|The Iron Trial|
|Author||Holly Black and Cassandra Clare|
|Cover artist||Alexandre Chaudret|
|Release Date||September 9, 2014|
| Preceded by|
| Followed by|
The Copper Gauntlet
Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.
All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic, and told his whole life that he should never trust a magician. 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 — a place that's both sensational and sinister. And Call realizes it has dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.
The Iron Trial is just the beginning. Call's biggest test is still to come . . .
Call is about to break all the rules. And when he does, his life will change in ways he can't possibly imagine.
The war against the Enemy of Death, known as the Third Mage War, began at least a decade ago. When the Enemy does not show up on the field of the Great Battle to face the mages' champion, Verity Torres, Alastair Hunt realizes that his family may be in danger. Alastair immediately goes to La Rinconada, where his and other mages's family members were being kept as a protective measure for the war, though it was already too late. Everyone in the cave—both mages and some of the infiltrating Chaos-ridden—is dead, except his son, Callum Hunt, albeit with a broken leg. He later finds his wife Sarah Hunt and her brother Declan, who had died protecting Call. While Alastair initially promises to raise Callum knowing his mother's bravery, this changes when he sees the message his wife carved into the ice with her knife, Semiramis, as she died: "KILL THE CHILD." Sarah was evidently referring to Call, much to Alastair's horror.
Twelve years after the La Rinconada incident, which was dubbed the Cold Massacre, Alastair and Call now live in Asheville, North Carolina, where Call has become notorious as a troublesome and sarcastic boy. During this time, Alastair raised and taught Call to fear magic and be distrustful of mages. Call often has nightmares of getting lost in the underground tunnels of the Magisterium.
Now twelve years old, Call is set to undergo the Iron Trial, which he was prepared to and conditioned by Alastair to fail, not wanting him to go to the Magisterium, as attendance is mandatory if one passes the test. At school, Call sees Kylie Myles and when she acknowledges him for the first time, Call immediately suspects that she is also on the way to the Iron Trial and contemplates warning her before they depart. However, her parents arrive and pick her up before he could even approach her.
During the drive to Virginia with his father for the test, Call begins having second thoughts. They then arrive at a closed airfield, the venue for the Iron Trial, attended by over a hundred families with the prospective mage child, not all of whom know of the test's true nature or why they are there, and the mages themselves.
The aspirants are then divided into groups. During the test, Call distances himself from the other aspirants, not interested in making friends as he fully intends to fail. The first test is a written exam with strange questions, overseen by Master Milagros. Call is unable to even begin, since the pen he is holding blows up as he tries to get it to work, highlighting his uncontrolled but tremendous power. While Call thinks he failed, he is, in fact, given full points for it. The next two tests are supervised by Master Rockmaple; the second task involves climbing an enchanted rope ladder and reaching the big red ball hanging from the ceiling. Only Aaron Stewart, one who seems carefree enough and is trying to befriend Call, is able to finish it. Call, the last to be called, then makes the ball burst in frustration. For the third test, they are told to make a piece of paper levitate in the air. Remembering his father's advice, Call thinks of doing the very opposite of what they want him to—instead of making it float, he thinks very hard of making something pin the piece of paper down, like an imaginary hand. Because of this, when Master Rockmaple finally lets those unable to do it stop trying, they can no longer remove the paper from the desk. For this, Call gets negative scores (apparently a first in the history of Iron Trials) and thus gets ten points deducted from his already low score.
The final test is one with Call's parents' old mentor, Master Rufus. Rufus instructs him to lift a bowl of water with fire burning in the middle. When Call finally takes the bowl, the fire inside leaps and only gets stronger as he tries to put it out. Rufus realizes that Call had been trying to fail and calls him out for it. Upon the mention of Call's mother, Call loses his temper and the bowl explodes, causing fire to scatter on the floor. Rufus makes Call put the fire out and tells him that he failed the test before sending him out to wait for the others and their final scores.
