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

We do not get to choose when in our lives we feel pain. It comes when it comes, and we try to remember, even though we cannot imagine a day when it will release its hold on us, that all pain fades. All misery passes. Humanity is drawn to light, not darkness.

Chain of Gold

Matthew Fairchild is the second son of Henry and Charlotte Branwell, and the younger brother of Charles. He is also the parabatai of James Herondale.


Early life

Growing up, Matthew had a close relationship with his father. Being the curious inventor Henry was, he had a tendency of endangering himself with his experiments. Matthew took it upon himself to look after him.[5][2][3]


Matthew unwillingly attended the Shadowhunter Academy in 1899, where he became considerably popular among the students. Wanting instead to return home to look after his eccentric father, Matthew took every opportunity to discredit himself to get expelled—an unlikely idea given his mother's position as Consul. At the Academy, he was friends mostly with Christopher and Thomas Lightwood and had an initially complicated relationship with James. One morning, he and James finally had a conversation about their situation and realized that they were being rude to each other for no reason. The pair since became very close friends, despite the revelation that James had the ability to turn into a shadow.

When James was expelled, for an incident, started by Alastair Carstairs, that led to a student's death, James was blamed and expelled.[5] Matthew had a confrontation with Alastair on the day of James's departure from the Academy. Matthew intended to berate him for his cowardice; instead, Alastair told him of rumors that he was not Henry's offspring and was instead Charlotte's son with Gideon Lightwood.[3]

After setting up an explosion with Christopher that would surely get him expelled, Matthew left with Will and James to the London Institute, something the Herondales agreed to after Matthew proclaimed his desire to become James' parabatai.[5] The pair eventually became parabatai and grew closer.

The Fairchilds up and moved to their home in London so that Matthew could stay close to his parabatai. Christopher was also expelled for their stunt at the Academy, and Thomas did not attend the following year, and so the four of them remained a tight group and trained together at the London Institute.[3]

Great sin

Alastair's lies about the supposed rumors that he was Gideon's bastard affected Matthew more than he'd liked. He grew paranoid and sometimes had moments when he feared that his parents were separating. For a time, he even resented Gideon, refusing to think of him as his Uncle Gideon. During a trip to the London Shadow Market, recommended to him by good friend Anna Lightwood, Matthew came across Brother Zachariah, known to the Herondales and Lightwoods as Uncle Jem, and took it upon himself to get closer to him. They then came upon a faerie selling potions and charms. Matthew was particularly intrigued by a potion that he was led to believe would compel the truth out of someone and purchased it behind Zachariah's back.

Matthew put the potion into the cranberries for the scones he baked for his mother, hoping it would make her tell the truth about his parentage or the status of her marriage to Henry. As soon as Charlotte took a bite, Matthew realized that the potion was, in fact, a harmful concoction, just as Brother Zachariah had warned him that the fey could not always be trusted. While Zachariah overlooked Charlotte's treatment, Henry took Matthew aside to tell him that they had been expecting a daughter. He then told him that he hoped to name her Matilda, after his own great-aunt, from whom Matthew inherited his blond hair and for whom Matthew was named after, making Matthew realize that he was indeed Henry's son and not Gideon's.

Zachariah later told him that Charlotte survived, but the child in her womb did not. He advised Matthew to tell someone of the burden of his sin, but Matthew refused and feigned ignorance, though he carried the guilt—of having inadvertently caused his mother's miscarriage and for even listening to Alastair instead of trusting his mother.[3]

New arrivals

In August 1903, a ball was hosted at the London Institute to welcome the Carstairs family to London. After James left the new Cordelia Carstairs stranded on the dance floor, Matthew hastily swooped in to save her from embarrassment. The pair had a pleasant conversation with each other, with Matthew inviting her to the picnic that was being held the next day.

At the picnic in Regent's Park, a group of demons suddenly attacked them in broad daylight. Matthew helped fight off the incoming horde of demons but they soon left of their own accord. He then went with the others back to the Institute where he and the Merry Thieves closed themselves in the ballroom. Once James decided that he must travel into the shadow realm, Matthew and the others helped push him there.

