The Iron Trial

Author: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Series: Magisterium, Book 1
Publisher: Random House
Star Rating: 2/5
Date Read: September 8th to 9th, 2014
Read Count: 1
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.

The Iron Trial is the first in a new five book series for middle grade readers. It is the story of a boy named Callum Hunt, or Call, who knows he has the potential for magic but his father has told him that he should want none of it. The Magisterium, the school for young mages, is the reason Callum’s mother is dead and his father has never recovered. But all potential mages must attend The Iron Trial, whether they want to or not, to test their abilities for acceptance into the Magisterium. While trying to throw his chances, Call, despite his father’s protests, is chosen to attend the Magisterium and is taken under the wing of Master Rufus, along with two others, Aaron and Tamara. Call enters a world where he is finally accepted, makes friends and uncovers the secrets of his past and that of the Enemy of Death, the cause for unrest in the magic world.


The Iron Trial is nothing I, or you, haven’t read before. Its Harry Potter comparisons are glaringly obvious, and while I don’t believe every book about magic that involves kids or young teenagers should be compared to Harry Potter, that doesn’t mean authors should stop being original. This book has a young male protagonist whose father figure opposes the use of magic much like Mr. Dursley, who does not fit in and is bullied in the normal world, has little knowledge about how his mother died while everyone else knows, makes an enemy within his first moments at the school, makes two friends (a boy and girl, of course), sneaks around the passages at night, has an odd little companion (much like Dobby) and a faithful one (like Hedwig). There is the evil former student and also talk about the sharing of a soul into another body. There are five books in this series for five years at the Magisterium, just as there were seven books for seven years at Hogwarts.

I acknowledge that Harry Potter has set the bar and there are likely to be similarities between it and other books about magic. But this one was too similar and when you consider the fact that Cassandra Clare is famous for her obsession with Harry Potter and her whole writing career stems from her Harry Potter fanfiction, its just all a bit much.

But wait! There is a twist at the end that’s going to make this book not like any other magic or fantasy books! Unfortunately I felt it wasn’t worth reading through a poor copy of Harry Potter just to be told “it’s okay that we mostly copied another book because we made the end different. It’s not what you would think!” And as much as I enjoyed that twist, I thought this book could have been original in so many other ways than just that. I was bored about three quarters of the way through, so I went and started another book while the tablet I was reading on was charging. I finished The Iron Trial out of a sense of obligation. While it may be interesting to see how the twist is handled in subsequent books, I’m not sure I care enough to find out. While I liked how tough Tamara was and how sweet Aaron was, Call just didn’t do it for me and I probably couldn’t read another four books about him. He was just very uninteresting and only happened to have an interesting thing about him revealed but by then I think it was too late to save my interest. Not for me! Others may enjoy it, though.

My rating hovers somewhere between 2 and 2.5 stars.


  1. I’m so disappointed in this book and I haven’t even tried it yet. >_< I don't mean to judge without trying! It's just that these are too hugely famous and amazing authors and you'd think they'd be a bit more original, right?!! Harry Potter is WAY to famous to write anything anywhere neeeear like it.

  2. This book has been hyped up a bit recently in the media, but since hearing now that it has so many similarities to Harry Potter I’m not really sure that I want to read it since I’ll probably be comparing it all the time. I loved HP and I’m not sure that something so similar could really stack up. In the end, I guess it will appeal to some readers because it does have that familiarity, but it just doesn’t sound like it will be for me. Great review though!

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