Title: The Iron Trial
Author: Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
Published: September 9th 2014
By:Doubleday Children's Books
First line:From a distance, the man struggling up the white face of the glacier looked like an ant crawling slowly up the side of a dinner plate.
Last line: And despite himself, despite of the terrible thing he was doing, despite of it all, Call began to grin.
I’m in quite a fortunate position for this review mainly because I haven’t, and I can’t believe I’m actually admitting this, I haven’t read Harry Potter. Yes, I’ve seen the films and loved them but I’ve never actually read the books so I’m hoping this places me in the fortunate position where I bring no bias with me when reviewing The Iron Trial. That said having seen the films I can still see that there are similarities between the two stories but that’s tantamount to saying any book about a child wizard from herein is a rip-off of Harry Potter. Yes there may be similarities but there are also fundamental differences between the stories so I think each should be taken on their own merit. This is also the first review that I have completed for books for younger children so it was quite strange for me to sit down with a book which is so much more simplistic grammatically, even more so when written by Cassandra Clare who is known for her flowery use of the English language. So I come to this book with completely new eyes and I have to say I did enjoy it.
So we have the main character Callum (or Call, who I ended up calling call as in phone call a lot in my head – very annoying) who lives with his father and who goes to take part in an assessment on his abilities in order to attend the magisterium where they will develop his magical abilities. His father doesn’t want him to go, he doesn’t want to go and so he does everything he can to ruin his chances. The masters don’t fall for the ruse however and Call ends up being whisked off to the magisterium anyway!
In the midst of all the training Call and his new (and only) friends take part in we start to get drawn into this new world of the magisterium and the trials and in this book I guess as with most series it really is all about the world building. As I would expect with anything written by Clare and Black there is some fantastical description both in terms of the physical world the story is set in but also in terms of the characters, including a bully who I admit did remind me a tad of Draco but then there are many other characters who remind me of different storylines in different books so I can’t see an issue with that to be honest. We also get to know more about the Enemy of Death, baddie of the series and the wars that have taken place between the good and the bad through history. Within all this there are twists and turns in the plot, some of which I didn’t expect and all of these provide a setting for what will be the next instalment of the series. One thing I would look for in the second book is a tad more adventure. It’s often the case that in the first of a series plotline does take a back seat so that a world can be built but there is a lot of potential for the second book and I hope the plot develops, providing more action that will keep a younger reader’s interest.
Based on this first book I would suggest that the series would be suitable for readers from seven plus.