City of Bones by Cassandra Clare Plagiarized by Amanda Hocking
**Please note that there are some spoilers for Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series in this article.**
I suppose I’m the only one who’s noticed that Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments saga has been plagiarized to a certain degree; at least I think I’m the only one who’s noticed since I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere else. Aside from the fact that whole characters of Clare’s have been copied (the only difference was their names and the fact that Clare is a better writer and obviously has more imagination) along with scenes directly from the pages of her books, the most disturbing thing is that not only do The Mortal Instruments saga have a movie deal, the other series has one as well. And no, I’m not just going to type an article inferring to what has been plagiarized, I’m going to tell you exactly what was copied.
Let me start with the fact that I only discovered Clare’s The Mortal Instruments books a few weeks ago. I didn’t have any other new paranormal/supernatural novels to read at the moment, I was just done re-editing my own first book (which, even though published, still has some corrections to be made in it), and I just happened to see three books of the saga on the shelf at my local library. I read the description of the first book, City of Bones, skimmed the first two pages, figured I had nothing to lose and picked up all three of the four books that were available at the time, preparing myself to sit back with a little YA fantasy reading. And I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by what I found the deeper I got into the series. However, it wasn’t necessarily the overall story of villainous threats and conflicts found in the City of Bones that compelled me to continue reading the series, but the love story between Clary and Jace that, during the first book, turned out to be pretty twisted. But undoubtedly intriguing. That, and the fact that Jace has to be the most beautiful fictional character I’ve ever read about (not just the physical description, although that was nice to picture from the description, and the cover wasn’t too shabby in conveying it for us either). I couldn’t help but fall in love with him, and I couldn’t blame Clary one bit for feeling the way she did about him (grossness aside).
However, this isn’t a book review of The Mortal Instruments, I'm going to write that later, but rather this is a compare and contrast between Clare’s novels and Amanda Hocking’s Trylle trilogy.
It would probably seem to some that I have a bone to pick with Hocking if you read my other hub in reference to her and her writing, and before I was neutral, but now, not so much. I actually do have a bone to pick with her and it’s the fact that she doesn’t just use other authors’ work as inspiration, she blatantly copies other people’s ideas and passes them off as her own. I personally see a difference between using another author’s work as inspiration or citing certain terms they used in their books and using them in your own way, as opposed to simply copying what the other person did and trying to mask it by adding more characters or changing the names of what kind of species they are.
Let me cut to the chase:
1) This is the most offensive in my humble opinion, and that is the fact that Hocking copied the character Jace from his physical description down to his arrogant personality, along with having to endure the wrath of his domineering and evil father figure. The Vittra character that Hocking called Loki Staad has all the ear markings of Jace Wayland. Loki is a poor man’s Jace, basically. Where Hocking attempted to give him witty comical dialogue, it came off as sadly superior and corny instead. It sounded like Loki was always trying to be facetious, but it took so much effort. I thought that all of that before I knew anything about Cassandra Clare’s series. Jace’s character, on the other hand, made me laugh out loud. Hell, he charmed me and I was aware that I was reading fiction. As far as physical description was concerned by Clare, Jace’s eyes were described as light brown or “golden” usually, but instead of using those particular words, Hocking used “amber” and “caramel”--basically Hocking delved into her thesaurus and pulled a few synonyms for light brown out of her ass. Loki was blond as well. And I know that people will say that physical likeness is probably irrelevant, but in this case I actually think it being mentioned is pertinent to the point I’m trying to make. In the Mortal Instruments books the man Jace knew as his father emotionally and physically abused him; the Vittra King in Hocking’s books did the same to Loki. Hocking didn’t really go so much the emotional route with Loki and Oren, the Vittra King, but stuck more to the physical assaults Oren would wage against Loki and tried to write them as brutally sounding a possible. The reason that I say this is the most offensive part of Clare’s creation is because as an author, though I’m nowhere near on the scale as Clare and I say that with no problem, I can tell how much effort she put into Jace with the depth she gave him, the mental and emotional anguish he endured, the walls he’d been forced to build up, and his bittersweet past that made him who he was. So when I say that Loki is a poor man’s Jace, it’s because Jace is the kind of character that I wish I knew. The vulnerability and his struggles moved me to tears more than once. To try to copy him, and do a poor job, was disgraceful.
2) The similarities between Jocelyn & Valentine’s characters and circumstances and Elora & Oren’s were basically a cut and paste session on Hocking’s part:
* Valentine killed Jocelyn’s parents; Oren killed Elora’s parents.