The following day, Matthew made his way over to Anna Lightwood's flat for a trip to the Hell Ruelle. Matthew was surprised to find Cordelia there and that she would be joining them at the Downworlder haunt. While waiting for Anna's signal inside the salon, he and Cordelia talk about her father and he offered to talk to his mother for her. Their conversation was cut short by Anna calling them into Hypatia Vex's bedroom. After Cordelia saved Hypatia and Malcolm Fade from being poisoned by their mermaid companion, Arabella, the warlocks repaid the debt by telling them some rumors that had been circling about the lack of demons in London and contacted Ragnor Fell to offer them further assistance. In addition, Malcolm gave Matthew a bundle of faerie blades for his gratitude.

Based on the information given to them by Ragnor, Matthew and his friends visited the flat of the warlock Emmanuel Gast. There, they found the corpse of Gast and Lucie got a great deal of information from his ghost. Matthew also discovered a drawing of a Pyxis and the remains of a broken one. Later at the Institute, Lucie confronted Matthew about his drinking, and her fear that he would get James killed because of it. As Matthew stormed out in anger, he encountered James, who was upset and just found out about Grace Blackthorn's engagement to Charles. Left alone, Grace approached him and they begin to argue. Grace then forced Matthew to kiss her and threatened to tell Charles or James if he tried to do anything to prevent her marriage to Charles.

The next day, the group was able to deduce Gast had raised a Mandikhor demon. They hatched a plan to get a Pyxis box in order to capture the demon as that seemed the only way to stop it. With Anna's help they were able to steal one from Hypatia the following day. They then went to Tower Bridge in hopes of finding the Mandikhor demon. They did, but it was able to break free of the box and vanish.

During all this, Christopher was hard at work on finding a cure. When they learned that the last ingredient he needed was at Chiswick house, they tried to go retrieve it but were ambushed by Khora demons. Matthew was flung by one of the demons but prevented from sustaining more damage as Oscar came to his rescue. Christopher, however, was not so lucky and was poisoned and sent to the Silent City.

While discussing what to do at the Devil Tavern, James received a note from Brother Zachariah, requesting he come to the Silent City. Not wanting his parabatai to go alone, Matthew accompanied him, along with Cordelia. In the infirmary there, the ill suddenly became possessed and chanted James's name. The trio fled and, realizing that James's grandfather had sent them there, James explained that he needed to go to the shadow realm and face Belial. Matthew made him tie a rope around himself and then Matthew to ensure he had a tether and could tug on it if he needed to be pulled back. However, soon the connection began weakening and hurting Matthew so Cordelia cut it and traveled into the realm herself, leaving him behind.

When they returned, James was dying. Matthew did all he could to save him, and he survived. Matthew stayed by his parabatai's side for the next few days while he rested. As soon as he was fully healed, and after a private conversation with Grace, James announced that he had to go to Blackthorn Manor and destroy something. When Matthew noticed through the Portal that James had set fire to the house, he and Cordelia came through to rescue him. At the Enclave meeting the next day, when accused of burning the house down, Cordelia provided James with an alibi, though tarnishing her reputation in the process. In order to save it, the two announced that they were engaged, much to Matthew's dismay as he had realized he was in love with Cordelia.

And so, at James and Cordelia's engagement party, Matthew drank heavily in an attempt to drown his sorrows. Because of his drunken state, Matthew revealed the rumors Alastair Carstairs had spread about their parents to Thomas, in an effort to prevent their friendship. Later, he confided in Magnus Bane about his feelings for Cordelia and that James and Cordelia did not love each other and in fact had an arrangement for a marriage blanc.[6]


Matthew is usually a delight to be around; open-hearted, sociable, flamboyant, and funny. He is also rather indolent, particularly when it comes to Shadowhunter activities.[5] He is a natural caretaker, with a tendency to want and volunteer to look after those around him.[3]

He can also be quite sensitive, and though usually expressed as a joke, he sometimes internalizes thoughts about his purpose. Matthew in his youth, despite his popularity and sociable exterior, was often self-doubting and insecure and thought so much of what others thought of him and believed they didn't care about him as much as he did, thinking he wasn't special to those that meant most to him.[3]

