The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1)

by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

3.76 of 5 stars 17 ratings • 6 reviews • 32 shelved
Book cover for The Iron Trial

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The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1)

by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

3.76 of 5 stars 17 ratings • 6 reviews • 32 shelved

From the imaginations of bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a heart-stopping plunge into the magical unknown.

Think you know magic?

Think again.

The Magisterium awaits . . .

Most people would do anything to get into the Magisterium and pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt.

Call has been told his whole life that he should never trust a magician. And so he tries his best to do his worst - but fails at failing.

Now he must enter the Magisterium.
It's a place that's both sensational and sinister. And Call realizes it has dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning. Call's biggest test is still to come . . .

  • ISBN10 0545522250
  • ISBN13 9780545522250
  • Publish Date 9 September 2014 (first published 1 September 2014)
  • Publish Status Active
  • Publisher Scholastic
  • Imprint Scholastic Press
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 295
  • Language English


Avatar for sa090

sa090 3 of 5 stars
I kind of picked this one based on the cover, something about it was insanely appealing and then I read the synopsis which made it seem like it won't be a complete waste of time. Long story short it wasn't, had it's up and downs for sure but overall I liked it.


First things first, this is clearly inspired by Harry Potter and personally I don't consider inspirations from famous series or basically having the same formula to be an awful thing but having them does raise the bar a little too high (considering the series the Magisterium series is getting inspired by, that bar goes up even higher) which is surely going to be difficult to live up to or surpass which happened to this series. Comparing between the series is pointless so I tried my best when reading not to do so but with the similar things between them it was a little difficult to draw that line more often than not.

I like seeing a journey of getting better at anything and if it's fantasy or magic based then that's even better. So while the Elements and whatnot was a fairly simplistic magic system, I didn't hate it nor did I think it was boring. It was actually interesting to know about and I was definitely interested to see more examples of how it can be used since the uses didn't seem to be confined to the 5 basic elements in their world but like the Avatar elements, they spread and expanded into others. Adding the monsters, and how they became as such with the constant reminders of their dangers or the danger of joining them made me hope to see it happen at some point and since it's just the first book I wouldn't think I lost my chance just yet.

Now the school system was another interesting concept but it wasn't that well presented imo. I mean the exam or the selection more like didn't really need much and moved on smoothly for me but when we got to the school itself and they started talking about the different colours of the uniforms it sounded like the explanation of who is a first year, second year or whatever year came from Callum himself when in reality he shouldn't know anything about that. I know that the authors most likely didn't intend for it to sound as such but that's what I got when reading it, having him ask and then be answered about them would've been a much better move imo because 1) it'll be more believable and 2) it'll actually stick better, since I still have no idea what uniform colours other than gray is supposed to be signify when it's just mentioned in passing.

One of my favourite parts of the book was Callum's "condition", it's spoiler territory there but in passing I really liked to see the impact on his life from it, not because I enjoy it when people suffer but I think that the end of his journey will feel more satisfying with it there. Speaking of him and going to the characters in the book, I don't have a favourite character at all which is pretty weird considering their abundance here but since they're not boring to read about I don't really care tbh. There were instances where I thought they were really really childish, especially Callum and Jasper but by the end there is a definite change.

Oh yeah one more thing, considering it's written by two authors I tip my hat to both for managing to write it together so smoothly and without making it feel disjointed. As a way to wrap this up, what do I hope to see more of? A little more world building, more lectures, more magic used in battles, maybe an adventure and I'm interested in seeing Aaron's journey as well so hopefully it won't disappoint.

Final rating: 3/5

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Kelly 4 of 5 stars
★★★☆ Stars.
I really enjoyed it. It does have glaring similarities to the Harry Potter series, but it was still a quick and entertaining read.

Review to come.

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Nessa Luna 2 of 5 stars
Read this review, and many more on my blog October Tune!

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This has not changed my opinion on the book in any way. This review might also have some spoilers, so if you haven't read the book but you want to, be careful. 

You all probably know how much I dislike Cassandra Clare. But when I heard about her writing a book that was NOT about the Shadowhunter world, I was both interested and not interested at all. When I read she was co-writing it with Holly Black, I was a (tiny) bit more interested. I had read one book written by Black (The Coldest Girl in Coldtown), and though I wasn't a huge fan of it, I found it likable. So yes, I decided I might give The Iron Trial a try, if I could find if for cheap.

And then, one day, I was surfing around on Netgalley, just looking at some of the books, when I came upon a galley for this book. I requested it, expecting I would never get accepted, but I did, and so I started reading it. Personally, when I read the summary, I found it very Harry Potter-ish, even the cover looked like it. The left kid (Callum) looked like Harry, the middle one (Aaron) looked like Draco and the girl on the right (Tamara) looked like a darker-skinned Hermione. The guy behind them looked a lot like a death eater. But all that aside, I was still curious to see if it really was like Harry Potter. And personally, I thought it did.

