Sunday, 14 September 2014

Review: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Doubleday Children's
Released: September 11th 2014
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Think you know magic?

Think again.

The Magisterium awaits . . .

Most people would do anything to get into the Magisterium and pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt.

Call has been told his whole life that he should never trust a magician. And so he tries his best to do his worst – but fails at failing.

Now he must enter the Magisterium.

It's a place that's both sensational and sinister. And Call realizes it has dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning. Call’s biggest test is still to come . . .

From the imaginations of bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a heart-stopping plunge into the magical unknown.
 (from Goodreads)

The Iron Trial was a really enjoyable book, and I can see it becoming very popular with a lot of younger readers.

Callum was a likeable protagonist and not what I was expecting. I really liked that initially, he didn't want to go to the Magisterium. He was afraid of magic after growing up with his father who drilled it into him that magic was dangerous and the Magisterium only wanted to use people and risk their lives. I was very intrigued as to why Callum's dad was so afraid of the Magisterium (the prologue definitely got me wondering why Callum's mother left that message) and I enjoyed the way things were revealed to us throughout. Callum was a bit impetuous and sometimes acted on some bad ideas, but he was only twelve so I can't really blame him for that.

Tamara and Aaron were initially not really sure what to think of Callum. Tamara was very clever and a bit hostile towards him at the start, and Aaron tried to be kind but didn't really understand why Callum acted the way he did. They eventually became friends and each had their own backstories and hardships, which enabled them to bond and become closer. I have to admit, while I did like all the characters, and especially the reveal about Aaron which I didn't expect, I did feel that their friendship was maybe a little rushed? I don't know, I just wanted more interaction between them all. This book has been compared a lot to Harry Potter, and I guess there were similarities, but I didn't feel the same level of closeness and understanding that I did with the Harry Potter trio (I know that's a hard thing to achieve, so it wasn't a huge problem). In this book it was just more "and then they were friends" and I didn't really feel why they suddenly trusted each other so much. That being said I did really enjoy the time they spent together when they were learning and doing magic-y things.

Plot-wise - I don't know how to explain without spoilers, but I really liked the main storyline. I'm so looking forward to seeing how Callum is going to deal with what he's learnt, especially concerning Aaron, in the future books. It actually sort of reminded me more of the Simon Snow series in Fangirl than Harry Potter - though Simon Snow was inspired by HP so there is that. The most HP part was that the Enemy (the villain) had the main goal of trying to "conquer death" which was very Voldemort-esque. But then I'm sure lots of stories have similar themes. The mini-prophecy towards the beginning of the book came into play by the end and it was clever how it connected. And I absolutely adored Havoc, the Chaos-ridden wolf cub who was just so cute. I definitely want to find out more about the elements and how they work, and also more about Warren, because he was a curious character indeed. There were a few things that I thought were a bit unbelievable and unnecessary - the whole eating lichen and mushrooms and having it taste like normal food was odd. Why didn't they have access to normal food? And I'm sorry, but the texture of lichen and mushrooms is never going to be like a hamburger, even if it does taste like one. I also found the test to get into the Magisterium a bit unrealistic. I mean, if the parents didn't know their kids were applying for a magic school, wouldn't they find the whole method of testing odd? They just let their kids leave for this place as soon as they passed the test! They just got on a bus and left that same day. And they all seemed to come from the same place - though maybe other tests were happening simultaneously around the country? Hopefully we'll find out more in the next book, which I am really looking forward to.

Overall, The Iron Trial was a great start to a new series, and will definitely appeal to fans of magical stories.


  1. Well, that's interesting
    I am definitely a great fan of Cassandra Clare, I hope I like this one
    GREAT review
    Your reader,

  2. sounds so cool! Thanks for the great review :)

  3. I'm sort of fascinated by the idea of co-writing a book. I can't imagine what it must be like.

    And whoa, being compared to HP gives it a lot to live up to!

  4. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one, Liz! I still haven't read anything by Cassandra Clare, but my kid and I all loved Holly Black's Spiderwick Chronicles! This sounds like a fun story, and yes, I agree---the dynamic between the three mains in HP would be nearly impossible to live up to!

  5. Glad this one was a winner for you! I've been hearing some mixed things but am really looking forward to giving it a try.


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