[THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW, BUT THERE ARE REFERENCES TO TERMS AND CHARACTERS THAT WILL MAKE SENSE IF YOU HAVE READ THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS]
The Bane Chronicles, written by Cassandra Clare in co-ordination with Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson, provides a much anticipated look into the world of The Mortal Instruments’ most glamorous, most diverse and, in my opinion, most entertaining character. This warlock’s rich history of adventure, romance and debauchery is laid bare for the readers to see in what, in the authors’ words, are ‘stories he probably wishes had never got out’.
Initially, I did not pick up this book as I feared the world of The Mortal Instruments had simply grown too large and it would be impossible to catch up again. Upon watching the first episodes of the Shadowhunters TV show, however (possible review of this to come at some point), my love for Magnus Bane as a character was rekindled, and I simply couldn’t not find out more.
I will go into a small amount of detail about each of the novellas individually.
Story One: What Really Happened in Peru (CC and SRB) 4/5 stars
The initial story of centres around this lingering question: why did Magnus Bane get banned from Peru? At 41 pages in length, this story re-establishes Magnus as a character, and introduces the reader further to the characters of Ragnor Fell and Catarina Loss in the setting of 18th century Peru. In short, this was a hilarious tale. Magnus’ sarcastic, flamboyant nature could not be more evident in this anecdote involving a pack of llamas, a drunken warlock, and the playing of a charango so badly that it caused rioting in the streets. There is romance and so, so much humour. Quite honestly, I think Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan did incredibly well to fit such a huge amount of plot into such a small number of pages, but I was disappointed by the slightly anti-climactic and unresolved ending.
Story Two: The Runaway Queen (CC and MJ) 2/5 stars
This was my least favourite of the eleven stories, partly because I felt it ended on yet another unresolved note, but also because I felt it was relatively slow paced. This time, we are introduced to the setting of 18th century Paris, which I did find to be particularly intriguing; however I felt that some of the events that occurred did not need quite so much written about them, which led to my almost becoming bored with the story and willing it to reach its climax faster. Once again, it was relatively unresolved, which did become slightly infuriating.
Story Three: Vampires, Scones and Edmund Herondale (CC and SRB) 3/5
I enjoyed this story which on this occasion revolved around a scene of 19th century London, and re-introduces the reader the character of Camille Belcourt. Magnus and Camille’s relationship is an interesting subject, as is the fact that the events in this case provide the basis for a lot of what The Mortal Instruments relies on. That is, the establishment of the Accords. It also provides an interesting look at the hierarchy of the Shadow world, as the privilege and prejudice of the Shadowhunters becomes very apparent in their treatment of the downworlders as an inferior species.
Story Four: The Midnight Heir (CC and SRB) 4/5
As a story on its own, I was not entirely sure what I was reading, although this can be fully attributed to the fact that I haven’t finished reading The Infernal Devices trilogy and many of the characters featured in this novella feature in that series, and many of the references are to things I have not yet encountered. Hence, I cannot fully review this story but the plot itself was very enjoyable.
Story Five: The Rise of the Hotel Dumort (CC and MJ) 4/5
This story centres around prohibition era America, directly before the events of the Wall Street Crash (which apparently downworlders were also very concerned about). Overall, it was interesting and exciting, but relatively predictable.
Story Six: Saving Raphael Santiago (CC and SRB) 4/5
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, which introduces the reader to a side of Raphael Santiago that is never seen in The Mortal Instruments. As readers, we are able to learn what is, effectively, his ‘origin story’, and watch the hilarious relationship between Raphael and Magnus form (I would honestly watch a series of them as a comedy duo, it would be great). Their similar sarcastic natures, but personalities that contrast in every other way provide some amusing moments that would not be expected. I also enjoyed the fact that this story contains some surprising underlying messages about the importance of family and acceptance, which set it apart slightly from some of the other stories.
Story Seven: The Fall of the Hotel Dumort (CC and MJ) 3/5
The second half of the Hotel Dumort novella, if you will. This story features issues of addiction and violence, but in the context of vampires, and we are once again introduced to Camille Belcourt while Magnus deals with the after effects of his affection for her. The notes I wrote whilst reading the novel for the purposes of this blog post have four words written regarding this story: ‘Interesting-not my favourite’ and that more or less summarises my feelings; this story was quite simply okay.
Story Eight: What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything (And Who You’re Not Officially Dating Anyway) (CC and SRB) 5/5
I gave this story five out of five stars for a number of reasons; predominantly due to the fact that I simply could not stop laughing while reading it. The scenes between Magnus and ‘Elyaas the tentacle demon’ were so witty, and so ridiculous that I could not help but laugh. I’m unsure what Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan were thinking when they decided to devote an entire chapter to a slimy demon with an alarming amount of 80s pop culture knowledge that gives ancient warlocks boyfriend advice, but in some utterly crazy, random, hilarious way it worked. Its content also provides another dimension to the relationship between Magnus and Alec, as this time the reader truly gets to understand Magnus’ feelings towards Alec, which I absolutely loved.
Story Nine: The Last Stand of the New York Institute (CC, SRB, MJ) 4/5
In this story the reader is treated to a very insightful prelude to the main events of the first few Mortal Instruments novels. Background information about Valentine and The Circle is given, with characters appearing who we know and trust from the novels, but in this instance with much darker ulterior motives. Large amounts of violence are an accompaniment, alongside a display of Magnus’ magic which is, surprisingly, not seen to a great extent throughout the novel as a whole.
Story Ten: The Course of True Love (And First Dates) (CC) 5/5
I think it’s fair to say that this story was highly anticipated amongst fans of The Mortal Instruments. We are treated to all the awkwardness and tension of Magnus and Alec’s first date, with the addition of werewolves (what else do you expect from a Cassandra Clare novel?!) I loved getting to see my favourite pairing from both the novel and the Shadowhunters TV show being given the central viewpoint, and enjoyed witnessing Cassandra Clare’s ability to easily portray how the relationship between an eclectic warlock and reserved half-angel can be so human and so real once again.
Story Eleven: The Voicemail of Magnus Bane (CC, SRB, MJ) 4/5
As the name suggests, this novella features a series of voicemail messages to Magnus Bane, predominantly left by Alec and Isabelle after a certain event that occurs in the fifth Mortal Instruments novel, City of Lost Souls. Without giving away spoilers, I can say that it was very interesting, and quite humorous on Izzy’s part, to be given slightly more information and more perspectives on the event. As far as plot goes, it was virtually non-existent; however as this was not the point of this novella it can easily be forgiven.
I am now realising that this has been a ridiculously long review, however given that the novel features eleven stories in their own right, I felt that it was only right to speak about each separately. Overall I gave The Bane Chronicles four out of five stars (I literally calculated the mean average from the scores I gave each novella, and somehow think I put far too much thought into that) because not only was it hilarious, emotive and exciting, but it also filled in the gaps, or simply expanded on things that were perhaps slightly lacking from other books in the series as a whole.
Feel free to leave a comment with your own opinions on The Bane Chronicles or if you are planning to read anything else in this incredible universe created by Cassandra Clare soon, and I hope you have a lovely day!