The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare was my second read of Bout of Books 12, and I quite enjoyed it.
Genre: Middle grade/young adult, fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
299 pages, hardcover
Check out the synopsis on Goodreads.
Call’s father has always told him to stay away from magic, that magic is what killed his mother, and so unlike the other kids at the Iron Trial, he wants to fail. Unfortunately, one of the teachers at the Magisterium, Master Rufus, sees something in him, and suddenly Callum Hunt is somewhere he’s been warned will kill him.
If you want to see how I would describe The Iron Trial in pictures, check out my challenge post from Bout of Books.
I think my favorite part of this book was Call. He’s not your average protagonist. He’s kind of a jerk (seems like I like jerk main characters. Remember my review of Firecracker?). He’s abrasive, insubordinate, says the wrong things, and pushes people away when they try to befriend him. It takes a little while to understand him and why he does this, but once you do, you can’t help but care for him.
A lot of people have compared (or criticized) this book to Harry Potter – there’s a young boy who goes to magic school, befriends another boy and girl, and has to fight an evil wizard. Okay, yes, those are indeed very similar to HP, BUT The Iron Trial is also unique. The magic is probably the main way it’s different – mages use the elements to create and change and destroy. The focus is on nature and the elements, which is really cool. There are creatures called elementals who’ve been consumed by their element, and chaos-ridden animals and people who have a piece of the void inside them. I’m not going into the whole Clare debate blah blah blah. I liked the magic, characters, and ideas, and that’s what matters.
I felt that Call’s friends – Tamara and Aaron – as well as the other characters were well-developed and full. On the other hand, I think there were a few too many minor characters and I would constantly be confused which character was doing what.
One last thing: No one, and I mean NO ONE, will see that twist coming at the end. It was wholly unexpected, a crazy twist that was both awesome and strange. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book.
The bottom line: The Iron Trial is a fun, unique take on magic school and child wizards. I had a few issues (too many minor characters; middle that was a little drawn out), but I enjoyed it overall. I loved the main character and the world that Holly Black and Cassandra Clare have created.
Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic
Have you read The Iron Trial? What did you think?