He is a fan of Oscar Wilde and the aesthetic movement.[5] Matthew listens to James, who manages to make him attend to his studies and keeps him out of trouble.[7]

Physical description

Matthew is considered a very handsome and well-built young man. He gets his coloring of gold blond hair and green eyes from his father's great aunt Matilda.[3] Matthew cares a great deal for his appearance and is often dressed in expensive fashionable clothing with his hair expertly combed into style (with many brushes). He is sometimes seen sporting a green carnation, which is both a reference to his favorite author Oscar Wilde and his bisexuality.[6]

Skills and abilities

  • Nephilim physiology: Being Nephilim, Matthew possesses a myriad of enhanced physical and mental abilities granted to him by the blood of Raziel in his veins and also by the angelic Marks of the Gray Book. This includes enhanced strength, agility, stamina, coordination, and many others which improve over time and practice.
    • Runic magic: Due to the angel Raziel's blood in their veins, all Shadowhunters are able to apply runes on their skin without any real danger. These Marks, in turn, give varied effects that serve to benefit the wearer.
    • The Sight: As a Shadowhunter, Matthew is able to easily see through most magical illusions and layers of glamour over reality.
    • Use of heavenly weapons: As a Nephilim, Matthew is also able to handle heavenly weapons with effect, since this would normally not work for other species. In particular, these are weapons made of adamas and forged by Iron Sisters, such as seraph blades.
  • Parabatai bond: Due to his parabatai bond with James Herondale, Matthew is able to call on more strength in battle. The runes drawn on him by James also give a considerably stronger effect.


  • Flask: Matthew’s silver flask has his initials monogrammed on it. He tends to keep it on him at all times.
  • Signet ring: Marked with the initials MF, this ring was a gift from James at their parabatai ceremony. Matthew often fiddles with it when he is stressed.
  • Chalikars: are Matthew’s preferred weapon. The chalikar is a circular throwing knife edged with razor-sharp steel.
  • Other basic Shadowhunter gear, including: steles, seraph blades, and a witchlight.



James and Matthew during their parabatai ceremony

James and Matthew first met at the Shadowhunter Academy. Matthew tried desperately to befriend James though James detested him. Eventually James came around and they became great friends. After they were both expelled, Matthew asked James to become his parabatai, to which he agreed.

The Fairchild family then moved back to London so that Matthew could train and be close with his parabatai. They soon became inseparable along with the other members of their group which came to be known as the Merry Thieves. The four of them rented a room at the Devil Tavern and spend most of their time there.

For Matthew's birthday one year, James gave him a puppy that he found in the streets. Matthew named the puppy after his favorite author and loved it fiercely, raising it into an extremely obedient dog.

  • Christopher Lightwood is one of Matthew's best friends. Matthew is very motherly towards Christopher, always keeping an eye on him to make sure he doesn't accidentally set himself on fire or blow something up.
  • Thomas Lightwood is the fourth member of their group. Much like Christopher, Matthew is always looking out for Thomas, most often to warn him away from Alastair Carstairs.
  • Anna Lightwood and Matthew enjoy spending time together. They both like fashion and enjoy the bohemian life-style. They often frequent disreputable establishments and Downworlder haunts such as the Hell Ruelle for fun.

Matthew has always cared for his parabatai's little sister. Their families having been close growing up, Matthew and Lucie saw a lot of each other and were even known to get into fights with soup ladles.

Though his affection for her soon grew romantic. Lucie dismisses it as a childhood fancy when James brings it up, but Matthew believed himself in love with her for a long time. Eventually, after realizing it would go no further, Matthew moved his affection to Cordelia Carstairs.

Still, they both care about each other and remain good friends. Lucie worries about Matthew's alcoholism and general well-being, while Matthew is really protective of Lucie.

