her shoulder where he's concerned because of a personal vendetta she has against Valentine. Even Jace's own father eventually turns against him and is more than willing to sacrifice Jace if it means he can succeed in his evil plans. So in a way, this book could kind of be called Everybody Hates Jace.:-) Unlike some readers who adore Jace, he doesn't necessarily draw me in quite the same way. He's arrogant and cocky and full of snarky one-liners, which can make him difficult for me to love, but at the same time, I think some of that angry edge he has is a protection mechanism. I can see glimmers of his vulnerability underneath, which does intrigue me to some extent, but I'd love it if he was able to allow himself to be a little more vulnerable. Still, I'll allow that he's an interesting character, just not one that I've fully fallen in love with yet.

Although Jace went through a more transformative process in this book, Clary is still front and center too. Unlike Jace, she has no conflicted feelings about their father, probably in large part because she never knew him. She wants to help in the fight against Valentine, but with her mother having kept her in hiding most of her life, she never trained as a Shadowhunter, even though it's in her DNA. Clary is a strong heroine with the heart of a lion, who isn't afraid to stand up to others when they're wrong. She's also a defender of all those whom she cares about. Untrained or not, she'd gladly put herself in harm's way to protect them. And protect them she does when she discovers an untapped power that she never knew she possessed. In fact, both she and Jace find out things about themselves and exhibit abilities far beyond anything anyone in the Shadowhunter community has ever seen before. I really look forward to watching them develop these powers more fully in the books to come.

Quite a number of readers have tried to classify these books as romance, but as a long-time connoisseur of romance in the capacity of both reader and writer, IMHO, they really aren't. Yes, there is some romance in them, but it definitely isn't the main focus. Also, in order to be a romance, a book really needs to have a satisfying and uplifting ending with regards to the romantic relationship and that certainly hasn't been the case with either of the first two books of the series. I fully expect for this to resolve itself by the end of the series, but for right now, things are very much in flux. First of all, we found out at the end of book #1 that Jace and Clary are brother and sister. I'm still not sure I fully believe it's true, but throughout City of Ashes, that assumption is still in place. However, that doesn't stop them from having romantic feelings toward one another. While Jace is ready to say, “Screw it! I don't care if you're my sister. I want to be with you,” Clary isn't quite there yet. In fact, she's trying to put her feelings for Jace to rest by going out with her best friend, Simon, who's been madly in love with her for a long time. It seems that Cassandra Clare is very fond of love triangles in general, as there are other characters mixed up in them as well. A young werewolf girl named Maia develops an attraction for Simon, while elsewhere, Alec appears to be getting involved with Magnus but still can't get over his love for Jace. I've never been a big fan of love triangles (or quadrangles as the case may be) being used as a device to fuel relationship conflict, yet these books seem to have them in spades. It makes it really hard, if not outright impossible, to know who to root for on the romance front. That's yet another reason why I firmly refuse to call these books romance – at least not yet.:-) It just makes it a little easier to thoroughly enjoy the stories when I'm not as worried about the frustrating nature of the relationships.

In addition to Clary and Jace, there are lots of secondary characters who I absolutely love. I'm slightly more enamored of Simon and Alec than I am of Jace. I've always had a fondness for guys who are on the geeky side and Simon definitely fits that bill. Simon undergoes a transformation of his own in this book and is in harm's way a lot. While I can't say I enjoyed worrying about him dying, I did enjoy him being a focus character. I also like quieter, gentler guys of which Alec is one. There most certainly hasn't been enough of Alec in these stories yet. I think his more soft-hearted nature leaves him in the background too often. The adorably flamboyant Magnus is another character who gets more page time in this book. He becomes an invaluable help to our intrepid heroes and heroines in their fight against Valentine and the demons he's unleashed, and I enjoyed learning a little more about his character and his abilities. Luke is another character I love for his loyalty and protectiveness of Clary and her mother all these years, and he's still looking out for them while trying to lead his newly acquired werewolf pack. The Inquisitor is someone I loved to hate, but even she finally has a moment of clarity in the end. Not so of Valentine, who I'm sure is in this for the long-haul and who makes a dastardly villain.

