Review: First Year (Black Mage #1) by Rachel E Carter


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?

Review:

I connected with the author, Rachel E Carter on GoodReads, after she liked my review of Shatter Me Series by Tahareh Mafi (Case in point: We still fight over MY Warner :D), and when I realized that she is an author herself, I was definitely intrigued to actually check her book out!!

The blurb though honestly reminds me of Harry Potter, an aggressive one to be honest. I had to wait a long while before I could actually read this, because Amazon India was being a poopy head regarding it’s price.

Now that February was the release month for Apprentice (Black Mage #2), the prices of Kindle edition went down to 0.99$ and I went shopping 😀

Now, I had done my utmost to actually not read any of the previous reviews on GoodReads. I wanted to be as unspoiled as possible, when I read this one.

The story begins with Ryiah and her twin Alex, journeying to the Academy to compete for 15 revered robes – Alchemy, Restoration (Healing!) and Combat. Ryiah and Alex have to battle it out against other students for those robes, including students with more noble background, who have had more training (read: private tutors!) before joining the Academy.

These nobles include Prince Darren, a condescending hot jerk, who still attracts Ryiah to him, while Lady Priscilla, Prince Darren’s bitchy “girlfriend” takes exception to this attraction between them. We have Ella, the noble best friend Ryiah makes and the love interest of Alex, Ryiah’s twin. A mix of all these characters, does not make for an easy year!

“The people that tell you what you want to hear are the most dangerous enemies you’ll ever meet.”

Ryiah is a character that is an amalgam of all that is real. She is stubborn, loyal, can be irritating at times, confused about her choices, follows her heart (Is it any wonder that I see myself in her?). She is a female character that you can identify with, not just because she makes it very easy to like her, but the trials she goes through, personally, are something that every girl knows about. Whom of us haven’t gotten feelings for that one guy we shouldn’t have! We all have been there! P

“There were a thousand reasons why kissing the non – heir, or letting him kiss me, was a mistake. He was a prince. He was fickle. He was rude. He was arrogant. I knew better. I was lowborn. He was wrong. I didn’t even like him.”

Darren, on the other hand, was turning out to be a typical condescending, rude, arrogant, entitle prince who was hiding a heart, not a cold stone within him. Honestly, though I did not go gaga, over him, not at first. He did not make a good first impression (I don’t think he was supposed to!) but I was keeping my mind open about him. But after what Ella told (I would tell you, but SPOILERS :P), I literally couldn’t stand him. If I would have been able, I would have travelled inside the book, violently beat him to death myself. But then, he throws a curve with just enough information that you doubt everything.

And that, exactly is the reason why I like to have both the character’s POV’s, so that I know both the sides of the story. And then, I wouldn’t have to kill the main character!! I really hate killing the main character off! In my mind of course, but still it becomes irritating, guessing what the other side of the story is.

Beyond that, this debut novel is a wonderful effort by Ms Carter to introduce us to a whole new world. Her writing is absolutely perfect, in that, imagining the storyline for me was pretty much easy and I just flew through the book, and I would have completed it a lot faster if real world hadn’t intruded.

The only thing that I didn’t like (The two POV is a personal preference really, not a reflection of the book!) is that there wasn’t a lot of character development and there was a lot of action without any other distraction – The Winter Ball, though could have been dealt with better and to be fair, I like Ian better than Darren 😀

But considering that this a debut novel, Ms. Carter has done an amazing job, and I have no doubt her future works have nowhere to go but up!

I can’t wait to get my hands on Apprentice (Black Mage #2), to know how Ryiah handles herself.(Whoops!! Spoilers!! Sorry Not Sorry! :D).

“Because it’s you, Ry. Nothing about your choices has ever been that simple.”

Rating:

4 / 5 Stars

(No offence, Rachel, but damn do I hate not knowing the whole story!)

Recommendation:

Definitely recommended for those fantasy lovers, with a penchant for a lot of action involving a badass heroine and a prissy prince!

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