CJ Cordelia & Matthew 01, CoI.jpg
When her family moved to London, Cordelia befriended Matthew and they soon became good friends. At some point during their adventures investigating the Mandikhor demon, Matthew started to fall in love with her. After catching her making out with James, he found himself extremely jealous, though both dismissed it as play-attacking. Still before Matthew could express his feelings for her, she and James became engaged. Knowing it to be a marriage blanc did not help his upset, he got very drunk at their engagement party and confided to Magnus Bane that if James actually loved her, he would have followed in Jem Carstairs's footsteps and never speak of her again. And though he didn't, he still would not make any type of advance towards Cordelia while she was engaged or married to James.


Matthew has a very strained relationship with his older brother. While Matthew is more carefree and loose with the rules, Charlies is more serious and studious. As such, the pair almost never see eye-to-eye and constantly fight.

Matthew is extremely close to his father. Growing up, his mother was busy with Clave business and Charles wanted to shadow her, so he was always left to take care of him. Being handicapped and so absentminded, Matthew sometimes found himself putting out fires on his father's head while he was at work on another invention. Still he enjoyed this time with his father and talking to him about his work. So when Matthew was sent to the Academy, he was distressed about leaving his father behind and did everything he could to get kicked out and sent back home.

When he finally did get expelled, however, he wished to go to the London Institute to train and be tutored with his future parabatai. He made up a schedule to split their time between the Institute and his home in Idris so that he could still see his father often. Eventually, the family relocated for him to London, and his father began tutoring them.


Matthew hates Alastair Carstairs. From the moment they met at the Academy, the two butted heads. After Alastair bullied James and got him expelled, Matthew wished to get back at him. He got his chance once he began spreading a rumor that Matthew's father was actually Thomas's father Gideon Lightwood, making Matthew lose his temper. He promptly gave Christopher the ingredients he needed to blow up a wing of the Academy that Alastair was in.

Despite brushing it off as nonsense at first, the rumor ate Matthew up inside. He began to hate the sight of Gideon and found himself waiting for his parents to tell him they were splitting. This led to Matthew purchasing a truth potion to get the answers he needed that actually ended up poisoning his mother and killing the baby she had been carrying.

He soon found out, of course, that he was definitely Henry's son, and blamed not only himself for killing his unborn sibling and nearly his mother, but also Alastair. Believing both of them unforgivable. So when Alastair tried to make amends and befriend him at James and Cordelia's engagement party, and Thomas supported it asking Matthew to forgive him for the childish slights, Matthew lashed out and finally told Thomas of the rumor. As well as some unsavory comments he had made about Thomas's mother too. This got the result he expected and Alastair was sent away crying, warned off of trying to speak to them again.



See more here


  • Matthew favors rapiers[2] or chalikars[4] as his weapon.
  • He doesn't like having his name shortened, to nicknames like "Matt" or "Matty".[8][9]
  • Matthew was named after his father's Great Aunt Matilda, whom he called Aunt Matty.[3]
  • The Herondales often call him "Math", a nickname given to him by Will after the Welsh king Math ap Mathonwy as a nod to Will's belief that Matthew was "born knowing too much".[6]
  • Matthew has an interest in fashion, Downworlder haunts, and the bohemian lifestyle which he shares with Anna Lightwood.[10]
  • Matthew really wants to befriend Magnus Bane—whom he idolizes—but the warlock has reservations about doing so.[11]
  • Matthew's favorite treat is Charlotte russe.[12]
  • His favorite book is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.[4]
  • He loathes dancing the waltz.[6]
  • Matthew is bisexual.[6]
  • He greatly admired Will Herondale growing up and planned to be like him one day.[6]
  • The only people who know about Matthew accidentally hurting his mother and killing his baby sibling are Brother Zachariah and Cordelia Carstairs.[13]
  • Matthew has a habit of telling elaborate stories that his friends cannot decipher whether or not they are true—even Cassandra Clare herself cannot tell.[14]

  • Matthew was originally named Colin,[15] and Matthew may have also been planned to be another character's name.[16]
  • Matthew originally was described as having brown eyes.[5] However, his eyes are a dark green color in later publications.[3] It is unclear if this is a change Cassie has made in his appearance since TftSA, or if his eyes simply appear different colors at times.
  • Matthew was set to have younger sisters in TLH[17] but Cassie changed her mind.
  • Matthew's birthday may be in January but it is not a finalized confirmed detail.[18]

  • References