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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
caleb smith
I read a couple of these books. They are pretty predictable. None of the words they give you to describe the mood fits. Whiney is better. The main character makes horrible decisions over and over and does way too much whining and creating teenage drama. I expected it for the first book. But I also expected the character to grow more mature and the books went on. Nope. Just more whining and angst.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Horrible. The leading lady is written as someone who lacks intelligence, very fickle and really whiny. I have never seen a worse leading lady. Don't waste your time. It only gets worse in the next books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kelly williams
I liked this story because the main character was not perfect and yet she was likable and I kept cheering her on. The supporting characters were just as lovable. The tension between commoners and the high born created lots of great opportunities for romance and mayhem. I am buying the next book in the series as soon as I finish this review. So good!
Nightmares & Dreamscapes :: Dreamcatcher: A Novel :: Just After Sunset: Stories :: The Tommyknockers :: City of Bones (A Harry Bosch Novel)
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jacob edmond
I give the book 3 stars for being well edited. The story didn't interest me much getting to the meet of it. Not interested in a military academy that has a touch of magic weaved in. The heroine is a young G rated Anita Blake trying to prove how tough she is.
This book will probably appeal to those without much experience with sword and sorcery.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Stereotypes and predictability abounded in this story. Disappointed. a clear attempt at more "complex" character study was made, but failed. Not clear as to what actually happens and why with the decisions made to further the main character in the "school" nor with her "peers"
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
aaron guest
this is my kind of book. if you like reading books where the teenager is being trained at an academy and of course has issues with the antagonist then this is the book to read. looking forward to book 2.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anxhela cikopano
First book by Rachel Carter that I have had the pleasure of reading. It was just that, a pleasure. She grabbed my interest and took it for a enjoyable experience. Thank you I look forward to completing the series and continuing to other works by Rachel
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jessica jazdzewski
A very very good fAntasy book. The school itself is terrifying yet very thrilling. While you got your normal drama no matter the genre of book. It was still gratifying. I do hope she can outdo her nemesis one day.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
ok, it probably deserves more stars than 1 but I was expecting fantasy and instead I got a romance . I llike a little romance but this I would classify as an out and out romance not fantasy so I didn't care for it
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
shawna stuck
The book was filed with grammatical errors: Words were forgotten. Other times the same word was repeated. And the story line seemed fan fiction for Tamara Pierce's First Test. However, the challenges she faced seemed off. She dressed up as a boy to get to school because it was supposedly unsafe for girls to travel but then she never faced anymore challenges because of her girlhood. The story was predictable and somewhat basic, but I will admit that after I learned to ignore the grammatical mistakes and overlook discontinuities in the story line. I did want to know what would happen to this main character. I did want to know more about the word and about their magical abilities. What I did enjoy was the character interactions between the non-heir and the main character. Their discourse was entertaining and believable and the character development never wavered but I didn't really like any of the other characters except Ella. Here brother rubbed me the wrong direction with his womanizing and her almost encouragement of it. I don't think any girl would be ok if their twin brother acted like that around girls: "left a string of broken hearts" wherever he went. So I would give this book a 2.25 and would suggest the author decides the age group of the audience because it seemed like she wanted to direct it towards teens but the basic nature of the storyline in most parts lends itself to a much younger audience.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
erin molnar
After seeing the multiple positive reviews I had moderate expectations for this book. I was vastly let down. The main character is a whiny, lazy, entitled girl who spends the whole book alternately complaining how spoilt the nobility is and complaining how impossible the training is. She further wastes page time by ignoring the instructors and envying the wealthier students' previous tutelage. At the end she, justifiably, does not make the final cut. But then!! For no apparent reason - other than being the main character (and maybe having super awesome powerz!) - a crazy exception is made and she can still join because shez tots coolz. Apparently.
It honestly felt like a cheap ripoff of a Tamora Pierce book but without the care for world building or character development. Honestly, I would have been more than happy for "protagonist" Rhy to pull a George RR Martin trick and be removed from the story to allow a better character to take the lead
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Before I start the review, I have to say something. I binge-read this book in less than four hours. When I downloaded the ebook to my Kindle, I told myself that I would read ONE chapter and then read some more tomorrow morning before I had to go to college. I cracked open the book (or ebook) and began reading. Immediately the book started out strong. Within one chapter, I was already hooked. I couldn't stop reading. I told myself that I needed to go to sleep, that it was already ten p.m. and I had classes at 9, but my eyes were glued to my Kindle. Hours later, at 1:30 a.m., I finished First Year. And although I was bleary-eyed and evil to everyone I saw due to lack of sleep the following morning, I don't regret it. First Year was really good. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to read it!

The plot of the story- young adult training in the Academy to hone their magical abilities and secure their futures- reminds me a lot of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series. Luckily, while it does have some qualities that Hogwarts had, the Academy is MUCH different. Hogwarts seems like rainbows and unicorns compared to the Academy. With that said, I love Hogwarts. But, still, the Academy is so much rougher than Hogwarts. Hogwarts seems like a mythical haven to some, or even a magical getaway for others. But the Academy? I wouldn't want to step a foot inside that place. The Academy is not a vacation. The Academy only accepts the strongest of will, strength, and power. If you're weak, you won't last. This place isn't fun and games. It's challenging. It's rough. It reminds me of prison or boot camp... or both meshed together. Be that it may, I really liked the Academy. While it's not somewhere I would go, I did enjoy reading about it. It leads to a great story line. In fact, I'm glad that it was tough. If it hadn't, I probably wouldn't have liked this as much as I did.

This brings me to the characters. Because the Academy is so demanding, there has to be tough characters. There's no room for boring, weak, or annoying characters. These people need to be intense, strong, and determined. I'm glad that the author agreed with me on this. The main characters were worthy to be at the Academy. Not all of them were the best in the class, but they never stopped trying. Never. Especially Ryiah.

The characters:

Ryiah, or Ry, is one of the strongest young women I've seen in a YA novel in a long time. She wasn't nearly the best at any of the classes she had to take at the Academy, but she always tried! She worked really hard to make it to where she was at the end of the book, and I admire her for that. While she might not be the best when it comes to magic, she showed the most determination out of all of them. Personally, I'm glad that she wasn't able to hone into her magic abilities easily. I like it when the main character has flaws and actually has to work hard for the things that they want. I hate perfect characters. I'm glad that Ry wasn't perfect.

Another thing I liked about her: she was insecure at times. She wasn't sure about herself. She didn't know if she could handle the Academy. She teetered between leaving and staying. But, in the end, she hunkered down and held out. Despite all of the drama, intense training sessions, lack of sleep, and a confusing relationship with a certain prince, she holds on. That just shows how strong she was. Most people would have already ditched the place when they went through the first day of training, not to mention all of the other crap that Ry has to handle.

Alex is the twin brother of Ry. I really enjoyed Alex. While he's dedicated to his training and education, he can also be really funny at times. He enjoys being a ladies man, but at the same time I think that he wants to really be with someone. He's also very protective of Ry, which I think is so sweet. I don't know why, but I always go "Awwww" when the brother protects his sister. It's just so cute. I will say that I would have liked to have seen more of Alex in the book.

Ella is the best friend of Ry. Ella meets Ry at the Academy and they immediately hit it off. I liked the friendship that they two of them shared. Ella is really kind and sweet. She's a great friend to Ry and always helps her out to the best of her ability. Even though she is really nice, she can also be cruel, especially to people who try to hurt her loved ones. So I would say she's kind of territorial. I really enjoyed Ella and hope that I get to see more from her in the next book.

Now, for one of the most dynamic characters in the book: Prince Darren. I don't know what to say about the Prince. He's rude, mean, sarcastic, and quite snobby. He seems heartless throughout a large portion of the book, and I thought that I was going to hate him. Yet, at the same time, I liked him. (I know, that makes no sense!) Honestly, this was how I felt about Damon Salvatore. You want to hate him but you just can't. I have this same feeling for Prince Darren. He makes Ry's life at the Academy really hard at times and the reader wants to punch him, but then the next scene he'll help Ry out... and then, as the reader, you'll want to hug him. It doesn't help that he's a hunk, either! But even if he is really mean at times and you think that there's no way that the author can make you like him, it happens.

Like I said before, Prince Darren is a very dynamic character. He's got more than meets the eye. Underneath all of the false pretenses, he's actually a great guy. And he cares. He might not show it, but it's there. You can catch glimpses of his real emotions at times, and you know that he's not the bad guy that Ry thinks he is. He has his own reasons for his actions. You might think that there would be no excuse for some of the things that he does in the books, but then he spills the beans about his true intentions and you're left feeling guilty for not trusting his judgement in the first place! Darren will have you hating him one moment and loving him the next. It's a roller coaster ride!