Right from the start already, there was a tragedy in which Callum lost his mum, there was someone trying to stop him from going to 'magic school', and there was a snobby kid that reminded me so much of Draco Malfoy. Throughout the story, I just started comparing a lot of things to Harry Potter, including the trio (yes Callum, Aaron and Tamara are a 'trio' hurray) hiding a chaos-ridden wolf puppy in their dorms which reminded me of Hagrid and Norbert(a) the Dragon. Sure, I might have been trying to compare everything to HP but if you know the history Clare has with stuff like this, you'd probably do it too. (I have a whole list of things that happened in this book that reminded me of events that happened in the entire Potter series, but I will not bore you with that right now).

To me, it felt like the entire book was written by Clare, because I couldn't really feel any of Black's influence, though that might have been because I've read two and a half books by Clare and just one by Black. Still, I would have loved to see more of a collaboration rather than this. The writing was just like TMI which I wasn't a fan of, and I found myself sighing a lot of times when there was an unnecessary word added to describe something (like 'his amber goggles', there were pretzels 'sparkling with salt', someone's bald head was 'as smooth as a macadamia nut' (seriously stop comparing people to food, you are not called Hannibal) and so forth).

Besides, I found the entire book boring and predictable (I had kind of figured out the ending already halfway through the book; okay, it kind if surprised me but not as much as the authors would have wanted it to I guess). Yes, some small exciting things happened, but other than that it was just them learning magic. And that happened very slowly. There were days where they were only moving sand, organising it into different colours. I even found the more exciting parts kind of boring, because I thought they weren't described really well. It all just felt weird and yeah I was just bored while reading this book. That is probably why it took me so long to finish it, it was boring and I really felt like not finishing the book and reading Harry Potter instead because there even the 'boring' parts are exciting. There were also so many things that didn't make sense. One of the Iron Year kids went missing, so they rallied up the entire school (including twelve year old kids) to go and search for him in the middle of the night, inside a forest that was apparently crawling with chaos-ridden animals.

Also the food at the school made no sense. They had weird looking food, like 'lichen' and mushrooms (that did taste like normal food, apparently) at the cafetaria, but at some point in the story the 'trio' got pizza for dinner and a normal breakfast after the incident with the kid going missing. Why not just give them actual food in the cafetaria as well? Is that so hard? This book felt like a trainwreck, honestly.

I did not relate to any of the characters at all, I found them to be bland and boring. Callum was a bit of a dumbass; sneaking a chaos-ridden animal into the school after being told they are dangerous and he could get thrown out of school for bringing one in. Sneaking into his Master's office to talk to his father after being told he had to wait until he was more settled. Stealing a damn chaos-ridden lizard from his Master's office and trusting that thing to take him back to his dorm. Seriously, Callum was a very dumb kid and I honestly don't get how he ever got into the Magisterium (okay, near the ending it kind of made more sense, but still). Sometimes, the twelve-year-olds didn't feel like they were twelve, but they felt much older by the way they acted and talked; and then at other points they felt a lot younger, like little kids. That really annoyed me, a lot.

In the end, I really disliked The Iron Trial, and I am not sure if I am going to continue reading the series. Perhaps if I can get them on Netgalley again, or at the library, but I will not be purchasing any of the books in this series.

My opinion on this book in one gif:

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lizarodz 4 of 5 stars
3.5 Stars

*Sigh* The truth is that I read The Iron Trial before its publication, but since then I have been trying to figure out how I felt about it and how to start this review. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as I expected it to be. I mean, we’re talking about Holly Black and Cassandra Clare so obviously I expected something grand, instead it was just okay.

I will just mention this right of the bat and get it over with: The Iron Trial does share many traits in common with the Harry Potter series. There’s no sugarcoating this fact that there are many similarities, so I won’t bother listing them here, instead let’s try to keep this review short and sweet.

Before someone tries to take my head off: I am in no way saying that the concept of a magic school is property of J.K. Rowling, so let me see if I can explain it better. The Burning Sky is about magic, there are even magic schools mentioned, there are magic wands, spells and potions, but that is something most books about magic may share. However, while I was immersed in the amazing world and story that Sherry Thomas created I didn’t think about Harry Potter. While I was reading The Iron Trial, I was comparing the book ALL the time. Well, that’s that.

The characterization in the Iron Trial is one of the things that it’s very different and original. Cal had been raised by his father to understand two things: magic is bad (it killed his mom), and he must fail the Iron Trial (entrance test for magic school.) The problem is that he’s wrong on both accounts. The person to blame for Cal’s confusion, unpreparedness, distrust, and loneliness is his dad. I cannot understand that man! I don’t want to give too much away, but I didn’t like him. Cal is very bitter and prone to jealously and deep mistrust. He’s had a difficult life (he’s only 12!) and it didn’t get any easier.

