Not Just Another Harry Potter: The Iron Trial | Review

The Iron Trial - Paul Boehmer, Listening Library, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black

A MG Contemporary Fantasy that rises above the obvious comparisons to Harry Potter.


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.


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Source: I purchased this book myself Audible.



The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare, read by Paul Boehmer, published by Listening Library (2014) / Length: 10 hrs 37 min



This is Book #1 of 2 (so far) in "The Magisterium" series. Book #3, The Bronze Key, is currently scheduled to be released on 8/30/16.



There has been some controversy surrounding this series. With detractors calling it out as a Harry Potter rip-off and it's supporters touting the many differences. I have to say that I definitely see the similarities (beyond just the "kids in a magic school fighting a bad guy," which frankly JK Rowling did not invent) and consider it to be firmly "inspired by." That's not necessarily a bad thing though.


There are many differences; and with the twist at the end, the authors take this in a totally different and intriguing direction. So, controversy aside, I really like it and am eagerly awaiting the next book.


Note: I am adding a "Diversity" tag to this, as Callum has a physical disability in the form of a lame leg.




Callum Hunt: Not a "bad kid" yet is often in trouble (usually for rescuing animals). He is being raised by an eccentric single father, who has taught him to hate & fear magic and the Magisterium. He has been picked on and excluded because of his disability. He has a tendency to say obnoxious things when feeling defensive or uncomfortable.


Tamara & Aaron: The other two members of our trio. We don't get to know them indepth in this book, but will be learning more in the next.


Master Rufus: I have some serious concerns about his teaching methods, especially considering the young age of his students.



The majority of this book takes place inside the Magisterium, which is located underground in a series of caverns. Each student has their own room, which makes hiding things and sneaking out easier (as a very light sleeper, I always wondered why Ron & Harry's dorm mates did wake up). Getting lost and/or running into something dangerous is sometimes a possibility. And there is no way for the students to leave without help.



This books starts out on the dark side for MG, with a slaughter of innocents being discovered. Another darkish thing is that, once Callum is selected, he has no choice about going and is taken from his father by force (hopefully not a spoiler, since the whole point of the book is that he has to go when he doesn't want to). Children who aren't selected, or who fail their first year, have their magic sealed and their memories altered; this leaves them forever feeling as if they are missing something.



  • Havoc - a magical pet
  • Glowing walls while traveling in a boat (sounds beautiful)
  • The social room where they eat treats and watch magically projected movies
  • The fact that certain important things happen to someone other than Callum.


I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: Celia. Am I jaded if I find her oblivious cheerfulness a bit annoying? And aren't they a little young to start with crushes



The narrator has a fairly deep voice, so don't expect the dialog to sound like actual 12 year olds. / The speed was good, I was able to listen on regular speed (rather than my usual 1.25 speed) / He did a good job capturing Call's attitude and sarcasm, and with general emoting & pacing.



The Iron Trial (The Magisterium #1) by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare, read by Paul Boehmer, published by Listening Library (2014) / Length: 10 hrs 37 min Buy Now | +Goodreads

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