Happy book birthday to Cassandra Clare and her new release Chain of Iron! ❤ Pretty much almost a year after the publication of the first The Last Hours novel Chain of Gold, we can now dive into/devour book two. I am so happy Chain of Iron is finally out in the world and can be bought in book shops or online. Happy reading once you have your copy/copies. 😀
Since it is tradition, here is my review for Chain of Iron. Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for the beautiful ARC!
All the information or quotes shared below can be found online (here, for example) and will be the only ‘spoilers’ that are mentioned unless stated otherwise.
Cordelia Carstairs seems to have everything she ever wanted. She’s engaged to marry James Herondale, the boy she has loved since childhood. She has a new life in London with her best friend Lucie Herondale and James’ charming companions, the Merry Thieves. She is about to be reunited with her beloved father. And she bears the sword Cortana, a legendary hero’s blade.
But the truth is far grimmer. James and Cordelia’s marriage is a lie, arranged to save Cordelia’s reputation. James is in love with the mysterious Grace Blackthorn whose brother, Jesse, died years ago in a terrible accident. Cortana burns Cordelia’s hand when she touches it, while her father has grown bitter and angry. And a serial murderer is targeting the Shadowhunters of London, killing under cover of darkness, then vanishing without a trace.
Together with the Merry Thieves, Cordelia, James, and Lucie must follow the trail of the knife-wielding killer through the city’s most dangerous streets. All the while, each is keeping a shocking secret: Lucie, that she plans to raise Jesse from the dead; Cordelia, that she has sworn a dangerous oath of loyalty to a mysterious power; and James, that he is being drawn further each night into the dark web of his grandfather, the arch-demon Belial. And that he himself may be the killer they seek. (x)
Many second books in a trilogy or series suffer from ‘second book syndrome’ but I am happy to tell you that this is not the case for Cassandra Clare’s Chain of Iron!
This book has everything we love in a Shadowhunters book: action, looove scenes 😉, parabatai goodness, humour and more!
The young Shadowhunters of London are faced with a serial killer that has targeted fellow Nephilim and they have to find the murderer.
But that’s not all, there is Lucie’s promise to Jesse from Chain of Gold, a certain engagement, trouble between the Merry Thieves and Alastair, and more!
A lot of things happen in Chain of Iron, some so good you want to squeal and others where you just want to close the book in a huff and scream in frustration.
I am getting ahead of myself, though. Where do I start without giving any spoilers away?
This book is all about secrets, which is also a theme in Chain of Gold (the word ‘secret’ is used 59 times in the first Last Hours novel): Lucie’s big secret is Jesse and what she plans to do for/to him, there is the fake engagement, Cordelia’s secret oath, Matthew’s heartbreaking secret he has been hiding from everyone since Cast Long Shadows, secrets that are not shared with the Clave/Enclave (what’s new?) and other secrets related to the characters. The quote/sentence that promotes Chain of Iron is “You’ll never forget your first betrayal”, but I think they should have picked a line about secrets instead.
Don’t forget your own heroism.
Chain of Iron is a long book with over 650 pages so let’s have a structured look at the individual characters and their parts in it:
I’m starting with Lucie because she is on the cover and probably also the most secretive out of the whole bunch. I mean, you kind of have to be when you’re trying to raise someone from the dead. Is she successful, though? You will have to read Chain of Iron, but I can tell you that she enlists Malcolm Fade’s help. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether that is a good idea or not.
We do see a lot more of Lucie in this book, which shows us a whole new side of her. I really enjoy the new facet of her character that makes her feel even more fleshed out. She is not only a writer, but also a deeply caring person who feels conflicted because of her secrets. One thing we learn about Lucie in Chain of Gold is that she “loved and hated secrets” and the hate part is very prominent in Chain of Iron. She is keeping Jesse a secret from her friends and family, but she is not truly happy about this. Nevertheless, she cannot tell anyone about Jesse, not even Cordelia.
Because of Lucie’s attempts to raise Jesse from the dead, she naturally spends a lot of time with him and I pretty much adore all of their scenes together. Their relationship is changing a lot in Chain of Iron; I would love to say more but then we’d venture into spoilery territory and I’d never want to spoil a book for anyone.
You cannot have Lucie without Cordelia since these two want to become parabatai.
Cordelia’s father is back in this book and we will get to see how she now feels about him after the reveal that Elias is in fact an alcoholic. That’s one complicated relationship.
The other complicated relationship is of course with her fiancé James, who does not love her, but whom she is obviously – or not so obviously to others – very much in love with. She wants the engagement and their subsequent marriage to be real, but there is of course the huge obstacle of James’s feelings for Grace. Despite this, they grow closer in the book and I love seeing these two together. One ‘Jordelia’ scene has made me squeal and hug the ARC to my chest. Their chemistry seems just right to me, and their relationship isn’t as ‘desperate’ as for example Clary and Jace’s from The Mortal Instruments or Emma and Julian’s from The Dark Artifices. These two are just so sweet together and I smile each time James calls her Daisy. Just be happy, pretty please?!
Cordelia’s relationship with Alastair has definitely improved and they are closer now, which I love, and there is also one really sweet scene between her and her mum Sona.