The romance:

While there were many hints to a romance between numerous characters, it's not really the focus of the story. The focus is still training for a possible future through the Academy and passing the tests at the end of the first year to move on. Still, there are glimpses of possible romantic futures for some of our characters, and I hope that this happens! The relationship between Darren and Ry is really rocky and I feel like it will continue to be rocky, especially because of Priscilla, the evil "girlfriend" of Darren. I'm not sure how Darren and Ry will proceed in the next book. Their relationship, or friendship, rather, is very fragile at this moment, so I hope that they'll talk things through. But who knows? As for Alex, I hope he finds love with a certain someone... not saying any names, though.

The magic:

This was one of my favorite parts of the book! I liked the training sessions that the characters had to go through. It was really interesting and I liked learning about it. I will say that most of them are really hard and exhausting, but I thought it was enjoyable. (Probably because I'm not actually doing the work!) Anyway, I like the magical elements in the book and how it ties to the Academy.

Other thoughts:

I didn't really see any grammatical errors- only a few- but I want to let you guys know that the ebook version for First Year has yet to be edited completely. If I'm not mistaken, the paperback version has been edited. So keep that in mind if you're going to read the ebook/epub version. The dialogue flowed freely and smoothly; I didn't find many awkward lines and conversations. Also, I really enjoyed the writing style of Rachel Carter. She was very descriptive and was able to convey what she meant in a few sentences instead of having to drag it on and on forever.

I really enjoyed this book. I'm interested to see what will happen in the next book for Ry, Alex, Darren, Ella, and all of the other characters. I have a feeling that things are going to be any easier than they were in this book! I definitely look forward to reading the rest of the series. If you're a fan of Harry Potter, magic, swoon-worthy men that remind you of Damon Salvatore, an interesting writing style, and gradual romance, this might be the book for you! Go check it out!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
peter sullivan
Teenager love story with The usual doubts but little, or no carácter development. I evento read The second book to ser if something happens there, bit no after 5 years there is very little progress. The carácter goes from making 1000 mistakes to superherói, without you understanding why. No development in the story showing her personal difficulties overcome. The book/story Also lacks worldbuilding. The first book introduces a map that shows only names that mean nothing, since the world problems and places are not discussed. They are just a bunch of teenagers ínside a school worried about themselves. Oh, i suppose it fits.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
alyssa gimpayan
I'm just so disappointed right now.

This book was supposed to be phenomenal. I was supposed to fall head over heels in love with this series. It was going to be my new obsession.

Instead, I'm nearly in tears with how frustratingly predictable this book was. This book was just beyond redemption for me once I figured out the entire story by the third chapter and my reading process me right.

Here is my summary:
Girl finds untapped power. Girl goes to fight for position in exclusive academy. Girl had great potential. Girl falls for the Prince she should hate. They kiss, they fight, they make friends.Girl barely survives trials. Girl gets into academy despite the odds. The End.

.... I'm going to go have a tantrum in the corner now....
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mohammad jaradat
After reading so many great reviews I had great expectations but was quite disappointed. Poor girl that can't do anything right, is weak physically and mentally, doesn't appear to have made much progress at the end of the book.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
gallagher308comcast net
Worser than expected. I don't like the heroin to much angst and much anger as well. The world and characters doesn't make sens for me and you don't get aby basic informations how it works. still don't know how the magic works in this universe. I know obły it cost strengh and you puck a lot when tierd. I understand the heroin is goal oriented person but she really petty and egocentric. Maybe there is More in next book byt i won't risk my money on it, i heave no nerves to wait and see if she growns up.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
jeanne ligte
95% of the book described the process and steps of becoming an apprentice. A lot of telling in the book. Worst was how the heroine female was mistreated and bullied by the rich/highborn people. No romance at all. The only romance was on one kiss that the Prince and the bullied Rya. Too dry and analytical plot. Wasted money. It almost felt like a textbook that I would read at school. I don't recommend this book if you want to feel the romance. I won't be following the next book. Amateurish storyline...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
james bingham
This series was recommended to me in a really great YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi Facebook group.

Apart from it being recommended by multiple readers, I knew nothing about it and had also never read anything by this author.

You guys.

It's such a good story. There is minimal world building as the story is focused more on their lives within the Academy. The world building that there is, I feel personally, is just enough to paint the mental picture of where they live and the conditions they are living with.

It reminds me of when I first started watching Game of Thrones. There was this entire world and all sorts of conflict within each part of it, etc but the entirety of their history wasn't spelled out to you in the first few episodes (or in this case chapters) you learned things about it instead over the course of the show. Yes I am aware it's a book (Game of Thrones) but I haven't finished reading it so I am comparing this book (books really) to the TV show. Sue me, haha

You learn more about their politics, past wars, etc as the story continues. But like I said, the story is focused on their lives within the Academy and the training to become Mages.

Something I really loved about the main character is her ability to persevere but also that not everything came easy to her. She has to work at things. I like that she isn't perfect and makes mistakes (multiple times, haha) because while it is a work of fiction, she is much more relatable this way!

I can't wait to continue reading this series and seeing where the characters go. I also am looking forward to reading more by Rachel E. Carter!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jessica vanderbeek
I am ashamed to say, I don't write a review for every book I read. My hunger for the next great read is so insatiable, I hardly take the time to stop and write a review. Especially in series where I want to just go from the next to the next. Especially, while these books are great, they don't really stand out from the others I've read. Don't get me wrong; they are good enough to keep me reading through half the night and I end up dragging at work the next day from only 4 hours of sleep. But I'm not creative enough or articulate enough to come up with new things to say for every single book I read when they all just blend together at some point. So yeah my bad.

I am also all about romance and smut. Yep I said it; I'm not ashamed. The more steamy sex, the better.... and Paranormal Romance is my bread and butter.

That being said, once in a while, a YA book comes along that grabs me by the reins and doesn't let go. This is one of those books.

I've always been fascinated with magic, so that was a given. There is enough mystery in the almost romance to keep you guessing, and hoping. I think new romance and all the endless possibilities are the best parts. Where you have butterflies in your stomach and are unsure of yourself and how the other person feels about you. All those feelings of self doubt and where you wonder "does he really feel for me the way I feel"? Where you CAN'T stop reading because you HAVE to find out if they get their happily ever after. Smut books don't drag it out the same as YA books do so you have to appreciate how a YA author is able to hold your attention, day after day. Or in my case, hour after hour. The author did a fine job there.

I gotta admit. At first, this felt like a watered down version of the Harry Potter series in that they were magic students going to school to develop and hone their skills. But as I read on, I realized, while there are similarities, the books were nowhere near the same. Also, I love the H in this story. She was real. Her emotions, while sometimes petty and childish, were real. The author did a fine job in leading us through the many emotions a young adult, one of low standing, would feel when pitted against peers from a higher class. Feelings such as a bit of envy and jeoulousy that others were so better prepared because they had the best training their parents' money could buy and she had to work 100x as hard just to not get left FURTHER behind. Forget catching up. I like that the author kept it real. None of this, "I'm so special, I can just come here and be better than everyone else who has had YEARS of training." I enjoyed following the H on her journey to self-discovery, an iron hard will that could not be broken, and her acceptance of her limitations.

I will definitely be finishing this series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Now, usually I enjoy a good series more than once. But, I've read the Black Mage series more times than I can count, and each time I am caught up in the plot, characters, and emotions, as if I'm reading it for the first time! This series is on of my all time favorites ever, and I have no doubts that many others agree.

I especially loved how strong of a character Ryraih was. I always love boomks with strong female roles, and it inspired me how she overcame all the challeges thrown at her (even if she isn't real)

( NOTE: this is a reveiw for the whole series, mostly because I'm to lazy to write a seperate reveiw for each book, so be warned for any spoilers!!)

The thought and dedication for each problem and how it connected to the main plot was very immpressive. I wish more authers would make such complicated, interdependent plots for their books. It made everthing a lot moe intresting!

Finally, the chacater growth throughout the books was beatiful. I loved watching (reading?) the chacters grow and change.

Even though there is so much more I could say, I'll leave it at that. (mostly because, again, im lazy XD)

love, your fellow author / book critic,
Sparkle Girl

P.S. Don't judge the name, there's a reason for it!!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
edward linder
Loved this book and all it’s sequals! This series takes place over several years in the characters lives, which is great because it feels very realistic as you watch them all grow and mature into who they are, and the romantic relationships seem very feasible, unlike a lot of young adult books who make the characters fall in love instantly. I loved the love story, it really built out of friendship and was totally believeable. I didn’t feel this series was predictable at all, and I loved the creative liberties the author took with the plot. Lots of “I didn’t see that coming!” moments which I think are crucial in a good series (as long as it isn’t out of left field and actually makes sense). I couldn’t put any of the books in this series down, and was so sad when it was finally over! I felt it was wrapped up really nicely in the end and everything was tied together well. This seemed like a very well thought out story that wasn’t just made up as the author went, which I so appreciated after starting a couple duds recently. I would definitely read this again!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pam chapman
To be honest I had never heard of Rachel Carter and approached this book with a bit of skeptisim and doubt that I would like it. I could not be happier to have been proven wrong. The Black Mage was written from the pov of Ryiah. Ryiah is a twin growing up in a time of magic. She and her twin Alex are on their way to the Academy when they run into trouble. While Alex has shown magical ability in the past (the reason they are on their way to the Academy) Ryiah never has, but being a twin counterpart to someone with magical ability she too has untapped abilites. The trouble that she senses on the way to the Academy proves it. After finally reaching their desitnation they find out there are 122 hopeful first years, 15 of which will get an apprenticship. Included in the hopefuls is 2nd born to the throne Darren. Ryiah must not only learn the standards (history, math, combat) but must also learn to navigate the somewhat typical school drama and learn who is friend, who is foe, and who wants to have her taken out. I must admit this was a book that had me on edge cheering and laughing, crying and becoming angry just like any good book should. I truly can not wait for more from Rachel E Carter including, I hope, more in this gripping series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Book Review Highlights:

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Age: 15+

Type: Series, this is book one of four in the Black Mage Series.

