This series takes place in a world where mages can draw on the elements (earth, fire, water, and air) as sources of magic. Young potential mages travel to a school called The Magisterium to study magic, hone their powers, and prepare to fight the evil source of magic in their world…chaos magic.
Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Point of View
The book is written in third person from the main character’s point of view.
This series is set in a seemingly modern world, but it’s one filled with magic, both good and evil.
I give it 3.75 stars overall.
– Callum (Call) Hunt – the main character; a self-conscious boy with a sarcastic sense of humor; he has a bad limp as the result of an injury he suffered as a baby
– Master Rufus – the teacher who will mentor Call, Aaron, and Tamara; the most prestigious master at The Magisterium
– Aaron Stewart – Call’s friend; an orphaned boy who seems to possess kindness and honor
– Tamara Rajavi – Call’s friend; she knows a lot about magic because her older sisters have also attended The Magisterium
– The Enemy of Death – (formerly Constantine Madden) the last of the Makaris; he engages in chaos magic and was the reason for the last mage war; he wanted to live forever and make the dead walk again
– Makar – a rare mage who is able to wield chaos magic
– Counterweight – a mage matched with a Makar to help balance their power; all Makars need one
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
Details – What happened in The Iron Trial?
The book opens at a scene during the Third Mage War where many adult mages were desecrated in an icy mountain cave. But one baby survived the massacre. The baby is Call, and his dad is the one who finds him. One of his legs is severely injured, and his mother is dead nearby. She scratched the following words in the ice before she died…KILL THE CHILD.
The book flashes forward to the present, where Call is now twelve and living totally away from magic with his dad. His dad has never used magic since his mother died. (Call doesn’t know the truth about his mother’s death until he gets to The Magisterium.) Call is a misfit and a bit of a troublemaker at school, and at times he has involuntarily shown signs of magical power.
Call has been called to take an aptitude test for possible entrance into a school for young mages called The Magisterium. Even though his father and mother attended this school, his father tells him he must fail the test to stay away from the school and from magic.
Despite his performance during the tests, Call is admitted to The Magesterium when Master Rufus chooses him as an apprentice along with Aaron and Tamara. Declining to attend is not allowed if you are chosen. As soon as they are selected, the students board a bus to travel to the cavernous, underground school. Apprentices room together, so Call, Aaron, and Tamara are assigned a suite to live in. They are all quite different, with varying strengths and weaknesses, but over time they develop trust and form a close friendship.
One day Master Rufus pulls Call aside and explains the reasons he brought Call on. He says he senses power in Call and also senses a lot of anger that could make him lose control of his raw power in scary ways. This motivates Call to actually begin trying to be the best mage he can, at least for this year he must stay at school.
They settle into the routine of school and their lessons. While other masters are teaching their students fun, exciting skills, Master Rufus has Call, Aaron, and Tamara work together on separating a pile of sand into two stacks, one light and one dark. They must do this grain by grain, using only their minds. They think it is boring, but they try many different methods to master this task. It slowly teaches them concentration and determination in their magic.
They train as their master directs four days each week. On the fifth day, they come together with all first year students for a joint lecture with a different master. And once a month the students do a practical exercise together to work on the skills they’re developing. The first monthly exercise is fighting a wyvern (a dragon-like creature). Master Rufus’ group does the best despite their strange training. After this, Rufus starts expanding their training beyond the sand piles. Call’s favorite new activity is levitating/flying because this erases the disadvantage of his crippled leg.
Even though at first Call felt out of place, he begins to realize this is where he belongs and there is so much more he wants to learn. One night when he can’t sleep, Call sneaks into Rufus’ office to call his dad. He finds a note from his dad asking Rufus to bind Call’s magic at the end of the year. On his way back to his room that night, Call hears two professors talking about how The Enemy is gaining power, weapons, and alliances once again.
One day, Master Rufus asks the three apprentices to search the caves for the Butterfly Pool, which is used to forge magical weapons, to retrieve a bowl of water. After they get the water, their map burns up and they have to wander the caves to try to find their way back to where they started. At one point, they come across a frightening Devoured, someone who was consumed by their magic and is permanently non-human. This creature makes a prediction about Call, Aaron, and Tamara: “I see your future. One of you will fail. One of you will die. And one of you is already dead.” Then Rufus arrives and drives it away.
