Cordelia Carstairs, a young Shadowhunter from Devon, has spent her entire life moving from one Institute to another to accommodate her father's illness. When her father ends up accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned in the Shadowhunter capital of Alicante, Cordelia and her mother and brother, Alastair, move to London, where they are greeted by the Institute's head, Will Herondale, his wife, Tessa Gray, and their two children, James and Lucie. Cordelia has been acquainted with the Herondale children for years; she is planning to become parabatai with Lucie and secretly in love with James, even though he does not seem to reciprocate her affection.
Although moving from the quiet life of the countryside is hard, Cordelia slowly adjusts herself to the hectic political and social life of the London Enclave. However, just as she is beginning to settle down, the Enclave is rocked by a series of demonic attacks. These attacks are nothing like any other before; the demons are capable of walking in daylight and infect Shadowhunters with a deadly poison. As they work to stop this madness, Cordelia and her friends discover that the answer might lie in the dark powers possessed by some of them — powers that will force them to make a terrible choice.
The story focuses on the next generation of the Shadowhunters of the London Enclave, including the children of the main characters of The Infernal Devices. The series' lead narrator is Cordelia Carstairs, cousin of Jem Carstairs, and the other major narrators are the children of Will Herondale and Tessa Gray, James and Lucie. The children of the Fairchild, Lightwood, and Blackthorn families also play major roles. Unique in The Shadowhunter Chronicles, the series features flashback chapters in between the main story, set at many different points prior to 1903.
The books in the trilogy are:
- Chain of Gold (March 3, 2020)
- Chain of Iron (March 2, 2021)
- Chain of Thorns (January 31, 2023)
This series has a character sheet. Please put all character-related tropes there.
This series provides examples of
- Alternate Universe: Parallel realms owned by the Princes of Hell play a key role in the series. Belial, the main antagonist, is known for stealing realms other demons own.
- Ancestral Weapon: Cordelia wields Cortana, an Absurdly Sharp Blade that has been passed down through generations of the Carstairs family. It even comes with an an inscription: "I am Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durendal."
- Big Bad: Belial, one of the Princes of Hell and Tessa Gray's father.
- Big Bad Ensemble: In the second book, it is revealed that Belial is playing a bigger game against other Greater Demons. He is allying himself with Leviathan, a fellow Prince of Hell, against the demons whose realms he took, such as Belphegor and Lilith.
- Blatant Lies: James to Will, when attempting to convince him that Christopher's nonexistent dark-magic detecting device was eaten by a demon.
- Childhood Friend: The majority of the main characters are this, having grown up together in London and Idris. While a few of them are related, they tend to refer to their parents (aka the True Companions from the previous series) as "aunt" and "uncle" even if they are not blood relations. Chain of Gold begins with Cordelia's arrival in London, and her attempts to get to know the already close-knit group of Shadowhunters living there.
- Dark Is Not Evil: One of the heroes, James, has inherited the ability to turn into a shadow from his demonic grandfather.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: The series is set in the early 20th century and does not shy way from presenting the old-fashioned values they upheld back then.
- Alastair Carstairs, who became a jerk because of his insecurities of being a racial minority and gay in Edwardian Britain.
- Sex before marriage destroyed the life of Thomas' sister Eugenia, and at the end of Chain of Gold, James has to present a Honorable Marriage Proposal to prevent Cordelia from suffering the same fate.
- Demonic Possession: In the second book, Tatiana briefly possesses a housemaid to talk with her daughter. Later, it is revealed that Belial has been possessing Jesse's dead body to kill Shadowhunters and take their runes, something that neither Lucie nor Grace had anticipated.
- Fantastic Racism: Par for the course in the Shadowhunter Chronicles. In parallel to the counter part series The Dark Artifices, The Last Hours deals both with discrimination against Downworlders and Shadowhunters with Downworlder blood.
- Establishing Character Moment: The aftermath of the demon fight in the first chapter of Chain of Gold serves as one for each of the Merry Thieves.
- The ever curious Christopher tries to figure out why the demon exploded, Matthew complains about his ruined waistcoat, James tries to hide an injury, and Thomas alternates between teasing Matthew and trying to clean Christopher up.
- The party at the Helle Ruelle that Hypatia holds in the beginning of Chain of Iron is to honor its patron. Cordelia assumes that "patron" means its customer, but Hypatia corrects her by stating that it means its guardian, Lilith. The answer is both. Lilith is attending the party disguised as a faerie.
- Magnus comments that Princes of Hell often ally themselves with each other against the angels. This foreshadows the fact that Belial is helped in his plot to possess James by another Prince of Hell, namely Leviathan.
- Gaslamp Fantasy: Like its predecessor, The Infernal Devices.
- Honorable Marriage Proposal: At the end of Chain of Gold, James proposes to marry Cordelia, to save her reputation after she reveals a scandalous act with him (namely, spending time together alone), which itself is suggested to save him from being prosecuted for bringing down the Blackthorn Manor.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The books' titles are all "Chain of [something]".
- Love Dodecahedron: Cordelia is in love with James, who is fixated at Grace. The end of Chain of Gold reveals that Matthew is in love with Cordelia.
- Outliving One's Offspring:
- As The Bane Chronicles previously revealed, Tatiana outlived her son, Jesse. This series reveals that she is performing a ritual to bring him back from the dead. The result is a pseudo-spirit who can physically interact with people but is otherwise a ghost.
- Gideon and Sophie outlive their oldest child, Barbara.
- Parting-Words Regret: After her father is found murdered by the demonic serial killer, Cordelia laments that they parted on bad terms.
- Please, Don't Leave Me: In Chain of Gold, Anna Lightwood pleads with Ariadne Bridgestock's unconcious form, begging her to survive.Anna: Please don't die.
- Race for Your Love: At the end of Chain of Iron, James races to the train station to catch up with Cordelia, who is about to leave with Matthew for Paris. He manages to spot them, but is stopped at the last second by Will, who wants him to search for his sister.
- Serial Killer: The second book deals with this as the driving conflict. A mysterious figure is killing Shadowhunters at random and without any sort of motif connecting them. Upon autopsy, however, it turns out that the killer is taking a specific rune off of them, albeit different each time. The killer is Belial, who possesses Jesse to transfer the rune to his body, his goal being to make a perfect vessel that will be immune to Cortana, the only weapon that can defeat Belial.
- Sexless Marriage: Since they only intend to marry for a year, James and Cordelia sleep in separate bedrooms throughout the duration of their marriage, and interact only in the library on the ground floor.
- Spin-Offspring: The major characters are mostly children of the characters from the previous series. James and Lucie are the children of Will Herondale and Tessa Gray; Charles and Matthew are the sons of Henry Branwell and Charlotte Fairchild; Thomas is the son of Gideon Lightwood and Sophie Collins; Anna and Christopher are the children of Gabriel Lightwood and Cecily Herondale; and Jesse and Grace are the children of Tatiana Blackthorn.
- Together in Death: Barbara Lightwood and Oliver Hayward.