* Valentine wanted to “create” special children like his own personal weapons; Oren wanted the same thing.
* Valentine was persuasive and wanted people to follow his cause; Oren wanted to use the mental persuasion of Elora’s to force people to follow his cause. The difference here that Hocking decided to employ was Oren wanted the Vittra and the Trylle to join (Oren’s cause), while Valentine wanted to make things separate. To make it appear differently all Hocking did was a little inversion and voila, again, no one notices what she’s doing.
* Another little twist that Hocking decided to use in her work was the fact that Oren and Elora had never been in love and she’d been forced to marry Oren to keep peace, but in Clary’s work Jocelyn had been in love with Valentine at one point and they’d genuinely wanted to be together. I thought that was rather cute.
3) Anyone who’s read Clare’s novels knows that Valentine had been the one who abused and raised Jace, but he was Clary’s actual father; in Hocking’s novels Oren was the one who’d abused Loki and at first we, as the reader, were given the impression that Loki was Oren’s son, but he turned out to be Wendy’s father.
4) Valentine was the one who’d waged war with the Nephilim, wiping out a lot of his own people about sixteen years ago; Oren waged a battle that wiped out a lot of Trylle about nineteen years ago or so (essentially his own species/people). Well, at least Hocking put about three or four years between them. That was nice of her.
5) Isabelle Lightwood’s character in Clare’s books were always cited for her keen fashion sense and she dressed Clary to look more like a vixen when she had to because Clary wasn’t that much into those things; Willa Strom would help dress Wendy and do her hair for her because Wendy was pretty much just as clueless with those things as Clary. Isabelle and Willa had similar personalities as well. Isabelle’s character had more depth and was much better written, but that goes without saying.
6) Mundanes were the term for normal humans and Shadowhunters/Nephilim looked down on humans in Clare’s books and thought they were better than them because of the power and knowledge they had (that’s the simplest way to put it even though it goes somewhat deeper than that in Clare’s world); Mansklig is the term for humans in Hocking’s novels and the trolls/trylle believe they are better than them because of the powers they had. In both Clare’s and Hocking’s books you had to leave or were exiled for being with a human. Funny enough, in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books regular humans are called Muggles and they were looked down upon. I’ve seen all the Harry Potter movies, but I haven’t read the books in the series. They look like they’d give me a headache, but maybe one day I will. At least Cassandra Clare didn’t just make up a word out of the blue for humans since “Mundane” is actually a word that means ordinary and it makes sense in the usage for regular human beings as opposed to what the Shadowhunters are.
7) Normally this isn’t something that I would’ve even listed under a comparison, but there were too many details that were similar to Clare’s to ignore. In the book City of Bones we learn that Alec Lightwood is gay. Having a gay character in your novel probably isn’t going to raise a lot of eyebrows, but it’s under what circumstances and who the person is attracted to and what it’s going to lead to in the long term that’s going to get people’s eyes bulging if you’re going to use it for dramatic effect. In Hocking’s Trylle series her character, Tove Kroner, is gay. When I was ticking off the various similarities between the two authors’ series, I was almost going to pass that fact over. It didn’t strike me as noteworthy that Clare would have a gay character and so would Hocking; as a matter of fact, what made me further want to move on from this was the fact that Hocking had another gay character in her My Blood Approves series. Then I looked back into Hocking’s work and saw the similarities that were just so unbelievably like Clare’s work it made me want to slap her. Forget the fact that Tove had to keep his homosexuality a secret, same as Alec, and the people who knew had to go around pretending they didn’t know, but it’s when Tove’s love interest was introduced to us on page 313 of her book Torn that I couldn’t believe the balls on Hocking. Basically, what Hocking did was take Alec’s love interest, Magnus Bane, from The Mortal Instruments saga and put him into her book as Markis Bain, to be Tove’s love interest. In Hocking’s literary world, Markis is a title, it’s not the guy’s name, but there’s a bit of a similarity don’t you think. That’s not a question. Not only that, and I couldn’t believe what I was reading as I was reading it, she took Alec’s physical attributes and put them to her Markis Bain character, but also incorporated some of Magnus’s physical traits as well. Alec had remarkable blue eyes and dark hair which she gave to Markis Bain, and I do believe that Magnus was described as slender or delicately built in Clare’s novel, which Hocking also gave to her Bain character. And what else? Hocking described Markis Bain as “a few years older than Tove” instead of having them be around the same age which I found fascinating since Magnus Bane was about 800 years old but looked just a few years older than Alec in Clare’s books since he was an immortal warlock.
