Book Critique – City of Heavenly Fire (Mortal Instruments # 6)

For review of all books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5

My Recommendation: The adventure and thrill that Cassandra gives us through Jace and Clary gets more and more interesting as the series progresses, with twists and turns, angels and demons, shadowhunters and downworlders and above all budding romances and eternal love. A fitting finale to the first set of books.

City of Heavenly Fire is the sixth and final installment in The Mortal Instrument series, an urban fantasy by Cassandra Clare, published in May of 2014. These were the first set of books that were published in The Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare. 

This novel is set in modern day New York but in an alternate world where humans, vampires, werewolves, magical fey, demons and shadow hunters co-exist. The plot begins six months after the previous book, City of Lost Souls.

Sebastian Morgenstern escapes the Shadowhunters and Jace Lightwood is still working on controlling the angel fire inside his body and avoid turning someone similar to Marvel's character Hulk. However, when Sebastian goes on a rampage all over the world to all the Shadowhunter Institutes turning the shadowhunters forcibly into a dark army that would do his bidding, all of the Shadowhunters pool themselves to Idris trying to understand Sebastian's next step. However, Clary Fray, Jace and their friends Alec And Isabelle Lightwood, Simon Lewis and Magnus Bane, again join hands to find the ultimate goal of Sebastian and thwart his plans.

All along I assumed that the story line is set in the same current year the book is written. However in this book I see that it is set in 2007-2008 timeframe. It is not too distant a timeframe. So I wonder why Cassandra selected that time period. The only reason I can think of is, she has five series under the umbrella of The Shadowhunter Chronicles, and perhaps by the end of the last series she would have to get the series into the year that book would be written. I hope that is what her intention is.

Now that I have been into five books in the series, I see that there are a few characters and plots that potentially could appear in the remaining four series of The Shadowhunter Chronicles. In this book, she has characters from her next series The Dark Artifices weave into the plot-line, with a slightly more weight than I had expected. Since I haven't read those yet, all these glimpses definitely are creating interest in me to read the other series too. 

Cassandra certainly has given us shock after shock all through this book; some wrenching the reader's heart with tears and some causing them shiver through to their bones. In adding these twists, she expands and reveals more of some of the characters like Brother Zachariah. She leaves a lot of inconsequential details all through this book as always, but in this instance she leaves a rather clear trail as to where a few of them lead as well. 

The cruelty in Sebastian Morgenstern's character brings a chill in the reader's bones. Cassandra paints him so effectively that you almost feel his evilness sliding over you. I also liked the way she had given a closure to Simon, well-suited for him and totally unexpected. 

In the third book, City of Glass, Magnus looks for The Book of White. I don’t remember if he finds it in that book or the following one - City of Fallen Angels - but I see a closure for that finally. He gets it and gets to use it as well, for a greater purpose.

Despite what my opinion about Cassandra's books in the beginning of the series, what I always admired was the various cultures and traditions she gives the readers glimpses of - albeit very small. And one such glimpse she gives is from my birth country, India. It pleased me very much to see those references.

The publishers leave a treat to the readers in this final book. The inside of the book cover has graphical representation of Jace, Clary, Izzy, Alec and Simon. It's always a thrill to see the characters you love come to life.

I remember that City of Bones, the first book in this series, was adapted to Film and released in August of 2013, but it ended up being a flop so the rest of the books didn’t form a series of films. However, upon the failure of the film, the series was released as a TV Series - Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, in 2016. I believe this has considerable success, although there were a few plot-line changes. Having not watched either of them, I reserve my judgement until I see them. 

As the series progressed, one would guess how the central theme would go - teenagers facing off the villain, who throws everything at them; their love is tested, friendships are strained, betrayals are faced and ultimately goals are achieved. Yet every book the path she paves for them, the twists she adds, the surprises she springs seem different keeping the reader on the edge. 

