Series: The Black Mage
Published by Self Published on August 11th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Source: Personal Copy
Sexual Content: Kissing
Reviewed by: James
Magic. Romance. Rivals. Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Falling Kingdoms, and Tamora Pierce.
Before the age of seventeen, the young men and women of Jerar are given a choice —pursue a trade or enroll in a trial year in one of the realm’s three war schools to study as a soldier, knight, or mage…
For fifteen-year-old Ryiah, the choice has always been easy. Become a mage and train in Combat, the most prestigious faction of magic.
Yet when she arrives, Ry finds herself competing against friend and foe for one of the exalted apprenticeships. Everyone is rooting for her to fail—first and foremost among them is Prince Darren, the school prodigy who has done nothing but make life miserable since she arrived.
Will Ry survive, or will her dream go down in flames?
I'm not certain why I picked up FIRST YEAR. I pick up YA books a lot less often these days, and even less so if they're about kids going to school. But I'm glad I made an exception for The Black Mage series because it is amazing.
Rachel E Carter knows how to write an amazing story without constraining herself by her world or the tropes of today. When I first started The Black Mage series, I assumed the four books in the series were just covering one year of schooling a piece. That is not the case and that thrilled me. FIRST YEAR does cover just the first year, but after that the books cover large spans of time. CANDIDATE finishing up the remaining four years of Ryiah's schooling, and the next two books cover her actually being a mage in the kingdom.
Carter also really did her research for FIRST YEAR. The school Ryiah goes to is more than just a school of learning, it's also like military Basic training and spec ops training. The drills and exercises that her characters do remind me a lot of the Navy SEAL biographies I've read. On that same line of thought, I love the magic system here. There isn't anything too unique about it, but I've never seen magic taught and increased through military style training, and I loved that.
Not enough books these days are willing to break away from some of the common tropes in the genre, but FIRST YEAR did a great job at it. Carter tells an awesome story in a great word, and it feels unique. It still relies on some tropes without following all of them, and for me that is the mark of a great story.Series Titles:
- First Year
- Last Stand