City of Bones (Mortal Instruments)

City of Bones (Mortal Instruments)
City of Bones  
City of Bones.jpg
First edition cover of the book City of Bones.
Author(s) Cassandra Clare
Country United States
Language English
Series The Mortal Instruments Series
Genre(s) Young adult
Publisher United StatesUnited KingdomMargaret K. McElderry
Publication date United StatesMarch 27, 2007
United KingdomJuly 2, 2007
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 496 pp (hardback, first edition)[1]
512 pp (paperback)[2]
ISBN ISBN 1416914285
Followed by City of Ashes

City of Bones is the first book in The Mortal Instruments series, a young adult urban fantasy series set in New York written by Cassandra Clare. It was originally published in the US in hardcover on March 27, 2007, and was released in the UK on July 2, 2007. It was also released in paperback in the USA on February 19, 2008. It achieved #8 on the New York Times Best Seller list (Children's books) in April 2007.[3]City of Bones received considerable praise from Publishers Weekly, Locus, and authors Holly Black and Kelly Link. Criticism was also received from School Library Journal.


Publication history

Cover of the German translation of City of Bones.

City of Bones was first published in the US by Margaret K. McElderry on March 27, 2007.[1] A paperback version of the book was subsequently released in the US by Simon Pulse on February 19, 2008.[2] A hardback large print version of the book was published by Thorndike Press on September 3, 2008.[4] No hardcover copy of City of Bones was released in the UK, but a paperback edition was released by Walker Books on July 2, 2007.[5] An Italian translation of the book was released by Mondadori, and a softcover version of the book is going to be released. [6] A German translation of the book was released by publisher Arena Verlag, and a paperback edition of the book is due to be released.[6] A Danish translation of the book was released by publisher Borgen Forlag, and a paperback book is due for release.[6] A French translation of City of Bones was released by publisher Univers Poche and a softcover edition of the book is due to be released.[6] A Spanish translation of the book was released by Univers Poche, and a softcover edition is also expected. A Greektranslation of the book was released by Platypus Publications. [6]


The idea of City of Bones originally came to author Cassandra Clare when her friend took her to go see a tattoo shop. Her friend showed her footprints on the ceilings that were criss-crossing or creating patterns, but to Clare"[i]t looked like some fabulous supernatural battle had been fought there by beings who’d left their footprints behind." She then got the idea of having a secret society of demon-hunters whose magic was based on an system of tattooed runes. Clare wanted to write something that would combine the elements of a traditional fantasy and "[r]ecast it through a modern, urban lens."[7]

Major themes

The novel's theme is ‘descent’. Author Cassandra Clare says, “[I]t’s structured as the hero’s journey to the underworld.” [8] The book introduces the main protagonist to a supernatural/fantasy world that she’s never been into, and describes her journey there as the descent. Each epigraph in the novel makes a reference to the descent. Another major theme is "expect the unexpected".


  • Clarissa (Clary) Fray, the 15-year-old protagonist. Raised by her mother, Jocelyn Fray/ Fairchild, a shadowhunter, all traces of the magical world were hidden from her in an attempt to keep her safe. She is a little over 5 feet tall and is described as having bright red hair and freckles. She is an artist like her mother. She also has a remarkable power, in which she can draw runes that only angels can use, and are not in the Gray book. Throughout the remainder of the series, Clary embarks on a quest to help her mother while adjusting to life as a Shadowhunter. She realized that she had a strong romantic interest in Jace, realizing that he invitingly had the same emotional feelings which concluded with the pair kissing on the celebration of Clary's 16th birthday. With them tosf conclusion of the book comes the reveal that the two are siblings, which conflicts the feelings they have for each other.
  • Jace Wayland: A Shadowhunter orphaned at a young age by the murder of his father, he now lives with the Lightwoods and Hodge Starkweather at the Institute in New York City. He is said to be the best Shadowhunter his age, having been trained severely by his father prior to his death. He is described as having golden hair, eyes, and skin, making him popular with girls, although he has never had a serious relationship. He is very arrogant, but is a very kind and thoughtful person underneath, though he tries to hide it. His name comes from his initials, J.C., short for Jonathan Christopher.
  • Simon Lewis, Clary's human best friend for about 10 years. He is also in love with her, though she does not appear to have the same feelings for him. He also shows a partial interest in Isabelle, though it seemingly ends by the novel's conclusion.
  • Isabelle Lightwood beautiful and obnoxious, also a Shadowhunter. She is described as having black hair, black eyes, being tall, and incredibly beautiful. She and Jace had tried, and failed, at a romantic relationship.
  • Alec Lightwood, Isabelle's birth brother. Though he has been a Shadowhunter for many years, he had never killed a demon. He was wounded when he tried to kill a Greater Demon, which was, in the end, set back to its own world by Simon using Alec's bow and arrow. He has black hair and blue eyes. Alec is gay and is in love with Jace. He dislikes Clary because Jace is in love with her and not him, though is friendly to her near the end of the book.
  • Lucian "Luke Garroway" Graymark, Once a Shadowhunter and a member of the Circle which was started by Valentine. Best friend of Clary's mother and seemingly in love with her. Luke is a werewolf and the leader of his pack after the second time around.
  • Valentine Morgenstern: A powerful and evil Shadowhunter. He turns up after several years when he was supposedly dead and attempts to steal the Mortal Cup from Jocelyn (Clary's mother).He is Jocelyn's Husband and he reveals that Jace and Clary are supposedly his children.
  • Magnus Bane, the bisexual High Warlock of Brooklyn, has a romantic interest in Alec Lightwood. When his name is found imprinted inside Clary's mind, Clary and the gang must seek him out to see what he has to do with her past and her mother. He saved Alec once, who was injured by a greater demon. He wears a lot of showy, glittery clothes
  • Hodge Starkweather, Isabelle, Alec and Jace's tutor. A curse made by the Clave keeps him trapped inside the walls of the Institute, punishment for his days as a member of the Circle.
  • Jocelyn Fray/Fairchild, Clary's mother, a Shadowhunter in hiding because of her involvement in the Circle. She was Valentine's wife. She hid the Mortal Cup (one of three Mortal Instruments) and put herself into a coma by drinking a potion given to her by a warlock to prevent Valentine from gaining the Mortal Cup's location.


