The Silent Brothers are a powerful group of male Shadowhunters who serve as archivists and medics of the Nephilim. To strengthen their minds, they have taken upon themselves the most powerful of runes known to Shadowhunters. They are feared among the Nephilim. They reside in the Silent City, away from the rest of their kind.
The Silent Brothers are male Shadowhunters who choose this as their permanent post—a usually unchangeable fate. The prospective Silent Brothers must sever ties to their mortal lives. Once sworn into the Brotherhood, they undergo a series of rituals that will turn them into Silent Brothers. They even choose a new name, symbolic of their new lives.
They are the keepers of the lore and knowledge of the Nephilim. Officially, they are archivists, researchers, librarians, scholars, doctors, priests, and healers. To aid them in their work, the Silent Brothers, much like the Iron Sisters, possess Marks that other Shadowhunters never normally encounter. These runes grant them access to the strange magic in the deeper parts of the Gray Book and are thus mostly hidden and kept secret from others. The Marks of transformation placed upon them are extremely powerful, enough to dissolve the parabatai Marks of binding, and some of the other Marks.
Silent Brothers normally do not engage in battle; they have set down their weapons for the life of mystical contemplation and the pursuit of wisdom. Because they are focused on their research, they rarely interact with other Shadowhunters unless absolutely necessary. In exchange for their special abilities, they have given up some of their humanity, making them slightly disconcerting to others: They leave no footprints, do not cast shadows, do not move their mouths to speak, and do not sleep. Silent Brothers speak through people's minds.
The runes placed on them include ones that "arrest" their mortality, thus prolonging their lives. Though not exactly immortal, Silent Brothers live longer than ordinary Nephilim; despite this, some Shadowhunters do not consider the Brotherhood a desirable life. Much like their fellow immortal warlocks, Silent Brothers can also fade after centuries of living. They will merely cease to function but remain alive, and, as such, may eventually be entombed alive.
Befitting their seraphic alliance, the Silent Brothers were once called the Grigori, another term for Watchers, one of the higher orders of angels, referring to their role as watchers among the Shadowhunters.
The Silent Brothers are archivists. They keep extensive records of all transactions, operations, and history of the Nephilim within the confines of the Silent City. Though no longer the fighters that they once were when they were still like other Shadowhunters, they are still duty-bound to assist Shadowhunters in their quests to defeat the forces of demons by learning more about them, among other things.
Additionally, the Silent Brothers keep exhaustive records on all members of the Clave. They have knowledge of all Shadowhunters. Their records even stretch so far as to knowing the Shadowhunters since the beginning of the race.
The Silent Brothers also have jurisdiction over the dead of the Nephilim, not only including those who rest in the Silent City, but also those entombed in the cemetery of Idris, which is also a part of the Silent Brothers' domain. The Silent Brothers are also sometimes responsible for holding criminals in their City's prison cells.
They are also the keepers and protectors of the Mortal Instruments. Maellartach the Mortal Sword is hung above the Speaking Stars in the Silent Brothers' council chamber in the Silent City. The judge who wields the Sword and hands it down to the deponent in trials is usually a Silent Brother.
The Silent Brothers also have other noteworthy responsibilities. They prepare the pages for copies of the Gray Book that can withstand the power of runes, which involves complex magic and an arduous process. The first Silent Brothers performed rituals that reinforced the wards all over the world. Silent Brothers also normally presided over Shadowhunter births, using their Marks and medical knowledge to keep mother and child safe. Along with an Iron Sister, a Silent Brother traditionally places protective spells on the infant, meant to strengthen the child, both physically and spiritually, in preparation for his/her first Marks later in life, and also to protect her from demonic influence and possession. These two orders also maintain the Nephilim's relationships with mundane religions and their monastic orders across the globe.
To strengthen their minds, the Silent Brothers possess unique runes, some of which mutilate their appearance, such as the Quietude rune and the several lines of Marks that stitch or shut their eyes and mouth. Others even simply have these removed entirely from their face, leaving blank spaces where their flesh once was—this is more permanent and irreversible, and is considered the most devout means of Marking oneself as a Silent Brother.
The official attire of the Silent Brothers is a parchment-colored, hooded robe that is belted at the waist. Novice Silent Brothers usually wear plain robes, while those who have advanced to full Brotherhood have intricate runic designs and decorative Marks, in blood-red ink, along the cuffs and hems of their regalia.
- Telepathy: The Silent Brothers posses the ability to read minds. They can sift through the minds of those around them and extract information. They also speak telepathically.
