Review: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Posted October 24, 2014 by Liza in Reviews / 6 Comments

Review: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The Iron Trial

by Cassandra Clare, Holly Black
Series: Magisterium #1
Published on September 9th, 2014
by Scholastic
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Also by this author: Clockwork Prince, The Iron Trial, Doll Bones, The Darkest Side of the Forest

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 . . .

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.


About Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare was born overseas and spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and several trunks of fantasy books. Cassandra worked for several years as an entertainment journalist for the Hollywood Reporter before turning her attention to fiction. She is the author of City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. Cassandra lives with her fiance and their two cats in Massachusetts


Tags: , , , ,

Like what you see? Enter your email here to get Quite the Novel Idea directly in your mail box. Great, huh?

Enter your e-mail address below to receive new posts directly in your inbox!

6 responses to “Review: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

  1. Oh I really want to read this book, though it is interesting that it had so many similarities to the HP series. Maybe that’s what appeals to the MG reader of magic. Even with the two boys and a girl team. As it is the first book I imagine that it will begin to differentiate itself as the series progresses, so I’m going to remain hopeful that it will be more original, like you.

    I like the idea of the cave, and I’m curious to see if I’ll like Cal – I kind of like bitter characters 🙂 – but I might wait until close to the release of the next book so that I can continue on immediately if I enjoy it enough to continue.

    Love Clare and Black. Sorry to hear it didn’t quite live up to what you’d hoped from the duo. Fingers crossed the series will get better and better, much like the HP series did. (My least favorite of that series was book 1.)

    Rachel recently posted: TALON by Julie Kagawa {Review}
    • Liza

      I have high hopes for the series. At the end of the book there is a big twist that was unexpected and I can see the direction the story might take. I don’t blame you for waiting, the time between books can be painful 🙂

Leave a Reply

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.