7.5.15

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


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

Goodreads Synopsis
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 loved this book. The writing was incredible, beautiful, and intense. At times, I felt like I was going through Ryiah's trials at the school and could actually feel her pain. And she felt so real too! She was tough and hard and determined, but she was still able to emote and cry when she was upset or something didn't go her way. Ryiah is definitely one of my top female characters now. 

The story itself was interesting; however, it felt like it could be a stand alone instead of the first in a series. I'm not sure how it will tie into whatever is next, or what would even happen next (I mean, other than Ryiah going through her apprenticeship). The trial process and Academy was riveting and kept me interesting. Since it was in first person, we learned a lot about Combat and their trials, but I would have loved to know what the Alchemists and Restorers go through to complete their trials. We caught glimpses but it wasn't enough to satisfy my curiosity. I liked that the story didn't drag since it was going over an entire year, but it also didn't lose the amount of details that were necessary to understand the story and build the characters. The plot progressed at a good pace -- and was a page turner. I started reading and didn't stop until I was done.

I liked the relationship Darren and Ryiah had; it was playful and headstrong -- much like the two of them. I like that Ryiah and Darren both obviously had feelings for one another but were still able to just be friends since he was betrothed the Priscilla (who is such a witch, but believable and still relatable). 
The ending was a bit predictable but ehhhh.

Overall: 4/5 stars! Really excited to read the next one in the series and find out what else is going to happen to my beloved Ryiah.

(P.S. I kind of want more Ian)

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