SPOILER WARNING: Plot details for Chain of Gold follow. Caution is advised!

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



Alastair and Cordelia were very close as children, since their family was always moving and never stayed in one place long enough to make friends. At a young age Alastair became aware of his father's alcoholism and took on the responsibility of cleaning up after him and fetching him when he passed out in a tavern. Alastair and his mother agreed to hide this from his sister so that she could have a childhood and respect her father as he never could. When Elias was hung over or particularly inebriated, he would tell her Elias was ill and then direct her attention elsewhere.

Academy days

At the Shadowhunter Academy, Alastair found himself the victim of bullying; the other kids often making fun of him for countless reasons including his family's constant moving. Eventually he came to the decision that the best way not to be bullied was to become the bully; though he later confided to his sister that he hated it.[4]

So when James Herondale came to the Academy in 1899,[5] during his last year at the Academy,[6] 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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[5]


At one point, Brother Zachariah, a former Carstairs reached out to him. Alastair rejected him,[7] making it clear that he should stay detached even from them and stick to his life as a Silent Brother.[6]

For his travel year Alastair chose to go to Paris because he remembers the city as somewhere he and Cordelia had been happy growing up.[7] There he met Charles Fairchild who was managing the Paris Institute, and fell in love with him. The two had agreed to keep their relationship secret, as Charles wanted to secure his political career. Shortly before he was set to leave, Alastair ran into Thomas Lightwood who was taking a small break in his travel year. The two spent some time together and seemed to enjoy each other's company, parting on fairly friendly terms.

Move to London

In 1903, Elias Carstairs was arrested and awaiting trial in Idris. In order to save the family from disgrace, Sona moved the family to London to make powerful relationships with the influential families there. While Cordelia busied herself with attempts to try to prove her fathers innocence, Alastair scoffed at her—believing them to be useless and their father guilty—and focused his efforts on politics; attending all of the local Enclave's meetings.

He also spent his time with Charles. Alastair began to grow frustrated with keeping their relationship secret and upset that Charles seemed to plan to follow through with a marriage to Ariadne Bridgestock. Though he still believed Charles—even after ending his engagement to Ariadne while she was unconscious and engaging himself to Grace Blackthorn—that he was doing it all for them to be together.

Luckily he was at Charles's estate when Thomas arrived asking to use the laboratory. Charles had initially denied him entry but Alastair insisted he be let in. He stayed behind from the Enclave meeting and helped Thomas make the antidote to the Mandikhor poisoning. Upon their arrival at Highgate Cemetery, he found Cordelia badly injured with a broken leg. As others began to arrive, Alastair picked up his sister and carried her to the carriage to return home.

At some point Alastair informed the Clave of Sona's pregnancy. Given Cordelia's status as a hero as well as an expectant baby, they decided to resolve Elias's charges. Following Cordelia's announcement that she was engaged to James, Alastair decided to end things with Charles and wrote him a letter. At the engagement party, when confronted by Charles, Alastair explained that he did not want to hide anymore and he realized Charles would never love him more than his career. Later at the party he tried to befriend Matthew and the others but Matthew would not hear of it, ignoring Thomas's protests. Math announced the rumors Alastair had spread about him being Gideon's bastard and Thomas told him never to speak to him again. Alastair fled the ballroom crying.[4]

Physical appearance

Alastair has brown skin, black eyes, and black hair that he typically dyes blond. By the end of summer of 1903, he had decided to dye it back to black.



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  • Alastair reads mundane newspapers to find hints of demonic activity.[5]
  • His favorite book is The Prince by Machiavelli.[3]
  • 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.[8]
  • 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.[8]
  • Alastair's weapon of choice is spears or daggers.[3]
  • His favorite animal is a hedgehog.[3]
  • Alastair, like Jem, has a love of music;[7] growing up he sung and played piano.[4]
  • When he is lying, he can no longer look someone in the eye.[4]


  • Alastair has troubles at home, particularly with his father.[6] Their household was generally difficult.[9]
  • Alastair is regarded differently at the Academy and in London for being half Persian.[10][9]
  • "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."[9]


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