Parabatai are sworn warrior partners in Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters chronicles. Their bond is one of the closest we’ve ever come across in fiction, if the bond is broken it is almost impossible for the split parabatai to recover.
The word parabatai originates from the Ancient Greek, heniochoi kai parabatai, referring to Greek charioteers and their side-men. They were loyal partners, with one driving and the other fighting from the chariot. They could not succeed without the other.
These parabatai clearly have a very strong and unique bond, but there were many strict rules their relationship had to follow – romantic involvement, for example, was forbidden to parabatai. Their relationship was meant to be closer even than siblings.
So we’ve rounded up some inspirational parabatai who take friendship to the next level.
Quick warning: spoilers ahead for all the Shadowhunters series.
Clary Fairchild and Simon Lovelace.
These parabatai have been best friends even before they signified their bond with the parabatai runes. Clary was introduced to the Shadow World when her mother was captured, forcing her to join with the New York shadowhunters and discover her own shadowhunter heritage. Simon, although a mundane at this time, decided he wasn’t going to let his friend go through this adventure on her own; Simon has been by Clary’s side her whole life. Simon shows he is willing to give his life for Clary not once, but twice, when the dangers of being a mundane in the Shadow World come to light and Simon is turned into a vampire and also at the end of the Mortal Instruments series when he sacrifices his memories and his immortality to save her life. Simon is reintroduced to Clary’s world, however, and goes on to become a shadowhunter too, reclaiming his memories of their life together. The pair then seal their powerful friendship through the parabatai ceremony, and they have been inseparable warriors partners since.
James Herondale and Matthew Fairchild.
Although their relationship is a fairly new exploration for Clare, we felt that these two present a lot of potential to be a strong and magnetic pair. They don’t get off to the best start, in fact, James seems unable to stand the sight of Matthew. But this rivalry stems from James’s jealousy of Matthew’s popularity. After a confrontation in the rain, James and Matthew come to understand each other and even start to become friends – which had been Matthew’s goal from the beginning. As their new found friendship flourishes, the duo decide to swear their vows and become parabatai. Due to James’s demonic heritage from his warlock mother, Tessa Grey, he seems to have inherited the ability to enter a mysterious shadow realm that only he can see, but his bond with Matthew helps him to return to reality each time. However, James does sometimes turn a blind eye where Matthew is concerned, especially when it comes to his drinking problems and general happiness. Whether this is because James doesn’t want to believe it or because their bond isn’t strong enough to allow him to feel it yet, we don’t know, but James does have his parabatai’s best interests at heart.
Jace Herondale and Alec Lightwood
When Jace’s father is presumed dead, the Lightwoods welcome him into their family with open arms. After a slightly rocky start, Alec and Jace become inseparable, with Alec managing to see beneath Jace’s unfeeling mask and Jace in turn opening up to his new friend. From then on, these two parabatai are inseparable, hunting demons together – usually accompanied by Alec’s sister, Isabelle – and training together. Their relationship, however, became more complicated when Alec managed to convince himself that he had fallen in love with Jace, primarily to give himself an excuse to not attempt a romantic relationship with the warlock, Magnus Bane, whom Alec truly had feelings for. In the end it was Jace who helped Alec to confront his fear of his own feelings, convincing him to admit his love for Magnus and pursue the relationship he’d avoided for so long. After this, Jace and Alec find a new trust in each other and fight side-by-side during the Mortal War, their parabatai bond stronger than ever.
Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs
If there are two parabatai that truly raise the bar of friendship, it’s Will and Jem. Despite being parabatai for the shortest amount of time out of the pairs in our list, Will and Jem’s is a bond unlike any other. Time and again they prove that they would do anything for each other. Both are willing to put aside the feelings they have for the same woman, Tessa Grey, so that the other can be with her and Jem shows Will kindness at a time when he believes he cannot be loved. When Jem’s parents are killed by the Greater Demon Yanluo and Jem’s body becomes reliant on a demonic drug for survival, Jem is forced to leave his home in Shanghai and travel to London to stay with Charlotte Fairchild. He finds friendship and a training partner in Will, who eventually opens up to him. Will believes he is cursed and that anyone that loves him will die but, when he learns that Jem is already dying, his desperation for love takes over and he asks Jem to become his parabatai. When Jem’s body is finally broken by the drug, he joins the Silent Brothers to avoid death, breaking his parabatai bond with Will. Loosing his parabatai almost kills Will, but he manages to recover. Will and Jem remain friends until Will’s death (as Jem is now immortal), but Jem never forgets his parabatai.
Livvy and Ty Blackthorn.
Although these two don’t actually get the chance become parabatai, we felt they deserved to be on this list anyway. These twins have been inseparable from the day they were born, playing together and training together. Livvy helps Ty to understand the world and Ty shows Livvy the beauty and creativity of nature. However, Ty is not sure whether he wants to become Livvy’s parabatai, even though his twin is set on it. She works very hard to try and convince him, even enlisting the help of the others in the Institute. This seems to be working, until Livvy is murdered by Annabel Blackthorn, who has returned from the dead, and Ty is left as broken as a lone parabatai. He refuses to believe his sister is gone, and embarks on a frantic mission to resurrect her. This fails, however, and Lizzy is trapped as a ghost. She does not blame him, though, and together, they begin to explore Livvy’s new ghostly abilities. Livvy’s levelheadedness and Ty’s creativity make them a formidable team.