Hello reader friends! Today, I’m writing my review for Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. Chain of Gold is the first book in a new series set in the world of The Shadowhunter Chronicles. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to see what Cassie does with these characters. She excels at writing character and atmosphere, and this book is no exception. Below, you’ll see some brief information about the world and the synopsis. After that, beware, spoilers are-a-coming!
What are The Shadowhunter Chronicles?
Great question! The Shadowhunter Chronicles overall has truly too many books to count, and – full disclosure – I have not read them all. I have read The Infernal Devices, but I have not read The Mortal Instruments or The Dark Artifices. If you’re already confused, it’s okay and totally understandable given the size of this world; click here for a list of all the books. This world is filled with demons and angel-descended shadowhunters, who are sworn to hunt demonic creatures and keep humanity safe. We also have downworlders, including vampires, warlocks, fae and more.
A brief description of Chain of Gold
Chain of Gold follows a group of shadowhunters living in Edwardian London. After a peaceful time, a new species of demons crops up and causes chaos throughout the city. Featured on the cover is Cordelia Carstairs, a young shadowhunter new to London with her family and ancestral sword, Cortana. Cordelia and her fellow young shadowhunters, the children of The Infernal Devices characters, must discover the origin of and put an end to the novel demons and the plague threatening them all.
Where does Chain of Gold fit in the world?
Now, to read Chain of Gold, you don’t *technically* have to read any of the other Shadowhunter Chronicles books. However, I would suggest reading The Infernal Devices before picking up Chain of Gold. First of all, The Infernal Devices is a truly amazing series (here are some of my mini reviews from my binge read in January). Second, The Infernal Devices follows the parents of the main characters in Chain of Gold, so you will be spoiled for the ending of that series by reading Chain of Gold first. You do you, though!
Now, please pay attention to the beautiful gold bar I took the time to create below, because spoiler are here, y’all! Please remember that my review below will spoil both Chain of Gold and The Infernal Devices.
“Do not let those who cannot see the truth tell you who you are. You are the flame that cannot be put out. You are the star that cannot be lost. You are who you have always been, and that is enough and more than enough.”Jem Carstairs
My favorite characters
Let’s start with characters, shall we? Cassandra Clare’s characterization is wonderful. She manages to grow and develop characters in such heart-wrenching ways. Reading her test and try her characters is a roller coaster, but it always pays off in the end. Chain of Gold delivered the characters I was craving after finishing The Infernal Devices. To list every character in this book would be a post unto itself, but I’ve pulled a few of my favorites out to talk through.
Daughter of Elias and Sona Carstairs, Sister to Alastair Carstairs, Cousin to Jem Carstairs (Brother Zechariah) & Childhood Friend of Lucie (Future Parabatai) and James Herondale
Do I have a new favorite Shadowhunter heroine? You bet I do. Cordelia is that wonderful and oft-missing balance of strong, empathetic, smart and kind. For so many female heroines, kindness and empathy detract from their strength. But, Cordelia manages to be both physically and mentally strong, while being compassionate and kind. Her love with James is so pure and genuine, and I’m so, so sad about their “sham” wedding at the end of this book. We all know it’s real; we just need them to know it’s real.
Son of Will and Tessa Herondale, Brother to Lucie Herondale, Cousin to Anna, Christopher and Alexander Lightwood & Parabatai to Matthew Fairchild
One of the things I love about Cassandra Clare’s writing is how you can see the relationship among the families. For example, James is obviously Will’s son. Those Herondales, am I right? But, what Cassie does so well is create distinctive characters while also carrying familial traits through the generations. James is no exception to this, and his character, though I wanted to slap him 80% of this book, is set up for great development. Now, I mainly want to slap him in the wrist TO SLAP THAT BRACELET OFF. I got whiplash reading his arc, from “daisy, my daisy” to ditching her on the dance floor for Grace. I can’t even talk about Grace Blackthorn – don’t get me started on her or Tatiana.
Daughter of Will and Tessa Herondale, Sister to James Herondale, Cousin to Anna, Christopher and Alexander Lightwood & Future Parabatai to Cordelia Carstairs
Lucie’s character is so fascinating to me. I love that she writes hilariously on-the-nose stories about her life, family and friends and seems to be in her own world most of the time. Her story line with Jesse Blackthorn is rather confusing, given he’s dead, yet we are led to believe they marry (this information is from the family tree presented in Clockwork Princess). I’m definitely interested to see where her story goes, and get more development from her. I do feel, overall, she was one of the least developed characters here, but I have faith in Cassie to give her the characterization she deserves.
