A Book Review on The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Nothing brings out the nerdy kid in me like a fantasy novel with an angsty pre-teen protagonist throwing sarcastic comments at the world while also trying to save it (with magic of course) from a great evil.

Where It Started

What first drew me to The Iron Trial, the first novel in Holly Black and Cassandra Clare’s Magisterium series, was the fantastical and murky cover (seems like I do judge a book by its cover). I’m not well-acquainted with either authors (please don’t stone me for this statement, The Shadowhunter Chronicles is on my to-read list), so I might have passed this book had it not seduced me with its visual charms. Lucky for me, the story itself also held great charm.

An image of The Iron Trial's cover.

What’s It About

The Iron Trial follows the life of Callum Hunt, just your typical troubled, social outcast, trying to survive his pre-teens. Well, maybe not too typical, as he knows that magic is as real as his infamous status at school. Call grew up with his father warning him against the evils of the Magisterium, and whereas others will do anything to get accepted, Call wants nothing part of it. Yet, despite his best efforts to keep as far away from magicians as possible, Call finds himself at the Magisterium, discovering a twisted truth about his past.

My Thoughts on The Iron Trial

As everyone already knows, I love fantasy novels, and this one did not disappoint. The Iron Trials has everything one might want from a pre-teen fantasy novel: The underdog protagonist, magic school, new friendships, the annoying bully, a powerful evil, and of course, some teenage angst.

I have to admit that my favourite element of this story was the strong friendships that developed. We start out with a kid who is a bit of a loner, but soon finds himself surrounded by people who truly care, despite the fact that he can sometimes come off as a bit of jerk (the sarcastic joke is truly lost to some). Not only does friendship bring a warm and fuzzy feeling to my heart, but I believe that seeing these strong relationships form bring another level of depth to the story. A depth that makes us truly root for the main character, and his judgement to make the right choices. A well-written friendship also brings a unique strength to the story and its characters. One that can’t be imitated by other elements or quick-fix relationships.

The Iron Trial open at Chapter Eight with dagger on top of it.

Another element that kept me hooked, was the mystery with regards to Callum Hunt’s belief that magicians shouldn’t be trusted. Since Call could remember, he was warned never to trust a magician. Throughout the reading of this novel, this idea is stuck at the back of your mind. Clearly, there should be a reason why he has lived his whole life in fear of going to the Magisterium. Despite Call’s happy moments at the Magisterium, we can’t help but wonder, should we still be skeptical of this place. There must be a reason why Call was brought up to believe that the Magisterium is not a good place, right?

On top of that, we have an awesome, yet super dark plot twist that just casually works its way into the story, and before you know it, the story is finished and you are trying to sell some of your valuables for money for the rest of the Magisterium series.

I really enjoyed this story and I think anyone who likes a mysterious, feel-good fantasy will enjoy it too. If you are a Percy Jackson, Harry Potter or Charlie Bone fan, then this will be right up your alley.