Rachel E Carter – First Year (The Black Mage #1)

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Before the age of seventeen the young men and women of Jerar are given a choice -follow tradition, or pursue a trial year in one of the realm’s three war schools to study as a soldier, knight or mage…

For 15-year-old Ryiah the choice has always been easy. Become a warrior and leave the boring confines of her lowborn life behind. Set to enroll in the School of Knighthood on the eve of her next birthday, plans suddenly shift when her twin brother discovers powers. Hoping that hers will soon follow, she enrolls with Alex at the Academy instead -the realm’s most notorious war school for those with magic.

Yet when she arrives Ry finds herself competing against friend and foe for one of the exalted apprenticeships. Every “first-year” is given a trial year to prove their worth -and no amount of hard work and drive will guarantee them a spot. It seems like everyone is rooting for her to fail -and first and foremost among them Prince Darren, the school prodigy who has done nothing but make life miserable since she arrived.

When an accidental encounter leads Ryiah and Darren to an unlikely friendship she is convinced nothing good will come of it. But the lines become blurred when she begins to improve -and soon she is a key competitor for the faction of Combat… Still, nothing is ever as it seems -and when the world comes crashing down around her, Ry is forced to place faith in the one thing she can believe in -herself. Will it be enough?

I’m friends with this author on Goodreads, and she’s super nice! (Unlike some stalker authors that I won’t mention.) Plus, super smart too. I mean, I’m just putting it out there: If I were an author with new books coming out, becoming friends with people on Goodreads who would like my kind of book is pretty good publicity.

What I Didn’t Like:

– The originality factor of the book isn’t very high, if only because how many times have we seen a book where characters go in a school to learn magic?
Too many to even subtly name in this post. Characters go to school to learn magic, BAM. For me though, I cannot get enough of magic and fighting. It’s my favorite combo, and I’ll always give anything to do with those elements a try.

– The world building lacks a lot.
I’m not sure of anything beyond the Academy, which is where Ryiah and her friends train at to become apprentices. That was totally fine with me though, considering all the events happen in the Academy, which has plenty of details. From a hundred or so contestants, only five will become apprentices of Combat, where mages use their magic to fight for the king’s army. Among them is the non-heir (second son) of the kingdom, Darren. Darren’s character was pretty sweet, even though he had to be mean sometimes. Honestly, it’s complicated. Read the book to find out about the romance and how cute it was and how hard I ship.

What I Liked:

– The characters in the book are the bomb dot com.
The blurb honestly tells us enough, but they grow so much throughout the book. The emphasis on character is really great and I can find myself empathizing with them even though we’re from two completely different worlds and in two completely different situations. If you’re looking for a fierce main character who actually has to work hard to attain the level she wants, then look no further. Ryiah is pretty amazing – even with her numerous faults. Her twin brother, Alex, is jocular and easygoing, and she becomes friends with another great character, Ella. There are a bunch of other characters that have their own depth and emotion in them, which I’d recommend you read the book to find out.

– The characters progress and grow.
The author does an amazing job on detailing Ryiah’s school because that’s what we’re here for: learning. She struggles with keeping up with subjects while at the same time training her body physically and mentally. I really appreciate that because many a time in books a character is supposed to be in school for something or the other and it becomes a backdrop to another larger plot going on. In here, we’re here for what was advertised, the first year in the Academy. Thank you for not straying off into the woods or battling random trolls in the toilet because I’m not sure how that fits into coursework.

I’m in the IB Program, which is basically a European AP-style program (since AP is American) where we take specific “IB-level” classes that fit in the “IB curriculum.” It’s a great excuse to be an elitist but honestly I don’t recommend taking it. Have fun in high school while you can, kids. Before entering the program, the director goes to schools to advertise it, and the word he likes to constantly use to describe it is, “rigorous.” Rigorous is the perfect word to what Ryiah and her friend’s training is like. I would’ve been probably one of the first people to drop out. You actually see Ryiah suffering in her studies, actually training to get better at combat, and she doesn’t become an A-plus student all of a sudden. She progresses, like any other normal fool human does. Go you, Ryiah. Don’t let anything hold you down, least of all guys that act jerky because they’re trying to protect you.

Recommended for:
Magic and action-lovers that never seem to get tired of it. That’s me, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book and its characters. They all hold a place in my heart now, and if you get this and read it then they will in yours too, I guarantee it.

Rating: 4/5

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