The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
The main characters in The Iron Trial are Callum, Aaron, and Tamara. Three twelve year old children have been accepted into the Magisterium to study and practice magic. Callum comes from a father that has told him to disdain all magicians and magic. Aaron comes the foster system with no family support. Tamara comes from a family that will push from power in ethically shallow waters. Three kids unlikely to become friends, but through the apprenticeship become loyal and supportive to each other.
Why Read The Iron Trial
The Iron Trial has excellent character development with enough action and adventure to keep you turning pages. I am reading this series because my ten year old daughter has stated to me on several occasions that she thinks I would like them and asked me to read them. I found them to be quite enjoyable and I think they are great books for her as well. Here is why I think that these are a great book for kids, I would appraise 4th grade on - but you know your child better than I do.
You Decide The Path
One of the lessons I enjoyed in The Iron Trial is that your family doesn't make who you are. Aaron is a foster kid that has no one but he stands up for others and defends them even when his life is at risk. Callum is told that magicians and magic are not to be trusted and that they are bad but he makes friends for the first time and finds good in people, magicians even. Tamara is pushed by her family to be the best while keeping up appearances and reputation but she wants to do what is right and ethical and be the best she can on her own merit.
I have found that every person needs to make choices about who they are or will be sooner or later in life. Just because a person's family pushes for power, says hurtful things, or any number of bad things doesn't mean that individual needs to follow suit. They can decide to be upstanding, ethical, and moral people in their own right. I like that this is a subtle point within The Iron Trials.
"People should read it because it has very good vocabulary and it teaches that the weakest in one thing can be the strongest in another."
Group Support and Teamword
A great message from this book is that supportive friends and teamwork can help you work through issues and accomplish more. There are multiple times that these three are challenged to grow together and develop into a team. These challenges are not always accepted, but these three youths do develop into a team and begin to learn that they need others to succeed.
Each person in the group has different talents and perspectives and learning to use these to the best advantage possible, this is a lesson that we all could use practice with in real life.
Book by it's Cover
You can never tell who or what a person is like just by looking at them. The Iron Trial shows that we all have biases towards others and that we may often be wrong about them. It is good for our youth to understand that bias so they can be more objective in our world and with others.
Tamara appears to be from a upstanding family with a calm and cool demeanor, Aaron seems to be positive, likable, and capable of anything and everything, Callum appears to be a handicap individual that is angry, misunderstood, and thinks the worst about everything. Yet all three of them become great friends and help strengthen each other in their weakest areas. And they discover the truths about each other as the adventure unfolds.
Hope you read it
Most of the sites that I read about The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare stated that it was for 6+ graders or middle school aged children. I wouldn't recommend pushing any kids to solo reading, but this could also be a good book to read to some children.
My daughter read this series in 4th grade and loved it. She has made a slide video for the book as well as written a letter to the authors. I didn't think I would enjoy the books, but have been proven to be completely wrong about that. It has been a quick read, generally taking a day to read a couple of the books.
There are some great discussion opportunities in the book to help children think about the outside world and who they want to become and how they should act towards others. I hope that this book may help you and your child with some of those discussion. Have a great adventure and the book two in The Magisterium series is The Copper Gauntlet, another great read.
Read it or Pass it
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