The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

“They want to find a chaos mage. They say it takes a Makar to stop a Makar. As long as the Enemy is the only one of the Makar is alive, he has the advantages over us.”

Part of the Magisterium series: Book One

Release Date: September 11th 2014.

Rating: 3 / 5

(I received a copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

I was so torn after reading this. I want to like Cassandra Clare books, really I do. I keep giving her chances, but time and time again I feel disappointed by the end. This book is good, it really is, and I really like the twist at the end, but there are lots of smaller things that combined, outweigh this.

The Iron Trial is the story of Callum Hunt who, despite his best efforts to fail the test, is accepted into the Magisterium to start learning magic. Despite growing up being told that magicians are bad, they are the reason his mother died, and that he will get lost in the Magesterium tunnels and be unable to escape; Callum begins make friends, enjoy the lessons, and find out he is good at it. Soon they are made aware that they are trying to find the Makar, the only person who can control the choas element, and their only chance to defeat the Enemy of Death.

Now, if you have read other reviews, you will have noticed the constant comparison between this and Harry Potter, or people being quite aggressive in reply that just because it’s about magic doesn’t mean it is a Harry Potter rip off, and this cannot be assumed from the cover alone. Now, as someone who has read it, I can confirm that there is a lot of similarities between this and Harry Potter, and not just because it is about magic. Since reading it, I did a little bit of research on Cassandra Clare, and it turns out that before she became a successful author, she wrote Harry Potter fanfic, from Draco’s perspective. Which for me, explains an awful lot. In addition to this, both Cassandra and Holly have stated that they read a lot of magic books and series in order to get research, they stated that “We wanted to build a fun world, characters we loved, and as many twists and surprises as we could come up with. We hope that reader familiarity with witch and wizard books actually allows us a little more flexibility in terms of what readers will go along with — and also maybe there are things they won’t at all suspect!”

So what are the similarities? Both have mothers who died when they were young, both protecting them. The Enemy of Death is very similar to Volemort in that his greatest fear is death, and he tried to conquer it, and in doing so did something that was very similar to the concept of Horcruxes. There is only one person who can defeat each, Harry Potter for Voldemory, and the Makar to stop The Enemy of Death. Additionally, both are within a trio, where the children constantly break the rules but get away with it because they ultimately succeed.

So, there are a lot of similarities, not just the magic element. But equally, there are elements to this book which are unique, and make it very good. I liked the idea of the magic system, and there being five elements; fire, earth, water, air and chaos, each with a counter balance. Without giving too much away, I did rather like the ending, which wasn’t entirely predictable, which is good! Additionally, I don’t normally like books that are co-wrote, as I find it doesn’t flow very well, and you can usually tell who wrote each part based on their writing style. However, the two went together really well, and it flowed throughout.

Therefore, if you can overcome the similarities between Harry Potter, it is a good read. Will I read the next in the series? Who knows!

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City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

“Is that,” Isabelle said in a low, amazed voice,” Brother Zachariah? When did he get hot?”

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3.5 / 5

CONTAINS (mild) SPOILERS 

The long awaited final book in “The Mortal Instrument” series finally arrived, and I rushed out to buy it. Firstly, because I hate having an incomplete collection on my shelf, but more importantly, because I was excited to see what will happen. We were promised deaths. Lots of deaths. This excites me, there is nothing I love more than an author who is willing to test their characters, especially those who are able to kill off main characters.

As an ending to “The Mortal Instrument” series, this book was good. It tied together a lot of loose ends that the previous books had left. However, it was a fan pleaser, with no real plot twists or surprises. Everyone gets a happy ending. Although we were promised deaths, these were predictable deaths. I was hoping that Cassy may kill off a main character, for me, that would have caused excitement and a twist. However, she never has. She killed off Max in a previous book, but he was never really a main character, and she killed Will, but he was old, and it was inevitable. For me, if she killed off a more prominent character in the book, such as Simon or Alec, it would have created excitement and that element of risk and thrill that I love.

My main frustration with the book was Emma and the Blackthorn’s story weaving throughout, who will be the main protagonists in Cassandra’s new series, “The Dark Artifices”. I felt like it did not input anything into the story, and was included into the book as a propeller into the new series. Unfortunately, due to this, I skim read most of the chapters focused on them. Personally, I would have preferred them to have has a lesser role in the book.

However, I adored “The Infernal Devices”, and was thrilled that they included Tessa and Brother Zachariah / Jem into the book. She nicely wrapped up how they came to being together, as set up in “Clockwork Princess”, without it a main focus of the book. I also loved the subtle references to the “The Infernal Devices” series, linking the world together closely, and giving a silent nod to her TID fans.

Therefore, a lovely, if not predictable ending to the series.