Recommendation: Yes, it was a good start to a series and all are already published which is nice.

Pages: 322

Price: Good, this book is available for .99 cents for the e-book.

Summary: + interesting plot +detailed world building +well built characters +non-vomit inducing cliffhanger +/- developed characters - left me feeling underwhelmed.

Full Review:

I stumbled on First Year while trying to find something easy and quick to read while enjoying some hard-earned me time. I wanted something fun and not too serious, that if I so desired, could be binge read and wouldn't require any waiting to get to the end of the series. I naturally was pretty stoked to find First Year because the reviews are pretty stellar and it fit right into my desired criteria.

Complex enough to keep my attention but simple enough not to induce any anxiety, I really enjoyed reading this book. The world building is decent and allows you to understand the social hierarchy and the higher-ups. Who and what mages represent is also clearly described so you are able to understand what an undertaking the main characters are really facing. Helps to quantify their emotions as they face certain trials in the book. I like Ryiah and Darren and their dynamic. I like that it isn't love at first sight and they challenge each other. I also dig that the female lead doesn't immediately become the glory child. She is controversial and barely accepted. She has to work for every inch she is given. The ending is good but obviously contains a cliffhanger. It isn't one that makes you want to punch something though, so that is always a good thing. I plan on reading the other three books eventually but for now I am going to move on to something else. I felt mildly underwhelmed for some reason. Not really sure why because this book contains most of the things I love to find in a good series. Just one of those days I guess. Either way, if you are looking for something easy, fun and complete to read this may be the choice for you!

Disclaimer: I obtained a copy of this book on my own and volunteered to write an honest review.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
First Year by Rachel E. Carter is the first book from The Black Mage series and it's also the first book I've read by this author. I thoroughly enjoyed it, was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it, and now I'm going to make it a mission to read the rest of the series!

Ryiah had always wanted to join the Academy and become a Black Mage - one that is skilled in the faction of Combat. Both her and her twin brother Alex took on a long journey to enter the Academy for a year's trial sponsored by the Crown.

During this long year, they were first-year students at the Academy and things start to get interesting there. They made both friends and enemies and there's always a love interest in the midst. It's very tough being a first-year at the Academy and Ryiah put in extra effort to keep herself on top of her studies.

Towards the end of the book, there comes the trials which test each student's ability and after a week long, only 15 apprenticeships are given out to the remaining students. I really enjoyed reading the Combat scenes especially Ryiah's. I also enjoyed the little romance there was in this book, really hope there will be more in the next book!

Overall, I was really happy I got to pick up this book and I will keep an eye on Rachel's books in the future!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mary kathryn
Alright, this one was a rather nice read. All of the characters are well thought out, although the execution of writing these characters in the beginning of the novel was a bit rough. However, as the novel progressed, Rachel E. Carter's writing became more eloquent.

With her writing progression, Carter is able to create characters that grow and influence the reader's emotions. None of the character progressions seemed forced or out of place. Every character had a goal that they intended to reach by the end of the book, and their actions were able to reflect those goals.

The reason I had to knock this down to four stars as opposed to five was how obvious the ending was going to be. Sometimes authors can get away with it because there was enough of a plot twist previously that it was still somewhat a surprise. However, this cannot be said for this particular novel. In my opinion, the ending was just too obvious in order to continue the series, though I did still enjoy it.

Overall, it was a fantastic read, and I'm intrigued to see where the characters go.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
robbie coon
This book was recommended to me by one of my best friends, whom I know have a very similar taste to mine. So I take all her recommendations very seriously, and when she’s freaking out over a book, I know it’ll be good, and my expectations end up unreasonably high. But whatever my expectations of First Year were, it exceeded them, by far. I absolutely loved it!

Ryiah is awesome!

I have a weakness for badass heroines. And Ryiah is everything I could wish for in a heroine; totally badass, independent and sarcastic, but also flawed. She has a bit of a temper, but she also has a big sense of right and wrong. She’s very protective of the people she cares about. I really enjoyed reading about her, she was really relatable and just fun to read about.

I’m not even sure where to begin about Darren.

He’s a jerk. For most of the book, I hated him. But then he does these random nice things for Ryiah, and my heart started melting, piece by piece. And now, it’s more like a puddle of goo. And I’m left wanting more.

I fell in love with the world from page one!

In High Fantasy, world-building is probably the most important thing, because without good world-building, it just feels unrealistic and wrong. And Carter does it really well! First, the world is really interesting, and I wanted to learn more from the first page. But even more importantly, the way she does it is amazing. She drops small pieces of information every now and then, just enough to leave you curious, but not too much at the same time, so that it feels like a history lesson.

The plot and pace was okay.

I liked the plot, but the first half of the book could’ve been a bit more fast-paced. It took a while to get through the first part of the story, but once I’d gotten through half of it, it was impossible to put it down, I just had to know how it went! The last 50% made up for the slowness of the first half.

First Year was so much better than I ever expected! With layered characters, an interesting world, and amazing world-building, it will draw you in, hand you all the information you (think) you need and leave you with a false sense of security, only to rip the rug from under your feet and leave you doubting everything you thought was true. If you haven’t picked this up yet, you’re in for a treat!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
jesse andrews
The author has some talent, but spewing nonsense in a cohesive manner isn't good enough. Even in fantasy, the narrative has to be consistent and sensible. For example, "Most highborns hadn’t been below the top quarter of our class for any of the lessons. .... Only a third of the first-years in attendance were lowborn as it was." If the highborns made up 2/3 of the students, how did most of them remain in the top 1/4 of the class? Even if "most" meant only slightly more than 1/2 (though I would take "most" to mean more than that) this author seems to believe that 33% or more of the students consistently performed in the top 25% of the class. This is not possible in any universe. This is simply stupid. The foolish statements aren't limited to an inability to understand basic math and the errors are strewn throughout the book. Children shouldn't read stupid.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Look, I stole this manuscript from the author before it was ever published. Why might you ask? Because I'm omniscient and I could sense the genius that poured from the great mind that is Rachel E. Carter before she even wrote the darn thing. So naturally the moment it was complete (and I literally mean the exact moment) I stole it. And I read it. Every day and every night until my eyes bled. They bled tears of joy, sweet, delicious (to a vampire), red tears of joy. At last, I found a book that so perfectly captured my essence. My very existence! You can imagine how hard that would be for an omniscient being like myself but alas, Rachel has succeeded. I made many copy's of her book since then. It's currently the wall paper in all my rooms, the bed upon which I sleep, my pillow and also my sheets. I even named my dog "First Year" and my cat was named black magic but that honestly has nothing to do with the book. He's a sorcerer. Anywho, I highly recommend you buy this book and decorate your house with it, and if you feel so inclined, create a bed and bed set to match out of it. Oh and read it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Though this was the definition of a YA book, I really really enjoyed it. I found the cliches to be endearing and not a hinderance given the content. Simply put, it was fantastically written and I wound up buying the next two books because I was so pleased with this first book. There was just something about the story, the trials the main character Ryiah went through, the way she stayed strong and worked hard to her end result, that kept me coming back and wanting more. I knew that I was just getting a taste of the story and this world, and can only guess where it will go from here. The characters might be cliched, but they all brought smiles to my face, especially Alex and Ella. The stars of course were stubborn, headstrong Ryiah and broody, cranky Darren. They worked well together and I'm excited to see where their romance will go (it's inevitable). I also enjoyed the variety of the trials and how the students approached them. The magic and world-building were good and I look forward to seeing them expanded on. Long story short, this is a fun, easygoing read that sets the spark for what I expect will be a stellar YA series.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
alisia compton
I know this book is listed as for YA, but I was quite disappointed by it. Granted, I had just finished the Gentlemen Bastards series - and Lynch is worlds away from Carter apparently. It's the same predictable storyline one can find in any one of a thousand different novels. Not original and at times quite boring. I had to force myself to finish it just so I could say that I did. I mean no offense at all to the author, but if it's any indication I will not be continuing with the series. Hope this helps.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
julie parr
I don't know if I would ever be able to survive a first year like this. Rachel E. Carter dives us into a world where the characters have to give all that they've got and then give some more. Right from the start magic is illusive for Ryiah, and you know it is going to be a struggle for her to get by. And struggle she does. But the great thing about Ryiah is that she never gives up, and she does the work. She doesn't sit there and complain when things aren't going her way. Instead, she steps out on the practice field and puts in the effort needed to make herself more. She is admirable in her studiousness, her work ethic, and her determination. She learns from her mistakes and works to not repeat them. Overall, Ryiah is an excellent main character to follow around. The scene at the academy is set very well. Life is detailed well, and you feel as though you are immersed in each of the trials with them. The use of magic in the three forms was interesting, and different elements incorporated in the training techniques were unique. The one thing I did wish the book had more details about was the outside world. I got about three quarters of the way done with the book and I thought, "But what is happening in the outside world?" Little is said about the state of the kingdom as a whole. The entire focus is on Ryiah and her schooling. At this point I felt like I was missing a bigger picture. As I said, I didn't think about this until the book was mostly over, so I was able to be engrossed with Ryiah in her studies. But when I did notice it, I felt the lack of an underlying theme. Is Ryiah just becoming a Mage because of the prestige and because it has been her dream? Or is there trouble in the kingdom? Are they at war with another kingdom who is trying to enslave them? Is the royalty currently in power corrupt? (Some on them obviously are.) So the questions I want to know are when Ryiah finishes school, what is she going to be doing? Do the powerful magicians sit around twiddling their thumbs until one day they are needed or are they thrust into a situation where everyday they are battling to preserve the strength of their kingdom and save the lives of their people? I wanted the world to be bigger. The First Year was a nice little pocket of Ryiah's world that enthralled me and kept me entertained, but I hope in the future to see more of the world she's fighting to be a part of.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
This is a pretty good book, for what it is, which is a romance novel. Pretty formulaic romance novel, but well written, if you like romance novel. If you are looking for a fantasy novel, don't bother. Another novelist who thinks they can misrepresent what they are selling, and then complain about their reviews. What do they think is going to happen when people who like fantasy, and think they are getting fantasy, find a YA romance novel? That their writing is so good they will create a new romance novel fan?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Ryiah and her twin brother Alex were on their way to the Academy when a group of riders separated them and halted their journey. Alex got away from them without a scratch; Ryiah on the other hand ended the fight with cuts and bruises and blood. How she was able to get away from a burning bandit was a shock to her.

