For all the Shadowhunters and fantasy fans out there, it’s that time of the year, where Cassandra Clare returns with the highly anticipated second instalment of the Last Hours series - Chain of Iron. In just 600 pages, Clare succeeds in transporting us to a dazzling and dangerous Edwardian London.
Chain of Iron is set 4 months after the events of its previous book - Chain of Gold. Cordelia Carstairs, the main protagonist, is set to marry the love of her life, James Herondale, although the marriage is a sham. James is in love with the mysterious Grace Blackthorn, while Cortana, Cordelia’s sword, burns her whenever she touches it. Meanwhile, Lucie Herondale, Cordelia’s best friend, has the ability to command the dead and desperately attempts to resurrect Grace’s dead brother, Jesse Blackthorn through necromancy. To top it all off, there is a serial killer in the midst, targeting Shadowhunters. Secrets are swirling in their ranks, and the Merry Thieves: James, Cordelia, Lucie, Matthew, Thomas, and Christopher work together to track down the killer. However, shocking reveals threaten to tear them apart, especially after knowing that James may be the killer.
Being the perfect sequel to Chain of Gold, this novel escapes from the middle novel curse that some of Clare’s other trilogies fell victim to. Though there are many protagonists, the narrators are limited to Cordelia, James, and Lucie, enveloping the story in an aura of mystery. In terms of character development, Chain of Iron has a lot to offer. We might witness a few characters evolve or spiral out of control, but none of them are stagnant. They go through many trials and tribulations as they run headfast towards danger.
It’s baffling to see how close the characters are, yet none of them are ever fully honest with each other, eventually drowning in an ocean of secrets kept from each other. The mystery of the murderer will keep us guessing till the end, and the plot twist will remain unpredictable. The emotional cliffhanger is the hardest blow of all. The four main characters are all asked to make a choice, one that upsets the balance of things, and only one of them makes the selfless choice.
There’s pain, love, and loss within these pages, and fans will have to wait another year for Clare to unravel all the intricate knots in the next sequel - Chain of Thorn. The Last Hours is setting itself at the same level or perhaps even higher than that of the Infernal Devices or the Mortal Instruments.