By: Melanie | September 19, 2014 | (22) Comments

Review: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra ClareThe Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare, Holly Black
Series: Magisterium, #1
Publisher: Random House Australia
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, MG, Paranormal
Pages: 295
Source: Received in exchange for review
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From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic.

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.

When reading a book, one expects the following: 1) an original storyline and 2) one that will not make you fall asleep one chapter in. The Iron Trial, despite being co-written by two totally capable authors, just didn’t make 1) or 2) happen.

Harry Potter, anyone? I bet we all saw this one coming, regardless whether you’ve read the book yet or not. It’s about tweens, it’s got magic, it’s got 3 freaking kids on the front cover and in the background, there is a creepy looking thing that could draw parallels with good ole’ Voldermort. Personally, I wanted to hold all pre-judgement aside and read it seeing as it’s written by Cassie Clare and Holly Black for goodness sake. Unfortunately, these parallels only became more prominent and infuriatingly annoying after reading the book. The atmosphere was practically singing Hogwarts, but only not as well executed. I expected really imaginative and big things from this pair, however, it just wasn’t the case here.

The book starts with Callum sitting a series of tests to see if he can gain entrance to the Magisterium where he can learn magic from mages. His father is completely against the Magisterium after his wife died at their expense, and he has been forcing Callum to fail The Iron Trial on purpose so no mage will take him up as an apprentice. Callum does obey his father, though strangely, a mage chooses him anyway, and Callum has no choice but to go to the Magisterium.

Less ideal, were the characters. There’s plenty of diversity in terms of personality and cultural backgrounds, yet they lack substance. I felt no real grasp on the characters at all—they lacked that emotional bond and didn’t spring out of the page at all. Not even Callum, the main character. These are simply not characters that I would root for; they lacked depth and shape and even though this is an MG novel, and I know MG characters can be crafted well—The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand being one notable example. (To be honest, I’ve already forgotten every other characters’ names aside from Callum.)

Another thing that this first instalment lacked was the idea of keeping the reader actually interested and engaged. No jokes, I fell asleep after reading chapter one. And that never happens to me. But you can’t blame me though, the first paragraph was a boring, character profile info-dump. If chapter one couldn’t keep me interested, then you can assume what I did for about the last half of the book. Yep, I skimmed it. This felt very much like a set up for a series because we were just getting a lot of irrelevant info-dumps and monotonous and completely unnecessary events happening. Not that that is what’s supposed to happen in a first instalment.

I cannot recommend this book for it has disappointed me deeply. I highly doubt that I’ll bother continuing with this series as the characters and storyline failed to engage me entirely.

~Thank you Random House Australia for sending me this copy!~

1.5 Stars
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Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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22 Responses to Review: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

  1. It’s such a shame that you didn’t enjoy this one. Although, honestly, I can’t really say that I’m surprised, either. I have not got high hopes for this one, not at all. I’m trying to not be too judgemental before I read it — although, yeah, it’s almost impossible to not draw comparisons between this and Harry Potter. I’ll probably end up reading it, just so I can decide for myself, though now I know not to be expecting too much from it. Thanks for the wonderful review.

  2. I am not pleased to hear that this is a Harry Potter rip off. I was excited about this seeing it is co authored by two greats, but now I will pass. Thanks for the heads up.
    Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings recently posted…Friday Forecast September 21st-27thMy Profile

  3. I totally agree with you, Mel! I just couldn’t connect to the characters at all. They all lacked that dynamic that one would expect from a trio of besties. Especially towards the end when they’re all declaring each other as bffls and I was like O___O. I mean, nothing about their relationship indicated that they’d even progressed to that stage. At least, nothing like that was shown on paper, you know?

    Granted, I remain a little curious about the next book. The twist in the last 20 or so pages kind of threw me (but perhaps such a twist came to late). The book needed a saving grace, a little earlier.

    Fantastic review, Mel! <3
    Jess @MyReadingDress recently posted…My Young Adult Kryptonite(s): Part OneMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Right? They were sticking up for each other and declaring their best friendiness but I honestly just couldn’t see it AT ALL. Yeah, the twist was interesting but too late for me. 😐

      Thanks Jess!

