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The Iron Trial (Magisterium, Book 1) Paperback – July 28, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—All his life Callum Hunt has been warned by his father that practicing magic is a guaranteed death sentence, the only certain way to make sure he doesn't reach his 18th birthday. When Call is summoned to attend the entrance exams for The Magisterium, a more-sinister version of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, he promises his father he will deliberately fail the test to avoid the dangerous lure of magic school. Unfortunately, magic is in Call's blood, and though his permanent limp and sarcastic attitude do not appear to serve him well during testing, he is selected with two other "Iron Years" to be a pupil of the greatest mage of all, Master Rufus. Black and Clare have created a unique world in The Magisterium, adroitly sidestepping reader fatigue with the many post-Harry Potter "magical academy" fiction series. The underground school's labyrinthine tunnels, mysterious caverns, and strange rivers are an alternately wondrous and creepy setting for this hero's quest. The diverse main trio's multidimensional portrayals leave aside easy characterizations in favor of complex motivations which add depth to each character. Best of all, a late-stage reveal of the novel's true hero and villain neatly turn fantasy tropes on their heads.—Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla, Darien Library, CT --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
* A thrilling coming-of-age story that embraces fantasy tropes while keeping readers guessing.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
A promising beginning to a complex exploration of good and evil, as well as friendship's loyalty.” Kirkus Reviews
The Iron Trial is a fun, heroic narrative. . . . A delicious must-read.” The Globe & Mail
This is an incredible book. . . . Once you've started reading, it's hard to put the book down.” The Guardian
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Top Customer Reviews
Here is where things get Harry Potter like. Callum is selected to take a test in order to be admitted into a magic school called Magisterium. Callum tries to fail, only to find himself an apprentice to the Mage Rufus. Together with Aaron and Tamara the explore the world to world of magic and the caves of the magisterium. Along the way they meet new friends and make new enemies. Callum befriends a fire lizard and a chaos driven wolf.
Callum has a special destiny as does his friend Aaron. All is revealed at the end. Callum finds out why his father does not want him learning magic. Constantine Madden has plans for Callum. The enemy of death, Constantine, brings foul magic into our world so as to cheat deTh. But immortality comes with a price.
Callum has always known his parents were mages. Callum’s dad however, hates and fears magic and is desperate to have Callum not be involved with any magic what-so-ever. When Callum hits twelve he is required to be tested for his magic ability and see if he is ready to enter the Magisterium. Callum and his dad hatch a scheme to ensure that Callum will fail all the magical testing and be free of the magical world forever. However despite his best efforts, Callum ends up admitted to the Magisterium and learning magic. He also finds out that learning magic is a lot more interesting and not nearly as deadly as his dad would have him believe.
I actually liked this book a lot. I loved the elemental magic and enjoyed the characters. I love the little elemental lizards and the Chaos ridden dog that Callum and his friends befriend. There is a lot in this book about being different and making friends. There are also a lot of fantastical scenes and creatures throughout which I absolutely loved. The way these scenes and creatures are described is wonderful and the scenes are easy to pictures and really come alive.
Callum is terrified of magic and originally a bit of an outcast. However, he is forced to work with two other students that are training with him and eventually they all end up working as a team. There is a lot of character growth here for all of the characters; I really enjoyed them all. There is a good mix of boy and girl characters too.
However, you can't help but draw a million parallels between this book and The Harry Potter series. I mean it's really, really similar in multiple aspects. You have the boy is should have died when he was a baby but didn’t (Callum). You have his two quirky friends (a girl and a boy) that end up being his sidekicks of sorts. You have the wise old mage who trains them (exactly like Dumbledore). Oh, and then there is the Magisterium (it’s like an underground Hogwart’s). Oh, and what about the Great Enemy who totally reminds me of Voldemort? The only thing really different is that the characters work with Elemental Magic.
The above being said, when I could quiet down my brain as is made constant comparisons to Harry Potter, I did enjoy it a lot. I think my son, who is just starting to read middle grade level books, will really really love it. Is this book as good as Harry Potter??...uh no not really. However it still is well written, fast-paced, entertaining and engaging. I really enjoyed reading it a lot and look forward to future books in the series.
Overall an excellent middle grade fantasy. Recommended to those who enjoy middle grade fantasy and can look past all the Harry Potter parallels. I enjoyed the magic, the fast-pace, and the characters. Honestly I haven't enjoyed a Holly Black book this much since the Spiderwick Chronicles.
It wasn't the best book I've ever read, but I thought it was very good overall.
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