One night a fellow student (Drew) runs away from The Magisterium. All students are asked to help the teachers hunt for him. During the search, Chaos Ridden wolves descend on the group. As one moves to attack Call, Aaron steps in the way and reveals a very rare power that no one (even Aaron) knew he had. Something like black smoke erupts from his hands and drives the wolves away. Aaron possesses chaos magic and is the Makar everyone has been waiting for to defeat The Enemy. The Masters escort him away.
On the walk back to The Magisterium, Call spots something in the woods and goes to investigate. It is a wolf pup, and Call snuggles him back into the school and into his room. It’s hard to keep him hidden, especially from his roommates. It’s a little bit easier once they find out, but it’s still a challenge. He names the pup Havoc.
Aaron is presented to the assembled school and parents as the Makar. Back in their rooms, he reveals to Call that he’s very nervous about it but knows he must accept the responsibility even though it will involve stress and danger. Call volunteers to be his counterweight.
One night Aaron takes Havoc out to use the restroom and then doesn’t return for a long time. Call and Tamara go searching for him. They find Havoc, but Aaron is nowhere to be found. Havoc leads them on the search, and they travel a long way on foot. It’s hard on Call because of his leg. They end up at an abandoned building in a secluded area. As they quietly search the building, they find Chaos-ridden creatures inside. It seems that The Enemy has kidnapped Aaron, and he’s dangling from the rafters when they find him. They are shocked to see that Drew is there standing watch. Call distracts Drew while Tamara goes to get Aaron down.
Call and Havoc fight the Chaos-ridden creatures. Drew is injured during the scuffle. A man who Call presumes is The Enemy appears. When he discovers Drew is hurt, he is very angry and turns to Call. Then a strange thing happens. He looks to Call, calls him master, and asks what he should do, whether he should save or kill Drew. He takes off his mask and reveals that he is not The Enemy; he is Master Joseph (The Enemy’s former teacher) and says that Call is The Enemy. He explains the soul of Callum Hunt died as a baby, that day in the cave, and the soul within him now is Constantine Madden. Very few possess the power to swap souls like this, but Constantine managed it after he was severely wounded in the war.
Call doesn’t understand because he doesn’t remember anything about being Constantine. He only feels like Call. Master Joseph says they kidnapped Aaron to draw Call to them; they figured Constantine had awakened in him and was ready to join them. But this isn’t the case at all. Call says that they should have listened to his father and not let him have anything to do with magic and that he is going straight to Master Rufus to tell him who he is. Joseph says if he does so, they’ll either kill him or bind his magic. He said Call’s dad will find out he’s actually not his son and will disown him. He says Call will lose all his friends.
Just then Tamara and Aaron burst in to save him. Aaron uses his chaos magic, which Call can’t help but think is what everyone has been waiting for to destroy The Enemy. To destroy him. Call stops him because he doesn’t have a good counterweight yet and without one Aaron might destroy himself. The Chaos-ridden are still after them, but they escape and head back to The Magisterium.
How did The Iron Trial end?
Back at school, Call struggles with whether to tell everyone who he is. He knows it’s the right thing to do but knows he risks losing everything if he does so. He decides not to say anything about it. He gets to talk to his dad, and from the questions he is asking, it seems like he might know the truth about Call. He might have been hiding it for years because he loves him.
Master Rufus takes his three apprentices to pass through the first gate, the Gate of Control, which signifies the end of their first year (the Iron Trial). After they do so, they are officially mages. Tamara and Aaron pass through it. Call knows if he’s ever going to own up to his secret, it’s now. But he thinks he can control what is within him and just be himself instead of The Enemy. So he walks through the gate and feels the magic enter him. He is a mage now.
There you go! That’s what happened in The Iron Trial, the first book in The Magisterium series. The second book, The Copper Gauntlet, will be released on September 1st!
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