Iron Trial; Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

iron trial


I bought this book because I read and enjoyed works of both authors, so I decided to take a chance on their collaboration.

*    *    *

His whole life, Callum Hunt’s dad has warned him about the Magisterium. If he passes the Iron Trial, and joins the society of magicians, he will die. After all, they got Call’s mother killed–and many others with her.

But his best efforts to fail don’t fool the judges, and he’s swept away to a magic school far from home and any hope of escape. Somehow he has to convince them to send him home, before he gets too far into the tempting but dangerous world of elemental magic.

They have a saying Call adds a last line to, about the nature of magic:

“Fire wants to burn
Water wants to flow
Air wants to rise
Earth wants to bind
Chaos wants to devour
Call wants to live.”

There’s inevitable comparisons to Harry Potter, but this is a magic school story like many others, many of which you could draw comparisons to if you wanted.

Magic school checklist:

There’s a remote and atmospheric location, in this case a maze of caves deep underground.

Mystical and frightening–and very rarely helpful–creatures in the school.

Teachers who range from horrifying to eccentric, and rather impractical lessons.

A hidden secret which will have wide reaching consequences.

And, of course, the camaraderie between students, bonds that lead to grand adventures, and heights of bravery an individual wouldn’t likely reach on their own.

This book hits all of those, but just as there’s similarities to many books in the genre, differences abound. One particular twist on the idea of prophecy promises to have interesting consequences. And though I admit Call’s nickname caught my attention in a negative way, that’s a minor complaint. Call’s story is compelling, and the world of magic dark and quirky. The other characters have dimension, and this first book is a promising start to the series. Let the comparisons go, and read this book for what it is, and you’ll likely find it enjoyable.




About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

2 responses »

  1. Marcia says:

    Good review, Caitlin. LOVE the cover on this one. So, it’s YA? Or like Harry Potter, all ages? Doesn’t matter to me, but just curious. It sounds pretty cool, even though I’m ambivalent about Cassandra Clare. (LOVED her Clockwork Angel series, did not love the “City” series, which I felt never lived up to the beautiful writing in Clockwork). But this one sounds tempting.

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