The Iron Trial (Book One of Magisterium)

trialBest selling fantasy authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare are launching a 5 book fantasy series for middle readers this fall with The Iron Trial.  In their introductory letter to booksellers, they invite us into their world where “a chosen hero, whose high and lonely destiny is to defeat the villain, whatever the personal sacrifice to himself… [who has] tragedy and secrets in his past, magical power” awaits us, but “we wanted people to believe they knew what kind of story they were in for.  And then we wanted them to be surprised…”

Indeed, Black and Clare have succeeded in taking the now all-too-familiar conventions of children’s fantasy and adding intriguing plot and character twists, creating an interesting boarding school environment, and igniting a curiosity in the reader that will only be satiated by continuing along in the series.  Readers who love Harry Potter, Lisa McMann’s Unwanted series, and stories rich with magic, danger, and themes of overcoming adversity and the courage to change one’s destiny, will certainly find a new series to love in The Magisterium.

Callum Hunt doesn’t fit in at his small North Carolina middle school. He doesn’t have a lot of friends, his surly attitude and sarcastic demeanor keep most other kids at bay, and his lame left leg both prevents him from participating in gym and sports and also makes him the target of bullies.   It also doesn’t help that Call has a secret: he comes from a family of mages, but the magic in their blood is dangerous; so dangerous it got Call’s mother killed when he was just a baby.  Now that Call is 12 it seems he can’t escape from his destiny: he’s been summoned to participate in The Iron Trial, a test of magical power and ability that gains children access to The Magisterium, a boarding school deep underground, where young apprentices are trained to access, control, and hone their powers of fire, earth, air, water, and chaos.  More than anything else, Call and his father want him to fail the test, to stay as far away from magic, mages, and danger as possible. So Call does his best to fail – but fails – and is chosen as one of three apprentices by the most prestigious Master at the school.

Expecting only lies, subterfuge, and danger, Call is surprised at the camaraderie that quickly develops between himself and the other Iron year apprentices, particularly with Aaron and Tamara, Master Rufus’ two other apprentices.   While challenges, dangers, and secrets do fill the caverns of the Magisterium, what Call also finds are things he never expected –  namely friendship, acceptance, and the desire to be the best he can be.  But all is not as it seems, and soon not only Call’s new friendships and skills will be tested, but also his very understanding of who he truly is.

  • Posted by Cori

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