The Book of the White is a spell book, one of the most powerful and famous volumes on supernatural work in the world, along with the Gray Book. It is an ancient tome of extreme power known to the beings of the Shadow World and is considered an article of dark magic. It is a small book bound in white leather, with the title written in gilded Latin letters, its contents written in Greek. As of 2007, the book is in the possession of Magnus Bane.
The book contains several different recipes for potions, incantations for spells, some of which are black magic, as well as additional information which can be used for research, with the book specializing in binding and unbinding spells, specifically the kind that tie and untie the soul to the body. Due to its demonic nature, warlocks believe that it belongs to them by right, while the Clave considers it a crime for anyone other than them, specifically warlocks who would be able to apply the information found within, to own the book.
The only known potion found within the book is one that puts the person into an induced coma, a dream-like state, along with the antidote. It is also suggested, by Jem Carstairs and the longevity of Axel Mortmain's life, that there is a spell inside it that prolongs life. Another spell supposedly found in the book, this time implied or hoped for by Magnus Bane, is one that may possibly cut short ones' immortality.
At one point, the book was placed in the London Institute, until it disappeared "under suspicious circumstances" in 1752. It was later discovered that the warlock John Shade was using it for necromancy in his attempts to perfect his clockwork army.
When he and his wife, Anne, were killed in 1815, their adopted mundane son, Axel Mortmain, filed a Reparations plea ten years after and tried to get back his parents' belongings, including the Book of the White, thinking it rightfully belonged to his family. As the Nephilim Law dictates that it belongs to them, he was refused this request, and the book was returned to the London Institute.
In 1878, one of the Institute's residents, Jessamine Lovelace, under instructions from Mortmain, hid the book in Tessa Gray's room. This plot to implicate Tessa, however, was revealed, and the book was retrieved. At this point, Mortmain had already been trying to continue his father's work on the automatons for years. Unable to perfect the spell on his own, he had to speak to his father and had Tessa Change into him. The essence of John Shade then wrote the binding spell for him, a spell he presumably managed to derive from the Book of the White. The spell proved successful as Mortmain was able to bind the Greater Demons to the automatons, as well as making them immune to the Marked weapons of the Nephilim.
Some time in the 1990s, Jocelyn Fray was in possession of the book. She asked for help from a warlock residing in Idris, Ragnor Fell, with a potion that would place her in a temporary coma, in the event that she would ever need it, particularly to escape from her husband, Valentine Morgenstern. Ragnor helped her with it and even advised her to hide the book in the library of the home of their neighbors, the Waylands, a place where neither of them thought Valentine would ever look. Jocelyn did so and hid it in a cookbook, Simple Recipes for Housewives, where she cut a portion of the pages to squeeze the book into it.
Though Ragnor was the only other person who knew of her plan, Madeleine Bellefleur was at least told about him. So when Valentine came for her in New York in 2007, around two decades after the potion was made, Jocelyn finally used it, and it was through Madeleine that Jocelyn's daughter, Clary, was led to Ragnor. Ragnor was killed by Valentine's servants, however, who were looking for the book, and was only able to tell Magnus Bane about the book and its location through a warlock message. When Clary and Jace Herondale found the book, Clary gave the book to Magnus, who then administered the cure and woke Jocelyn up, with help from Catarina Loss, with whom he temporarily left the book when he returned to Idris with Jocelyn.
- Clockwork Prince
- City of Glass (first appearance)
- City of Fallen Angels (mentioned only)
- City of Lost Souls (mentioned only)
- In earlier drafts of City of Glass, Magnus was intended to have been a part of a subplot involving Camille Belcourt and the Book of the White that was eventually written out for space (though a part of him looking "shifty" to Clary while receiving the Book of the White was mistakenly kept in some first editions).