The Academy was that one place most teens of Jerar had dreamed of going. There they'd be given the choice to train themselves to becoming a soldier, a knight or a mage. And Ryiah was determined to train in Combat and prove herself worthy.

As a first year, together with her brother and new found friends, life in the Academy wasn't exactly how they envisioned it to be. There were a lot of hurdles, challenges, life-threatening tasks and foes who looked down on their lowborn status.

And then there's non-heir prince Darren.. First time they met, they clashed, daggers in their eyes, contempt in their words, distrust in each other's guts.

I couldn't stop reading this once I started with the first chapter. This was really good! Ryiah was so likeable, a heroine that I'd love to meet one day. She's got the spunk and strong resolve that made her a very endearing character. Her twin Alex was a good comic relief, in my opinion, although he also got that manly qualities a woman would find quite admirable. Prince Darren, oh yes, he's stubborn and arrogant at first, but deep within him was a child you'd love to cuddle and protect.

It's been a long time since I last read a fantasy/YA book and it feels really awesome to start my year with an awesome story like First Year. It got the feels of Harry Potter and Throne of Glass and Sword of Truth series. I so love love love how the story unfolded. I love the surprises along the way and the plot really had me turning the pages. Rachel E. Carter's writing was hypnotic and addicting and thrilling. I can't wait to read the rest of the series!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
soyoung park
I decided to take a look at this book because Scarlett Dawn, another amazing author, made a post on Facebook about it and I thought “If she loved it so much maybe I will enjoy it too”!


I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!!! I started it when last night and I literally could not put it down! I was up till like 2 AM just to finish this book because it was just that good!
The pace is fantastic, and I like that it’s romantic without being overly done. Ryiah doesn’t let her feelings toward Darren overcloud her judgement or what she needs to do. She knows what she wants and will LITERALLY try to DIE before giving up the chance to be a member of Combat. She is kickass and I LOVE HER!!!
I am going to point out right now that I am not completely sold on the whole Darren thing…maybe it’s just the way he comes off in the first book, standoffish and assholey….I hate those types…but I do want to make a note here that there is a part in the book where another possible love interest makes an appearance
- Below is a direct quote from the book-

How is it that a beautiful girl finds herself alone with more food than even Sir Piers could eat?”
I started. To my right was a young man not much older than myself. He had short, curly brown hair and hazel-green eyes. They were crinkled with silent laughter.
Whether it was the festivities or my intuition, I liked the stranger immediately.
He wasn’t hard to look at either. Not hard at all. I felt a wave of gutsiness.
“I find myself alone,” I replied shamelessly, “because no one has captivated my interest.”
“Yes.” The stranger smiled. “I can see that…The question now is whether I have?”
“I wouldn’t know. Perhaps you should keep me company, so I can find out.

SWOON WORTHY!!!!! I swear I was all ready for that to be more than just a short encounter and then she has an awful moment with Darren which just makes Ian all the more awesome in my opinion!!!!
Okay so moving on…Alex and Eve totally need to be a thing he just needs to realize that she’s totally into him. Pricilla needs a good ass whooping by Ryiah and I hope that happens in the next book because she needs to be brought down like a hundred pegs or so! She’s just so freaking mean! I hate bullies!
If Darren changes his ways and turns out to be a nicer guy then maybe he needs to end up with a nice girl, but I’m not entirely sold on the whole Ryiah and Darren thing…which seems to be what EVERYONE is rooting for… I guess I like to think out of the box sometimes with my books!
The magic is realistic too, you don’t have an unlimited amount, and certain people have more magic stamina based on skill and endurance. It’s awesome!
Also I want to point out that I have read a series of books that seemed similar to this, but not really…you know like there are moments when your like “Oh this reminds me of so and so’”? Well I got that a lot and that’s not a bad thing because I completely LOVED that series too

Okay, so since I don’t want to give the whole book away I am going to calm myself down! I feel like I could just keep going, and going, and going…….NEVER ENDING!!!!!
HA HA HA…but seriously if you haven’t read this series yet, pick this book up and just get to it because it is AMAZEBALLS!!!!! JUST DO IT!!!!!!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I loved this story just as much as I've loved everything I've ever read by Tamora Pierce. In the same vein as Alanna's journey to knighthood, Ryiah's first year at the Academy is TOUGH. Between the homework, the mean girl, trying to figure out her tricky magic, and a prince with garnet-colored eyes who may or may not be the biggest jerk she's ever met, Ry has her hands full. She has a dream and her determination, but will it be enough to overcome the disadvantage of being a low-born? And what kind of game is the Prince playing at, anyway?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
When I read that this series was recommended for fans of Tamora Pierce I had a moment of "here we go...". More than once I've picked up a book and found myself greatly disappointed. This was not one of those books. Within the first few pages I found myself already intrigued by the main characters and the potential of their story. As the book continued I found myself captivated and I devoured each page thrilled to read more. For the first time in months I actually found a book that hasn't left going "Yeah, it's okay." and I'm already scrambling for the next novel. I definitely recommend this book to all who are a fan of magic and a touch of medieval fantasy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This book was a pleasant surprise. The type of books I normally go for are the hard core suspense/action, saving the world kinda thing, but this book actually kept me. It follows a girl named Ryiah through a grueling first year of trials to become a mage apprentice. There are hundreds of kids who come out and try to claim one of 5, yes only 5!, spots. She is behind because she still had not been able to access her magic. She is only able to on her way to the academy and that was only by luck. She is pretty much the underdog during the whole first half of the book. That could be due to the fact that everyone else is already so far ahead of her that it took her that long to catch up. In this book we see her twin, a best friend, a non-heir dick of a prince, and a bratty highborn along with hundreds of other students fight for a chance to be a combat mage. You don't want to miss out on this series
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Overall it's a cool story in the coming-of-age-at-magic-school trope. The writer's descriptive imagery is strong and her main character's inner dialogues really build a dimensional character out of Ryiah. I eye-rolled when I began reading and realized it was first-person perspective, but at least it's past-tense and the perspective of the narration doesn't stray into omniscience.
Besides the occasional typos and grammatical errors, there are two things that bother me. Neither have any impact on the story so I'm still really enjoying it:
1. The model on the cover, presumably portraying Ryiah. She does not evoke the character of Ryiah described in the pages, at all. She looks unfettered, unfocused, and blank. These are things Ryiah is most certainly not.
2. The fact that Ryiah has this cool, unique and magical-sounding name, but no one else in the book does. It's just really odd and a bit distracting. To have her be the only one makes me think this character is the writer's baby, her pride and joy, and the other characters just kind of had their names thrown at them as afterthoughts, without much consideration.

