Iron Trial
by Black, Holly; Clare, Cassandra; Fischer, Scott (ILT)

Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst - and fails at failing.

Now the Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .

From the remarkable imaginations of bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a heart-stopping, mind-blowing, pulse-pounding plunge into the magical unknown.

Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi) and the Newbery Honor-winning novel Doll Bones. Her other books include The Good Neighbors graphic novels, and the novels The Darkest Part of the Forest, Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside. She currently lives in the realm of Western Massachusetts.

Cassandra Clare is the author of City of Bones, the first book in The Mortal Instruments trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. Her latest series, The Infernal Devices, has spawned three #1 bestsellers. Born overseas, Cassandra spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and several trunks of books. She lives in Massachusetts.

It's a tall order in this day and age to write a book about a young boy in magic school without being held to the Harry Potter standard, but that's exactly what Black and Clare attempt in their first collaboration (and Clare's first middle-grade offering). The premise is simple: 12-year-old Callum Hunt has been warned about the dangers of magic for as long as he can remember by his father, a former mage, who blames the Magisterium, a magic academy, for the death of his wife. Despite Cal's best attempts to fail the entrance exam into that academy, his inherent magical ability gets him accepted, and he begins the first of five years of his training. Occasional comparisons to Harry Potter are inevitable, but Cal isn't the Boy Who Lived-although his friend Aaron might be-and the Magisterium isn't Hogwarts. Expectations are bound to be high for this powerhouse duo's first cowritten effort, and although it doesn't quite live up to the authors' respective works (Black's Doll Bones was a 2014 Newbery Honor Book), and there are several missed opportunities, the end offers a few intriguing twists and perspectives that hint at what's to come in the next installments. And with four Magisterium volumes still in the works, Black and Clare have ample time to hit their stride as a team. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The six-figure initial print run may still be shy of the demand from the fans of these two wildly popular authors. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Callum Hunt is ready to go back for his second year at the Magisterium, and not just because his dad might be trying to kill him. Call is (secretly) the magical reincarnation of mage Constantine Madden, by all accounts a pretty bad guy, but he is trying really hard not to be evil. He has got a mental checklist of the things an Evil Overlord wouldn't do as he heads to school. But all is not well there, either: an artifact that can split Chaos mages, like Call's friend Aaron, from their magic has been stolen, possibly by Call's dad. Call worries his true identity will be discovered, but he is more concerned about Aaron, so the boys and their friend Tamara-plus one rival-set out into an increasingly dangerous world to try to save the day. This second installment in the Magisterium series is much more effective than its predecessor (The Iron Trial, 2014): the plot is tighter, the stakes are higher, and Call's struggle with whether or not he is destined for evil adds to the tension. Shades of Harry Potter still linger, but this has a personality of its own. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Enthusiasm hasn't flagged for these two best-selling authors, and this stronger volume will just fan the fire. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Book 2 in the middle-grade Magisterium fantasy series delves deeper into its protagonist's connection with the Enemy of Death. Picking up where The Iron Trial (2014) left off, almost-13-year-old Callum Hunt, along with his Chaos-ridden pet wolf, Havoc, is back home from his first year at the Magisterium (a school for mages) for summer vacation. But his father is acting strangely, and Callum suspects that his father knows what Call himself had just found out (in Book 1): that he, Callum, apparently has the soul of Constantine Madden—the evil Enemy of Death. When Havoc goes missing, and Call, searching for him, discovers him chained in their basement in a cell-like room that also contains information in his father's handwriting about the Alkahest—a powerful weapon for killing mages—he concludes that his father plans to kill him, so he and Havoc run away. Returning to the Magisterium for his second year, Call keeps both the true nature of his soul and his fathe r's behavior a secret, even from best friends and fellow apprentices Tamara and Aaron, afraid they will turn against him. This tightly plotted story shines with imaginative twists and settings, sparks of humor, and a rich portrayal of friendship in the face of doubt. The co-authors successfully probe the themes of good and evil even as they craft an entertainingly fast-paced read. Both a successful addition to the middle-grade magic school genre and a satisfying sequel. (Fantasy. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Book 1 in the five-book fantasy series introduces the Magisterium, a training school for young mages that is located in underground caverns in Virginia. Admittance is by invitational tryouts. Twelve-year-old Callum Hunt has mage potential, but his father, Alastair—a mage and a graduate of the Magisterium—tells his son to deliberately fail. He has brought Callum up to believe that the Magisterium is evil and he must never attend. But Callum, small, skinny and partially lame from a serious leg injury incurred when he was an infant, is picked anyway, and this kickoff entry details Callum's first year of training under Master Rufus. Harry Potter similarities pop up repeatedly, from the magic-training-school premise to Callum's fellow apprentices and soon-to-be best friends, Tamara and Aaron, and these similarities are distracting at first. But then the twist occurs, and it is a doozy. By the book's end, readers will be chomping at the bit to get into the sequel. Coll aborators Black and Clare describe an intoxicating underground setting and give their mostly male characters refreshingly nuanced friendships. The third-person narration, filtered through Callum's delightfully insecure-and-overcompensating-with-snarky-bravado perspective, carries a tone that will likely have readers chortling in recognition. A promising beginning to a complex exploration of good and evil, as well as friendship's loyalty. (Fantasy. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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