Aaron and Tamara are the other part of this trio of students that are under the same “master”. They study, train, eat and sleep together, and although there are a few misunderstandings at the beginning, they end up getting along and sticking together. I did like them (better than I liked Cal to be honest.)

The main setting is the Magisterium, the magical school that is in an underground cave. It sound really cool, for me personally would be kind of a nightmare, but that’s just me. There are interesting and unique things in these caves, such as the weird food, the “bracelet” system, the tests and things they do for fun. The writing is awesome, again, we’re talking about Claire and Black! The plot has one MAJOR twist that I didn’t see coming at all. It was sad and awesome at the same time. The concept of magic in The Iron Trial is different, it has more to do with the elements and with chaos.

Overall, The Iron Trial is a good beginning to the Magisterium series. I sure hope that Clare and Black manage to infuse more originality into the series and that the plot is enough hook the readers in. I will read the next book and see.

About the cover: It’s gorgeous! It has Cal, Aaron and Tamara inside the Magisterium (stalactites on the ceiling) and the Enemy of Death, wearing his mask.

Avatar for bookish_suz

The fantasy world of magic has been around for ages within the history of fiction and it's no surprise that both Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, have managed to written about it so wonderfully in their first collaboration together, The Iron Trial. The moment when I first discovered they were teaming up to write a novel together, I was immediately excited and intrigued. These are two of my favorite author's who are always on my auto-buy list and even though I don't usually read much Middle Grade fiction at all, I was definitely excited to get my hands on a copy of this for sure. I knew without a doubt that it would be an amazing story full of twists, turns, magic, and fantasy lore that I would fall in love with. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint in the least little bit.

I love how they took this magical world that they created, which did have Harry Potter-esque similarities, and created their own wonderfully unique and original spin on things. The idea of a magical school being recognized for the good the magic does in the world, as simply turned on its head and spun in a different direction, as the idea that maybe that isn't the case after all was highlighted as well. I loved this book for so many reasons, that it's completely unreal. Questions were raised, twists and turns happened, an ending that you weren't expecting happened, and so much more. One of the things that appealed to me the most, was the fact that the characters in this book were written in such a realistic way. They were described one way in the synopsis and you get the sense that they are going to be that and much much more, but when you start getting lost within the pages of The Iron Trial, you start to see that they are just regular twelve year old's dealing with normal things and then they have magic school on top of that. Their actions, the way they handle things, the insecurities, everything about them was like any twelve year old would be and that was definitely a breath of fresh air.

Callum was ever bit as mischievous and insecure, as any twelve year old boy his age would be. He lacked the tact that an older boy would have and he was more rash in his anger than I would have imagined him to be. Still, though, it worked so wonderfully well for his character, in the fact that he was able to come off looking and acting his age. You can look at this book in the sense that it's a story about a kid who was told all of his life that mages are dangerous and will do dangerous things to you if they get a hold of you, and that if you end having to take the test to get into the magic school that you potentially might have to attend, you better fail the test. At least this is the way that Cassandra Clare has described this character to be and I can see why she would, because that's exactly how I ended up feeling about him and his story this book had to tell. So the next question that naturally follows, is what happens when failing doesn't help to save him after all?

For me, that's such an interesting concept, that I couldn't help but jump on board with it and gobble it up, to see what would happen next.

All of the characters, including Call's friends Tamra and Aaron were so full of intriguing depth, that lent themselves very well to the story at hand. Charming and full of charisma, these characters were so much fun to get to know and the world of magic they found themselves in, the missions they took, were so amazing to experience with them. Watching them grow and evolve into a more mature twelve year old, was fantastic and I loved every single minute of it.

The world building was just as enjoyable as the characters and the plot of the book, though there were questions that were raised that I would have liked to have been answered, I'm hoping that the second book in this four book series is going to help to explain that. The handpicked groups of children from the different masters, helped to make the concept of magic school a little more original and unique. It definitely worked in Cassandra and Holly's favor, which made me love this book even more. Wonderfully developed and executed well, the plot of this novel was something else to read about. I had so many questions, very minor frustrations, and I never really saw the ending coming at all. This is something that definitely makes me want to pick up the next book in this series.

While there are things that I didn't quite understand about the ending, I am hoping the second book will explain that as well and help me to better understand it. This is just a first book in a series that I feel I am sure to fall in love with and will definitely end up on my auto-buy list, because the twists and swerves this book takes you are just as surprising as what you thought was going to happen next, was the exact opposite and sometimes you missed the mark completely. This is what I call a fantastic read with a lot of action, suspense, lots of surprises, and wonderful characters in store for you. I would definitely recommend this book to you, if you're the type of readers who enjoy fantasy books with endearing characters, interesting missions, and a little bit of mischief. The characters are real, the plot is a lot of fun, and the magic definitely makes the book worth reading.