Don't let my critique of these minor and frivolous details discourage you from trying this book. It's fun and really nicely done, overall.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lois kuyper rushing
To start with, I am not a young adult......have not been a YA for several decades. I am a fan of magic and fantasy worlds and this hit the spot for me. After reading the First Year, I went on and read the others. Then, I saw there was a prequel, which I have not been able to find. No matter. If it turns up I will read it too. Right now, I am looking for more books by Rachel E. Carter.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I was a bit apprehensive about reading this book. My first thought was a copycat format of Potter and Hogwarts. I was wrong. It's a darker adult story. The Academy pushes its students to surpass their beliefs of what they are capable of doing. The instructors attempt to force the weaker magically inclined students out of the school.
The main character, Ryiah, is a strong determined young lady with self doubt. She wavers between believing she needs to stay and leaving. In the end she stays. She is not by any means the best student; that is a toss up between two other characters, the prettiest character, or of money but she is a strong role model.
Her twin brother comes across as a ladies man and flirt but he is as determined to stay at the Academy as Ryiah is. Alex, the brother, is carefree until he believes his sister needs protecting.
Ryiah's bestie, Ella, helps and supports Ryiah throughout the book. She is a level headed character who may or may not be a bit judgemental of a certain non heir.
Darren, the non heir, is a character that you will want to hate but will end up liking him. Just as Ryiah cannot decipher him and his actions, neither can the reader. He is a snob, snarky, and mean but at times when faced with Ryiah alone, a softer side is shown. Which is his true character?
Overall, I am glad I picked up this book and read it. I cannot wait to begin book 2.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
neha asthana
If this was marketed as a romance and not as fantasy, the rating would be non-existent. I don't read teeny bopper romance books and that's what this book is all about. It has as much depth as a thimble and is all about he hates me, she hates me, he loves me, she loves me schlock.

Now, if this was marketed as a teen romance and I had actually chosen to read that genre, it would score much higher. The book is well edited and the story flows along well enough for that type of book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ms rose
What did I think of First Year? Well, its now 7:44 am and I never went to bed.

I really enjoyed reading this, all of it, I want more!

For those who are fans of the Tamora Pierce's Small Protector series, First Year is right up your alley. Strong lead characters that flourish and grow under adversity, working towards a dream held onto since childhood, to be a Warrior Mage. The book reminds me of the Air Awakens series by Elise Kova as well.

The book is well written, a good steady time line that is easy to see where the characters grow and seeing the education really setting in for them at the Academy. I do like Rye and want to see more, but I'd like to see some of her twins perspective a bit more but then again it's not necessary. Ella as her friend is a nice surprise, and their friendship at first is questionable but later events reveal they really are good friends, despite the class difference.

The price being at the Academy is suspicious, their love hate relationship is one I've seen before but I do relish it, so I totally enjoyed watching their friendship get tangled. Where it'll go form here I have no idea, but I'm eager for the next book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
noura alabdulkader
This book took me on a journey through the eyes of a young peasant girl in a rich country. Through the pain of being a girl with the dream of being a great soldier. Through the pain of training to be a fighter who faced real injuries, even death. It took us through her inward pain of a uneducated naive girl who had to face the reality that she was ignorant, so she forced herself to be on an equal footing as she stayed up late studying to catch up with the upper class students who had already knew about the world, philosophy, history and maths. She got up early to learn the fighting skills that the rich had been tutored in all their lives. And she fought her physical weaknesses to be as strong as a man. Despite all she conquered she never learned to find peace with her own fury. So again she will start behind the rest when she starts the next year. Will she be ready for real combat?
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This book was a lot of fun. Honestly, it was. It had its darkness but it was one of those worlds that I could get lost in and enjoy. It was a great start to a series that I am definitely looking forward to diving into more. It was also a simple fantasy, which I loved. I read SO MUCH fantasy as of late and though I adore it, I do find that sometimes I feel like there are so many rules and so much going on that I have to take a lot of reading breaks and such. Not the case with this one. It all made sense, and it kind of made things simple and easy to get in to without making me feel like I am an idiot when it comes to fantasy. I loved it. Just a few more reasons to get you to understand my love for this book...
In a way it gave me a Harry Potter vibe and even a little bit of X-Men (this could be entirely my own thing, but the school vibe was definitely something that brought my back to HP and the way the magic works definitely felt like X-Men in a way).
There are fantastic friendships formed. Not your stereotypical ones that just happen to work out, but real friendships. Friendships where they literally have each other's backs and would do anything for the other. You saw all the ups and downs of the friendships, which is so true to real life. I loved that.
Ryiah, the main character, is so incredibly relate-able. She's average. She is no one special and she has to work hard for what she wants. Who can't relate to working their butt of to get what they want, and even not always getting it all the the time? I just felt like she was the PERFECT character for me to read about.
I loved this book. It was SO worth the read, and I am so excited to continue on with the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jonas ludvigsen
"The Black Mage: First Year" a blend of fantasy and romance is set in Jerar where fifteen year old Ryiah a lowborn whose magic is stimulated by pain dreams of winning an apprenticeship to the Academy, the kingdom's infamous war school. With one hundred and twenty-two other students Ryiah faces a rigorous program of study and physical training that's not for the fainthearted. Over the year the Masters in the Restoration, Alchemy and Combat factions weed out the chaff leaving fifteen of the finest as apprentices.

On a journey of self-discovery Ryiah often fails in her attempt to control her magic and to enhance her stamina until she develops an unusual friendship with Prince Darren, the top competitor in the Combat faction. In a topsy-turvy relationship where she has a hard time determining whether he's a friend or enemy Ryiah also has to contend with his friends who despise her and will do anything to ensure her failure.

Rachel Carter sets the stage in this fascinating and stirring tale in a kingdom where young men and women before their seventeenth birthday are given a choice to study in one of three war schools to become either a soldier, knight or mage. With a predilection for magic Ryiah and her brother Alex, the children of a lowborn apothecary enroll at the Academy at Sjeka to compete for one of fifteen apprenticeships with highborns who have had the advantage of studying with tutors. In a plot that's well-developed and fast-paced the author weaves a plot where the odds are stacked against Ryiah's success because she has no idea at first how to develop her magic, finds the program difficult and slowly becomes entangled in a forbidden relationship with a royal who constantly makes her life miserable.

As Ryiah struggles to overcome her weaknesses, to learn lessons about her magic from experience and practice, she continually has to face physical pain, deception, betrayal and loss of trust in the struggle to make her dream a reality. On a journey of discovery to find her potential Ryiah accidently finds a champion among those who want her to fail. Attracted to Prince Darren not only does she begin to lose her reserve and trust his help, but to believe he could care and believe in her. In an fiery ending Ryiah discovers that nothing is what it seems and that she must dig deep, and believe in herself if she is to succeed.

Like the plot the characters are well-developed and mesmerizing with all their flaws, faults and strengths. Ryiah is a gangly awkward girl who's insecure about the magic that seems to flow from her pain at first. With time, friendship and a feisty spirit she becomes more confident and determined to overcome her inhibitions and fears at the Academy. In contrast her twin brother Alex who wants to join the Restoration faction is rational and level -headed until it comes to protecting his sister. A charming flirt he's very self-assured until he meets Ella a highborn who's outspoken, amiable and loyal to Ryiah. The enigmatic Prince Darren is moody, rude and private. Only with his inner circle of friends including the snotty, overconfident and mean-spirited Priscilla does he seem to let his guard down. Yet after meeting Ryiah in the Library Darren begins to show her reluctant consideration and an approachability that develops into a teasing rivalry.

I thoroughly enjoyed this enthralling story that captivated me from beginning to end. It is a fantasy that's well-worth reading and I'm looking forward to the next novel in the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kat tucker
(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review).

(This review may contain spoilers).

I felt that parts of this book reminded me of Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness books. I did enjoy reading about Ryiah... and I found her to be a really well-rounded character, though less so when I felt she was getting a bit obsessive about Darren.

Although the book seemed to set up quite early on for Ryiah to be that much more powerful than many of the other students, I felt that she wasn't set to be a ridiculously over-powered character. It was good to see that she had to work for the skills she developed and although the training was especially harsh and brutal, I liked reading about how Ryiah and her friends had to work hard at the training. I was less clear about why some of the nobles were so good at it, though.

I thought it was interesting to see how the training didn't start off with showing the students spells, instead having them learn discipline and the normal kinds of lessons young people that age would learn. I thought it was good that the training was so intensive (because I thought it worked really well to see the students having to develop more than just their magic skills), but it seemed strange that the masters hated first-years so much. I could understand them being hard on the students, but some things they did came across as downright cruel.

I liked Ella's friendship with Ryiah, though I could really have done without the constant references to Alex's conquests with girls. I didn't really ship Alex and Ella together, especially after Ryiah made it clear how much of a ladies' man her brother was.

