Thursday, 24 February 2022

The Infernal Devices #3 - Clockwork Princess


The third and final instalment of the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare:

Danger and betrayal… Secrets and enchantment… Third and final book in the bestselling prequel series to The Mortal Instruments, set in Victorian London. A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain needs one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. But Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa’s heart, will do anything to save her. 

I like to include quotes in my reviews, but when I went to look at my Audible notes, there's about thirty of them, which means there were a lot of snippets I liked and a lot of language I leaned into. That's a lot to go back through.

Let's do random selection:

#46: Kwan Yin is the goddess depicted on the front. It is said that when she died and reached the gates of paradise, she paused and heard the cries of anguish from the human world below and could not leave it. She remained to give aid to mortals, when they cannot aid themselves. She is the comfort of all suffering hearts.

#23: Out of dreams of blood and metal monsters, Tessa woke with a start and a gasp.

#38: "...You say the things I think but never say out loud. You read the books I read. You love the poetry I love. You make me laugh with your ridiculous songs and the way you see the truth of everything. I feel like you can look inside me and see all the places I am odd or unusual and fit your heart around them, for you are odd and unusual in just the same way." With the hand that was not holding his, she touched his cheek, lightly. "We are the same.”

#6: Cecily let go of the dagger's handle and rolled sideways, off the body of the worm. Its jaws missed her by a hairsbreadth and snapped viciously shut on its own body. Black ichor gushed and the worm jerked its head back, a howl like the wail of a banshee erupting from its throat. A massive wound gaped in its side, and gobbets of its own flesh hung from its jaws. As Will stared, Gabriel raised his bow and let an arrow fly. It sang home to its target and buried itself in one of the worm's lidless black eyes. The creature reared back--and then its head sagged forward and it crumpled in on itself, folding up, disappearing as demons did when the life left them. 

There's a lot to like about this trilogy. As mentioned in the first, Clockwork Angel, each chapter begins with a line of carefully selected poetry, and it's really nicely curated. Some really excellent choices in there, and no duff ones. I also felt the epilogue was particularly well written, especially the descriptive in the first half. Poetically done. 

This one also picked up the action a little more, but of the three, I still think the first book was the best. The balance of romance and action was just right there. For the second and third, it's a lot of the same romantic repetition. I didn't really feel the characters evolved much once Will found out that important thing about himself, and Jem only appears to exist in order to die. Tessa wasn't my favourite character by the end. For someone who is half-angel, half-demon, she's all goody two-shoes. If you are a conduit for the forces of heaven and hell combined, you might expect a little more internal struggle to control that, or some kick-ass superpowers. It is apparent that she has the latter, as a shapeshifter, but she doesn't seem to make much of it. A little less time protesting her love too much, and a little more time purging the automated armies of hell, would have been my personal preference, but this is a teen romance.

I did enjoy it. I must have, because I can't remember the last time I read a trilogy. I've read two of the four Shadow of the Wind tetralogy, but maybe not a full trilogy since Howl's Moving Castle back in 2012.

Switching narrators was certainly an interesting choice. Clockwork Angel was entirely read by Jennifer Ehle, Clockwork Prince was narrated by Ed Westwick and Heather Lind, and this one was narrated solely by Daniel Sharman. I assume it's to do with balance, maybe a little shapeshifting from female to male. I kind of see it, but I'm not sure it entirely worked for me in the middle. It's not first person, so the switch over didn't seem to follow much of a pattern and it broke the stride a little. But both the first and third flowed nicely. 

From midway through the first book I was kind of hoping it would push mainstream boundaries and extol the virtues of polyamory. After all, Will loves Tess, Jem loves Tess, Jem and Will love each other, and Tess loves both of them - it makes sense doesn't it? But that would have made for a very short story. Way to remove the conflict. Still, there was sort of a nod to the idea at the end. 

Anyway, an enjoyable read.

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