Review: First Year

First Year

The Black Mage Book One

by Rachel E. Carter


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 saw this book around a lot and it sounded like something I would like so I purchased it. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations. It wasn’t bad, but I think I just wanted something more from it. Honestly, it makes me feel really bad. I really wanted to like it, but just didn’t quite make it.

What I liked:

  • The biggest thing I liked was the characters. They are what made me want to read the next book. They stuck with me. Ryiah feels like she has a lot to prove and has a lot of persistence.  I just liked her. I also liked Ella and Alex. They were good characters.
  • Lots of training and school angst for for people who like that type of read
  • One scene sticks out in my mind of being really interesting/intriguing. When Ryiah drinks the hallucinogen, I loved what happened. I wanted more of that in the story, and it made me wonder if there’s more cool stuff to come in the next books.

What I didn’t like:

  • The story was predictable (even the love part). Blah. Hate when I figure things out without the anxiety of wondering if it will actually happen. I wanted a twist I couldn’t predict or one that left me hoping it would happen.
  • Darren is someone I wanted to like, but I never really understood him. I think if I understood him better, I might actually enjoy his character.
  • Priscilla was a another predictable thing about this story. She was the typical villain. I wanted more depth to her. Perhaps it comes in later books, but for now it was just kind of boring.
  • Ends abruptly.  We just find out what happens, and there’s no feelings to go along with it. No joy or shock in the journey made. I was surprised when it ended without there being more–in a bad way. It’s like the author just wants to pull you on to the next book without giving you fulfillment of this book.


Lots of people like this book, so I’m sure if you’re into fantasy school books with a little bit of romance angst, this would be a good pick for you. It is a best seller and has lots of great reviews, so I’m sure lots of people will enjoy this read. Will I pick up the next book? Maybe, but probably not.


8 thoughts on “Review: First Year

  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I often find that the first book in a series is the weakest and most of the time the series improves as it goes along. I hope that’s the case with this one.


  2. I have read too many books that I’ve wanted to like but their predictablity prohibits me from doing so. First Year sounds like it had a lot of potential to be solid story, I’m sorry it didn’t live up to your expectations.


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