Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.
Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.
Co-written by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, this is the first book in a series that has gotten a lot of criticism since it’s release. Just the cover itself can already tell you what I’m talking about.
That’s right, this book has been compared countless times to Harry Potter.
Now I’m not aware of what Cassandra Clare did before publishing books, apparently writing a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction. I am aware of the backlash she’s gotten after her Mortal Instruments has been compared to another series released many years before that. Basically, she steals from other books and gets away with it.
It has changed the opinions of many of her fans, including my sister, who is a huge TMI fan and will go to the ends of the earth to see Alec and Magnus together. If you can stop her from being a fan, you messed up.
But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m not comparing TMI. I’m comparing the Iron Trial.
The Iron Trial takes place in a world with magic. Children get chosen to go through a test to see how magical they are and if they pass, they get to go to school and learn more about it.
Now this is a book I read over a year ago so some details may be vague in my mind, but I do recall the system being a bit confusing. Apparently some kids can go throughout their lives without knowing they have magic, so what if they never get chosen? They are so they can learn to control their magic and not expose the regular world. Alright so what if they miss someone? What if they decide not to take someone in but in a few years get more powerful?
Whatever, let’s move on to the main character, Call. His father raised him to fear magic after his wife was murdered by the big villain in the book. If it’s not already obvious, Call fails at failing his test and gets taken into the school under the wing of one of the most powerful teachers.
There he meets two of his friends, one boy, one girl, and that’s pretty much it. We learn more about the school, how things work, until we get to the end when a big reveal happens.
The school is pretty interesting. I remember the kids walking through these caves with rivers in them and thinking it sounded pretty.
The big problem is the comparisons to Harry Potter. Three kids, one big bad guy, a magical school with different passages, and other kids who you vaguely remember, but there’s one dick head that hates Call.
To give them the benefit of the doubt, it is hard to write a series anymore that involves magic without being compared to Harry Potter. Put it in a school with people easily representing characters from HP and you’re going to get a shit storm from the fans.
As you already know I’m a huge Harry Potter fan but I never try to compare unless it’s obvious. There were times I compared, but for the most part, I could see this as it’s own series…until the end. When that twist happens it reads Harry Potter all over.
The story itself is alright. It’s pretty much what you got with the first Harry Potter book. Introduced to a new world, explore that new world, end it with a fight with the bad guy. There was this part of the story where our three characters had to learn to separate sand and that went on far too long.
There are some fights, some parts where they have to use magic and it made it a bit more interesting.
Overall, this isn’t a bad book. I can see where and how you compare it to Harry Potter. I can see how it could piss fans off. If you go into this looking for those similarities you’ll completely lose sight of the story alone. If you go into this assuming this will be Harry Potter, I would recommend not reading it.
So what are my main quibbles? Comparisons to Harry Potter, lack-luster story, and a magical system that isn’t quite explained that well.
My rating: 3.9/5 quibbles.