First Year (The Black Mage Book 1)

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3.8 (2)
 
4.0 (1)
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Age Range
10+
Release Date
August 12, 2014
ISBN
978-1946155009
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Magic. Romance. War. 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? *** The first book in the The Black Mage series by USA Today bestselling author Rachel E. Carter. ***

Editor reviews

2 reviews

A promising beginning.
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
A fantastic opener to what promises to be a fun series.

The story:
Ryiah and her twin brother are teens who leave their home to pursue a spot at the prestigious school for mages. Anyone with the talent can be taken on as a first year, but to get beyond that requires smarts and skill unmatched by many others. Ryiah can barely access her magic. She isn't a particularly good fight. But she wants to be a combat mage. She wants one of the coveted five spots. With the aid of her brother, some friends, and an unlikely ally, she tries to survive the challenges they throw at her, knowing that if she does, it only gets harder from there.

What I loved:
Ryiah is an incredibly fun character. She's a mix of fierce determination and self-doubt. It makes her very real in the reader's mind. The relationships she has with friends and her brother are a treat to watch unfold. Her development is slow and steady as she tries to overcome the deficiencies afforded to her because of her low birth. I can't wait to see what she becomes.
The editing in this book is absolutely perfect. By that, I mean not a single mistake. I can't remember the last time I had the pleasure of reading such an error-free book. The writing style flows easily from one scene to the next. It stays true to it's YA grouping in not letting itself get bogged down in complexities and flowery language. Simple sometimes has a bad connotation, but here I mean it in the best possible way. The writing steps back and lets the characters be the stars, rather than the words.

What was just okay for me:
At times, the plot moved rather slow and I just wasn't feeling Ryiah's connection with the prince. He was rude and cruel. Even if at times it was only pretend, I didn't understand her obsession. I am looking forward to my mind being changed as he's developed more in the next book.
I would have liked more backstory. We're not told why anything is the way that it is or what each faction's true purpose was. Was the kingdom at war? Did they have a desperate need for their magic? Luckily, it's only the first in the series so I'm assuming I'll find all that out.

Final Verdict:
An intriguing story with enthralling characters that shine brightly in their determination and fierce pride.
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Magic, classes, enemies or friends? The Black Mage is one to read!
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
First of all, I didn't expect to like FIRST YEAR, the first book fo The Black Mage series, so much. It's a mix of Harry Potter with maybe a bit of Vampire Academy. Twins, Ryiah and Alex, entered the most amazing Academy in the world to train and be mages. They come from a low class so students don't expect much from them, even though they befriend with Ella, a high class-y girl, so sweet and nice, she becomes Ryiah's main best friend.

This book has a lot of information, that threw me off a bit, because I don't like books that throw you a lot of information in like blocks of text. It's unappealing but it happens quite a lot of times. This book is like that though. Maybe the writing style isn't the most unique at all but it's entertaining, to be honest, the characters made this book and also the atmosphere that was going on while the whole story was happening. It was rather easy to start rooting for the characters and caring for them. They are nice and fun and there are some grumpy ones that will make you swoon (yes indeed).

I actually want to pick up the next book and see what happens next. It left off in such a good note, and I just want to know what will happen to the characters and their stories!!! Because yup, as the title says, this is their first year as student in the Academy so I believe there are more years and missions to conquer so they actually get to be mages.

It also features a hate to love trope between the ship. The prince is studying in the Academy too and he and Ryiah decide to hate each other since the first day. They banter A LOT, which is nice always. They throw dagger-eyes to each other and I would bet stick their tongues out in the dreams just to bother the other. At one point, they managed to become friends and help one another and some sparks fly. It's actualy pretty nice and cute to see the prince blushing and nervous when this happens. Though I do want to point out their behavior is very hot-and-cold, sometimes is nice but sometimes it's just so tiresome. He has to keep "appearences" I think... but there are moments when he smiles at her and defends her from his friends and everyone is just SHOCKED and it's so fun to see.

Overall if you enjoy Harry Potter, the wizardy parts, the battles, the classes and the friendships and enemies parts, The Black Mage will surely be one book you will want to try!
Good Points
1. The relationship
2. THE PRINCE OF COURSE [he's grumpy and he hates everyone, perfect lmao]
3. Twins as main characters!!
4. The magic academy is so interesting
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User reviews

1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
5.0  (1)
Characters 
 
4.0  (1)
Writing Style 
 
3.0  (1)
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Good series starter
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
This is a very good series introduction.

From the critical side, my first impression was that Rachel Carter broke one of the cardinal rules of naming lead characters--using one that could be hard to pronounce. "Ryiah" doesn't flow from the tongue. Perhaps it is just me, but I still don't know how to say it. The phrase "you guessed it" also made me cringe when it appeared outside a quotation, as I think she tried a bit too hard write like a 15 year old girl. I also would have liked to have seen more character development from the final grouping of successful individuals. It seemed that they were just names picked out of a hat at the end, with only one exception. However, it was only these relatively minor points and a few grammatical errors that kept this from getting a full five stars.

The plot is excellent, even if somewhat transparently obvious. Carter does a masterful job of creating a love-hate relationship and fostering the confusion between the two young leads. The dramatic effects of the grueling, life-altering pressure applied by their schooling is palpable. One can't help cheer on the accomplishments as they occur. The reader can also feel the tension develop right from the outset, and the increasing waves of ebb and flow add to the credibility of the ending.

The secondary plot line between Alex and Ella also works spectacularly, as both of the characters change just enough that their final exchange makes perfect sense.

The pacing flows perfectly, and I really couldn't put it down once I got to the last two chapters.

We learn enough of the worldview to get an introduction to the series, and because the only thing outside of "normal" pre-gunpowder earth is a bit of magic, Carter doesn't need to waste a lot of words setting the stage. I am sure we will learn about Jerar's history in subsequent novels, but more isn't needed in this introduction.

In summary, if you are looking for a quick-reading Young-Adult novel with just the right mix of conflict, teenage angst, arduous training and magic, go ahead and grab this one! Very likely you will be asking soon for book two!
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