8) Clary and Jace’s first kiss was inside the greenhouse at night surrounded by beautiful flowers that bloomed under moonlight when they finally got some time alone; Wendy and Loki’s kiss was also in a flower garden, a secret garden where no one could see them from the house, also at night. Hocking gave a similar description to her flowers earlier in the novel that Clare had given to her own.
9) In Clare’s series Jace was trying to protect Clary and not have her go into Alicante (located in Idris) and was trying his best to keep her away from the place, keep her safe; Loki didn’t want Wendy back in Ondarike in an attempt to keep her safe and he seemed to try to his hardest to keep her way from the place.
10) This was something that I wasn’t sure I was going to put because it’s not like telepathic communication is something you can point the finger at someone for using in a paranormal/supernatural novel and say someone copied it, but with everything else listed I figured why not put this as well. Elora was a character that not only had precognition as a gift, but she could use telepathic communication with select people, same as The Silent Brothers in Clare’s series. Again, I’m just pointing it out that it was used, not that it would be a really big deal in any other series. Even I have telepathic characters in one of my own series. It’s just the fact that Hocking seemed to copy so much of Clare’s novel that I figured I’d point out every similarity I saw at this point.
11) In City of Bones the character Clary believed her father to be dead, but then found out he was very much alive, evil and that she may have to kill him. In fact, she wanted to kill her father because of all the horrible things he’d done. In Hocking’s book, Torn, Wendy found out the father she believed to be dead was actually alive, that her mother (Elora) had lied to her about it (same as Clary’s mother Jocelyn), he was evil and she was expected to kill him.
12) In Clare’s series there are The Accords, a type of conference that takes place in which a treaty between the Nephilim and Downworlders are signed for continued peace; In Hocking’s Torn, she has a chapter called “Accord” in which her Trylle/Trolls are signing a peace treaty with the Vittra who remind me a little of the Downworlders in Clare’s novels.
13) I also found it ironic that there was a reference made the Roman Empire in Hocking’s books and supposedly that’s where Idris is located in Clare’s novels.
Even with all that I just listed above, and I probably missed a few things, I do realize that some people are going to say that those are all coincidences; and to those people I am willing to say that you’re morons. What Hocking did was deliberate and selfish. As far I know, Clare’s books became available in print in 2007, but I believe Hocking only published her first book in the Trylle series in either late 2010 or early 2011 as an ebook which gave her plenty of time to not only read at least the first two or three books in The Mortal Instruments books but to use Clare’s details while writing her own books.
I’ll admit that when I figured out what Amanda Hocking had done I was seething, not only because she ripped off someone else’s work so obviously, but it’s because of how she basically flaunted it and no one takes any kind of action against her. What she did was basically some sort of slash/fan fiction on another author’s book. If she was still an indie author and hadn’t been picked up by a major publishing company that dished out millions to her, I’ll be honest, I would’ve left it alone. But the thing that I’m mostly upset about is that a publishing house (St. Martin’s Press) condones this sort of plagiarism just as long as the author has sold a lot of books. Simon & Schuster should sue the pants off both Hocking and St. Martin’s Press because their editors should’ve picked up on this or are they just that crap at their jobs? I’m outraged that since she started out as an indie author she can just go around copying other people’s work. I actually wasn’t too bothered about her copying Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga since so many people have done it as far as self publishing on Amazon and Smashwords go, but this is something else. This was like someone sitting there with Cassandra Clare’s novels surrounding them as if a teacher gave them an assignment to write their own version of what happened in The Mortal Instruments series.
It is not a secret that the characters in E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy are based on the characters in Twilight. Especially since it was posted under fan fiction as such, but because of people not being particularly fond of the sex scenes she involved the characters in, she changed their names and make the book all her own from what I’ve read about it so far. Sure, she took a few traits from Bella Swan and the locale of Washington State, but I seriously doubt she sat there picking out scenes from Twilight to copy. E.L. James wrote a different story altogether. I love the TV show The Vampire Diaries, and I don’t hide that fact. There are a few similarities between my own book and the television show, but none like this that I’ve seen Hocking do. Not only that, but I actually sent Julie Plec a tweet a few months ago thanking her and Kevin Williamson for making the show as great as it was and keeping it that way because they had inspired me. But I didn’t try and outright copy what they did, scenes from the show, lines from the show, nothing like that. I recognize that they have some of the best writers for their show and I admire them. I wouldn’t want to rip off their work because I know I couldn’t come close and I also have too much respect for them to do that. Like I said, it’s one thing to inspired by someone’s work and be a fan of it, and it’s quite a different thing to just copy it.