- Insanity inducement: It is said that the Silent Brothers have the ability to crack a man's mind and send him into madness if they so desired.
- Special runes: While the Silent Brothers once possessed normal Shadowhunter Marks, they are able to draw more powerful runes on themselves which, however, mutilates their bodies.
- Longevity: Silent Brothers age slower than normal humans, and thus have a longer lifespan.
- Stele: The Brothers use a stele to draw runes on themselves and to enter the Bone City.
- Staff: The Brothers have unique staffs made for them by the Iron Sisters that they use for fighting.
- Scepters: High-ranking Brothers are sometimes known to carry scepters, usually pure silver and also decorated with Marks, with the head carved in a figurative symbolic shape, such as an angel with outstretched wings, a chalice, or the hilt of a sword.
The first Silent Brother is the parabatai of Jonathan Shadowhunter, David, who, after being traumatized, took a permanent vow of silence and devoted his time to research. David and his followers soon began sacrificing bits of their humanity for more angelic power, until David finally founded the Silent Brotherhood and built the beginnings of the Silent City.
The foundation of the Silent Brothers was initially built around the hopes that their kind would someday no longer need to be warriors by finally attaining peace once they drive the horde of demons back and away from their dimension. This philosophy continued to serve as a guide and driving force for the Brotherhood for years. Because of the centuries of failed research and zero outcomes, this hope has since frayed.
Notes from the Silent City suggest that the Brothers were seeking a cure for the Forsaken in the mid-1200s. In the 17th century, Silent Brother Gregory Hans discovered the correct combination of Marks to both enhance a Nephilim's senses and exclude the smell of demons from that enhancement.
Being the main source of knowledge of the Nephilim, the Silent Brothers have since consulted on several strange cases brought to them by the Shadowhunters over the centuries.
In 1878, the Silent Brothers were called upon to treat and examine Tessa Gray to determine what she was. Brother Enoch arrived, telling Charlotte Branwell that she was definitely a Downworlder, although he did not know what type. He also told Tessa privately that she is Eidolon, though her lack of a demon mark made him uncertain.
When Charlotte and Henry Branwell were put under trial, the Silent Brothers and Iron Sisters were at their disposal in their rushed search for Axel Mortmain. Brother Enoch gave Charlotte the records of the Reparations. The Brothers also told Charlotte that she was pregnant.
Jem Carstairs, realizing that his death was approaching, became a Silent Brother to halt his death. He became Brother Zachariah, albeit without the traditional mutilation because of the amount of yin fen in his body that prevented him from undertaking all the Silent Brothers' runes.
When Charlotte told Consul Wayland where Mortmain was, he refused to believe her and took no course of action, so Charlotte decided to take matters into her own hands. She sent out a letter to all Shadowhunters for a call-to-arms at Cadair Idris, which some of the Silent Brothers responded to, including Brother Zachariah, Brother Enoch, and Brother Micah.
In 2007, the Silent Brothers revealed that Clary Fray had a block on her mind that had taken away some of her memories. While she was brought to the Silent City to have her memories retrieved, they only managed to sift through her mind, telling her that the spell on her was too powerful and that it could only be undone by whoever cast it, else they might end up killing her. While the Silent Brothers went through her mind, though, Clary saw the name of Magnus Bane.
Some time after, Jace Herondale was in a holding cell in the Silent City when a huge number of the present Silent Brothers were attacked and murdered by Valentine Morgenstern and Agramon, who scared some of them to death. Valentine was then able to successfully steal the Mortal Sword.
After the Mortal War, the Silent Brothers were again called upon to help figure out what was attacking Jace's mind. They revealed that when Jace was brought back to life, he was technically reborn, and thus had none of the enchantments placed upon a newborn Shadowhunter in effect. They, therefore, had Jace stay in the Silent City so they could prepare the rituals, though Jace left before they could perform the ritual.
Known Silent Brothers
- Silent Brothers do not eat, and they also cannot have sex.
- Because Silent Brothers communicate telepathically, their speech does not particularly "sound" like anything—they do not have accents, and the language heard in the mind of the person they are speaking to is the language of thoughts, as in it depends on the language the person would understand.
- Silent Brother name — Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- Clockwork Princess
- Origins — Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- City of Heavenly Fire
- The Shadowhunter's Codex
- "They don't eat, no!" Cassandra Clare on Twitter
- "They don't." Cassandra Clare on Twitter
- "No, Silent Brothers/Iron Sisters can't have sex. It's a "channeling all energy into the magic" kind of deal." Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- ... you can't have children while an SB or IS..." Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- Silent Brothers speech question — Cassandra Clare on Tumblr