By the end of it all, Call is disappointed that he didn't have to try too hard to even fail the tests—that he merely genuinely failed them. When he shares this concern with his father, Alastair is evidently pleased to hear of his failure and reminds Call that he was supposed to fail.
Once everyone is done with the test, all the aspirants return to their seats and the Masters come out to choose their apprentices. Master Rufus chooses first. Unsurprisingly, he chooses the two aspirants who are tied at the top of the test rankings, Tamara Rajavi and Aaron Stewart. He also picks Call, who ranked last, surprising everyone present. Apparently, Call's magic is untrained, yet powerful which was a potential hazard for the normal, non-magical world. Alastair makes a scene, refusing to let Rufus have him. He tries to negotiate with him, asking Rufus to allow him to train Call himself, to which Rufus tells him that he had twelve years to do so and he hadn't. Alastair is then forced out of the hangar, but before he leaves, he throws Sarah's knife, Semiramis, at Call. Aaron catches it in midair just before it hits Call.
After it quiets down, Master Milagros picks her apprentices next, and one of the students she chooses is Jasper deWinter, a boy who was rude to Call during the tests and had ranked second, below Tamara and Aaron. Jasper is angry that Call has "taken his spot" as Master Rufus' apprentice.
The students who passed are taken to an old style school bus. This is the place where he meets the people who'll be spending the next five years with. Call is worried about the magisterium and is contemplating why his father hated magic so very much. He tells his classmates about what happened to his mother but they tell him otherwise. Call's father had told him she died because of magic, which was true, though he never told Call how she died. The students tell Call about the great mage war and the cold massacre.
Their training is officially initiated by Master Rufus the next day at the school. He brings them to a secluded room, which Call would later dub the Room of Sand and Boredom, to sort through sand, much to the trio's disappointment. On their first day, Call winds up losing control and ruining what they had accomplished so far, much to Tamara's frustration and Call's shame.
Contrary to what they hoped for, the sorting goes on for weeks while they continue to hear about the fantastic lessons the other groups get from their Masters, like piloting boats and fighting elementals. While both Tamara and Aaron have people with whom to spend their time, Call usually spends time alone in his room. Despite this, Call begins to adjust to things about the new environment such as to the strange food that they eat, and even makes friends with a fellow student named Celia, as well as a few others who are friendly with him.
During the second week of their sand sorting, Call finally asks them if there is a faster way to finish their task. Though reluctant, Tamara tells them of a way to tap into an element—one that is dangerous and would most likely anger Master Rufus. While they discuss the risks, like the possibility of turning into elementals, they do it anyway. They each swallow grains of sand to open themselves up to the earth element.
Upon eating sand, they become more connected to and more in tune with the element. Call lifts the whole pile of sand and lets it float over them effortlessly, though he becomes slightly lightheaded, feeling an urge to sink into the ground and give in to the element. Aaron separates the pile, and Tamara makes patterns out of the sand. Suddenly, Master Rufus arrives, surprising the trio and causing them to drop the sand, and calls for Call. Assuming he is in trouble, Call is disappointed that neither Aaron nor Tamara seem interested in defending him. For 3 weeks, Call, Aaron and Tamara didn't talk to each other; assuming that Call was mad at Aaron and Tamara and Aaron and Tamara were mad at Call. But when Jasper says that Aaron and Tamara are only in the Room of Sand and Boredom because of Call, Tamara and Aaron stick up for Call. Call is glad that he has friends who stick up for him. The next day, Master Rufus throws gummy worms and plays loud annoying music, forcing Call, Aaron and Tamara to concentrate even harder than usual to sort the sand and making the process much slower. At the end, the three are very tired.
