Book Review – The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Author – Kiera

I have so much I want to say about this book. I have a feeling words are going to erupt from my brain all over this post, so I’m going to try my best to be articulate!

From what I have seen online a lot of people are not giving this book the praise I think it deserves because it is ‘similar to Harry Potter’. If you break it down to it’s most basic elements, of course it will seem that way, but then that could be said for thousands of other books. Are The Hobbit and Game of Thrones the same because they both have dragons? No. Books can have the same elements and still be very different. Now with that little rant out of the way, here is what I think.

iron trial cover

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 . . .

The Iron Trial is the story of a boy called Callum Hunt, aka Call. He is a twelve years old, lives with his dad and has a mangled leg from an incident that also caused the death of his mother. Call is aware of magic as his father has been telling him about Mages and the abhorrent things they do for most of his life. He hopes that he will not develop magical ability, but to his dismay he discovers he has. He is summoned to the Magisterium (the school that teaches children to control their magic) for a test that will determine whether or not he will be enrolled. He is.

Away from his father, Call tries to remember all the horrible things he’s been told about magic, the masters and the school in general, but finds as time passes that he is enjoying learning about magic, and for the first time in his life he has friends. This is as much as I will tell you about the main story line, because any more information will spoil the plot twist.

I really enjoy the magic system in this book! Their magic is based on an elemental system – fire, air, water, earth and chaos, and use five principles.

1. Power comes from imbalance; control comes from balance.

2. All elements act according to their nature: Fire wants to burn, water wants to flow, air want to rise, earth wants to bind, chaos wants to devour.

3. In all magic, there is an exchange of power.

4. You can change a thing’s shape, but not it’s essential nature.

5. All elements have a counterweight. Fire is the counterweight of water. Air is the counterweight of earth. The counterweight of chaos is the soul.

To me, it just makes sense. You take energy from an element and have to stabilize the imbalance. I find things to be much more enjoyable when I can work it through in my mind and have an understanding of it all. Though, that could just be me.

The students are taken on by the masters of the Magisterium as apprentices, Call is chosen by Master Rufus, a place that is coveted by other students and as such causes discord between them and Call. There are two other apprentices chosen by Master Rufus, Tamara and Aaron. I enjoyed reading the relationship between the three students as they are made to work together as a unit, and form a bond that has them standing up for one another and fighting side by side.

The world building in this story is fantastic! I could picture the school with all it’s damp, moss covered hallways, cavernous rooms filled with stalagmites and rock formations, and the underground river systems used to travel quickly around the school. The pacing of the story was just right, revealing important parts of the worlds history and back story like bread crumbs, keeping me wanting to read more and more.

The only gripe I have is that time periods throughout the book are only briefly touched on, and we miss large chunks of time. It doesn’t detract from the story in anyway, if anything I can see why it is done this way, as it is a book aimed at children and it needs to keep them interested. I think it’s just me being selfish and wanting more.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book (can you tell?) and have already made my husband start reading it. It is funny, creepy, frustrating and endearing. Read it!

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