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Emma Carstairs

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Emma Carstairs
X Tarot Runes Queen
Biographical Information
Full name: Emma Cordelia Carstairs
Born: 1995
Age: 12 (in 2007)
17 (by August 2013)[1][2][3]
Status: Alive
Species: Shadowhunter
Residence: Los Angeles Institute
Allegiance: The Clave
Parabatai: Julian Blackthorn
Family: Jem Carstairs (distant relative)
John Carstairs † (father)
Cordelia Townsend † (mother)
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.


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.[4]

Later life

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.[4]

Emma attended Jem and Tessa's wedding on Blackfriars Bridge in 2009, where she was seen hugging Jem, whom she may or may not already know is a Carstairs.

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. Her feelings for her parabatai Jules also unfortunately developed further, though she knows 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.[5][6][7]

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.[8] She fights left-handed and is especially caring towards the Blackthorns.

Physical description

Emma has brown eyes, pale blond hair, 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.

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.[9][10]
  • 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.[8]



See more here


Emma's middle name, Cordelia, was either derived from her own mother's name, or the name of a distant Carstairs ancestor, Cordelia Carstairs, or both.


  • Because of the nature of her parent's death, Emma has become petrified of the ocean; specifically, Emma "has nightmares about being pinned down at the bottom of the ocean with thousands of tons of black water on top of her."[11]
  • She keeps knives in her boots and likes to drive fast.[12][13]
  • Emma, unlike her ancestor Jem and her father, is a terrible violin player.[14][15]
  • Emma and Jules are set to have their parabatai ritual around the time when they are both fifteen, two years before Lady Midnight.[16] Best friends Clary Fray and Simon Lewis, who intend to become parabatai themselves, are set to witness the ritual, upon Emma's request in The Fiery Trial. Emma is also set to find out that Brother Zachariah is Jem Carstairs at their parabatai ceremony, the story which will be included in the aforementioned Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy and The Dark Artifices.[17][18]
  • As of 2013, Emma had already lost her virginity.[19] By 2013, she has a red-headed boyfriend at the beginning of Lady Midnight, possibly Cameron Ashdown.[20][21][22]
  • She was initially meant to have dark blue eyes before it was changed to brown.[23]
  • Emma is afraid of the ocean. The cover of Lady Midnight is also connected to that fear.[24]


  1. Jemma's ageCassandra Clare on Twitter
  2. Further confirmation — Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  3. "Emma is seventeen" - Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  4. 4.0 4.1 City of Heavenly Fire
  5. "Dozens." Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  6. "She's only dated Shadowhunters before TDA." Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  7. "She's had a few. Not an unusual amount." Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  8. 8.0 8.1 The Blackthorns and their friends — Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
  9. Deleted scene from CoHF mini-comic featured in Target's special edition of CoHF
  10. "Jace gave her his stele, remember?" Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  11. Water demons — Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
  12. Something about Emma #1 — Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  13. Something about Emma #2 — Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  14. "Emma is terrible at violin so who knows!" Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  15. "She'd be so bad at it! " Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  16. TDA snippet — Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
  17. "At her parabatai ceremony." Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  18. "Both." Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  19. Virginity addressed by Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  20. "She has a boyfriend at the beginning." Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  21. "[He] has red hair." Cassandra Clare on Twitter
  22. Lady Midnight excerpt (Teaser #8)
  23. "CC changed the colors when she described her to me." Cassandra Jean on Twitter
  24. Does it have anything to do with Emma's fear of the ocean?" Cassandra Clare on Twitter

Start a Discussion Discussions about Emma Carstairs

  • Emma Carstair's virginity

    20 messages
    • I think what upsets readers is that Emma and Julian are purposefully ignoring their feelings for each other. Emma sleeps with some guy, beca...
    • The situation is that we aren't sure about the strength of the romantic feelings of Emma and Julian at this moment. They are only teammates w...
  • Emma x Julian

    38 messages
    • CloveFoxface wrote:Compared to most other YA books where everyone seems to be straight or it is only shortly mentioned that a (minor) character...
    • If you check on goodreads on the summary of the wicked powers ( the series after tda) it says that  the main charcters will be two gay charact...

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