A fitting finale to the first set of books in The Shadowhunter Chronicles. The journey has just begun is what I feel. Looking forward to more fantastic experiences in the next set of books.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. This book again is divided into Parts like all of her books - Part One titled "Bring Forth a Fire", Part Two titled "The World Inverted", 

b. Maia Roberts becomes the leader of the werewolves in New York. Luke steps down to get married to Jocelyn Fairchild and settle with his family. She and Bartholomew "Bat" Velasquez - second-in command to Maia - seem to have sparks of attraction flare between them. 

c. When he touches the Heavenly Fire in Jace's body, Brother Zachariah becomes what he was before he took his Silent Brother vows some 150 years ago. He has feelings towards Theresa "Tessa" Gray - one of the warlocks of the Spiral Labyrinth. There is more to the story behind Zachariah and Tessa that I believe is covered in the second set of books - The Infernal Devices. They both head to Los Angeles at the end, so most likely will reappear in The Dark Artifices.

d. There is no closure to Lilith yet in this plot as well. 

e. What will be consequences that Magnus and Isabelle face for putting a spell on Simon to get his memories back, the ones taken by Asmodeus in order to send Simon and his friends back to the living world. 

f. Considerable mention of The Wild Hunt is seen in the plot which kept on taking me back to Wild Hunt series by Nancy Corrigan. Although that series is an erotic romance fiction involving humans, fairies, wild immortal hunters from hell. My review of those books are here. Waiting for the author to pick up that series again. 

g. Jace takes up his right as Herondale at the end of the plot. 

h. The Fair Folk - fairies - are punished severely by The Clave at the end of the war for their role in the war waged by Sebastian, despite objections from a few set of Shadowhunters and Downworlders. Cassandra leaves it open that they would come back to fight the Shadowhunters with vengeance. Perhaps that would be the central plot for The Dark Artifices books. The fate of the Seelie Queen is not shown either.

i. Cassandra gives various references from Indian culture and traditions all through the series. These are the few from this book:

i. Shaantih, Shaantih, Shaantih - the peace prayers tattoed on Jordan, the werewolf's arm. Cassandra referenced them in the previous book as well. 

ii. Cassandra has a Shadowhunter Institute in Mumbai as well, headed by Nasreen Choudhury.

2. Sub-Plots:

a. What are the old ties between Herondales and the Silent Brothers? Perhaps part of the other series in the Shadowhunter Chronicles.

b. In City of Souls, the angel Raziel, calls Simon as Simon Maccabees, an ancestor of Simon. I am curious if Cassandra would expand this further in future books.

c. Characters that potentially could be part of the future series from The Shadowhunter Chronicles, that appear in this series are:

i. From the Infernal Devices - Magnus Bane (the High Warlock of New York); Camille Belcourt (current leader of the vampire clan in New York); Woolsey Scott (founder of the Wolf Guard, The Praetor); William "Will" Herondale - connected to the dead inquisitor Imogen Herondale.

ii. From The Dark Artifices - Emma Cordelia Carstairs; Julian Blackthorn and his siblings - the twins Livvy and Tiberus "Ty", Mark Antony and Helen (step-siblings), Octavius "Tavvy", Drusilla "Dru"; Mark is given to The Wild Hunt by Sebastian in this plot. Julian and Emma decide to become parabatai. Emma plans on finding who murdered her parents. Helen is sent away to Wrangel Island and the Clave abandon the search for Mark back after the battle. The kids are sent back to Los Angeles Institute which would be headed by their uncle Arthur Blackthorn. There is some connection between Zachariah and Emma. 

iii. Why does Ty's hair look different than the rest of Blackthorns - not the step-siblings?

3. Grammatical / Character / Plot / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 265, Line 17, shouldn’t it be "…when the world comes to the end…"?

b. On Pg. 338, Line 20, it should be "…definitely doesn’t mean you're…"

c. On Pg. 410, Line 12, it should be "…would force me to make…"


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