As a parent, I would say that content-wise City of Ashes is pretty much on par with the first book and fully appropriate for a mature teenage audience. Probably of greatest concern would be the violence. There is quite a bit of peril and stylized fantasy violence involving grotesque demons. There is some gore as well in form of the villain draining blood from various Downworlders for nefarious purposes, as well as our heroic characters dealing with blood and ichor as they fight off the demons. But overall, I don't feel that it was overdone or nearly as explicit in the descriptions as it could have been, making it on par with what teens might see in a PG-13 movie. There is a small amount of language, mostly limited to mild profanities. In one scene, Jace goes to a Downworlder bar, where no one asks questions about age, and has a drink. There is also some mild sexual innuendo, but nothing beyond kissing actually takes place. Clary invites Simon to share her bed when he sleeps over one night. They talk briefly about sex, but again nothing but kisses actually occur. Clary and Jace have obvious romantic feelings for one another, but are said to be brother and sister, so the potentially incestuous nature of their relationship may bother some readers. Also two characters are gay and implied to be in a relationship, which again may bother some. Otherwise, I can't think of anything potentially objectionable, and like I said, I'm certain mature teens could handle the subject-matter with no problem.

There may have been a few tiny little things about the story I might have changed, but the overall likability factor for both the characters and the plot of City of Ashes was extremely high for me. I very much enjoyed reading it. It didn't necessarily grab me intensely from page one, but I still looked forward to it each time I sat down to read it. These books have a tendency to start out a little slower and then gradually, but steadily, build momentum as the story progresses, ending in a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat climax that's hard to put down. The author also left a couple of tantalizing threads hanging that make me wonder what will happen next. I may have allowed two years to pass between my reading of the first and second Mortal Instruments books, but I certainly won't be making that mistake again. I'm very eager to continue with the series, and with two winners in a row, Cassandra Clare is now on my favorite authors list. I can't wait to read more of her work! ( )
  mom2lnb | Nov 19, 2015 |
I enjoyed the first book of this series, but I had a hard time paying attention to the second book. To be honest, I'm not really sure what it was about, other than some fights with demons and a stereotypically evil father figure. I might've been better able to pay attention if I had read it, rather than listened to it, but almost all of my "reading" these days is done by audiobook, so a story has to be one that holds my attention through that medium.

The voice actor was just fine, so that wasn't it, although she may have made Valentine sound a bit too stereotypically evil.

I don't think I'll read the next book in the series, as there are other similar series that better hold my attention. I'm now listening to the fourth book in the Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series, which I find much easier to pay attention to, perhaps in part because it's a first-person narrative. ( )
  PerpetualRevision | Oct 25, 2015 |
Clary’s life has been turned upside down -- demons are real and her mother’s in a coma. She’s getting closer to Simon and her newfound brother Jace. But she’s ready for it all to go back to normal. But someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children -- is her father, Valentine, behind it? I’m actually writing this review from the vantage point of mid-way through book 5, but this series is frustrating. I’m enjoying it -- a lot -- and the tension is high -- but it feels like the actual plot is subsumed by the romance sub-plot more often than not. And I mean, I’ve barely done *anything* but read this series since starting it last week. I don’t think I’m going to write separate reviews. But seriously -- Clary and Jace need to be cut a break at SOME point. Gah. ( )
  lyrrael | Oct 17, 2015 |
2015, download ( )
  heina | Oct 12, 2015 |
"Since the previous book of this series ended with a cliffhanger, I couldn't help myself: had to start reading this one immediately after finishing [b:City of Bones|256683|City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)|Cassandra Clare|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1432730315s/256683.jpg|2267189]. I would like to mention that, when I found out about this series, I was going under a strict weight reduction policy; I would eat very little everyday, compared to what I was used to, and would run the treadmill for more than 40 minutes every day, no matter my stated of mind, or if I had other things to do or if it was the coldest day of winter. Somehow I managed to get my Kindle settled on the treadmill, 'cus I just couldn't stop reading. There is so much tension going on in this book that, sometimes, I felt all the characters would start going to group therapy together.

