Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Mortal Instruments' Mysterious Brother Zachariah

* Spoiler warning for The Mortal Instruments series and The Infernal Devices series *

After finishing City of Lost Souls recently, our curiosity about the true identity of this character from Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series has become an obsession. We debate this topic at least twice a week during our after-dinner walk. Seriously. Since we love theorizing about books, we figured we’d add our thoughts on this enigmatic Silent Brother to the pile.

The two of us had read the first four Mortal Instruments books before reading Clockwork Angel, so we didn’t make the connection between the Herondales mentioned in The Mortal Instruments and Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices until after we’d read Clockwork Angel. Then our brains went into overdrive trying to figure out how Will and Jace are related. Then it also dawned on us that Brother Zachariah seems to know a lot about the Herondale family, as suggested by these Brother Zachariah quotes from Chapter 13 of City of Fallen Angels:

Would that I had been here, he said, his voice unexpectedly gentle, when you were growing up. I would have seen the truth in your face, Jace Lightwood, and known who you were.
We cannot and should not harm the boy. Old ties exist between the Herondales and the Brothers. We owe him help.

Our initial thought was that Brother Zachariah is really Jem Carstairs from The Infernal Devices. Jem somehow survives and becomes one of the Silent Brothers. It would definitely explain why Brother Zachariah seems to be so knowledgeable about the Herondales.

Now let’s take a look at City of Lost Souls. Brother Zachariah’s comments, and the clues which they might provide to his identity, become even more tantalizing. In Chapter 12, he tells Maryse Lightwood that he has “a particular interest” in Jace’s well-being. When Maryse asks him if he ever had children, his answer is no. The mystery only deepens when you consider that Cassandra Clare’s next series, The Dark Artifices, will feature a Shadowhunter named Emma Carstairs. Hmmm . . . . Does this mean that she’s descended from a different branch of the Carstairs family? Or is it possible that Brother Zachariah is . . . Will?! Will would also be concerned about Jace’s welfare. If Will had no children, though, then from which Herondale ancestor does Jace trace his lineage? Will has a sister, Cecily; she could be the ancestor, but then how did the Herondale name get passed down from her? Yeah, we’ve got quite the conundrum here.

And we’re pretty convinced that Brother Zachariah is either Jem or Will. We know that he was once a Shadowhunter, and in the Epilogue to City of Lost Souls, he tells Clary that there were once two people whom he would have died for. Will most certainly would have died for Tessa and Jem. Jem most certainly would have died for Tessa and Will. There’s also an intriguing quote from Magnus in Chapter 7 of CoLS: "I’ve known parabatai so close they were almost the same person. Do you know what happens, when one of them dies, to the one who’s left—" Given that Magnus is also in The Infernal Devices, we’re thinking that he’s discussing Will and Jem there. Naturally, Magnus never tells us what happens. By any chance does the surviving parabatai have to join the Silent Brothers? The suspense is driving us insane!

As for our guess as to who Brother Zachariah is, we’re just not sure. The hints which are given in City of Lost Souls could point to either Jem or Will. Of course, there’s always the possibility that Brother Zachariah is neither of them, and Cassandra Clare has done an outstanding job misleading us. We wouldn’t be surprised if the questions surrounding Brother Zachariah aren’t answered until City of Heavenly Fire, even though Clockwork Princess will be released first.

We’d love to hear from other fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices who are also puzzling over this. Do you have any theories on what Brother Zachariah’s story might be?


  1. To be honest, I never even thought of that until I saw it mentioned in one of my groups in GoodReads. But I love your theories, and I'd love to know who brother Zachariah really is. I might reread the two series just to pick up some clues along the way!

    1. I feel like there were a lot of hints in City of Lost Souls, but they weren't definitive. Figuring this out is really fun and really frustrating at the same time, lol.

    2. I hadn't thought about that either, until people started making the various theories of who he might be. I just hope at least there is another clue of who he is in Colckwork Princess

  2. Interesting...never even crossed my mind before.

    1. At first we didn't give it much thought, either. After we both read Clockwork Angel, we started trying to find the connections between the two series. That's when we really started paying attention to Brother Zachariah.

  3. I laughed when I saw this post come up in google reader.

    I have seen so many people debate this lately. It so crazy. However it is also very awesome.

    I think it would be awesome if it was either Jem or Will.

    If Jem does truly marry Tessa in the final book and he does become immortal somehow it would make sense that he would have no children since Tessa is suppose to be unable to have children.

    However then the new series Cassandra Clare is writing comes into question.

    But who knows maybe Tessa is able to have babies after all.

    Now with Will it would make more sense. More so then Jem. Because it just feels like Clare is going in that direction . There has been so much hints at William throughout the last two books. More so then any other Infernal Devices character.

    Though another person on tumblr said; well if the brother really was William he has definitely lost his snarky attitude. Which makes me either believe; William has grown up or that isn't Will.

    On another hand if one of the two is Brother Zachariah. What if Tessa marries one of the boys? What if one of them became Brother Zachariah to get immortality? So that the Tessa being immortal and them not can be solved.

    However I would imagine you cannot have much of a love life being in the Silent Brothers.

    Maybe when this all comes to light and it is possible to get immortality from the Silent Brothers. Maybe then that will solve Alec/Magnus relationship.

    1. You brought up some really great points. I think that Tessa will have children at some point because the books seem to emphasize that she can't have children. It's also hard to reconcile Will's personality with that of a Silent Brother, but with these books, anything can happen. So many possibilities!