Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Book Review: The Iron Trial

Look at that cover - isn't it pretty cool?! I picked The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare off a shelf in the new jfiction area at one of the libraries where I work. I've read many YA books by Clare and liked them so I decided to go ahead and read the start to this new series. The Iron Trail follows Callum "Call" Hunt who is determined to fail the exam that will allow him to enter the Magisterium and become an apprentice of a mage. However, things don't go as he planned. This book was overall a quick read and definitely brought forth an entire new fantasy universe.  Now, let's get to it, shall we? 

The Good 

The main characters. After inadvertently being accepted into the Magisterium as an apprentice despite his negative score on the exam(s), Callum becomes one of 3 apprentices to Master Rufus. One of the other apprentices is Aaron, a guy who by all purposes seems to be the "popular jock" type, but he's actually really nice to, well, everyone. And then there's Tamara who seems to be stuck-up at first, but it turns out that she's simply trying really hard to not fail her parents. And finally, Callum, our main character. Call has a leg that is almost useless to him, meaning that he can't take part in physical activities. He's used to being looked down upon and being picked on so he likes to make snide comments and pretend that when others make fun of him, it doesn't hurt. These three slowly but surely develop a strong bond and prove that they're each talented in their own way. 

The prologue. The prologue is great for this book. It really sets the plot in motion and sucks the reader in right away!

The Magisterium. It seems like a really cool place. I like the idea that all the apprentices of one master room together and I really liked the "sharing knowledge" rule, which forces all masters to take on apprentices weather they want to or not. Getting jewels to represent which type of magic you have mastered is also a pretty cool concept. 

(Most of) the surprises. Major SPOILERS ahead in this short paragraph so feel free to skip it if you don't want to have the book ruined for you. I loved it when it turned out Call wasn't the "Makar" that they had been searching for. I mean, how boring would it be to have yet another hero, with a tragic past right? I was waiting for it to happen, like oh look at that, so cliche, but it didn't so yay! 

Havoc. Who doesn't like a cute doggie?

The Bad
The supporting characters. Aside from our main cast of Call, Tamara and Aaron we don't really get much in terms of characters you can relate with. I could care less what happens to any of them in future books, seriously. The only one I grew to quite like is Alex who isn't even a first year. 

Elementals. Sorry, what are those things again? I swear I read about elementals over and over and never really got a good grasp on them. I know that at some point they were explained, but the concept behind them doesn't seem that well thought out. 

The climax. SPOILERS!! Ok, so now we know what Call is. Ignoring the similarity to another fantasy series that many have pointed out already, how annoying is it that Call now has something that puts him on equal footing with the Makar? Like, I really liked that Call was going to be the Makar's counterweight, I thought this series would show us what it's like to be the best friend of a great hero. But no, now we have a hero and another "really super special guy" as his best friend. I didn't like this plot twist. I would have seriously settled for Call being a human born as a chaos ridden. Now that, would have been cool. 

The Ending. Ok, I get it, we have another book that continues the story, but it ended without even reaching the end of their first year attending the Magisterium. In a way, it's something new and different but I really felt something was missing when I finished it. I think Call's decision to keep everything that he has seen and heard to himself was the problem. I couldn't stop thinking, "Gosh Call, you're so stupid! Just say something about it!" The ending made me ponder weather I really cared or not if anything happens to Call. 

It was an interesting start to the series. Aaron has become my favorite character just because Call kind of ruined it for me at the end. I really hate it when characters make stupid decisions and this may be one of the reasons I can't get through too many teen tv shows. There were some nice twists but I felt that certain elements of the world of the mages could have been explained in a more straightforward manner. Will I be reading the next one? Yes, I really want to know what happens to Aaron and if Call stops being so stupid and makes the right decision of course. 


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