Son of Henry and Charlotte Fairchild, Brother to Charles Fairchild & Parabatai to James Herondale
I have a soft spot for Matthew Fairchild. His story is just so difficult to read because he is filled with such self-loathing and guilt. This leads him to abuse alcohol, which puts his friendships and even his relationship with James, his parabatai, at risk. However, I do love that he is obsessed with Oscar Wilde and Magnus Bane because, well, relatable. I’m interested to see where his character goes, especially give his reveal that he is in love with Cordelia (my heart can’t handle another love triangle!). In fact, I enjoyed reading about Matthew so much that I created a short character playlist for him on my Instagram. Here’s the song list:
- Waves by Dean Lewis
- Lilac Wine by Jeff Buckley
- Oscar Wilde by Elton John
- River of Deceit by Mad Season
- Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel
Of course there are many other characters I adore. Thomas Lightwood is definitely another soft spot for me, and I, of course, love Anna and Christopher Lightwood, as well. Alastair is… interesting, but I also have faith in Cassie’s ability to redeem characters. Of course, my favorite downworlder, Magnus Bane, made an appearance, which just made me goofy smile in the middle of the page. Like I said, if I talked about every character, we’d be here for days. Let’s move on to plot.
What’s the plot?
Well, it’s a plot. To be honest, I did not read this book for the plot, so when it was a little predictable, I didn’t mind. The story line is definitely not mind-blowing or earth-shattering, but it was a good set-up for this series. Overall, I felt the first half of this book was rather slow in terms of plot and even characterization to some extent. It started with introducing a ton of new characters, particularly for those of us not familiar with the novellas. However, the action did begin to pick up in the second half (read: more demon fights and shadowhunter drama).
To discuss a few specifics, I was very interested in James’ plot – repeatedly being pulled into another realm – and how it connected to the demon attacks and plague. I found the reveal of Tessa’s lineage to be rather predictable, but I was still interested in following the clues everyone was piecing together. I hated the Grace Blackthorn plot line, and nothing will change my mind. Granted, I know I’m supposed to hate it, but that won’t stop me from my anger. This is truly where Cordelia’s character broke my heart; her struggle to come to terms with the fact that James is “in love” with Grace, while still sacrificing herself for him time and again.
I was rather surprised to find that I really enjoyed Thomas’ plot. At first, I thought it created dis-junction to have so many separate threads happening, but this is one I immensely enjoyed. Finding out about his and Alastair’s backstory shed light on both their actions and development, and I’m interested to see where it leads (hopefully anywhere Charles isn’t).
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. While I still think The Infernal Devices – specifically Clockwork Princess – tops my list, this is certainly a close contender. The plot was a little slow at first but still engaging. The characters were top-notch, as per usual. The romance was painful, also as usual. I’m excited for the rest. What did you think of it? Tell me in the comments!
Bonus: Will, Tessa and Jem
Now, I can’t not talk about them. Here’s my bonus Will, Jem and Tessa gush. If you’ve read The Infernal Devices, then you know that Will Herondale, Jem Carstairs and Tessa Gray were locked in a love triangle that was both amazing and painful to read. It’s basically the Ron Weasley meme in a book series:
Now, I fully admit that I cried like a baby at the end of Clockwork Princess, and I really don’t cry that often in books. Did I cry in Chain of Gold? Yes, and do you want to guess the scene? If you love Will, Jem and Tessa, too, I bet you know it’s the scene where James recalls the time Jem (Brother Zechariah) visited Will and Tessa after Will’s father died *cries uncontrollably*.
As a bonus, my edition had an extra scene for Will and Tessa’s wedding night. It was wonderful. Throughout the book, Will and Tessa acted exactly how I imagined they would as parents and adults. I really hope we get more from them in the books to come.
“They say you cannot love two people equally at once,” she said. “And perhaps for others that is so. But you and Will—you are not like two ordinary people, two people who might have been jealous of each other, or who would have imagined my love for one of them diminished by my love of the other. You merged your souls when you were both children. I could not have loved Will so much if I had not loved you as well. And I could not love you as I do if I had not loved Will as I did.”Tessa Gray