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Chain of Gold is the first in The Last Hours series. This story follows the children of beloved characters from The Infernal Devices series. Cordelia Carstairs and her family travel to London while her father undergoes a trial for a mission gone wrong. She tries to make friends among the influential Shadowhunter families to gain favor for her father’s trial. But she ends up befriending the Merry Thieves and stumbles into much more than she bargained for.
It’s an absolute delight seeing the offspring of Will Herondale, Tessa Grey, Gabriel and Gideon Lightwood, and company get into trouble much like their parents before them. Nostalgia and humor abound in seeing the once young and reckless heroes of TID become the concerned parents. Watching them chastise the new generation of Shadowhunters for doing the very same things brings a great sense of joy.
The dynamics between the characters in this novel read differently than in Clare’s past work. Perhaps it’s the inclusion of more queer characters that changed the way these fictional people interact. The novel contains at least four queer characters, and one heavily coded as queer. It’s refreshing to see that many among the core group of heroes. Their sexuality doesn’t make up the majority of their development (at least not for all of them). But the writing doesn’t ignore it either. Clare weaves it in rather well to become an aspect of their identity, rather than being their entire identity.
The dynamic is also different because there’s so many more in the group of friends, rather than the usual three at the forefront. The story follows all the secondary characters on their side quests and eventually brings them all together. Clare develops the characters in a more nuanced way than she has done with her world in the past. These characters are complex and can’t be defined by any one trait. There’s an underlying darkness in many of them that speaks to their personalities and roles.
While I appreciated the large cast of characters, it did feel like a detriment to the overall story. Clare has always been adept at weaving an incredibly tangled web and still making it clear to the reader what’s happening, dropping clues about where the story is going. But in this case, it created a complication that felt more like keeping up with the who’s who of Shadowhunter families.
There were so many instances where I found myself trying to remember who’s kid was who and how they were related or the nature of their relationshp to the other characters that it distracted from the plot. It felt like the story got stretched thin by including so many characters. Focusing on so many characters made for a convoluted narrative.
Even so, Clare weaves her magic as always and makes the reader fall in love with the characters. The investment in their stories and their paths happens immediately. It’s especially easy to dive into this new set of characters if fans of Clare’s work have already read the short story collection Ghosts of the Shadow Market.
The way this novel ends of course leaves the reader yearning for more, ready for the next installment. Overall, I give it 4 out of 5 stars and am looking forward to the rest of the series.
Have you read this book or others by Cassandra Clare? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
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