Book: The Iron Trial
Author: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Standing: Book 1
POV: 3rd person by Call, past tense
Genre: children's fantasy
Source: Physical copy
Release: September 9th 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Favourite line: "They all yelled in excitement. Tamara yelled because she was happy, Aaron yelled because he liked it when other people were happy, and Call yelled because he was sure they were going to die."
Rating: 4 Stars
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 . . .
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This is not a Harry Potter rip-off. It's a unique story, with very different characters and a completely different concept of magic. When I saw that this was being co-written by Cassandra Clare, I knew I had to pick it up, if not just to see the differences between her Shadowhunter series and this. I expected nothing less than good, and I wasn't disappointed.
The story tells of Callum Hunt, who is reluctant to attend the Magisterium. All his life, his father has taught him that magic is bad news, and that becoming a mage would indefinitely result in a very painful end. When it comes time for Callum to take the test to see whether or not he qualifies to go, he tries his hardest to fail. But it backfires on him, and he has no choice but to go, having been taken on as an apprentice to one of the mages of the school.
I particularly liked the individual backstories of the characters we're introduced to. Everyone comes from different families, is raised differently, and it shows in their personality. Tamara's parents demand nothing less than excellence, which puts an intense amount of pressure on her to do well, sacrificing her own happiness. Aaron comes from a foster home, and tries to make the best of every situation. Even Jasper's background is complex; he comes from a family who has lost everything, and as such is relying on Jasper to help bring them back up again. I also particularly enjoyed that fact that there was a wide range of diversity in the cast, rather than everyone simply being white. All these backgrounds are uniquely different, and they are also very realistic upbringings that some people have in the real world.
(Next paragraph is slightly spoilery. Note that I put "slightly," thus I won't put it under a cut or anything. Else skip down to the last paragraph to continue reading.)
The story isn't your typical one: the main-character-is-bad-at-magic-but-it-turns-out-he's-one-of-the-most-powerful-and-then-he-is-able-to-save-the-world-because-of-it. That role actually goes to someone else, someone close to Call. Instead, Call finds himself in the exact opposite: he's inherently evil, and is destined to stand against one of his friends, who is the supposed "saviour." Upon discovering the truth of his identity, Call chooses to keep it a secret, which will ultimately propel the story forward in further books.
The world was rich with description, describing an elaborate maze of caves filled with stalagmites and stalactites, glittering and amazing. Everything from the food they ate to the games young mages would play in their free time were all very well thought-out. I'm looking forward to the next book, as I'm very curious to see what becomes of Call and his friends!
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