The Iron Trial Book Review

“Fire wants to burn, water wants to flow, air wants to rise, earth wants to bind, and chaos wants to devour.”

Hi there! By now I am realizing how fast the summer is going- it is already Tuesday again! For this week, I wanted to review a book that I had just finished reading. The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare was recommended to me by a teacher- and I must say that I can’t wait to read the sequel.

I loved how The Iron Trial had me torn between who to believe and support in the story- but I’ll explain that a bit later.

Usually at the beginning of a story, we are introduced to the main character, which in this case, happens to be Callum Hunt. Instead, which I liked, we are given a bit of a prologue that features Callum’s father, Alastair Hunt. We find Alastair climbing a mountain to reach a cave full of ice- and finds the cave full of corpses- including his wife, and his child who happened to have remained alive after the war with a broken leg.

This next part introduced the main plot of the story: Alastair finds the words KILL THE CHILD engraved in the ice with his wife’s weapon- a knife by the name of Semiramus.

This brings us to the first chapter, where Call and his father are traveling to the Magisterium- a place where Call would be tested to determine whether he has the magic potential to attend the school.

Earlier, I mentioned how I was torn torn on who to support during the story. At first, We are introduced to Alastair’s perspective: he did not want Callum to enter the Magisterium- and he encouraged Call to do his best at failing. I was curious as to why this was- and wondered how the Magisterium could be so bad, especially when the testing began.

When the testing begins at the Magisterium, Callum is put through a series of situations and somehow manages to completely mess up each one. The only thing was, as he learned more about the Magisterium, he wasn’t sure he didn’t want to enter the school. I was almost swayed by the Magisterium as well.

Once the testing had concluding, Call had high hopes that he wouldn’t be accepted. Surprisingly, he was chosen as an apprentice by Master Rufus, along with two peers named Tamara and Aaron.

In the pages following, the apprentices arrive at the Magisterium and are seated for a grand first meal. Everything seems wonderful about the Magisterium- except for, well, the fact that the apprentices were trapped inside of the school with no means of escape.

Soon enough, the apprentices begin their lessons. While Jasper (Call’s enemy) reports that his lessons have been interesting and exciting, Master Rufus had Call, Tamara, and Aaron sorting multi-colored sand.

This tactic turned out to be useful as at the end-of-the-month assessment, the trio succeeds at controlling earth magic.

By this point, Call wishes to talk to his dad- but is forbidden to by Master Rufus. Call must have been feeling rebellious that night- for he somehow maneuvered the underground tunnels by boat and reached Master Rufus’s office, where Call had previously seen the device that he could use to contact his dad.

When Call reaches his dad, he can tell that his dad is suspicious and is wary about talking to Call. Once Call finishes, he is spoken to by an elemental, but also finds a letter to Master Rufus from his dad asking that Master Rufus bind Call’s magic. Let me explain this.

After an apprentice completes their first year of training, they pass through the First Gate- preventing their magic abilities from being removed. Alastair wanted to remove Call’s magic before he passed through the gate- which made me very suspicious.

Call finds his way back through the tunnels with help from the elemental, who would begin to take residence in Call’s bedroom.

I would like to explain now how Call ended up with a bad leg and how he ended up inside the cave. There are four types of magic: Water, Air, Earth, and Chaos. The war was between the mages and the Enemy of Death, a chaos mage. The Enemy of Death successfully destroyed the cave- but his soul took the place of another human being. The only way for the Enemy to be defeated was through the works of another chaos mage. Aaron was a chaos mage.

I’m about to spoil a big part of the story, so if you haven’t stopped reading already I must encourage you to pause here. I would certainly recommend this book to you.

One night, Drew, one of Call’s fellow apprentice, went missing. The mages formed a search party around the Magisterium and Call found Drew trapped and lying about how his master had tortured him.

All of a sudden, the group is surrounded by chaos-ridden animals. Only Aaron, the chaos Mage, is able to hold off the animals, and Drew escapes into the woods- along with Aaron.

The trio follows Drew’s path to an empty bowling alley where they come face to face with Drew holding Aaron over a chaos elemental with a rope. While Tamara climbs onto the roof to rescue Aaron, Call tries to distract Drew, and releases the elemental. This kills Drew.

Almost immediately, Call meets Master Joseph, the Mage of The Enemy. He had disguised himself as The Enemy when the Enemy died, Callum learned.

Surprisingly, Master Joseph begins talking to Call like he is the enemy. And, over the course of the next few hours, the answer to all of my questions came clear. Why did Alastair want to bind Callum’s magic? Why was he against magic? This is why:

The soul of Callum Hunt died that night in the cave. The Enemy would be born inside of Call- and would take over Call once he passed through the gate. Callum Hunt was the Enemy of Death.

Despite knowing what he was about to do, Callum Hunt passed through the First Gate and unlocked his magical potential.

Thanks so much for reading!



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