I didn't really like the potential romance between Ryiah and Darren, either. I liked the friendship aspects a lot more and I think it would have been better to stick with that. Although I did share the dislike the others had for Darren to begin with, I did feel that the author did a good job of turning it around... without ruining Darren's original personality.

I would be interested in reading the next book in this series, but it would be good to read less about the romance/love triangle. I liked the friendships formed a lot better... and to be honest, I felt the sideplot with Clayton was completely unnecessary. Still, I read this book really quickly and it was enjoyable to read. Ryiah was a likable character and I'd like to see more of her journey.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mark garrett
4.5 stars - Received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Carter’s book about mages is captivating and magical, mostly in character development and vivid descriptions of training and battle scenes. We follow the main character, Ryiah, through her first year at the realm’s most prestigious magic Academy where she trains hard with her twin brother Alex and friends they have picked up along the way. Clear your mind of all things Harry Potter; this is a very different depiction of magic school. Here, magic isn’t taught, it’s an innate ability one either has or does not have. While there are lessons at the Academy for geography, history, and math; there are training exercises for physical fitness, weapon wielding, and magical casting. Attendees at the Academy work their minds and bodies incredibly hard their first year in order to secure one of five spots in each category of Combat warriors, Alchemists, and healing Restoration mages.

Though witty, brave, hardworking and dedicated to beating the odds against her, Ryiah starts out insecure in her own abilities, performance, and chances at succeeding. As two of several low-born first years with enough potential to participate at the Academy, Ryiah and her twin Alex have considerably less schooling and training under their belt than most of their comrades when the year begins. This only motivates Ryiah to practice harder with weaponry and casting and to study longer hours in the library. Throughout her first year, we follow her progression of increasing skills and increasing confidence. This growth feels natural and watching her improve is satisfying.

Also satisfying is watching Ryiah’s usual realistic and sarcastic demeanor turn into fluttered heartbeats and speechlessness as the mysterious Prince’s behavior leaves her confused about both his intentions and her reactions. There is no insta-love or insta-crush or love triangles in the First Year; a welcome and refreshing change in the realm of magical YA stories.

Some things could have been expanded upon more, and likely will be in the three books to follow. While several characters had personalities and back stories of their own, the realm in which the school exists is not as well developed. Nor is the danger Ryiah faces on the road along the way to the Academy in the first chapter. Still, the book held my attention and I can’t wait to find out what happens next!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
It has been quite a while since I can say that I felt the need/desire to stay up all night to finish a book. I started reading and could not stop no matter how late it got I just could not stop. I loved the characters, I loved the conflict between the characters, I was enthralled by the idea of everyone being able to learn and show their potential as a mage of whichever faction they choose. I even liked the fact that it was exclusive and limited to 5 mages per faction. I can not say enough good about this author or this series. Be ready to get hooked and hooked fast.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jennifer butler
One thing this book did well is it really gave the reader the impression that Ryiah was doing this against all odds. It also did an excellent job of keeping Darren's character questionable, something which stories frequently abandon after the first few chapters.

However, there was a layer to Ryiah that felt a little shallow. Some of the choices she made and the thoughts she had were conflicting, and not in a good way. I was given the impression that she was in her later teens at least, but she felt almost pubescent with some of her actions.

Apart from that, it was still a very enjoyable read. Very reminiscent of similar fantasy adventure stories, but an original tale nonetheless, and one that I would willing recommend to anybody looking for a few days of entertainment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I cannot express how excited I am to have found a new series to obsess over. I've had the worst book hangover since reading A Court of Mist and Fury, and could not fina anything to really pull me in. I was beginning to worry that I could no longer enjoy the escape of reading. Then, I was introduced to the Black Mage series by my Blind Date With A Book club on FB. Rachel E. Carter cured my hangover and then some. I love the world she has created and all of the characters she has introduced to us. Ryiah is strong, but has tons of growing room. She isn't perfect and things don't come easy to her. She works her butt off every moment of the book. Her brother, Alex, and new bff, Ella, are lovable and everything Ryiah could want in a support system. Prince Darren is swoon worthy and completely kick in the nuts worthy. The angst I can feel coming has me squeeling and on the edge of my seat. If you haven't read First Year yet, DO IT! You don't have to worry about an immediate hangover since there are 3 more books and a novella to devour. ?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alison f
The Black Mage is a wonderful YA fantasy book, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the genre…and even if you aren’t yet, this book would be the perfect introduction. The plot and storyline are solid and the writing flows smoothly, plus you get characters that are very well developed and relatable. You’ll come to care about them, and cheer them on through their first year at the Academy, rooting for your favorites to come out with an Apprenticeship.

I found the story to be intriguing and for the most part I didn’t want to put it down. There were some points during the reading that I wanted it to move along a bit faster, but really every page is necessary to be able to get the full story.

Ryiah is a fantastically strong female character, someone that younger readers can look up to. Her twin brother Alex is fun while still being serious about making it through the first year for an apprenticeship. The friends the two of them make during their first year make up a great supporting cast that help round out the book quite nicely. And Darren is the consummate bad boy prince-sarcastic, snarky and irritating but still the perfect match to Ryiah’s more emotional and trusting character.

The story will suck you in, and the last quarter or so when everything starts to come to a head will really keep you riveted to the page.

4.5 brilliant stars for this first installment of The Black Mage series, and I’m highly anticipating the next book!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
sharon k
The premise of this story in outline form catches your attention and you want to know more. It is disappointing that there is no world building. You do not learn some of the history of this world. You simply land in a school and you go from one violent action to another. You learn that the main character is determined but all of the significant characters are determined. You really are not given sufficient background on each character or of the world that they live in. I suppose this is purposeful? So that you will read the next book? But each book should stand alone and this was the first book in the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sarah wilfong
*rubs hands together*
Let's begin, shall we?

The book starts out fast and continues that pacing for the remainder of the book, which I appreciate immensely. I started it and before I knew it I was 60 pages in with a crazed look of sleep deprivation on my face, but did that make me go to sleep? Nope, I had too much anticipation to keep reading. Which carried through into the school day where my Nook's battery died and killed a part of my soul in the process. Thank God for rechargeable batteries.


Ryiah and her twin Alex set out to attend the Academy, a school for mages. Before you can really "attend" the school though, you have to pass the first year where they pick 15 students from a group of, well, more than 15 students.
I love the way the author used the concept of magic and mages. I thought it was original and her writing was extremely believable because WHEW, the way the teachers worked the students at the Academy made my heart beat fast and feel as if I had just run their workout course. It was brutal. The workouts were crazy, and it didn't help that Darren had to go and piss me off time and time again. Darren. I wanna talk about Darren. YOU probably want me to talk about Darren. Fine, I will. What can I say? I'm a people pleaser. ;)

That is, after I talk about Ryiah (mwauhahaha got you didn't I?)

Ryiah, the main character, is great. She's completely hot headed and gets herself into all kinds of crap, but she's endearingly rash. And I loved that the author never cut her a break. Nothing came easy to Ryiah, making her work for everything. And when I say everything I mean everything. She had GREAT character growth, it was completely realistic. I can't wait to see her in the next book. It's gon' be good!

Now we can talk about Darren. You're welcome.

Darren is the younger son of the King of Jerar, the non-heir as he's sometimes referred to. How to describe this boy?
*taps chin in deep thought*
He's broody. (Aren't all the good ones, though)
He's a prince. (Therefore capable of fulfilling your(my) Kate Middleton dreams)
He's freaken powerful. See that charred tree over there? Yup, he smoked that. Cuz he's powerful. A prodigy to be exact. True story.
He's....he's... frustrating . So wishy washy in his feelings. But, like I said, aren't all the good ones. And Ryiah certainly didn't help with her impulsiveness to certain situations. (What situations you ask? Entertaining ones. And get your mind out of the gutter, not that kind. Well, not ALL that kind)

But yeah, I like Darren. He pissed me off. But he's a cutie underneath it all, I can tell. (*taps head* I'm psychic)

My only problem with this book was the world building. I understand that the story was set solely at the Academy and we'll probably get to learn the world in the sequels, but I don't know anything about Jerar outside of the Academy.

An extremely fun book. Fast paced and ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh can't wait for the sequel!

Happy Reading!!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
***I received the eBook free as a review copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review***

This is going to be one of those reviews where I can’t do the book justice (and have to restrict myself from fangirling which often leads to no longer forming coherent sentences) because First Year was just so amazing!

Right from the start, before I’d even picked the book up I could see that it included all the components to my perfect read. Including: interesting magic, a boarding school that makes me wish I could live there (even though I wouldn’t last 5 minutes), a tough but flawed female heroine, a hot surly guy, great friendships and did I mention that the hot guy was also a Prince…! *swoons* He had me from the first glare.

