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Emma Carstairs

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CJ Jem 06
“I cannot be sure, though I think it has something to do with
the clarity of them.”

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Emma Carstairs
CJ Flowers, Emma
Biographical Information
Full name: Emma Cordelia Carstairs
Born: 1995
Age: 12 (in December 2007)
17 (by August 2012)
Status: Alive

Ems(by Julian)
Memma (by Tavvy)




Los Angeles Institute


The Clave


John Carstairs † (father)
Cordelia Townsend † (mother)
Jem Carstairs (distant relative)
Carstairs family

Parabatai: Julian Blackthorn
Physical Description
Gender: Female
Hair color: Blond
Eye color: Brown

Emma Carstairs is a Shadowhunter that has lived most of her life in the Los Angeles Institute with the Blackthorn family.


Early life

Emma was born in 1995 to Cordelia and John Carstairs. Living in Los Angeles, the Carstairs family maintained good relations with the Blackthorns. Not only did she spend most of her time at the local Institute to train, but Emma also became good friends with the children residing in the Institute, the children of the head, Andrew Blackthorn.

Emma became particularly close with Julian Blackthorn, whom she has known since they were both young and has since grown up with.

Dark War

In December 2007, Emma was dropped off by her parents at the Institute to train with her friends, the Blackthorn children. Shortly afterwards, Sebastian Morgenstern arrived and wreaked havoc. Eventually, Emma and the other children escaped through Portal and arrived at Idris.

There, she was told that her parents died the same evening. Good friends and now both orphans, Emma and Jules mourned and helped each other through the ordeal. During the investigation afterwards, Emma and the others were all brought in front of the Clave, all of them questioned with the Mortal Sword, inciting her fury. To help ease her pain, she was approached by Clary Fray, and both took a liking to each other.

At one point, Emma stole her parents' file from the Consul. With it, she realized that her parents in fact died under strange circumstances, though because of the situation, the Clave decided to blame the deaths on the Dark Shadowhunters. Her resolve was since formed, and Emma made it a goal to find out the truth behind her parents' deaths. After the Dark War, the Clave planned to either send Emma to distant relatives in different countries, or the Shadowhunter Academy in Idris. Realizing that she needed to stay in Los Angeles, she accepted Jules' offer to become parabatai, and the Clave had no choice but to send her back to los Angeles with the Blackthorns.

Before leaving Alicante with the Blackthorns via Portal, Jace Herondale, a famous Shadowhunter whom she idolized, gave her his first stele.

During the battle, a former Silent Brother called Zachariah went to great lengths to protect Emma and the Blackthorn children. Unbeknownst to her, Zachariah is in fact a distant relative—Jem Carstairs. While he did not tell her who he was, he hinted at it by referring to her by her full name. After the war, it was not only her new friend Clary who worried about her, but also Jem and Tessa Gray, both of whom decided to return to Los Angeles to keep an eye on Emma.[1]

When she first moved in with the Blackthorns, she felt that she had to create her own niche within their family. In between training sessions, Emma went to antique stores and sales and bought odd knick-knacks, toys, old books, and magazines to share with the Blackthorn children.[2] However, she maintained separation from them as well, picking a bedroom in the opposite wing of the Institute to denote that she was still a Carstairs.[3]


In December of 2009, Emma and Jules at around fourteen years old had their parabatai ritual. Clary stood as Emma's witness, per her request, and Clary's best friend Simon stood as Julian's.[4]

On the day of the ceremony, just before they started, Jem took Emma aside and supposedly told her about him being a Carstairs.[4][5][6]

Emma later attended Jem and Tessa's wedding on the Blackfriars Bridge in London in 2009.[1]

Later life

Being exposed to violence at a young age caused Emma to dedicate her life not only to hunt down those responsible for killing her parents, but also to ridding the world of demons and striving to become the fastest, fiercest, most determined Shadowhunter since Jace Herondale.

Living at the Institute as a ward, Emma became great friends with the newcomer Cristina Rosales, whom she met when Julian Blackthorn was in England. Her feelings for her parabatai Jules also unfortunately developed further, though she knew that she cannot act upon it as it is forbidden to be with him by Shadowhunter Law. Over the course of five years, Emma continued to harbor these secret feelings for him; however, Emma chose to divert her attention elsewhere and has had a couple of Shadowhunter boyfriends during that time. By August 2012, she has been in an on-and-off relationship with Cameron Ashdown.[3] Emma then fell harder for Julian, and they shared their first time after Julian rescued Emma.

Personality and traits

Oh dear, did I just drop that giant broadsword on your head? I guess I did! Must be because I'm blonde.

