Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Read - The Iron Trial (Magisterium, Book One)

The Iron Trial (Magisterium, Book One)
by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
295 pages

'Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst -- and fails at failing.

Now the Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .

From the remarkable imaginations of bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a heart-stopping, mind-blowing, pulse-pounding plunge into the magical unknown.


 I've had this book on my Amazon wish list for a while but I'd heard such grumblings about it being a total Harry Potter ripoff that it never really became a top priority for me.  I was quite surprised when I got this (and the second book) for Christmas!  And now I've finished reading it and can easily say that I really enjoyed it!

Of course people are going to compare it to Harry Potter.  I think any book with a school of magic and a trio of kids is going to be slammed with comparisons.  This sort of leaned more towards the Percy Jackson books to me though.  I'm not familiar with author Holly Black (at least not that I can remember offhand) but Cassandra Clare wrote the Mortal Instruments series and all the companion series to that, and I have enjoyed those.  One thing I noticed right away, and found a little refreshing, is that main character Callum is not this immediately likeable type of character.  At least he wasn't to me.  He comes across as kind of dumb and tends to say awkward things, like someone who speaks all of their thoughts.  He's sort of bumbling and, well, I just didn't really like him early on.

In this series, kids go to a testing day to see if they even show enough magic ability to continue.  At the end of the day, the Masters (teachers) pick their apprentices out of the kids who have made it through.  A Master can pick up to five kids.  Master Rufus, who is one of the greatest, picks Callum and two others.  It's a surprise to everyone that Callum is picked because although he did show that he has magic ability it was sloppy, uncontrolled, and just a big mess.  Callum's father is horrified to learn his son has actually been picked.  He's been anti-magic and totally against the Magisterium since his wife (Callum's mother) was killed in the mage war.  He absolutely did not want Callum to follow in his footsteps and attend that school, and he'd been working with Callum on how to *not* get selected.  Callum made it though, and off to school he goes.

The two other kids in Master Rufus's group of course become Callum's best friends.  They have mishaps and adventures.  There is the obligatory snotty kid in another group, one who hates Callum for being chosen by the great Master Rufus.  They eventually find out that one of the others in Callum's group possesses a rare and special kind of magic.  He is sort of The Chosen One, the one the mage world has been waiting for because it's only this kind of magic than can defeat The Enemy of Death, the powerful villain of this series.

Mystery surrounds Callum though.  Why would his mother leave a dying message scratched into the wall that said 'Kill the child!'?  What did his father mean in his heated exchange with Master Rufus on testing day before he was dragged out of the room by security?  When his father threw his mother's dagger at him while being dragged out, was it thrown AT him or TO him?  Why is his father so distant now that Callum is attending the Magisterium?  What did his father mean when he told Callum "You don't know what you are."  And why was his father trying to contact Master Rufus, pleading with him to bind Callum's magic?  A lot of the questions seem to have obvious answers, and when they are finally answered your first thought might be that it's an incredibly cheesy and stupid twist.  That's what I thought at first.  I was absolutely like "Nooooooo!  Whyyyyyyyy!"  but then as I kept reading it showed me how complex this situation really is.  The ripple effects are far reaching, and this book has gotten me thinking and pondering and having fun with it like I haven't in a long time.  There is cleverness in this storytelling.  There are things you think are obvious clues that turn out to be nothing (yet) and there are fairly obvious clues that lead you to the answers but there are always moments of 'But wait . . . ' as you think you're piecing the mystery together.

I'm very happy to have finally given this series a chance, and have already dived into the second book.  I like that these are shorter books, with this first one just under 300 pages.  It's a middle-grade series, so things don't get too bogged down or complicated.  I really enjoy middle-grade books for that reason.  Sometimes you just need a quick and easy story to give your mind a break, or to get it going again.

If you like the Harry Potter or Percy Jackson books, I think you'll like this one too.


  1. Ok. You sold me on this series. At first I was leery since I did not care for the Bane Chronicles she co-authored with another person but if you say this one is good then I will try it out.

    1. I hope you like it! I always get anxious when I hype something up and others end up thinking 'Meh.' LOL