First Year by Rachel E. Carter | I expected more from this

Posted November 7, 2019 by Sophia

First Year by Rachel E. Carter | I expected more from this

First Year by Rachel E. Carter | I expected more from thisFirst Year by Rachel E. Carter
The Black Mage #1
Other Books: Last Stand
Published by Self-Published on January 24, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eBook
Source: Owned

Magic. Romance. War. Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Falling Kingdoms, and Tamora Pierce.

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?

My expectations might have been too high.

In an attempt to clear off my owned Kindle reads, I picked on First Year as my victim and um…

I think my expectations may have been too high for the first book in The Black Mage series because I found many people enjoying them. Instead, I found myself gradually getting disappointed slowly at some point in the book.

First Year focuses a lot on training.

Much of the book focuses on the first years’ training and proving themselves so they could eventually get an apprenticeship. First Year follows Ryiah, a 15-year-old who makes it to The Academy with her brother Alex and has aspirations to become a combat mage.

I enjoyed learning about the training involved and the trials the first years have to go through, knowing the vast majority of them won’t make it in the end. Much of the world-building is only focused on The Academy’s training, which didn’t bother me much considering the context. However, there is little action and perhaps this is a personal taste, but I wanted more than just training.

Ryiah kicks butt and has much determination despite her struggles.

From the moment Ryiah makes her way to The Academy with Alex, she struggles to keep up with the rest of the first years. Struggling and getting in trouble (not always her fault) doesn’t stop Ryiah from being ambitious and going after her dreams of being a combat mage, though. She continues to push her way through, finding ways to keep up with the rest to the best of her abilities. I feel her determination to continue is one of the reasons why I continued reading First Year.

I wanted to know if Ryiah survives until the very end, and I cheered for her constantly because I wanted to see her hard work pay off. Plus she’s a low-born and that already puts her at a disadvantage with the other students vying for a chance to secure an apprenticeship. Her low status, in my opinion, is one way to set her apart as a character from other fantasy novels.

Love the friendship between Ryiah, Alex and Ella.

The friendship developed early on upon arrival at The Academy between the three were also a highlight. The three of them are constantly together throughout the book, encouraging and pushing each other to continue even when things weren’t looking too well. I also loved the dialogue between them, which gave the book a little less tension among all the competition.

First Year shows potential for the rest of the series.

Although I didn’t enjoy First Year as much as I hoped I would, I have high hopes for the rest of The Black Mage series. It’ll be interesting to see how Ryiah’s determination will help set her apart as she continues to navigate The Academy and potentially the world beyond, along with the relationships she develops with the other characters.

first year rachel e carter

Sophia started blogging in February 2012 for the hell of it and is surprisingly still around. She has a GIF for nearly everything, probably listens to too much K-Pop and is generally in an existential crisis of sorts (she's trying her best). In 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor's in Communications and minor in Women's Studies. More of her bookish reviews and K-pop Roundups can be found at The Arts STL.

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8 responses to “First Year by Rachel E. Carter | I expected more from this

  1. Sometimes that happens in first books in the series – where the author accidently ends up focusing on the power system and the world building and the training, and it forgets to have a plot in the first book, but just has the promise of a plot for the future novels. The friendship and Ryiah sounds good though! If you continue with the series, I hope book two is better.

    • Sophia

      Yep! I feel like that’s been happening lately with recent books, which is a struggle for me since I’m not the type of person who likes a huge focus on world-building (I’m more of a good balance with characters and plot in addition). I’m planning on getting to the second book eventually, and hope it’ll be good!

  2. Disappointing first books don’t always mean we don’t pick up the sequel. I find sometimes I’m still interested if things expand more. While I like training too it does need a little action to liven things up. I’m surprised the end lacked that. I hope you enjoy the sequel Sophia! ♥️

    • Sophia

      Definitely – completely agree. I’ve been noticing it a lot more lately in the books I’ve been reading. I’m also a little surprised by the lack of action too; generally there’s action and a cliffhanger of sorts that makes me want to get the sequel immediately.

    • Sophia

      Not sure if I’ll continue with the rest of the series, but it IS available on KU… I might do it if I’m in the mood. 🤔

  3. Haley

    I love books that focus on training but it sounds like they have overdone it slightly! Think I’ll keep an eye out for this one!

    • Sophia

      They did indeed! From the sounds of the rest of the series, it does get into less training (which is more fun if you ask me).