The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black Review

Monday, 12 January 2015
The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1), by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black 
Published On: September 9, 2014, by Scholastic Press
Genre: Middle-Grade Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 299
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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 . . .

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!*

Cassandra Clare is the master of literature. I don’t care if she keeps on writing about Shadowhunters for the rest of her life, and I’m totally against all of the hate that she’s getting lately. But I do have to say that The Iron Trial was totally against my wishes and what I wish it could’ve been. This was a middle-grade book that was pretty much of a recap of Harry Potter, but with a little more mage and witchy stuff.

I’ve always felt embarrassed to admit that I haven’t ever read Harry Potter, and that I haven’t ever felt the need to. Some people may classify one as not a “real bookworm” if they haven’t given it the chance before, but hey—it’s not my type of good read. Mages and wizardry is against my liking, to be honest. I’m a diehard fan of fantasy, but I guess that this is icky to me.

“Don’t listen to it!” Tamara cried. “It’s a thing, not human—“Who would desire to be human? Human hearts break. Human bones shatter. Human skin can tear.”

I do have to say that this was a very delicate and well-formed story. The characters made decisions that I agree with, and what I’d do the same. At the same time, this was the impossible, but it also wasn’t at the same time. For people who enjoyed Harry Potter or Percy Jackson, then you guys are going to either love this or hate this, depending on your likes of a knockoff read. For me, this just gave me a first taste on this subject, and I was mildly impressed. The story focused on a magical-school type of setting. Most people would say that J.K. Rowling began it all, but of course there were even more signs of it in the past, before the literature master came along. I’ve seen different opinions on this subject, but with the fact that it was very similar to the popular novella series didn’t really bother me as I never had the chance to experience it. That, that was my opinion on the fact.

Shit, but the thing that did bother me was that I couldn’t see Clare’s usually sarcastic and passionate-fantasized ways in this book. I didn’t really see where her writing was getting picked up. But obviously, she did put tons of credit into the book—I’m not saying she didn’t. It’s either that her writing was very bland on this type of subject, or she wasn’t good at it. Never mind, this book was like a ‘tiny burp’ into the past. 

To be honest, the only reason why I did decide to read this book was because of Clare, as she is my favourite author of all time. Without her say into it, my copy would’ve been sitting back at the bookshelf, waiting for another preteen or HP-fanatic to come around. As I never have had a look into Black’s writing in the past, I didn’t really have any expectations for her side of this story.

I guess I’m too much of a fangirl, or some obsessed THG freak, but the whole ceremony where the mages were chosen when the parents were there did give me a tiny ‘Hunger Games’ moment. Obviously it was nothing like that, but I had a flashback. That whole ceremony did really piss me off, though. I was literally raging at the authors for making it so easy and unfair for them to just take Call like that. But then at the same time, where would this book be if the staff weren’t all rude and overtaking of everything, including preteens. I just felt a lot of guilt for Call’s father, as Call was all he had left. After the first few days when Call was at the Magisterium, I lost the ‘feeling’ of this book. 

Basically, the idea’s straight and at the corner of your eye. Call is destined to become a mage, as the magic is found in his family, through his mother’s side, who is dead and was possibly killed at the time when she was also at the Magisterium, a magical school that is supposedly ‘safe and sound,’ especially for the mages who are destined to become strong and save the world. It’s your simple aspect of superheroes, but in a witchy sort of way. His father tells him to be afraid of magic, as he is worried that Call will get killed as his mother did, because of magic. He has to take The Iron Trial, a test that will see if Call is destined to have a future with magic. He tries so hard to fail, and they take him in, still, knowing that his power is the strongest amongst them all. 

"Buried under the earth where no one can find it," his father told him grimly. "There's no light down there. No windows. The place is a maze. You could get lost in the caverns and die and no one would ever know."

You know how the first books in a trilogy are usually those where the ‘learning and knowing’ aspect of everything happens? Like where the protagonist is a newbie and where the world-development comes at its fastest pace? This was exactly it, except in the tinier minimum. For half of the book, Call and the other two choices, Aaron and Tamara, are destined to work as a team for the next five years that they will be at the school. Obviously at first, things are difficult and he tries his best to get himself into trouble. But as he learns that his power is so strong, he realizes that it’s his job to learn more.

Besides, who doesn’t want to learn to fly? The actual learning of spells and action was so interesting, as I’ve never had to deal with a book with these aspects before. The plot may have been simple and we didn’t really find out a past behind most of the characters, but there were some action scenes that shocked me, including the ending.

YES, THE ENDING. Just look at the back cover of the hardcover edition of the book:

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

Chaos and good and bad certainly changed the whole book like hell. But to be honest, I'm not 100% sure if I'm even planning on reading the sequel. I guess I'll have to see the summary and the reviews before I give it a chance.

This was freaking middle-grade, people. I normally would’ve never read this book, but then again, remember that it’s Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. I hate middle grade, as the characters are usually so immature. Like I’m 14, and I probably wouldn’t want to read about 9 year olds. How old was Harry Potter when his first book came out? The writing was simple, and totally lacked depth and past. I didn’t really know anything about these characters except their current personalities.

Callum: He was the hero of the book, obviously. Everything had to go perfectly perfect for him in his little world of magic. I liked him, but he wasn’t any hero to me. He was powerful and everything, but I didn’t see anything special about him except his moodiness and his all-so-gracious magical skills. The ending really showed what he really wants to be as a mage. *says it sarcastically*

Tamara: This girl totally kicked ass. She wanted what she wanted, and because she was so cool, she got it. In her own way, she was mysterious but present at the same time. To be honest, she was my favourite character.

Aaron: He was a little dweeb, haha. He was likeable, and friendly, and I felt like he got pushed around a lot and didn't get too much attention from the people. Call basically ignored him half of the time.

For the most part, a lot of this book was focused on the world-development and the magical theories and ways of things. The plot lacked what I expected, and this was a total bore and misunderstanding compared to the other fantasies I’ve picked up on lately. Will I read the sequel? I’m not sure, but at least it was Cassandra Clare.

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