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Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
Hardcover, 295 pages
Published by Scholastic Press,
an imprint of Scholastic Inc., Publishers
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository |
Rating: 2/5 Stars

Synopsis: 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 . . .

Although most kids consider it a huge honor to pass the Iron Trial, Callum Hunt wants exactly the opposite. Call’s father has taught him to avoid all magic, and that entering the Magisterium means almost certain death. But no matter how hard Call attempts to fail his Trial, he does not succeed. However, even with his broken leg, Call begins to enjoy his time at the Magisterium. For the first time, he is able to make friends, and even enjoy learning magic. However, what Call doesn’t know is why his father is so against magic, or how his past weaves into his life as a mage.

As much as I wanted to love The Iron Trial, I simply could not. Even though the cast of characters was unique and intriguing, many elements of the book are too similar to the Harry Potter series for comfort. Even though I did like some of the world-building, there was not much of a real plot beneath it all. The pace was extremely slow, and there was a lot of unnecessary training and testing. For example, there were actually several chapters of the characters sorting sand into two piles. Even though this book had a few redeeming elements, overall I had too many problems with it to say that I found it enjoyable.


1) Each of the characters was unique, and engaged me fully in their story. I felt sympathy for each of their problems, and was interested in gradually learning their back-stories.

2) The world is well-built, with plenty of explanations of the history, problems, and different creatures that exist within it.


1) When I was just a few chapters into this book, there were already too many similarities to Harry Potter to count. There were two boys and a girl going to a school of magic, and the main character's mother was killed by a wizard who had turned evil in a magical war. Now, doesn’t that sound familiar?

2) I don’t think this book's pacing could have been any slower! There were literally several, long chapters describing the three kids sorting sand into two piles. There were numerous moments like this throughout the book, where all I wanted to do was skip ahead and read about things that actually had something to do with the plot.

3) There was a lot of info-dumping throughout the story, with lots of tedious explanations that ranged from magical history to the restrictions of magical power.

4) If asked what the plot of this book actually was, I wouldn't even know how to respond. Because there was so much focus on world and character building, there wasn't actually much of a storyline, which made me feel like there was no purpose to the entire book.

Favorite Quotes/Moments:

1) “They all yelled in excitement. Tamara yelled because she was happy. Aaron yelled because he liked it when other people were happy, and Call yelled because he was sure they were going to die.”

2) “Maybe by the time they were in their Silver Year, Master Rufus would communicate complicated theories of magic by the lifting of a single bushy eyebrow.”

3) “Warren knows the best way. Sometimes the best way isn’t the fastest.”

“Warren shouldn’t talk about himself in the third person,” Call said.


  1. I've had this book on my shelf for half a year now, and I have not read it yet! HAHA But awww, I'm sorry that you didn't really enjoy it. On the contrary, I'm quite curious to read it since you pointed out its similarities with HP. But anyway, great review tho :)

    Maryam @ Once Upon A Story

    1. Thanks :). I also have a bunch of unread books laying around. But I can definitely see what you're saying, all the Harry Potter similarities might not be a negative for everyone

  2. I actually liked this book and so did my kids, but we all noted the harry potter similarities. Perhaps the likeness is what made this book even better, though I see what you're saying. Great review!

    1. Thanks, and I see what you're saying too! A lot of HP similarities aren't necessarily a bad thing for everyone

  3. That's so ironic because before even reading the review, I saw the cover and thought "THAT LOOKS LIKE HARRY POTTER!" so it's fitting. Love the review! ^_^ (I won't be picking this up lol)

    1. Yeah, I noticed that too, even the covers are similar! I mean: two girls and and a boy going to magic school, and a cloaked figure in the background who looks oddly like someone from the HP series...