Review: Cassandra Clare & Holly Black – The Iron Trial

The Iron Trial
Cassandra Clare & Holly Black

Callum doesn’t know what he is, or why he’s at the Magisterium. But he knows he doesn’t want to go somewhere that there are eyeless fish waiting to eat him, and there is magic running rampart that is the same as that which killed his mother.

Apparently this is a middle grade series, but maybe that was made it so pleasant to listen to. Each word was perfectly chosen, and I didn’t find myself impatiently waiting the narrator to move through the scenes.

I loved the reader, his deep grumbly voice was perfect for Master Rufus. I did feel like sometimes I didn’t know who was speaking, but it was entirely context dependant. I think some of the text could have become readily boring, but because it was read and I didn’t have a perfect memory of the sentence structures, it worked for me. This was especially true of the sand-herding exercises.

This could feel like a rip-off of Harry Potter, but it really isn’t. The dangers feel much more real, and they are consistent, like the authors have actually worked out what the complete series is going to be like. Also Harry is always a hero, and he’s always nice to everyone. Doesn’t that get a bit cloying at times?
Callum doesn’t make you like him. And he seems to be going out of his way to get on everyone else’s nerves. But inside there is a soul that wants to do the right thing, as angry as it is. Aaron and Tamara provide a more rational backdrop to him, and make it possible for Call to change.

The end is a twist! You guess from the beginning what might have happened, but there isn’t anything to support your thoughts until later, and by that time it’s too late! You’re already committed to reading the novel from page 1.

I don’t think this novel is meaty enough for me to want to read it a second time, so that makes it a 4-star novel. But it’s a very good one, and I’d highly recommend it to beginning fantasy readers. I can’t wait for the second book in the series to be released as an audio book – I’ll gladly spend some of my commuting time devoted to it.

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