Cordelia has also grown much closer to Matthew which is shown in plenty of scenes. They have become each other’s confidants and I’m glad they have someone they can talk to. We will see in which direction their relationship is going in Chain of Thorns; there is one thing I am not happy with in regards to them.
Apart from all the relationship stuff, either with her family or her friends, I cannot say anything about the mysterious oath that Cordelia has sworn; it is surprising, but the rest is a huge spoiler!
Something that’s not a spoiler at all is my love for James Herondale. I adore him, although he can be so clueless at times! James’s powers are still rearing their ugly heads and the poor guy actually believes that he may be the aforementioned serial killer. Not to mention there is still the whole issue with his grandfather and grandpa’s big plan for him.
He once again has to deal with all the above and more in Chain of Iron: there is also his engagement to Cordelia, his relationship with Grace and his friendship with his parabatai Matthew. Not everything is just sunshine and roses between these two because James slowly starts to realise that Matthew has a problem and he tries to talk about it with him. I’m keeping mum on the result.
[Spoiler ahead] Matthew, what can I say about him? I just want to hug him so badly and tell him to see a therapist so that he can deal with everything he’s been through. Of course, that’s not possible so I’m glad he’s good friends with Cordelia now who can actually call him out if he’s acting stupidly. The ending of Chain of Iron certainly gives me hope that he may be moving in the right direction, but I believe it’s going to take a lot of will power for him to get better and be the great young man he can absolutely be. So yes, Matthew does survive Chain of Iron, I do know some have been seriously worried about him. This is the only spoiler I will share, though.
Jesse is still a sweetheart, and we do find out why he had to die. It’s pretty tragic and it makes me sad to read about his past. I just want the guy to be alright, okay?
I wish I could say ‘Ugh, Grace!’ but since having read Chain of Iron, I have actually come to like her a little bit and I’m sure my opinion of her is going to improve further. This book shines a light on her childhood, the abuse she has suffered, and we find out why Grace is the way she is. It’s definitely an interesting part of the whole story and I would not wish this fate on anyone.
I like seeing her caring side, even if it is just for Jesse. She is capable of love and I hope for her sake that she is going to find true love eventually.
Christopher is still a somewhat unobtrusive character with not that much page time, but I believe this is actually Cassie’s intention and we’ll see Christopher’s full potential in Chain of Thorns. I think he is going to spread his wings in the final book. If we believe the family tree from Clockwork Princess, he is Izzy and Alec’s ancestor, so he is bound to be a cool guy. 😉
Cassie herself hasn’t shared much about Thomas and Alastair so I won’t either. They do have some moments together and these are very significant, more information would be a spoiler.
These characters have definitely grown and if you dislike Alastair in Chain of Gold, I’m sure you’ll change your mind about him.
Thomas is also hiding something from his friends and he definitely has to deal with the outcome of this secret.
Anna is once again a badass in the book and just as charming as last time, but we do get to see a vulnerable side in one scene that I absolutely love. She is still against reconciling with Ariadne, but I’m not entirely sold on Anna’s rejection.
Ariadne is another side character who has grown on me. We find out more about her adoption and what it means for her to be raised by English/white parents when she herself is from India/brown.
I only want to very briefly mention the parents because they are obviously not the focus: there is one cute Will and Tessa scene, Will is still dreamy, Sophie and Gideon are still coming to terms with the loss of their daughter, Charlotte and Henry are not happy with Matthew and are rightly worried, and Cecily and Gideon have an important duty in this book. I enjoy these little glimpses of them and I’m sure everyone who loves The Infernal Devices will as well.
These are all the good guys, but I also have to address the villains. Yes, plural. There is the serial killer (James?), but there are also other characters who do want to cause harm. Their plans are still somewhat obscure but I’m sure their true intention is going to be revealed rather quickly in the final book.
What I really like about Chain of Iron – apart from the friendship and romance – is the solving of the serial killer’s identity. Cassie drops some hints here and there and if you pay really close attention – which you should always do when you are reading a Shadowhunters book – you are most likely going to know the killer’s name before it is revealed.
Some may think that the beginning is a bit slow, I feel like we are gently eased into the plot and it definitely works for me. Once there is action, it barely stops.
Final thoughts: May I please have the final book now? After the emotional ending of Chain of Iron, I just need to know what is going to happen to the characters! Sadly, we don’t have a release date yet and it’s entirely possible that we’ll get the book later than expected due to the pandemic, but I just know that the wait is going to be so worth it!
I am also really intrigued by the epilogue and the item mentioned in it, it’s going to be so interesting to find out what this item is all about and what two certain people plan to do!
I of course also hope that we will get a happily ever after for (most of) our beloved characters in Chain of Thorns. Yes, I know it is unlikely because we are after all talking about Cassandra Clare and have now learned that “sometimes hope is dangerous”, but I still have faith. 😉
Another thing I am very much looking forward in Chain of Thorns is to find out why the family tree in Clockwork Princess was wrong. I bet there is a very good story behind it.
This concludes my review and I can only say, Brava, Cassie! Thank you for a captivating read. ❤ Five out of five stars!