Clary Fray and Simon Lewis are at a club where Clary witnesses a murder by a group of teens. She is shocked that Simon and the club's security guard cannot see the killer—a boy called Jace, who claims that the boy he murdered was a demon. The next day, Jace offers to take Clary to meet his tutor, but before she can do so, she receives a distressing phone call from her mother. She returns home to find her mother missing, the apartment trashed, and a monstrous creature, a Ravener demon, lying in wait for her. She defeats the creature by shoving Jace’s Sensor down its throat, but is injured in the process, and Jace takes her to his home. His home is called "The Institute", an old gothic cathedral in New York that humans, or mundanes, can't see, because it is concealed magically by glamour. Here, she recuperates. She also meets Hodge Starkweather, Jace's tutor, as well as his adoptive-siblings Isabelle and Alec Lightwood.

Hodge then acquires the help of a monk with magical powers, called a "Silent Brother", Jeremiah, to discover how Clary is able to see Shadowhunters and why she was attacked. Jeremiah discovers a block on Clary's mind, and takes her and Jace to the City of Bones, where the Silent Brothers attempt to break it. Although the attempt fails, Clary discovers flashes of information, particularly the name Magnus Bane, which, with Isabelle's help, Clary traces Magnus Bane to a party, which she attends with Jace, Simon, Alec and Isabelle. There, they discover that Magnus is the High Warlock of Brooklyn, and he placed the block on Clary, although his attempts to help her remember are unhelpful. During the party, Simon is turned into a rat by a faerie drink, and Jace and Clary go to a vampire-infested hotel to rescue Simon who has been taken home by a vampire.

Clary and Jace are helped into the hotel by a teenager named Raphael. He then betrays them and reveals that he is the leader of the vampire coven that are residing inside that hotel, and soon Clary and Jace are fighting for their lives. They are saved by werewolves who claim they want Clary, but Clary and Jace escape and rescue Simon but get injured in the process.

At the institute Clary and Alec have a fight. Jace takes Clary to the Institutes garden where they kiss. Clary realizes where the Mortal Cup is and she, Jace, Isabelle, Alec, and Simon go and retrieve it. Alec gets injured by a greater demon and nearly dies, but Magnus Bane heals him at the Institute. When Clary and Jace give the Mortal Cup to Hodge, he reveals he's working for a man named Valentine who is meant to be dead. Valentine takes Jace. Clary goes after Hodge, but is kidnapped. When Clary wakes up she finds out Luke took her but for her own safety. Clary finds out Valentine's her father, and Luke and Clary track down Jace and Valentine. Luke and his werewolf pack raid Valentine's lair, but they are ambushed.

During the attack, Luke and Clary get inside, and while Luke is distracted, Clary finds Valentine and Jace. Valentine reveals that he is also Jace's father, making them siblings. Luke then returns to fight Valentine, with Jace's help, but Valentine escapes to Idris, where he has hidden the Cup. Clary retrieves her mother, who is in a coma, and takes her to a hospital. In the meantime, Alec has been healed by Magnus Bane. Clary and Jace meet at the Institute and express their frustration that they cannot be together forever like they once believed.

Allusions to other works

In the novel, Cassandra Clare includes references to the works of Holly Black, who is a friend of Clare's.

  • In the beginning of the book, Clary is drawing and listening to a band called Stepping Razor. Stepping Razor is the name of Ellen Fierch's band in Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale.
  • In the scene in Chapter 10 where Clary and Jace are riding in the carriage, Clary looks out the window and sees a few homeless teenagers. One of them is a girl with a shaved head, the other a boy with dreadlocks and facial piercings who appears to be blind in one eye. These teenagers are actually the characters Valerie and Luis from Black's book Valiant : A Modern Tale of Faerie


Jace Wayland appears on the original cover; his tattoos are the Shadowhunter runes.


The reviewer in Publishers Weekly called City of Bones "a compelling story" and wrote that "fans of the smart/chic horror typified by Buffy the Vampire Slayer will instantly fall for this new series".[9]

Film adaptation

On June 10, 2010, Screen Gems announced that they were going into production on a Mortal Instruments film, based on City of Bones, with a script written by Jessica Postigo. On December 10, 2010, it was officially announced that Lily Collins had been cast as Clary Fray. Scott Stewart will be directing. Alex Pettyfer, a fan favorite, was offered the part of Jace Wayland; though he is an avid fan of the books and strongly desired to take on the role, he eventually decided to take some different roles instead, leaving the character of Jace uncast. Then on May 31, 2011, after much speculation as to who would play the story's leading man, it was officially announced that Jamie Campbell Bower would ultimately portray Jace Wayland.[citation needed]


See also

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