Monday, June 29, 2015

Book Review: The Shadowhunter's Codex by Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis

ISBN: 1442416920
Published: October 29th, 2013
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Read from June 25th to 29th, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The Clave is pleased to announce the newest edition of the Nephilim’s oldest and most famous training manual: the Shadowhunter’s Codex. Since the thirteenth century, the Codex has been the young Shadowhunter’s best friend. When you’re being swarmed by demons it can be easy to forget the finer points of obscure demon languages or the fastest way to stop an attack of Raum demons. With the Codex by your side, you never have to worry.
Now in its twenty-seventh edition, the Codex covers it all: the history and the laws of our world; how to identify, interact with, and if necessary, kill that world’s many colorful denizens; which end of the stele is the end you write with. No more will your attempt to fight off rogue vampires and warlocks be slowed by the need to answer endless questions from your new recruits: What is a Pyxis? Why don’t we use guns? If I can’t see a warlock’s mark, is there a polite way to ask him where it is? Where do we get all our holy water? Geography, History, Magic, and Zoology textbook all rolled into one, the Codex is here to help new Shadowhunters navigate the beautiful, often brutal world that we inhabit.
Do not let it be said that the Clave is outdated or, as the younger Shadowhunters say, “uncool”: this new edition of the Codex will be available not only in the usual magically-sealed demonskin binding, but also in a smart, modern edition using all of today’s most exciting printing techniques, including such new features as a sturdy clothbound cover, a protective dust jacket, and information about title, author, publisher, and so on conveniently available right on the cover. You’ll be pleased to know that it fits neatly into most satchels, and unlike previous editions, it rarely sets off alarm wards.
The old woodcuts and engravings have been replaced as well: instead, you’ll find lavish modern illustrations by some of the brightest luminaries of the fantastic. Creatures, weapons, people, and places have been carefully and accurately rendered by the likes of Rebecca Guay, Charles Vess, Jim Nelson, Theo Black, Elisabeth Alba, and Cassandra Jean. Chapters are beautifully introduced by the drawings of Michael Kaluta, and along with our condensation of the classic 2,450-page tome, A History of the Nephilim, you will find a selection of the best of the lovely illustrations of that volume by John Dollar.


This is a companion book to both The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series. A good comparison is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in the Harry Potter series. This one isn't a textbook per se, but Clary studies it like a textbook. Clary, Simon, and Jace have also all "written" in it just like Harry, Ron, and Hermione have Fantastic Beasts.

This book has just about every bit of information you could want on the Shadowhunter world. It's definitely a good resource. It is not, however, fun for straight up reading. In fact, the characters regularly remark how boring different information is in their notes, and all that did was remind me how bored I was too. This will be good as a reference in the future if I need to look something up, but I'll admit that I really only skimmed most of it for Clary, Jace, and Simon's notes.

For the most part, those were enjoyable, but I do have to say that there were many times where it felt unnatural. Like I couldn't imagine them actually writing down something that they apparently did or where they felt the need to add too much context (which was clearly for readers) than they would have otherwise. I'm being nit-picky here, but that did feel forced throughout the book. And that made the notes less believable.

Overall, this is something die-hard fans will want in order to have more information on the world even though they're sure to know a large portion of it already. It definitely feels more like a resource than something to sit down and read though.

Oh, and maybe I should go ahead and add that this contains spoilers for The Mortal Instruments. As far as I can tell, it was published after the fifth book, and I would make it through that one at least (if not all six) before picking it up. I myself haven't read The Infernal Devices yet, so I don't know if I read any huge spoilers without knowing it, but since the characters from that series aren't the ones writing in the book, I feel like I was pretty okay.

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