This book. Where do I start? This book was…unexpectedly brilliant. I picked it up and looked at it and the kids on the cover looked awfully young (they were only twelve), and the front looked a bit boring, and it just appeared to be one of your typical kids-on-a-quest-against-the-unconquerable-foe type of a book. But I came to realize that it wasn’t like that at all. It also wasn’t like the second thing I expected, which was a bunch of students training at your typical magic school. I just gotta say that this book pleasantly surprised me, and getting on towards the end it took some turns that were really unexpected.

I was pleased that Callum Hunt didn’t turn out to be the main character you would expect to see. He had power, but what gave me the biggest joy (and ironically this happened right after I’d tweeted about this never happening) was that he WASN’T the guy with the great destiny that everyone was looking for. He had a light sarcasm that made the writing style flow well, and he actually had a disability, which was nice. It was also nice that his disability didn’t take up too much of the story. He wasn’t wailing and trying to get attention because he couldn’t walk right. It was just an unfortunate side effect.

Aaron Stewart was a likable character for me right off the bat. I really appreciated how he consistently looked for the good in others, and he protected Call even before they were friends by plucking Miri out of the air before it skewered him between the eyes. Aaron was totally humble and totally good, which made him the perfect fit for the hero. What made me happy is that he’s the best friend of the main character who ends up with the grand destiny, which is something you rarely see. I also love that Call has a grand destiny as well, but it’s at the exact opposite end of the spectrum. You rarely see the main character struggling with the fact that he’s actually the embodiment of evil.

Before I finished the book I was also going to mention Drew and how it appeared that he was more perceptive than he looked. I believe the words in my heard were “There’s more to him than meets the eye.” And all I gotta say is, boy, was I right about that!

Mostly I just can’t believe how I didn’t see all this stuff coming. I think I might have considered the possibilities if I’d stopped reading for a moment to think about what was happening. But this book was surprisingly captivating ~ which is pretty obvious if you think about the fact that I read it in a day.

– “Thoughts are free and subject to no rule.” –

Stop for a moment and look at this sentence. Isn’t it just a profound statement? If you think about it, it’s completely true: thoughts are the ONLY thing that cannot be bound by rules or laws. You can’t control how a person thinks (yet). This sentence wasn’t even an important part of the story. I’m not even sure it had much to do with the story. I don’t know if it added something deep and foreshadowing that I just didn’t see, or what. For me, it was just a line of profound wisdom etched over a door. But it’s pretty awesome.

– Aaron tried to start a conversation, but Tamara and Call were too bored to talk in more than grunts. But sometimes now, they all looked at one another and smiled the secret smiles of actual friendship. Exhausted friendship, but real friendship nonetheless. –

One thing I loved about this book is that there was absolutely NO romance in it, just pure, unfettered friendship. I think I may have cried if there was, because they’re only twelve. I’m surprised they’re even willing to be friends outside their genders ~ isn’t that the cootie stage or something? Or is that younger?

Something I have never understood is how people tell you not to work with your friends. I just don’t get that. I would LOVE to work with my best friends. It sounds like nothing but fun to me. I think that maybe it’s implied that it might cause you to fight over something work-related that might inch its way into your regular life and taint your relationship outside the workplace. But what people seem unable to see is the brilliance of the opportunity to work alongside a friend. Sure, you might fight some, and sure, you’ll see them on their worst days when they’re grumpy and tired, and sure, you’ll probably get the brunt of their most stinging sarcasm, but to me that all seems like a wonderful benefit. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from books and movies, it’s that it’s the HARDSHIPS that bring people together. Mutual pain is a BRILLIANT factor for growing a friendship. They’ll see ~ and so will you ~ if you’re willing to be there for them and stick with them through all the hard times and despite how ugly they can be on their bad days. Your loyalty will be repaid, and you’ll have a forever friend ~ a GOOD one, not just one of those awkward friendquaintance things. It’s absolutely brilliant!

– “Until a mage passes through the First Gate, his or her magic can be bound by one of the Masters. You would be unable to access the elements, unable to use your power.” –

There wasn’t anything deep that resonated with me about this, but I wanted to bring it up because of the choice Call made when he was facing the First Gate at the very end of the book. If he didn’t step through that gate, his Master would be able to bind his powers (which will eventually be dangerous to Aaron and everybody else that he’s met) and he wouldn’t be able to become the evil tyrant. But Call thought too much about what he would lose if he did so, and he refused to sacrifice his friends and his new beloved lifestyle, telling himself that he wouldn’t eventually become evil.

I must say that while I could see that it’s an incredibly difficult choice to make ~ I mean, come on, you have MAGIC POWERS ~ I don’t think I would have done as Call did. His decision was really selfish. If I knew that I was destined to become this evil person that would almost definitely kill my best friend, there is no way I would step through that gate. I would have my Master bind my power, even if it meant I had to leave the Magesterium and never see my best friend again. It would hurt, yeah. But lives would be saved. My best friend would be safe, even if I was no longer a part of his life. It would be never seeing him again that would be the hard part for me. I’m not sure I could handle that very well.

Anyway, I just gotta say that this book was really good and I’m really looking forward to the next four and watching Call slowly become evil. He seems like such a good kid now, it’s hard to comprehend him going bad, but I’m kind of sick-minded and I’m thoroughly looking forward to watching his slow descent to the dark side.