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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Review: 'The Iron Trial'

The Iron Trial (Book One of Magisterium)
By Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Fantasy MG
September 2014
Scholastic Press
ISBN: 978-0-545-52225-0

First, a fangirl moment. Holly Black is one of the most imaginative YA and MG novelists we have right now. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was a chilling, spooky YA novel with unexpected twists and an engaging protagonist. Doll Bones is a spectacularly successful MG horror novel with great characters, a plot that makes sense and some rather goosebumps-raising moments.

Teaming with Mortal Instruments, Infernal Devices and Bane Chronicles author Cassandra Clare, here is another story that is not the same as everything else out there.

The Iron Trial is the first book in the Magisterium series. It not only builds on the tropes so many learned to adore with Harry Potter, it’s a complete turnaround of what readers expect a hero’s journey to be. Callum Hunt, as a baby, survived a massacre of mages in a war against the Enemy of Death. His mother died after carving the message "Kill the Child" with her last breaths. His father, a strong mage himself, has kept Call from magic or knowing much about any of this for his entire life.

But now that he is 12, he has been called to take part in a series of tests to see if he qualifies for training at the Magisterium, where mages learn to control their power. Those who fail have their magic bound at the end of the first year, knowing only for the rest of their lives that they are missing an integral part of themselves.

Call is on orders from his father to fail. His father doesn’t want him there; Call thinks he will be harmed. Despite his best efforts to fail, he is chosen by one of the most talented mages. And now he’s torn. What if he could be good? And now, for the first time, he has friends. And he’s kinda good at this magic after all.
The training that Call and his new friends undertake, the friendships formed and Call's journey into discovering why he is different unfold with steady pacing. The world-building and character development work together very well here. The ending is an ending but also shows how the second book will continue Call's journey.

Whether recommending to a teacher for read-aloud because of the plot twists, or to readers who think all fantasy is the same or those ready for something that goes beyond Hogwarts, this is a book to put in their hands.

©2014 All Rights Reserved CompuServe Books Reviews and reprinted with permission

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