  4. Zoe N. says:

    Honestly, I would have been suspicious if you actually liked this…ha! 😉 I DNF’d City of Bones because I just didn’t connect with it, so I was already dubious to starting it, but now that someone I trust has said they didn’t like it, I think it’s smart just to give it a miss. 🙁 Sorry this was a disappointment, and thanks for the fantastic review Mel. 😀
    Zoe N. recently posted…FeralMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Haha lol, I had my doubts about this before I even started as well. I am not a fan of Cassie Clare’s TMI series but I did love her TID series which is why I was pretty excited about this one.

  5. I’ve heard that this was a woeful rip-off of Harry Potter and that makes me sad. 😐 I know being original is hard, but IT’S STILL NO EXCUSE TO WRITE WHAT’S ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN. *breaths deeply* Sorry. Sorry. XD I am tempted to try this, because I absolutely love Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. But maybe I should avoid it and keep my good opinions of them intact?! 😉
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…The To-Be-Read Tag || Basically I Hunger To Read All The Books of EverMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Especially if it’s Harry Potter. I mean, ITS HARRY POTTER AND NOTHING CAN BE BETTER THAN HP. Yeah, I would def say don’t read this if you want to keep your good opinions on them intact.

  6. Oh, Clare! Why do you keep on stealing ideas from the Harry Potter universe? Your Mortal Instruments started off as a Harry Potter fan fiction, you published it and you’ve gotten heaps of money from it. You basically milked the cow dry when you decided to make the said trilogy into a hexalogy. And now you’re giving us this glaring rip-off.

    Oh, Mel. I feel your struggle with this one. I haven’t yet read any book by Holly Black but I’ve already read Clare’s TMI and Infernal Devices (Don’t judge, I picked up the series during pre-blogging days and the only books that I’ve read during those times were the ones labeled by our bookstores as bestsellers. LOL). ID was decent but TMI just got more and more awful in every installment so I already expected that there’s a high possibility that this book is also awful.

    Eww~ I’m never going to pick up this one even if you gave it a glowing review, Mel. I’ve already spent a lot of money for Clare’s books. I hope Clare will find it in her heart to take a break from writing and evaluate herself as an author. I hope that her future series will be her own idea.

    I am sorry for making this a rant comment, Mel. I just can’t help it. Your review woke the beast in me. XD
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    • Melanie says:

      WOw I never knew that her TMI series was HP fanfic! That makes me even more annoyed. Yeah, I really like TID but TMI is absolutely rubbish, like you said.

      I def recommend you read some Holly Black though, she’s an amazing author!

      Haha, that’s okay. I love ranty comments

  7. Too bad. I really loved this one. There were similarities with HP but by the end there were more differences.
    Diamond Dee @ Dee’s Reads recently posted…The TBR Tag – I was tagged!My Profile

  8. Tanja says:

    I wanted to request this one after I ended up disappointed because of TMI and I really wanted to give Clare another chance but this is actually why I didn’t. I waited to see reactions and well it seems to me that it was a good decision. I’m so sorry that it was boring and predictable to you. Great review, Mel 🙂
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  9. Oh dear, it definitely sounds like it was a complete disappointment – you would have expected more from the two big name authors. I’ve heard similar things as well, but it does sound like it lacks a lot of depth. Great review Mel, I’m kind of glad I didn’t request this one.
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  10. I really want to read this and I really want to like it. I haven’t read anything by either author so I don’t have any expectations but I like the premise. I have seen mixed reviews of this. Some people say it’s a HP rip off and others say it’s wonderful. I guess I’ll just have to give it a go!
    Charlotte @ Books and Baby etc. recently posted…BOOKS // DNF: Did Not FinishMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Well if you haven’t read anything by either authors i think you should definitely give this a go simply because you won’t know what to expect from the authors. I hope you enjoy it!

  11. Wow, that is pretty bad when it is so close to another book. Especially Harry Potter which is way too recognized.
    Jennifer Bielman recently posted…Excerpt & Giveaway: Stronger by Sarah Greyson (Book Blitz)My Profile

  12. I know, right? Even though I have some… reservations regarding Cassie Clare, I was expecting so much more than this. I was hoping it’d be better than TMI (which, alright, it was in a way because TMI unnerved me beyond words), that Holly Black would steer most of the book, but… it doesn’t look like it.

    Those completely rewritten scenes from HP were ridiculous. I don’t know how the editors didn’t pick this up and let it go through. Because it wasn’t just being reminiscent of HP, it was near copy paste with name changes (i.e. the “hospital” scene at the end of The Iron Trial read just like the hospital wing scene in HP1 with Dumbledore).

    I’m just glad I got this one as an ARC and won’t need to buy it :/
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