The Iron Trial
By Cassandra Clare and Holly Black
Released: September 9th, 2014
Genre: Children's Fiction
The Iron Trial is the first installment in the Magisterium series, which will consist of five novels total.
In this first book, Callum Hunt is living a rather normal and uneventful life, caught between the drudges of middle school and a home-life with an overprotective father. As a baby, he shattered his leg and, as a result, he’s left with a permanent limp and is teased mercilessly at school. He’s tired of always being picked last during games as well as sitting out some of the fun activities in gym. It’s during one the these mundane days at school that he,
The Iron Trial covers all three children’s first year at the Magisterium, known as their “Iron” Year. During the time, the children try their best to learn how to control their magic, which stems of the elements around them – fire, air, water, earth, and chaos. Halfway through the year, though, it is discovered that a Makar, a rare person who had control chaos, is at the school – and it’s right in their small group! While coming to terms with being the best friend of the Makar, Call tries his best to fit in and, against his father’s wishes, tries to keep his magic from being bound. Before too long, though, danger threatens the Makar and Call finally learns the history of his past. He’s left with an important decision – continue with magic and possibly hurt those he loves or having his magic bound and forget everything he has learned the past year. And it’s a decision he doesn’t make lightly.
It seems that everyone I know have been pretty split with this book. Either they like it well enough, or they don’t even want to read it because it’s too much like Harry Potter. I can understand why some people might be hesitant to read it, especially those of us who grew up with Harry Potter and adored it, but I feel that that’s a little unfair. Just because Rowling created an awesome world where people use magic, there can’t be other books where children learn magic? I just don’t think it’s fair to other writers or even other readers to limit themselves because ONE series was written about magic. And besides, it’s Cassie Clare. I love her work, so how can I NOT read it?
So, I went into this with an open mind and, for the most part, I’m glad I read it. It was a cute children’s read and I think there was enough variation from Harry Potter for me to enjoy it in its own rights. I especially liked the fact that their magic stemmed from the elements, as I haven’t read that many books that use that as a means to tap into magic. More often than not, magic is either tapped with a wand or comes from within, so it was nice to see the kids learn how to control their magic in combination with the elements around them. The inclusion of chaos magic is pretty interesting, too, and I look forward to reading more about how they include that in the plot.
That said, there were a few parts that DID remind me a little too much of Harry Potter. The fact that the Enemy of Death wears a mask and dresses in a black cloak? Yeah, that doesn’t sound like Death Eaters at all. But I was prepared to look over that – at least until I read the last few chapters, when Call eventually finds out who he really is. While the twist is definitely interesting and one I didn’t see coming (I’ll give Clare and Black props for that), I felt that it reminded me WAY TOO much of what happened to Harry when he was a baby and had the Horcrux placed in him.
Again, I’m not against books that involve kids going to magic school – hey, I love reading the stuff – but try not to make some of the plot elements parallel those that already exist. I just felt a little… betrayed as I read the last bit. I was so prepared to write a good review stating that it wasn’t the Harry Potter rip-off that everyone thought it was… *Sigh*
But, that said, there were still elements that gave the book its own little flair and, though the last twist reminds me some of HP, I’m still sort of interested in seeing how it plays out. I’ll probably read the next book, but it’s not one that I’m eagerly awaiting.