|“||People? What people?||”|
Zara Dearborn is a Centurion and an avid member and supporter of the Cohort. To gain the favor of the Council, Zara often took credit for her companions' deeds, hoping to earn an undeserved honorable reputation among Clave members and to further push the Cohort's agenda.
Zara was born to Horace Dearborn and his wife. At some point in her life, her mother died, and she has since been raised by her father to follow in his footsteps. She was raised with a general disdain for Downworlders, and when the Cold Peace came, she and her father supported it. At one point, she attended the Scholomance and became a Centurion.
Her father became the unofficial leader of the Cohort, and he suggested to the Clave that all Downworlders be registered. Zara helped her father promote the Registry, the Cohort, and fear of Downworlders.
The Dearborns became the center of many of the Cohort's movements. Whenever a comrade in the Scholomance or another Shadowhunter performed a deed that they could take credit for, they would set things up to discredit whoever truly did it while she claimed the deed, and her fellow Cohort members would back up her claims. One example was when Marisol Garza saved a group of mundanes from a Druj demon in 2011; they knocked Marisol out and Zara immediately took credit for the act, with her friends countering Marisol's later claims by saying she'd imagined her side of things.
To gain more power, they also plotted to get a hold of a powerful faerie charm. The Cohort demanded its surrender from the Rosales family, for which Zara became engaged to Diego Rosales in 2012, under the belief that she would need to be a Rosales to make it work.
In 2012, Zara was among the team of Centurions sent to the Los Angeles Institute to look for Malcolm Fade and the Black Volume of the Dead. She made a point of flouting her engagement with Diego in front of his ex-girlfriend, Cristina Rosales. During her stay at the Institute, Zara instated herself as the de facto leader of the Centurions and withheld information from the Blackthorns about the details of their searches and techniques.
Her father also hoped to take control of an Institute, because as head of an Institute, he could be in a position to officially propose the Registry to be passed as a Law. Zara used her time at the Institute to sneak into Diana Wrayburn's office—when she did, she was seen by Ty who caught her in the act of going through her papers—and gather information about Arthur Blackthorn, whom his father knew from the Shadowhunter Academy and suspected was a lunatic, and thus provided weak leadership for the Institute. Realizing that the man was senile and that the Institute was ripe for taking, she exchanged letters with her father about him. Knowing that the Council was going to meet soon, he intended to submit her letter as evidence that he was unfit to run an Institute and would announce his own candidacy.
Shortly after, Malcolm showed himself to them and had an army of sea demons attack them at the Institute. With the Blackthorns gone, having sought refuge at the London Institute, when Malcolm disappeared and the sea demons' disturbance stopped after that night—due to Arthur's sacrifice and Annabel's murder of Malcolm—Zara was able to easily take credit of Malcolm's death and let the Centurions take credit for driving away the sea demons. This earned her the respect and admiration of many Shadowhunters, to the point where she was being put forth as the great new Shadowhunter of her generation—the next Jace Herondale, to the chagrin of the people who know the truth about her.
When Annabel herself was called to a Council meeting, where Julian made her testify that she had in fact killed Malcolm, Zara shrieked that she was lying and proceeded to throw barbed comments about her being unfit to testify, contributing to Annabel going temporarily mad and wielding the Mortal Sword as a weapon, killing Livvy Blackthorn and the Inquisitor, Robert Lightwood.
After the disastrous meeting, Zara's father took advantage of the people's fears and immediately rose to power as the new Inquisitor. Horace didn't waste time in pushing for the Registry. Zara continued to pose as a hero to the public, with a tapestry declaring her a "Clave hero" being made for her. Zara also continued to antagonize Emma Carstairs and the Blackthorns. She also claimed Cortana, Emma's sword which had been passed down through generations of the Carstairs family, which they'd confiscated after it broke the Mortal Sword.
She continued to work hand-in-hand with her father: she covered up Emma and Julian's absence—after they were sent to Faerie on a suicide mission by her father, pursued Diana and even their Consul Jia Penhallow as traitors, and threatened her ex-fiancé Diego, specifically his younger brother Jaime's life, into giving up the faerie artifact Eternidad.
Zara stood by her father during the Cohort's staged parley with Oban's Unseelie army. When Livia's Watch, led by Julian, Emma, and others, arrived, a battle broke out. Zara was angered when Emma reclaimed Cortana. The two faced off, and, though she was defeated, Emma spared her life. Zara did not have the same moral reservations and went on to kill Emma when she was distracted by the appearance of a demon that took on Annabel Blackthorn's appearance. Emma's death and Julian's love for her, and vice versa, triggered their parabatai curse, causing them to turn into true Nephilim. The gigantic Emma tried to reach for Zara at one point, but Jace Herondale came in between them, saving her life.
After their defeat, Zara was among the surviving Cohort members who were incarcerated. Despite being prisoners, they were allowed to vote for their new Consul when Jia stepped down. Zara likely voted for their representative Lazlo Balogh, but Alec Lightwood ultimately won the vote and was elected as the new Consul. Zara, however, rejected the decision and announced that the Cohort would kill themselves before accepting Alec as their Consul. They demanded that Alec and his followers leave Idris to them, threatening to commit suicide if they didn't. To prove that they were serious, Zara prompted Amelia Overbeck to kill herself, which the girl did.
Alec agreed to their terms, surprising even Zara, leaving Idris to the Cohort and their most loyal supporters. Zara watched as the members of the Clave who refused to be ruled by them Portaled away.
A few months after the new clave was established, the ghost of Livvy Blackthorn travelled to Idris where she overheard Zara and Manuel Villalobos talking about how they wished that they could be out of Idris and that they wanted to start their grand plan to exact revenge on their fellow Shadowhunters who defeated them months before. 
Zara is an arrogant and boastful girl who takes credit for others' achievements. She attempts to appear cunning and skilled but in reality is slightly incompetent and rash rather than shrewd. While smart enough to graduate the Scholomance, Zara is only in the position she is due to her strong charisma, rather actual skills. Zara does appear to be beautiful and charming initially, but these are a facade that hides her true personality; that of a malignant narcissist with a severe need to control everything around her. Due to this when her lies and manipulations are exposed, she often reacts with hysterics and vitriol, rather than learning patience and a degree of detachment as Julian and Alec often demonstrate.
Zara is an unrepentant racist towards Downworlders and those affiliated with them and views herself and her family as superior to anyone who does not share her beliefs. She holds a degree of respect for the skills of Shadowhunters like Jace, Clary, and the others, but views them as being inferior Shadowhunters due to their peacemaking and love of Downworlders. This racism, taught by her father, has turned her into such a Shadowhunter supremacist that she would rather die and cut herself off from the world, than accept defeat and be forced to learn better. This fanaticism makes her especially dangerous and murderous when anyone poses a threat to them or ruins what she believes are her carefully laid plans.
- Lord of Shadows (first appearance)
- Queen of Air and Darkness
- The Lost World
- Secrets of Blackthorn Hall (mentioned only)
- For some reason, Arthur Blackthorn, in his usual state of delirium, confused Zara for Amatis Herondale.
- Cassandra Clare chose the name because she liked it as a variant for the name 'Sarah'.