Chain of Iron: A Fascinating, Fantastical Flop

A book with all the ingredients for an engaging plot falls short within the nitty-gritty. 


Photo courtesy of Jeanne Robinson

Vian Fuday, Writer

Chain of Iron is the second book in the Last Hours trilogy by award-winning author Cassandra Clare, famous for her fantasy Shadowhunters universe. It was released recently, on March 2, 2021. The first book in the series, Chain of Gold, introduced a new cast of characters fighting demonic corruption in Edwardian London while fighting personal battles at the same time. The second book continues this storyline as the stakes are upped for the protagonists.


However, the narrative fails, in its complexity, to live up to the setup of the first book. The introduction of a variety of new relationships have found themselves all broken up for an unsatisfying ending, and the problematic aspects of the book have emerged. The book attempts to bring in the point of view of almost all characters introduced in the first series— a stunning 11 different points of view, not counting other brief views from side characters. 


The constant shifting of perspective, plotlines, new elements, and several different romantic subplots is a lot to handle at any given time. Clare, the author, has not managed it all in a way that delivers satisfaction. There are some very climatic moments and everything is undercut with the tension of a mystery. However, when examined deeper into interpersonal relationships, it is less than satisfactory. 


Clare also attempts to include more diverse representations of cultural backgrounds and sexualities. It is a nice shift from her original, very straight and white-oriented Mortal Instruments debut series. However, the cultural heritage of certain characters like Ariadne, an Indian woman, is sidelined in favour of a white-focused narrative. The disconnect from their cultures with characters like Ariadne, Alastair, and even the main character Cordelia is apparent. 


“My parents do love me,” Ariadne conceded. “But they never acknowledge my past—the fact that I came here from India when I was seven—nor even that I had a different name when I was born… I feel as though I am always between two worlds.” 


The several developed and established relationships throughout the series have also fallen through, and the book has seen the return of her quintessential love triangle. What might have been an air of mystery carrying onto the next book now feels a bit more disappointing with the loss of those subplots. 


Overall, the high expectations the first book set up were not fulfilled. There were several entertaining aspects and some well-thought-out relationship developments, but they ultimately did not match up with the hype of the first book. The final book, Chain of Thorns, has a lot to redeem itself for.