–Emma, Cassandra Clare on Tumblr

Emma likes to fight, train and kill things—it's her passion. She is a fierce warrior and is very skilled for someone her age, attaining her aptitude by striving hard towards a purpose. She is also said to be sarcastic but is easily offended and has a temper; for instance, telling blonde jokes in front of her is a good way to find yourself at the hospital. She fights left-handed and is especially caring towards the Blackthorns.

She is incredibly driven and accounts for her status as the best shadowhunter of her generation as being a result of her determined training (jumping off heights that lead to her breaking her legs or practicing her fighting on broken glass).

Physical description

Emma has brown eyes, blond hair that Julian describes as pale blonde, which is usually braided back or up in a bun for efficiency's sake but keeps it long for sentimental reasons, and pale skin. As an effect of working extraordinarily hard at her training, her body is strong and tough. She has a bad scar up her right arm, which she got when she was young for hugging her sword Cortana, that she's both proud of yet a little self conscious about. Emma is described to be extremely attractive by numerous characters including Julian and Kit.

Skills and abilities

  • Nephilim physiology: Being Nephilim, Emma possesses a variety of enhanced physical and mental abilities granted to her by the blood of Raziel in her veins and also by the angelic Marks of the Gray Book. She also has power to perform tasks unique to their species, such as the ability to use and call on the power of angels for their seraph blades. This includes enhanced strength, agility, stamina, and coordination, which only improves over time and practice—something which Emma has enough of, given that she is pretty determined to become the best Shadowhunter of her time.
  • Runic magic: Due to the angel 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.


  • Stele: Emma owns a stele given to her by Jace Herondale, whom she idolized, when she was twelve. It has a handle made from carved demon bone.[7][8]
  • Cortana: A sword that has been passed down through the Carstairs family for generations. A shortsword with a simple bare blade, save for the inscription down the blade, describing its forging, which reads, "I am Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durendal."
  • Others: Emma apparently favors the repeating crossbow and wind-and-fire wheels as her primary weapons.



Emma and Julian are parabatai, and the best of friends. Julian and Emma have spent their whole childhood and have grown very close. In August 2012 Julian and Emma realized that they have developed a feelings for each other that two parabatai are not supposed to have—love. When Emma nearly drowned in the water, Julian lost his temper which led them to have sexual intercourse on the beach. After Emma found out the real reason behind the parabatai forbidden love, she pushed Julian away to save him. In order to convince him that she didn't love him, she asked Mark to pretend they are in a relationship.

When Emma was little she had a crush on Mark, but grew out of it after Mark joined the Wild Hunt.

When Mark returned, they became close friends. Mark is always honest with Emma in the sense that he told her about his decision in staying with his family and not in the Wild Hunt. After Emma called off things with Julian, she went to Mark and asked him to pretend to date her, to which he responded by asking why they have to pretend.


Emma and Cristina first meet when the latter arrived to Los Angeles to study foreign Shadowhunting methods. The two became fast friends, going together on missions and supporting each other. Cristina became Emma's first female friend within her age group.

Emma met Clary for the first time when she was on trial by Clave during Dark War. Clary was the one who comforted her after Emma's trial by Mortal Sword. The two became friends and kept in touch since.



See more here


Emma's middle name, Cordelia, which was possibly derived from her own mother's name.


  • Emma has become terrified of the ocean because of the cause of her parents' death; though she is capable of traversing the waters, Emma "has nightmares about being pinned down at the bottom of the ocean with thousands of tons of black water on top of her."[9]
  • She keeps knives in her boots and likes to drive fast.[11][12]
  • Emma, unlike her ancestor Jem and her father, is a terrible violin player.[13][14]
  • As of 2013, Emma has already lost her virginity.[15]
  • She was initially meant to have dark blue eyes before it was changed to brown.[16]
  • Emma does not like coffee, but she likes the feeling of holding a hot mug.[3]
  • Emma's father, John Carstairs taught her how to recognize different instruments by sound.
  • Emma has a trunk full of her parents' belongings, including the suit her father wore to his wedding.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 City of Heavenly Fire
  2. A History of Notable Shadowhunters & Denizens of the Downworld
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Lady Midnight
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Fiery Trial
  5. "At her parabatai ceremony." Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  6. "Both." Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  7. Deleted scene from CoHF mini-comic featured in Target's special edition of CoHF
  8. "Jace gave her his stele, remember?" Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  9. Water demons — Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
  10. "Yes it is connected!" Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  11. Something about Emma #1 — Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  12. Something about Emma #2 — Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  13. "Emma is terrible at violin so who knows!" Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  14. "She'd be so bad at it! " Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  15. Virginity addressed by Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  16. "CC changed the colors when she described her to me." Cassandra Jean on Twitter

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