My most unexpected favourite of 2021…
Name: The Bane Chronicles
Authors: Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson
It’s not easy being Magnus Bane. As a warlock, he’s often called upon to fix the problems of others, his life has been long and his loves have been many. And Magnus has a way of making sure he’s in the right place at the right – or perhaps the wrong – time. The French Revolution, Prohibition, the first great battle between Valentine and the New York Institute… Magnus was there, and usually in the middle of it. Magnus will never be able to tell all of his tales. No one would believe him. But these eleven stories shed a little light on his often inscrutable character. They are the stories he probably wishes had never got out.
Image and synopsis from Goodreads
I had told myself that I would never read another book in the ‘weird incest series’ universe, as my friends know it as from me. (They’ve never read the books. I’ve never clarified.). It’s not that The Mortal Instruments are inherently bad, I just think that I got off on the wrong foot with them and could never shake that feeling. However, The Bane Chronicles took all the best parts of Cassandra Clare’s writing – the pacing, the humour, the characters – and focused on them instead of… incest.
This was such a cinematic book. It’s a novella of short stories that follow Magnus on his various adventures, but there’s more than enough content to create a well-developed, good-length book. Even if his personality seemed to consist mainly of glitter and sarcasm, Magnus was one of my favourite characters reading The Mortal Instruments and I enjoyed learning more about him past a quirky fashion sense. (Although there was plenty of that too). Covering the AIDS epidemic, Prohibition, Victorian London – the historical context was just *chef’s kiss*. Also, I really enjoyed how Magnus discussed his immortality; how he coped with outliving most of the human race.
“A great sadness welled up in Magnus at the sight of him. It was human to age and die, and Jem stood outside that humanity now, outside the light that burned so brightly and so briefly. It was cold outside that light and fire. No one had greater cause to know that cold than Magnus did.”– THE BANE CHRONICLES
Leading on from immortality, there was a few dodgy age gaps. I guess if you’re immortal, the age gaps will always pretty big, but in one instance Magnus was really sexualising this girl and then described her as ‘barely a child’ pages later. It might have just been description that seemed weird because it’s all through Magnus’ eyes but I was a bit confused. I was glad it was cleared up later on that the warlocks didn’t date anyone under 18…. although I think Alec was 17 when they first went out? Immortal x mortal relationships always sit a bit weirdly with me; you have to make sure that it’s a comfortable power dynamic if you’re pushing this as a healthy relationship. *Cough* Stephanie Meyers *Cough*.
Despite a few flicks through Shadowhuntersfandom.com – which is a real thing! – I could just about piece together the timeline to smile at a reference; so I can imagine that avid readers adored the name dropping. This isn’t a good introduction to the ‘weird incest series’ universe because there are too many specifics. Honestly, I would sometimes forget that The Bane Chronicles were set in the shadowhunters world and just wanted to enjoy this stupidly funny man and his interesting taste in fashion.
Magnus was sure that the llama stampede he witnessed was a coincidence. The llamas could not be judging him.– RELATABLE, MAGNUS
Peeve: ‘When Magnus walked down the road lots of ladies looked at him. And gentlemen. Because Magnus is bisexual and this author is inclusive, so don’t forget it!’ This happened way too much. Just put ‘everyone looked at him’. Or find a less clunky way of phrasing it – it’s not going to take away from his sexuality if you don’t punch the reader in the face with this aggresive inclusivity. Also, I wish the stories were in a better order, like chronological, because the book ended on a pretty sad one. There was a lot fewer Malec stories than I’d expected, so it looks like I’ll have to read The Eldest Curses to make up for it! But they had such cool names: The Last Stand Of The New York Institute; The Fall Of The Hotel Dumort. Like I said, pretty cinematic!
Once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. The Bane Chronicles took all my favourite parts of the Cassandra Clare’s engaging writing and I adored the addition of all the historical context. (Raphael and Ragnor are my new favourite friendship.) It’s funny and well written and I thoroughly enjoyed it.