If you have the time, listening to series is fun! It’s sort of like reading a really, really long book. Sometimes it’s great to take a break between each book, and sometimes it’s good to keep reading each book in the series one after another until you get to the end. On the Magisterium series, I’ve stopped listening to them in the middle, because I needed a change of pace. I may end up reading the other books in print, just because that’s faster, and I want to know what happens!
How do you read series? All in one gulp, or alternating with other books to prolong living in that particular book world? Do you listen to audio series the same way?
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Callum Hunt knows that he’s one of the “weird kids” at school. He doesn’t know why, but part of it might be that he’s angry all the time…and the other kids know it. He’s angry that his father is different from other fathers, angry that he can’t play sports normally because one of his legs is shorter than the other, angry that he doesn’t have a mother. But mostly, he’s angry because all kinds of things seem to go wrong around him. Call’s father has told him that it’s because of the magic he’s inherited. But even though magic sounds cool, and like something that would be fun, Call’s father has forbidden him to even think about it. Because magic is evil, it’s twisted, and it killed his mother.
Magic? At first Call thinks his father is crazy, but then one day he picks up Call in his antique Rolls Royce from school and drives the two of them to a run down old airplane hanger. The large room is filled with kids and parents. All the kids are excited and happy…ready to complete several tests to qualify to go to The Magisterium, an elite school for mages. There are even several kids from his school in the group!
Even though the Masters of the school have an opening announcement that makes magic and attending the Magisterium sound like an exciting adventure, Call’s father has told him that he has to fail the tests. If Call succeeds the Trials to get into The Magisterium, he will end up so deep underground in the school’s cave system that he’ll never see the sun again. He says that the caverns are dark and sinister and full of danger. According to Call’s father, any use of magic, whatever the intent, will kill him, if it doesn’t warp him first.
To please his father and save his life, Call works hard to do his worst at every Trial. But even though he fails the trials quite spectacularly, he’s still chosen by Master Rufus to be an apprentice. As he’s leaving for the caverns of the magic school, his father throws a knife to him…or is it at him? Callum isn’t sure, but the warning his father shouts is unmistakable. Then his father is dragged away by the other mages, and Call ends up at The Magisterium with Master Rufus and his fellow apprentices Aaron and Tamara.
Call finds that the Magisterium, the masters and the apprentices are nothing like what he had been warned about. The school is dark and frightening, but magic is interesting and absorbing. As he takes lessons and learns more about magic and his past, he’s left wondering if his father was right…or was he hiding something from Call? Once his education in magic begins, Call is finding out there’s a lot more to Mage Magic than he expected.
The audio for The Iron Trial was very well done. I loved Paul Boehmer’s vocals; he did a great job making all the characters sound different. From the low and deep voice of Master Rufus to the sinister hissing of the lizard fire elemental to the voices of Call and his friends, everyone sounds very different. His pacing was excellent. The language is fun, the cast is diverse, and the plot twists around and around through both volumes of the series that I listened to.
I quite enjoyed both The Iron Trial and the sequel, The Copper Gauntlet, about Call’s second year at the Magistirium. (The other books are The Bronze Key and The Silver Mask.) I would highly recommend them to fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. If you like books about learning magic or uncovering secrets, you will enjoy The Magisterium series. The two authors–Holly Black and Cassandra Clare–are also authors of two other popular series for kids and teens–The Spiderwick Chronicles and The Mortal Instruments Series. If you liked those books (or even the movies!) you’ll like The Magisterium series.
The Iron Trial and The Copper Gauntlet would be great audios for a family car trip with older elementary or middle school students. There is quite a bit of darkness to some of Call’s past and present at the school, so it might not be good for younger elementary students. If you managed to get through the fourth volume of Harry Potter, this is on par with darkness of The Magisterium. But try it for yourself, and see what you think!
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And that’s it…I have yet to read the last two volumes, so if you finish them first, come and tell me what you think!
As always, if you need help finding these or any other books in the library, ask one of our librarians. We are always happy to help match you with your best book choices! Until then…