City Of Ashes Summary

Cassandra Clare

City Of Ashes

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City Of Ashes Summary

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The best-selling urban fantasy series, City of Ashes (2008), follows a young demi-god as she helps protect the normal world from demonic forces. The novel is the second in The Mortal Instruments series written by Cassandra Clare, the pen name of Judith Lewis. City of Ashes remains hugely popular among teen readers and was one of the top books of 2009 for adolescents as voted by the American Library Association in that year. Its themes include the inviolable pledges of familial love, the all-consuming nature of revenge, and sacrifice for one’s friends. It combines many genres, including romance, fantasy, and urban drama. While appealing to a largely adolescent audience, Clare originally wrote The Mortal Instruments series as an adult fantasy series.

Clarissa Adele Fray is a 15-year-old girl living in Manhattan. Clary, as her friends call her, is somewhat of an oddball with frizzy red hair, freckles, and alarmingly green eyes. She is brave but capricious. In the series’ first novel, City of Bones, Clary appears to be an ordinary human, or a “mundane,” as they’re called in this world. But in that novel, Clary learned that everything she was taught was imaginary—werewolves, fairies, vampires—were actually real, and the only people keeping them from hurting mundanes were Shadowhunters, creatures made with the blood of angels. In City of Bones, Clary learns that she is a Shadowhunter. A central tension throughout the series is that her biological father, Valentine, is a disgraced Shadowhunter who seeks revenge on the universe by murdering all Shadowhunters and releases demonic forces on a global scale. To accomplish this, Valentine must collect a series of “mortal instruments” that the heroes fight to prevent him from acquiring. City of Ashes opens to her friend, Alec, and brother, Jace, bickering over a fight with a demon they just banished. Clary and her love interest, Simon, are in the room, watching anime and binging on junk food. Jace Wayland is her brother; this is a shame as she finds him visually stunning. She kissed him in the previous book, but stopped upon discovering they’re related.

At the Institute, a social hub for all Shadowhunters, Jace meets Maryse, Clary and Jayce’s mother, in the library. She believes Jace always knew that Valentine was Clary’s father. She tells him to denounce his evil father, but Jace refuses. Jace runs away to a dive bar and hangs out with a group of burned out werewolves. Clary kisses Simon; silently, she thinks of Jace. Luke, her stepdad, calls to inform her that Jace is running with werewolves and that only she can talk him into returning home. She talks to Jace at the bar and he agrees to come home. Later, back with Simon, Clary receives a call from her friend Isabelle, or “Izzy”: Jace is gone. They soon learn that Jace is in prison in the Silent City. He is accused by his mother of working with Valentine, and if found guilty will be killed by sword. One night in jail, Jace overhears several of the Silent Brothers murdered. Later, it’s shown to be the work of none other than Valentine; through the attack, he acquired another critical object, the Mortal Sword, or “Soul-Sword.”

When Clary, Izzy, and Alec arrive at the Silent City, they’re shocked to find that all of the guardians have been killed. Clary is able to free Simon with a rune enchantment. The Inquisitor and a group of armed Shadowhunters blame Jace for the break in. An avuncular figure, Magnus Banem, offers to keep Jace under house arrest. Magnus fears that Valentine plans to complete the “Ritual of Infernal Conversion.” That is, he will use the Soul-Sword to raise evil spirits in the mundane world. The Queen of the Seelie, or Faerie Queen, summons Jace to her court. Along with Simon, Izzy, and Clary, he persuades the Queen to help them defeat Valentine. The Queen remains neutral, but not before muttering a few enigmatic proclamations, including that Jace and Clary are Valentine’s “wonderful” experiments. The group tries to leave, but Clary ate some faerie food that won’t let her leave the realm until she kisses “whom she most desires.” To the embarrassment of everyone, she kisses her brother, Jace. The kiss quickly becomes sensual, and Simon storms out in anger. Jace and Clary consider having a secret relationship but Clary decides that lying would be too much of a burden; they decide to try and bury their mutual passion. Meanwhile, Simon has been turned into a vampire. The group frets over how they will tell Simon’s mother’s the news. A friendly werewolf, Maia, storms in the house; she has endured massive wounds from battling demons. Magnus is able to heal Maia. When Luke goes outside to survey for other demons he is attacked, and Jace, Simon, and Clary run to his rescue. During the battle, Clary makes a Fearless Rune. The group is amazed by this as making brand-new runes is an ability that supposedley, only angels.

Jace secretly meets his father on a deserted ship. Valentine offers him immunity if he joins his dark cause, but Jace says neither yes nor no. The following morning, he’s arrested again by The Inquisitor. Valentine sends a demon in the shape of Maia’s dead brother to capture her. The heroes go to rescue her, but Simon is mortally wounded. Jace keeps him alive by giving Simon his own blood. The one bright spot is that this transfer of blood will make Simon a “daylighter,” a vampire who can walk in daylight. The Inquisitor joins them and starts fighting on their side; she dies before she can tell Jace the meaning of a scar he has on his shoulder. Another demon captures Clary. Valentine threatens to kill her with the Mortal Sword. Clary escapes by drawing an “Open” rune on the ship, causing it to implode. As everyone falls into the river, Clary is saved by the Queen of Seelie. Clary talks to Luke about love. This conversation encourages Clary to declare her love to Jace, but he determines to offer her only brotherly love from now on, which breaks her heart. The novel ends with a family friend telling Clary that her mother is in a coma, but fortunately, she knows how to end it.