Well that’s not strictly true, it took a lot of time to warm up to Darren our mysterious Prince, just like it did for Ryiah and even then their interactions were hot and cold (see what I did there… since they have the power of fire… and may or may not have set the other on fire once…). Anyways, I loved how Ryiah was a complete no nonsense girl and could give back as many insults as she took, even when it came to him. Especially when it came to him.

No one in this book was “perfect” and they all made mistakes, it was seeing this that made them feel real. I simply wanted to jump right into this world with them; even though I wouldn’t last 2 seconds as I already said, with the physical competence of a panda and no magic to my name.

Also, everyone played their part. The side-characters weren’t just there for the hell of it, but influenced decisions and made plenty of their own. I’d take a novella based off these characters any day! It would be fascinating to see more on Ryiah’s best friend Ella’s past, or her brother Alex and most definitely Darren. Who wouldn’t want to know what was going on in that secretive head of his? Hell I’d even take a scene from Priscilla’s POV! (Providing she gets hit over the head at least once. With a truck). Just give me more!

There’s no doubting that I can’t wait for the next book. Looking forward to more ass-kicking and maybe a profession of love or two… Let’s see how this love-triangle works out and hope it is just as great as everything else *fingers crossed*

Posted on:
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
meg perry
I couldn't put this down! I was second guessing so much until the very end and that NEVER happens! I like that it really didn't focus on a romance as much as it did the grueling journey of a girl trying to make up for the disadvantages of having talent but being too low born to have tutors to hone her natural talents. I love her fighting spirit and can totally identify with her "I'll do it, or die trying" mantra.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
4.5 Stars

I am stoked about the rest of this series and can't wait to read it. That's a good feeling to have at the end of Book 1!

This is like Harry Potter, but darker and somehow more realistic. I think the author has done a great job of building the world these characters live in, and how their school is a cutthroat and brutal place to be. I LOVE the abundance of strong women (Ryiah, Ella, Eve, and yes, even Priscilla even though she's the worst), and I have a feeling there will be even more strong female characters in the books to come.

Bad-boy-villian love interests are fun. and I'm expecting an epic showdown between the MC and another character in the next book.... We'll see.

I'm hoping to get more background information on the MC's family in the coming books. That's the one piece I felt was ever so slightly lacking in this one. We got a little bit of history - enough so that the story makes sense - but I feel like there is so much more to unpack there. I'm looking forward to it.

On to the next one!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I'm kind of torn about this book, for the most part I really liked it. It had good character development, like-able lead characters and a well written story. I enjoyed the action and the way that Ryiah dug herself out of the mud numerous times to keep trying. I love that when things went wrong she didn't whine and wallow, she got up and did something about it. This seemed to veer to the younger side of YA, but I loved the fact that it was clean YA literature.
I loved Alex and Ella and the lack of drama between the three of them. It was nice that they were so supportive of each other instead of the normal teen drama, which Ryiah seemed to get enough of from other people in the story (Priscilla).
Darren was a source of frustration for me. For the most part I thought he was kind of a jerk. He did have some redeeming moments but overall I'm not sure that it was enough to make me like him. I'm hoping that this comes from misunderstandings, some of which were explained at the end, but I need to see a lot of growth for me to cheer for team Darren.
I did love the ending and overall I enjoyed this book and am excited to read the next one in the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
craig louis
I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. I mean, look at that cover, right? I'm such a cover snob, I admit it, but seriously, with a cover like that, I knew the inside would be amazing. was even better than I thought.
I've been in somewhat of a reading slump lately, and this book has brought me out of it. I loved the characters, the world, the action...I loved everything.

This book has everything you could hope for in a fantasy world. You need to read it. As for me, I can't wait to get my hands on book two.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
faiz ridwan
Thanks to Rachel E. Carter for providing me with a copy of this book.

Rating 4.5 stars

This book took me by surprise! I thought I was going to get an easygoing, magical school story. WRONG! I got a page-turner with suspense and action all starting from the first page. This book is sure to make it on my favorite reads list this year!
This book was given to me yesterday and I just could not put it down... I finished at 1:30 am and wanted to write a review right after.
But my feelings were all over the place, my laptop battery was low and my eyes were closing every five seconds.
Fortunately my feels are still with me and a little bit in check and order so I can write a proper review.

As I said, this book surprised me. I wasn’t prepared for this action packed story. The first page made us jump right into the book, which is a good thing, and by the end of chapter one my heart was already beating fast. This book was kind of like Throne of Glass with the magical school vibes of Harry Potter!

I had mixed feelings towards the heroine in the beginning of the book.
She didn’t make stupid and predictable choices like you would expect and so many main characters like her would do. She was headstrong and didn’t give up easily. I admired her for that.
She was still pretty naïve and at some points I slapped my forehead because I just couldn’t believe what she was doing.

She grew a lot throughout the story. The moment she came into contact with the school and the people there she realized that it wouldn’t be the easy school life she was expecting and adjusted to it. By the middle of the book I was fond of her and she made me laugh, cry and feel things like I was in her shoes facing those situations.

The relationships with the other characters were really interesting. It didn’t feel forced or uncomfortable and it was mostly very entertaining to read. Ella and Alex are amazing. Reading about them always felt like a treat.
The sibling bond that Ryiah had with her twin brother Alex was adorable. When her other brother, Derrick, also made an appearance it was cute because they do stand behind one another and get along.

Then there is Darren…

What can I say about Darren? I wanted to kiss him so badly, but at the same time he deserved to be slapped. Hard!
The thing I loved most about this book is that not only Ryiah developed, but that Darren, too, grew on me.
In the beginning I wanted to slap, insult and possibly beat him at magic. He was arrogant and cut off.
BUT he helped Ryiah grow and in return she helped him grow, they supported each other even though they didn’t always mean to, so I now have a special place in my heart for the both of them.

I loved the ending. It wasn’t too predictable, but at the same time we know what would happen ;)

I have one last remark;
To everyone who already read this book, can we applaud Marius for that ending please?! It was one of my favorite parts of the book!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kay cooke
This series took me on a whirlwind. I had a friend insisting I needed to read it. I bought the whole series and it took me 6 months to actually sit down and read them. I finished all 4 books in 5 days.

This was one of the first times in a long time where I didn't always predict what was going to happen next. I appreciated the movement through the time frame in the books and how it focused on the important highlights of the storyline. The characters developed nicely and continued to grow as the series progressed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christina bravo
I had been in a reading slump when I came across this series. I had already reread all of my go to books like Shatter me, red queen, the selection, harry potter, etc. I saw this and thought to myself "why not"
Let's just say I am very happy that I made that decison.
I read the first two books within one day, and the last two took me less than a day each. (I am a very fast reader and usually go through about 6 books a week, (Also, for anyone who knows about The Shadowhunter Chronicles, (the books, not the crappy television show) I read Lord of Shadows in one day. I also read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in just a little over a day, just to give you an idea of my speedy reading skills) and I hadn't read anything new in a while, so I freaking plowed through this series. Its sad, I know. I have no life. But why have friends when you could be surrounded by your favorite characters and read about attractive princes who can cast magic? Am I right?)
The last book crushed my soul while I was reading it. And that, my friends, is one of the many signs of an extremely good book. I'd have to say my favorite of the series had to be the second book, Apprentice. I was drawn to the drama, all of the petty behavior was highly amusing. I couldn't help but laugh out loud and cringe when certain characters did certain things.

I feel like the readers who would most enjoy this series are the teenage girls who are ready to read about some kickass magic and romance. At least, that is what I am usually looking for in a book.
Nevertheless, I don't care if you are a 50 year old man, dammit, read the freaking books if you want. I'll let you be the judge of who you think should read these books, and that may or may not be you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
seth walter
* i received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*
find more of my reviews @


Awesome heroine who defends herself with a strong determination and doesn't give way to people who don't deserve her-CHECK
Distant prince who seems like a puzzle with a heart of frost you're dying to melt-CHECK

If that hasn't already peaked your interest there's more!
First off there are three factions, Alchemy, Restoration and the most popular one, Combat. Every year teens with powers are sent to this academy and compete for the chance to win one of the fifteen spots available-5 for each faction-and become an apprentice,You can imagine how hard the stakes are to be in the top 5 out of more than a hundred pupils...

The story is fast paced and there was no unnecessary scenes that could have been avoided. It starts off with Ryiah and her twin, Alex, journeying to the Academy when they sense they're being followed Right away you get a feel of Ryiah's character. She's brave, daring and wants to prove herself. I love the relationship between her and her brother, Alex was kind of a player but totally sweet and very protective of Ryiah. She doesn't take anyone's crap and she stands up for herself. Even when Darren makes mistakes i loved that she didn't just mope around for him and fawn over how he must be feeling. No, she was like, if he's going to do stuff like that then he doesn't deserve me! How cool is that for a heroine! You won't see any sappy romance here just steamy and REAL romance,

But you'd expect her to be the best student because of her determination right? Wrong. Ryiah is by far the best student. She falls asleep in class, forgets to finish her homework, sucks in Combat training! But it made her so much more humane. I think one of the aspects of the book that the author wanted to convey was Ryiah's transformation-how she went from one of the last to one of the best. I adored seeing her evolve through the book until she finally became what she wanted to be. She had a goal and she did what she had to, to reach it. Of course, Darren is one of the bests and he's the only one who actually believes in her ability and that she deserves to be here. There's a pretty intense relationship between the two and no insta-love. You see their relationship grow into something more.