The next day the trio are told they will be having there first practical exam. The apprentices believe they will not succeed in this trial and Call even believes they will be injured or killed. When they arrive at the location of the test they discover to their great amazement and fear that they will be attempting to defeat wyvern - large, winged two legged beast similar to a dragon in appearance and an air elemental - along with the other Iron year apprentice. Jasper runs to the wyverns first holding a feeble fire ball. A wyvern released a mist from its mouth that causes Jasper to rise into the air. Next Aaron runs up to a wyvern but is thrown across the room. Master Rufus sends an ice hand that saves him and reassures Call that they are safe as long as the Masters are there. The wyverns separate and Call notices that Drew is in danger. he saves him by diverting the wyverns attention to him. He attempts to run away but his leg does not permit. He then tries to block himself and mistakenly uses Earth magic to push the wyvern back. Realizing that he and his friends can do earth magic efficiently the three defeat the wyverns along with help from Celia. They are rewarded with actual pizza without lichen.
Call gets a note from his father and decides that he wants to talk to him. So he uses the boat to get to Rufus's office even though he does not know how to use the boat. The boat then drifts of in the current. He has a conversation with his father who tells him he does not know what he is and that he should try to escaped the Magisterium. Call accidentally breaks a model and comes across a note from his dad to Rufus. The note tells Rufus to bind Call's magic. In fury and fear Call takes the note. A lizard shaped fire elemental catches him and threatens to tell Rufus he was here so Call decides to take him as well. When he leaves the office he finds himself lost. He decides to bargain with the lizard. If the lizard shows him the way to the dorm room he will let him loose. On their way to the dorm room they pass the Masters talking about the Enemy of Death's growing threat and how finding a Makar is crucial. Then Jasper and Celia practicing Magic where it is revealed that Jasper is not very rich and his family lost everything in the Second Mage War. He plans to regain their honor by being the best mage in the world. They eventually return and Callum lets the elemental out but it goes into his room and sleeps in crystals.
The weeks past and Call starts learning more magic, like making fire balls, controlling water, steering the boat, and his personal favorite. levitating. They also learn more about The Mage Wars. They often go outside and the Masters get to flaunt their pupils knowledge.
One time, the Masters allow Call, Tamara, and Aaron to explore the underground caves by themselves, use a map to find the Butterfly Pool and collect water,(A place for making weapons) mark some crystals to show the way they came from, and then get back. Call, Tamara, and Aaron get to the pool without any problems and pick up some water with their magic. However, the map suddenly bursts into flames and the group realizes they haven't marked enough crystals. Soon, they get lost. Call asks the lizard fire elemental, whom he has named Warren,to find a way out in exchange for his shoelace and some other small things. Call and the rest of the group follow Warren, but he starts acting suspiciously. Warren leads them to a lava river where a Devoured human elemental comes out of the river. The Devoured tries to absorb them and gives them a prophecy:"One of you shall fail, one of you shall die, and one of you is already dead." Master Rufus realizes they are in danger and stops the Devoured fire elemental. Warren disappears. He explains that the other elemental used to be his master, Master Marcus.
Afterwards, Drew managed to escape the Magisterium, but he didn't get far. Call was the first to find him, and after finding out that Drew's ankle was broken, he managed to heal it slightly using Earth magic, much to Drew's surprise. Then, wolves started to appear from over the hills, nearly killing some students. Aaron, having been angered by his friends' near deaths astounded everyone by performing chaos magic in his fury. But having not learned to control the strong magic, he was overcame by it and lost himself. Fortunately, Call managed to stop him before he did some serious damage.
While returning to the Magisterium, Call heard a rustle in some bushes and found a wolf pup. He took pity on it and managed to smuggle it into the Magisterium inside his jacket. Tamara and Aaron found out about it after the ceremony where Aaron was presented with the black onyx for his achievement in chaos magic and was named Makar. They then decided to name it Havoc, and though Aaron and Tamara were wary of it at first, they eventually soften and opened up to it.
It is also revealed that the reason Sarah's dying message was for Call, her own son, to be killed was because she was aware that the Enemy of Death transferred his soul from his dying body onto Call's.
- The cover art depicts Call, Aaron, and Tamara.
- The cover was illustrated by Alexandre Chaudret, and some of the design elements were done by Jim Tierney.
- The book features interior illustrations per chapter done by Scott Fischer.