I also wasn’t too bothered about the fact that Hocking more than likely got her changeling idea the movie, also titled Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie in which the mother got sent to a mental institution after claiming her child wasn’t her actual child. As authors, we all borrow something from others, but it’s the way in which it’s borrowed that makes a difference.
Why are these books still being sold? Are you telling me no one noticed this? Or better yet, what constitutes plagiarism in mass market publishing now? Do you mean to tell me that I can, just because I’m an indie author, copy 75% of the TV show Charmed, change the women’s names, make them a different species and if it sells enough copies no one will sue me for plagiarism? So I can copy Nora Roberts’s Blood Brothers trilogy, change a few of the names, tweak the circumstances a little, make the characters teens and everybody will turn a blind eye in spite of the fact that clearly I am copying someone else’s hard work? Why isn’t everybody doing this then?
We’re taught early on by our teachers that plagiarism is wrong, that we cannot copy word for word of anything, that we have to cite enough references in our work. We can’t just take previously written work and hand it in, as is. What Hocking did was what people do in high school with their book reports. No wonder her writing style reads the same way a book report does, because essentially that’s what it was--a book report on Cassandra Clare’s books. Only Hocking got handsomely paid for it.
I’m angry with myself for ever buying anything of Hocking’s. It’s not fair what she did and it’s beyond disrespectful. I can’t see how she can go to sleep without a guilty conscience for ripping off a very talented author’s work. She’s daring, I’ll give her that. And apparently she has a lot of people who are willing to let her get away with anything. I don’t care if I just discovered Clare’s books, a fan is a fan, and I’m a big fan of hers and I was so pissed when I realized what’d been done with her series I was practically shaking. It is not fair that Hocking has a movie deal and someone is writing, or has already written, the screenplay for it, when it’s actually just a jumble of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series in three books. There were other people who read Hocking’s first novel, My Blood Approves, and gave bullet points about how much likeness it held to Twilight under their Amazon reviews the same as I just listed all the points of how she took from City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass. Anyone can go and look and find them, the comments are still there. But you want to know what people do? People become more livid with the person pointing out the undeniable similarities and start defending Hocking tooth and nail. Basically, if you’re a reputable author that has spent years in the business building your name, writing your own stories, and getting paid you’ll probably catch more flack from publishers and fans if your story is vaguely similar to someone else’s and not nearly what Hocking did. If anyone tries to argue that Hocking shouldn’t be held accountable for what she’s done, that it’s okay what she did, that it’s not that close to what Cassandra Clare wrote, then I’ll know that the literary world is crumbling. There used to be a time when people were afraid to plagiarize other authors’, that Hocking’s books would’ve been pulled from the shelves and she would’ve been urged to issue Cassandra Clare a public apology. Not anymore. I’ll probably be the one to get blasted for pointing out what Amanda Hocking did instead.
I would like to clarify that this isn't a personal attack on Amanda Hocking. I do not know what she's like in her personal life or anything about her really, and I knew there would be people who would read this and think that I'm just picking a bone with her--and I actually thought about deleting for that very reason--but that's not the case. I've written a few books myself and I know it's hard, but as a writer I wouldn't feel right publishing work that I've copied an entire plot from another series of novels. There is a difference between "lifting elements" from a book (or books) and straight up copying not only an ENTIRE plot, but also characters (descriptions and personalities). She copied nearly every single character from The Mortal Instruments saga; this is not a joke. Maybe it's because I consider myself a writer as well and that's the reason why I can see the difference in this, or maybe no one simply cares anymore. I simply don't have time to write the hub that I want to right now stating FACTS on this, but Cassandra Clare actually used a great many elements from the TV show Supernatural in her Mortal Instruments saga. I saw very few likenesses to Harry Potter and I think people are ridiculous for comparing the two. I have reasons that I will gladly point out in a hub in a couple of weeks, but I'm just not going to sit here and pretend that I didn't notice these things when they are so absolutely obvious.
This isn't about the fact that she's famous now or made a bus load of money, this is about integrity and art. If there were mere similarities between the two series, then fine. I wouldn't have even commented on it, but it made me sick to see what she did. Inspiration is one thing; copying another person's story completely simply because you don't have enough imagination to come up with your own is something else.
**Also, I'm not going to argue with Amanda Hocking's childish relatives and friends on here because of what I pointed out.**
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