Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Summary (from Goodreads):
From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will -- is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It's a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.
I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews for this one. So, I guess I went from being super excited about its release to then only being moderately excited. I put a request in to borrow it from the library and I was one of the first to get it. Now, I think I need to buy it.
I guess I’ve been craving a good middle grade fantasy. And I’ve definitely been craving a new series. There are so many series that have ended this year. Finally, it’s time for something new. There were so many great elements to this story: a magical world that’s hidden from most humans, underground magic school with mazes of creepy caves, fantastic friendships, magic, mysteries, a somewhat handicapped main character, also a main character who seems to normally be the kind of person to be a side character or evil foe, a crazy twist, and lot of adventure.
I love that not everything is explained right away. We have to learn why Callum’s father is the way he is over time. And then of course is the ultimate mystery of why so much was kept hidden or even exaggerated to Callum. I kept waiting for bad things to happen because that’s how Callum thought.
I like that there are different elements of magic and the one everyone is gaga about is chaos magic. I loved all the tidbits of historical information. I liked that the side character/best friend character was the typical hero character and the main character was a little more off-kilter.
The whole concept of where baby Callum was found as a baby was so compelling that I knew I would have trouble putting the book down. I read this book in a little more than a day. There were just so many questions I needed answered. I know a lot has been said about the similarities to Harry Potter; however, I didn’t find the similarities to be that strong. I’m a huge Potter fan. I’ve read the books a lot of times. I’ve been to Potter conventions and I even was the president of my college’s Harry Potter club. I honestly feel like this was a completely different story, with completely different elements to it.
The pacing of the book wasn’t as fast as I sometimes wanted it to be, but it does have that classic, book 1 introductory feel, which promises faster pacing, and higher levels of action as the overarcing storyline continues. I can’t wait to see where things go in the next one, especially after a certain decision was made toward the end.
Overall, this was a fun book! I loved the characters. I loved the magical world. I loved the twist that actually did surprise me (and I so thought I had it all figured out…). I give it a 9/10.

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