Alastair Carstairs is the son of Elias and Sona Carstairs, and the brother of Cordelia.


Academy days

Alastair did not get along well with his younger cousins, or at least made no effort to get to know them. When James Herondale first attended the Shadowhunter Academy in 1899,[4] during his last year at the Academy,[5] Will had hoped that they would be friends; instead, Alastair and his friends immediately began terrorizing him and other family friends that were also new students: Matthew Fairchild, Christopher and Thomas Lightwood. Alastair mostly bullied James, pointing out his odd, yellow eyes and giving him the nickname "Goatface Herondale" that stuck with the boy for weeks.

After James's ability to Change into a shadow was revealed to the whole school, Alastair and his friends decided to play a prank on him. During one of the training missions in the Brocelind Forest, they placed a bigger rogue Vetis demon into the Pyxis that was only supposed to contain a small, harmless demon. The prank went horribly wrong, however, when his friend Clive Cartwright was killed by the demon. Alastair and their other friend freaked out and hid but was pursued by James in his shadow form, who then threatened Alastair with a sword. James then scared the pair enough to make them flee.

Afterwards, James was expelled for their misdoing. Alastair approached James as he was about to leave the Academy and begrudgingly apologized.[4] His father did not arrive at the Academy after the incident, whereas most of the students' parents came in concern. Matthew Fairchild, James's friend who had been with him when they saw Clive's corpse, found him with Thomas later that day. In his frustration, Alastair sent Thomas away so he could taunt Matthew with a disgusting rumor he'd apparently heard, or made up: that Matthew was Gideon Lightwood's bastard with Charlotte.[5] Matthew enacted his revenge—for James and for himself—by placing all of Alastair's belongings in the south wing, which he and Christopher had just rigged with explosives.[4]


At one point, Brother Zachariah, a former Carstairs reached out to him. Alastair rejected him,[6] making it clear that he should stay detached even from them and stick to his life as a Silent Brother.[5]





  • Alastair reads mundane newspapers to find hints of demonic activity.[4]
  • During his childhood, Alastair and Cordelia shared a common interest in architecture. Inspired by their last name, the two collaborated to build castles out of wooden blocks.[7]
  • Cordelia loved scaring him when they were younger, specifically by grabbing his ankle while hidden under his bed, resulting in an ongoing habit of Alastair's to look under beds before getting within an arm's length of them.[7]


  • He dyes his hair, which is naturally black,[3] blond.[8]
  • He does not get along well with his sister,[9] Cordelia, who finds him annoying.[10]
  • Alastair is set to be very good friends with Charles Fairchild.[11] They are set to have met at the Paris Institute in 1902, during Alastair's travel year.[6]
  • Alastair chose to spend his travel year in Paris because he and Cordelia were happy there when they were younger.[6]
  • Alastair has troubles at home, particularly with his father.[5] Their household was generally difficult.[12]
  • Alastair is regarded differently at the Academy and in London for being half Persian.[13][12]
  • The circumstances of Alastair and Cordelia's arrival and stay at the London Institute in 1903 (for The Last Hours) will be under a cloud of disgrace,[6] possibly relating to their parents,[12] and seemingly enforced. Before then, he tended to avoid the Herondales.[14]
  • Alastair likes very few people, currently only at four: Charles, Cordelia, his mother, and Thomas Lightwood. Their history (first seen in Cast Long Shadows), and particularly whatever it was that Thomas saw that made him feel bad for Alastair, will be revealed in TLH. He likes how Thomas openly seems to adore him.[13]
  • Alastair, like Jem, has a love of music.[6]
  • "Alastair and Cordelia share a love for Persian culture and stories and songs, via their mother Sona, though Alastair is now trying to push away from that because of how he was treated at Shadowhunter Academy due to his heritage, and the way he's now regarded in London. Alastair tells Cordelia not to speak to him in public in their mother’s language."[12]


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