Sometimes we read fantasy for its intense themes and motifs: star-crossed love, scary battles, heroes and heroines making hard choices. Sometimes we read it for its humor, lighthearted banter, and clever characters. And sometimes, when we’re lucky, we read it for both. In the 11 short stories in The Bane Chronicles, centered on a favorite character from Cassandra Clare’s bestselling The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series, readers get both sides of the fantasy coin: dark and light, intensity and laughs, battles and taffeta. To celebrate the paperback edition, out this month, here are six reasons you want Bane on your bookshelf.
The irresistible protagonist
Magnus Bane is a 300-plus-year-old warlock who’s had a lot of riveting adventures. He falls in love easily, but knows his immortality will inevitably destroy his relationships. He relishes a good time, but never at the expense of others. He romances men, women, vampires, and Shadowhunters with a balance of lust and chivalry. And his extreme minority status (half-demon, half-Indonesian, Downworlder, immortal, pansexual) makes him a champion of any other oppressed person (or nonperson).
Clare is joined in The Bane Chronicles‘ pages by fellow beloved authors Maureen Johnson (The Shades of London series) and Sarah Rees Brennan (The Lynburn Legacy series). Her cowriters, seasoned in the creation of indelible characters and supernatural worlds, bring Magnus Bane to life just as vividly as his creator, and it’s a blast to see what three different writers can do with one fascinating warlock.
It takes readers on a historical tour
Some stories in The Bane Chronicles are inspired by offhand references in the novels, like the mention of Magnus being banned from Peru (“What Really Happened in Peru”). Others give a more serious perspective on events that set the novels’ stories in motion (“The Last Stand of the New York Institute”). In other entries, Magnus foils guano pirates in South America, attempts to save Marie Antoinette in a hot air balloon as a favor for a handsome Swede, runs a speakeasy in the 1920s, and witnesses the death of many friends during the AIDS crisis.
It’s on trend
Bane keeps his fashion sense intact in all ages and places. He’s a bit warm in Paris, 1791, wearing a “striped blue-and-rose-colored coat, made of taffeta and satin, and the silk faille waistcoat, embroidered with a scene of birds and cherubs. The wing collar, and the wig, and the silk breeches, the wonderful new gloves in the most delicate lemon yellow.” And he spiffs up the standard private investigator uniform in 1953 by ditching the trench coat and adding green velvet cuffs, a curly-brimmed bowler hat, and emerald green suspenders to a gray suit.
Its Tumblr-ready quotations
This collection is full of gems. To choose but one example, here’s Magnus on his guiding principles: “I have very few rules in life, but one of them is to never decline an adventure. The others are: to avoid becoming romantically entangled with sea creatures; to always ask for what you want, because the worst thing that can happen is embarrassment but the best thing that can happen is nudity; to demand ready money up front; and to never play cards with Catarina Loss.”
There’s something for everyone
Even those who haven’t yet read Clare can enjoy these romps out of context: there’s very little need-to-know mythology or world-building standing between readers and great storytelling. Fans of Clare (and her coauthors) may have already encountered these tales as ebooks. But you’ll need to pick up the bound version, containing a wealth of new material: comic-style illustrations by Cassandra Jean at each story’s start, and a bonus story consisting of a collection of voicemails Magnus received after his breakup with Alec (before City of Heavenly Fire).