I have read other books by both of these authors and loved them, so I was really excited to start reading The Iron Trail – the first book in the Magisterium series. Being only 320 pages it is relatively short, especially as some of Cassandra Clare’s’ books end up in the 600+ pages region.
I loved the opening prequel chapter to this novel, it was dark, even for a YA novel. It details corpses, and how they died, before telling the story of how a man has to decide whether to let his son live, despite the mother wanting him killed. It doesn’t take long for us to find out the decision, as the boy is the main protagonist of this story. However, this immediately throws up questions such as; why did his own mother want him killed? What had happened to this small baby? And who is the Enemy?
I found the family dynamic in this novel interesting, as Call loves his father, despite him being forced to suppress his magic and fail the Mage’s test. Although, being a rebellious teenager, this doesn’t last long.
We can see, despite his fathers’ warnings and teaching, that Call cannot control his baser emotions; anger and fear. Also, against all his fathers’ efforts, Call is chosen to be the Mage’s apprentice. At this point I wasn’t sure how this will bode for Call, as he wasn’t meant to live past infancy.
By Chapter 6 Call has spent some time inside the Magisterium. Unlike his fellow apprentices, all he can think about is his dad and home. I sympathise with this kid, he has one dead parent and has been torn away from the other, all for something he has been taught.
It is clear that Call doesn’t take well to the Magisterium, at first, but he begins to wonder if the stories his father told about this place were wrong.
However, it’s not all bad. Call forges strong friendships with Tamara and Aaron, which causes him to question his father more so. He also realises that he can leave the Magisterium after his first year, but he is not sure if he wants to leave.
The tension between Call and his father grows throughout the novel. They grow extremely distant from each other, all because Call is learning magic. At the halfway point in this novel, the plot thickens, as his father’s action come into focus.
The last fifty pages of this novel were amazing, and so action packed. The characters have depth to them, without being cliché, and so the friendships forged throughout this novel are realistic. The ending tied things up nicely. Call begins to learn who he is, and is given the choice between having his magic bound, or passing through the gate to become a ‘Copper’ student.
Even though this novel is on the young side of YA, it was great and I loved it. In some ways it was reminiscent of Harry Potter, which I also love, so I really can’t wait to recommend it to more people.