The events on this book happen in a much faster pace than the previous one, since Clary is now much more enlightened about the world where she truly belongs, so we are not smashed with so much background explanations. Despite the drama lying on the seemingly impossible love relationship between Clary and Jace, the whole story is built around the unavoidable conflict between Valentine's forces and the Nephilim.

I found it really entertaining accompanying Simon trying to come to terms with being a newborn vampire, as he is one of my favorite characters. It was also cool to be showed more of the Nephilim world, from new cities to the intricacies of their political system. Again, Clare shows her cleverness when trying to please teenager readers by showing them said political system being questioned and ultimately subdued by teenagers.

One of the features of this book that I really liked is that Clare kept true to her style, her story and ideas. From personal experience, I learned that some promising series can go down really fast after the first book, especially if it gets enormously famous and the author lets money get to their head. Fortunately, it did not happen with this series. There are the same exhilarating action scenes and the same particularities of each of the characters that make them individually especial. More importantly, there are still those hilarious scenes that make me laugh so hard: ""'I've got a stele we can use. Who wants to do me?' A regrettable choice of words,' muttered Magnus."". It was also really interesting to get to know more about Luke and his pack; knowing more about his background made me relate to him much more than in the first book. Isabelle and Alec also grew on me, since now that their bonds of friendship with Simon and Clary is stronger; as a result, Clare managed to depict them with much more realism, so they are much more believable now.

Sometimes Clare is a bit heavy-handed on the drama, but not so much as to turn the experience of reading unbearable. One little thing that bugged me about the plot, though, is that Valentine, who is supposed to be the ultimate evil, seen as being a threat to the whole Clave, doesn't seem capable of doing so. It might be Clare's strategy to depict him with some errors of judgement and weak strategical thinking, which might work if her purpose is to make him a more believable character, but come on! I was expecting a lot more ""holy shit! I didn't see that coming"" moves from that guy.

Anyway, there are a lot of action, tons of revelations and unexpected twists, specially regarding Jace's heritage and Clary's abilities with runes. I definitely liked this one more than [b:City of Bones|256683|City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)|Cassandra Clare|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1432730315s/256683.jpg|2267189], since Clare got to develop the characters and plot due to not having to waste half a book explaining Underworld folklore to Clary us.

Interesting/fun quotes that I didn't include in the review:
As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?
Growing up happens when you start having things you look back on and wish you could change.
Fate is never fair. You are caught in a current much stronger than you are; struggle against it and you'll drown not just yourself but those who try to save you. Swim with it. and you'll survive
Pain is only what you allow it to be.

The Last Passage
""She did it before Valentine got to her. So he couldn’t get any information out of her. She planned it that way. It was a secret, a secret she shared with only one other person, and she told only one other person how the spell could be reversed. That person was me.”
“You mean—”
“Yes,” Madeleine said. “I mean I can show you how to wake your mother up.""
" ( )
  AdemilsonM | Sep 2, 2015 |
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Moore, NatalieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This Bitter Language

I know your streets, sweet city,
I know the demons and angels that flock
and roost in your boughs like birds.
I know you, river, as if you flowed through my heart.
I am your warrior daughter.
There are letters made of your body
as a fountain is made of water.
There are languages
of which you are the blueprint
and as we speak them
the city rises.
-Elka Cloke
For my father, who is not evil. Well, maybe a little bit.
First words
The formidable glass-and-steel structure rose from its position on Front Street like a glittering needle threading the sky.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A lot has changed since Clary has found her way into the shadowhunters' world. 
1) She and her friend Simon might be becoming more then just friends 
2) She might have feelings for her new-found brother Jace, and there is a big chance he feels the same way 
3) Valentine, an evil shadowhunter and her and Jace's father, is killing downworlders around New York, and Jace is still uncertain if he should join his father or not 
The story of The City of Bones continues in the sequel City of Ashes!!
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743572750, Audio CD)

Welcome back to the exotic world beyond the shadows...

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go -- especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil -- and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings -- and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace.How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:00 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Sixteen-year-old Clary continues trying to make sense of the swiftly changing events and relationships in her life as she becomes further involved with the Shadowhunters and their pursuit of demons and discovers some terrifying truths about her parents, her brother Jace, and her boyfriend Simon.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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