The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare

July 16, 2014     erinbook     Book review

The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
274 Pages
Received: Bought from Books-A-Million
Format: Hardcover


Description: 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Do not let it be said that the Clave is outdated or, as the younger Shadowhunters say, “uncool”: this new edition of the Codex will be available not only in the usual magically-sealed demonskin binding, but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 edition of the Codex will be available in Institute libraries and what mundanes sometimes call “book stores” in October 2013.

Review: You may remember in the days when Harry Potter was at the height of popularity that JK Rowling released two school books from the Hogwarts library, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages. This book is almost exactly like Fantastic Beasts, complete with the characters’ personal commentary in the margins. I’m not saying that the Codex is a bad addition to the Shadowhunter world, on the contrary it’s a great way to broaden fans’ knowledge of it without using awkward exposition, but it is in no way original.

I was really excited when I finally got my hands on this book, I found on bargain at Books-A-Million and almost screamed.

I started reading it in the car on the way home and was…disappointed. Sure, there’s tons of information in this book and some of it is actually interesting. The rest of it? Oh my god just put me to sleep why don’t you? A good third of this book just makes me want to go take a nap, like an actual textbook would. So if that was the goal, awesome, congratulations you did it. But I doubt the intention of this Codex was to bore the snot out of readers.

A good portion of what’s good about this book lies within the character commentary. Clary, Jace, and Simon have a lot of entertaining banter while commenting on the variety of topics within the Codex. Some of my favorite sections include Clary showing the contents of specific parts of the Codex to Luke and describing his reactions to them. I think without the commentary this book would have been a boring mess.

The funny thing is that even some of the characters are bored by their own Codex, obviously Clare knew that parts of the book were dull and I suppose just left them there for her characters to comment on. It makes for good snark, that’s for sure.

Still, I think for the dedicated fan, The Shadowhunter’s Codex is worth the read. You do get a lot more background of the world and clarification for things that weren’t as clear in he books. It would have been interesting to get other perspectives, such as Tessa’s, but that’s just me.

What did you think of the Codex? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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