Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare – Review

September 4, 2013

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare is the second in the Infernal Devices trilogy.  I have already reviewed Clockwork Angel, the first one in the set. I would say I enjoyed Prince more than Angel.  In fact, I very much enjoyed it indeed.

What I liked

The characters.  Clare spends a lot of time on character development in this book, possibly at the expense of plot, but it was well worth it.  I already liked the characters from book one, and book two brings even more depth to them.  What I found interesting with the two main male protagonists, Will and Jem, was how their physical appearance contrasted with their emotional makeup.  Jem, with his silver hair and eyes and frail body seems almost ethereal yet emotionally Tessa describes him as solid, steady, reliable.  Will, on the other hand, has dark, vibrant good looks, at the peak of physical perfection, is a broken and haunted soul.  There are strong hints of this reversing however as Jem’s love for Tessa and his impending mortality leave him vulnerable and Will is making good progress battling his own internal demons.

The love triangle.  Often, love triangles in young adult novels make me cringe – I’m looking at you, Bella/Edward/Jacob.  In this case, it was very well handled.  The strong bonds between Tessa, Jem and Will were beautifully written, and it was sad to think that someone would have to be left out.  All three were equally invested in the relationship(s).  Both pairings Tessa/Will and Tessa/Jem were written as equally valid with neither being given One True Love status.  It reminded me of another wonderfully written love triangle, that amongst Wellan, Bridgess and Santo in Anne Robillard’s Les Chevaliers d’Emeraude.  If I’ve understood my spoilers correctly, both are resolved in a similar manner (hint: it doesn’t involve one of the protagonists falling in love with the love interest’s infant daughter…)

Other relationships.  All of the other relationships in the book too were beautifully grounded, whether the marital bond between Charlotte and Henry or the budding romance between Sophie and her trainer.  This includes the non-romantic relationships as well, such as that between Jem and Will.

The Shadowhunter world.  I continue to adore the world Clare has created for her narrative and characters.

The narration. Although I missed Jennifer Ehle’s narration, Ed Westwick and Heather Lind did a great job. Here’s a sample.

What I didn’t like

It often happens that the middle book of a trilogy is weakest on plot, and I’d say this is also the case for Clockwork Prince.   A lot of time was spent developing the characters and this did come at the expense of plot development.  Other than foiling what seems to be a fairly minor subplot of the villain – to subtly take over the Institute – and dealing with treachery in their ranks, we seem to be little further forward dealing with Mortmain than at the end of Clockwork Angel.

In all honesty though, the character development was so superb that the slower pace really did not bother me.  I’m really looking forward to Clockwork Princess now!

Clockwork Prince is an excellent read and I gave it four stars out of five.

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