“Wallowing was for elephants, depressing people and depressing elephants.”
– Cassandra Clare; The Bane Chronicles
Before delving into the details of this vividly capturing novella, I’d like to elaborate on why I even set eyes on it. I’ve always been a fan of the Mortal Instruments series, really, picked up the first book when I was eleven. The thing that keeps drawing me back to Clare’s work is how specific, beautiful and careful each character is sculpted. In other best-selling series, there’s bound to be a trait that resurfaces every now and then in each character, but Clare makes sure that every figure has his or her own personality that various fans can relate to in some way. This makes us connected to the story and thus develop an unquenchable thirst for more of Clare’s writings. Not to mention the realistic and picturesque writing format of Clare that allows readers to understand and live the story itself. Another factor that contributed to me re-reading all of these tales is a lesser-shared interest that Clare combines all kinds of mystical creatures—ranging from warlocks to Shadowhunters, demons to vampires and werewolves, you name it, and it’s written in the book. This serves as an escape for me personally, as it’s not every day you’ll stumble upon a tall, beautiful and dashing warlock in the streets of Brooklyn.
Magnus Bane is an infamous high and mighty warlock. He operates freely through the world as time passes, witnessing all sorts of events including the French Revolution, unlike other warlocks. Perhaps Magnus is the luckiest warlock alive, being able to roam through the streets for eternity, carefree. What draws me to this character is how he behaves and looks at things. Magnus is that odd one out of the line, always sounding his individual opinion in a room and giving life advice that makes sense but he himself doesn’t follow. Clare had outdone herself while sculpting this warlock character, making him so lively that he would be someone everybody wants to be around all the time. As he said himself in the books, “Every day with Magnus Bane is an adventure.” Indeed, his nonsensical trifles with the likes of werewolves and vampires and affairs with humans and Shadowhunters has made him well-known in the mundane world and downworld.
Chapter one is a great start as it doesn’t go in too deep about Magnus’s background story but instead tells the reader about his personality. Slacked and laid back, always ready for a daring and life-risking adventure is what I’ve concluded from the first chapter for Magnus’s profile. Of course, the paragraphs do give off electrical hints that he is awfully favored among the ladies and the men and have encountered several love affairs during his time in Peru. I must point out beforehand, the lovers of Magnus Bane do keep showing up from time to time in the novel, and their stories are more than intriguing.
As you skim and fly through paragraph after paragraph, word after word, you’ll find yourself lost within the pages and yearning for more of Magnus’ adventures; I know I did.
With definite bias, the third to last chapter is worth mentioning; it didn’t take long for me to figure out the chapter ‘What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything’ is set between City of Ashes and City of Glass. The character Alec Lightwood is introduced, and it’s crystal clear that there’s boiling chemistry between the two. In this short story, Magnus, who rarely faces obstacles he finds difficult to overcome, is faced with the ultimate challenge: getting Alec Lightwood a birthday gift. I retrieved a good chuckle from reading about Magnus struggling on the issue like a modern-day angst-filled teenage girl. It was truly one of the more lightening chapters.
The second to last chapter involves more of a physical story as Magnus comes face to face with the Circle and Valentine Morgenstern. To be frank, this chapter had me confounded for a few times and I had to reread it. As I’ve previously mentioned, it’s been a great deal of time since I’ve last caught up with the lives of the characters, so I’ve already deleted the file on ‘What Happened in the Clave’ in my brain. Perhaps Clare could’ve done a better job by briefly covering what went on back in the ranch in other books.
Besides from having to deal with a werewolf girl who ‘changes’ in public, the last chapter is my cup of tea, and something tells me that it’s Magnus’s favorite too. He finally goes on an official date with Alec! This chapter really brought out the normal Magnus, the loving one who can afford to give up everything for the boy in front of him. I was pleased to see that Magnus finally settled for someone who can give him what he wants and deserves, letting his guard down. Magnus, from the very first chapter, has already leaked that he wants someone permanent to stay by his side since he’s immortal. However, he soon comes to realize that this wasn’t possible and tears down his barricades, causing him to fall madly in love with Alec. In another fictional universe, I do hope the two stay together as long as they can.
So, why am so supportive of Alec and Magnus? The answer is simple: not a lot of writers make their major characters openly gay. It’s really rare and when the book was published, the idea of LGBTQ only started to come into light. It’s nice to see a change in the world of young adult books. Gone were the cliché boy-girl relationships in high school when this came along. I’ve never fallen so in love with a character, namely Magnus, the way he talks, walks, acts and the way Clare manages to make the words leap out of the paperback-novel into my brain, morphing an image of him every time he speaks. It’s truly astounding and mouth-gaping how Clare’s writing style is. I’ve been influenced by her to further develop my own characters in my stories, and I’m finally finding my own style after a rollercoaster of experiments.
What I’ve taken away from this book is the simple moral of people change. People are going to change and there’s nothing we can do to control it, seeing as we are ought to change at some point in our lives. The best we can do is put in the effort to accommodate those changes and love people unconditionally regardless of the situation they are in. If you truly put your heart to completing a task or loving somebody (who may or may not love you back), you will accomplish it. Yes, some might scream ‘but Magnus is a fictional character!’ All great values come from stories, and this is no exception. I’ve experienced so many emotions with Magnus throughout this book and I simply fail to find the words to stress how at the end of the day, you’re all you have. When Magnus’s companions were killed, he had to be the only person to comfort himself. When Camille rejected him, he had to pick up the shards of his broken heart. When he found Alec, he was the only one around to jump around and frolic in overwhelming joy. If you read close enough, you’ll realize that almost every chapter starts and ends with Magnus, which brings out my conclusion.
Then, there’s the repetitive theme of there’s nothing greater than love. Need I say more? Clearly, Magnus would go through all sorts of trouble just to see his (numerous) lovers. I wouldn’t say I would do that, but in the age without a smartphone, that would’ve been hard to accomplish, yet Magnus was willing to put in the effort to. Even when Magnus himself was an immortal, he couldn’t resist falling for mortals who would one day leave him to his own despair. This inspired me to care more for the people around me, regardless of the fact that everyone now owns a smartphone and is one call away. We should always take time to appear in someone’s life if they mean that much to us – it’s only fair.
All in all, if you’re looking for an adventure, comedy, love and deep, midnight realization moments mixed in one pot of words, The Bane Chronicles is the book for you. Take my word, for I have scoured bookstore after bookstore to find the perfect book that one would never get bored of and this falls directly under my radar.