Quick thing-man the teachers are awesome and evil in this book! I was grinning madly when they couldn't make students quit and at their glee when they did!

This book has some amazing action, romance and sweet friendships. This book pictures clearly how a far a girl's dedication can take her! One of my favorites this year and HIGHLY recommended for all YA lovers. Can't wait to find out where this series goes as we go deeper into this magical and alluring world!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A pleasant surprise! I wasn't really sure what to expect other than some kind of fantasy and luke warm budding romance.
I don't generally like first person writing, but Ms Carter did a very good job.

The Good:
We have a determined young woman who has a goal and she's willing to do anything to meet that goal.
An egotistical prince who is interesting despite being a jerk.
The odd relationship + unsettling attraction that springs up between our red head and the ego prince jerk is what kept me reading.

The Bad:
No world building. We don't know the names of kingdoms until later on, we don't understand any kind of political structures, it's very unnerving to be thrown into a world with no set parameters. It wasn't enough for me to stop reading, but the lack of world building was rather annoying to me.

Despite bad world building I still read the sequel Black Mage Apprentice.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bob crawshaw
I didn't love Ry. In fact, I thought she was a little annoying. In contrast, I loved Alanna and have been a fan of Tamora Pierce's series of the same name for almost 20 years. That comparison is why I started this series in the first place. The difference in the two series being talent. Not the author (though it IS hard to compare to Ms. Pierce), but the main character. Alanna, for all her faults, was intelligent in a way that Ry is not, and that really cut down on the enjoyment factor for me.

I hope the characters improve in the next book; if not, I won't be able to continue the series despite how talented the author is. I need my female protagonist to be more than just determined.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I received a copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review!

An impressive read! I enjoyed many aspects of this story, but the best was witnessing the growth of the characters, especially Ryiah. The odds were stacked against her (on all sides!) but she never gave up. Sure, it helped that she didn't want certain other people to "win" or beat her, lol. The whole thing with Darren was a little slow moving for me, I kept thinking, 'kiss him/her already!!!' LOL

The writing is good! For the most part, I found it easy to stay wrapped up in the story. (For the first little while, things seemed to drag on a bit with nothing 'overly exciting' happening, but soon the story picked up again and I was sucked back in! That's the main reason I gave it a 4 instead of a 5)

The author does an awesome job describing the duel scenes between the characters. I could easily envision magic being thrown around in the form of shields and swords (and whatever else) as if I was watching a movie, not reading a book! One of my favorite scenes was Ryiah finding the mirror room and practicing her moves. Loved it.

If you enjoyed books like Harry Potter, The Name of the Wind, Divergent, or Hunger Games, you'll probably love this one!

I'm looking forward to the next book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A friend recommended this book to me and I have to admit that I had already seen this book on the store several times before but the cover had put me off buying it. I am so glad though that I listened to this friend as once I got past the cover, I really enjoyed this book.

Ry is my favourite character as she is such a strong character, she's just the main female lead that I want to be reading about. Darren, well let's just say I am not a fan of him at the moment. I'm looking forward to seeing whether Rachel will change my mind in the next book but at the moment those chances are pretty slim. Ian however is someone I'm liking a lot.

Don't let this cover put you off as there really is a gem of a book hidden between its covers and I'm looking forward to seeing what will happen next.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Engrossing, endearing YA fantasy tale...

So, I don't normally write reviews, but I wanted to let others out there in search of a really substantial story that The Black Mage: First Year by Rachel E. Carter is worth reading and having your imagination absorbed in this fantasy world.

I especially find the main protagonist, Ryiah, to be so endearing because she perseveres and has substance to her, has goals that go beyond just throwing herself into a romance ( and it's a mysterious one, to be sure, which is a lot of fun to read but at the same time, you want your female protagonist to care about other things, things bigger than herself or potential love interest). She has heart and kindness and again, pluck and self-awareness about her as she makes mistakes and learns from them/reflects on them. She is loyal to her friends and she uses her mind. Grit and resolve also come to mind to describe Ryiah--all qualities that I want in my protagonist.

I think it is valuable to let others know about good stories (isn't that what we're all looking for?), so I wanted to let those of you out there who enjoy a good story (one that makes you care about the characters but also one that is set at a good pace and has tactile descriptions) that this book is one of those.

I think Ms. Carter has done a great job here and I look forward to learning more about the world (more world-building I hope and political intrigue) around Ryiah as the planned 4-book series continues. This book was especially character-driven, so I was absorbed in the "who" of it all, but not as much the "why" of the story--why does this country need these Combat mages and revere them as much as they seem to? what various other countries is Ryiah's country at war with and why?

I wonder even if the male protagonist's point of view would add dimension in the next 3 books of the series? Just a thought.

it's engaging (and I know that word is used a lot in book reviews but this story has enough substance to it to successfully carry you along with it). it's clean with just the right amount of romantic tension and the arc of the story, to take a line from Ms. Carter, has so much "potential" as we wait for the next book to come out!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sharmi de silva
Really enjoyed reading this book. Well written, great characters, interesting premise, overall a nice change from the things I have been finding about online. I read a lot, on Kindle, iBooks, scribed, etc. I am retired and it becomes increasingly difficult to find interesting material. I look forward to the rest of this series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rohit mathur
Lately I been reading many different genres of books. However, I decided to get back to my roots and pick up a good old fantasy. This book was on some recommended list. It look good so I decided to read it. I glad that I did. The story is about a girl as she struggles through first year of magic school. She has ups and downs and many close calls but in the end she make it through. It has very good character development and the story leaves you wanting more.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alexandra sanchez
Exceptional talent breeds exceptional friends and enemies. This novel was incomplete in that it did not resolve many of the conflicts it introduced. However, the characters were interesting and evolved throughout the plot. Clearly it was written to familiarize the reader with the world and to prepare for the next volume.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
michael richardson
I love a fantasy series set in a medieval era with magic and a strong female protagonist (think Tamora Pierce). This has all that and even though it wasn’t the most original concept, I loved Ryiah from the start and I also loved the tension between her and Darren. I also like that Ryiah feels real because she is not likeable all the time - she has flaws, makes bad decisions and people don’t always like her.
That being said, I think this series was pretty middle of the road but the ending could have saved it. However, I didn’t like it at all. This is definitely a YA series and I am a bit out of the age range, so maybe a younger audience would feel differently, but I would say there are many books out there and this isn’t a series I’ll revisit.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kelly gontar
What a wonderful debut. The Black Mage: First Year takes place in the Academy, where over one hundred students with different levels of magical potential go to compete over fifteen revered robes. Five for Alchemy, five for Restoration (or Healing), and five for Combat, the most popular faction. Ryiah and Alex, twins from a lowborn family, battle it out against students from all over the area, including those born with more noble blood, who’ve had a lot of practise before they came to the Academy. There’s also the matter of that pesky prince Darren, who’s a condescending jerk, but who won’t stop playing loops inside Ryiah’s brain. It’s about to be a tough year for sure.

There were many positive aspects in this book. For starters, I like that, even though it’s a magical boarding school, it doesn’t have a Harry Potter feeling to it. Even more so, it doesn’t try to have one, which is refreshing. It’s a lot more physical – we see Ryiah and the others during a lot of Combat sessions, so she’s training her magic and her fighting abilities the entire time.

Which brings me to the next issue, which is Ryiah’s improvements. In the beginning, she is one of the worst scoring students, but she’s determined to get one of those robes, so she trains, and she trains hard. She’s not one of those special snowflakes who suddenly develops amazing abilities overnight. This girl takes an entire year to devote all of her free time to studying, catching up on homework, and honing her physical skills. How the girl manages to do all of that without dropping dead is beyond me, but I really appreciated the fact that she improved by actually working for it.

There’s also the matter of the budding “romance”. It’s clear from the very get-go that prince Darren is supposed to be the love interest, only he’s not exactly likeable. He’s exactly what everyone expects a royal to be – arrogant, condescending, and entirely too skilled for his own good. He’s constantly demeaning Ryiah and showing her off. And yet there is something alluring about him – the typical tall, dark, handsome, mysterious man, who decides to help Ryiah every now and then, because he sees potential in her. While everyone else is wondering what the heck this girl is still doing at the Academy, there’s the best student of the year who has faith in her abilities. And that’s enough to make this reader swoon. That may or may not have something to do with the fact that I’m a total sucker for love/hate relationships.

Last but not least, the main character has friends. I know, right? How odd. She has a love interest and friends and other interests beside this love interest (granted, it’s not like they’re in a relationship or anything, but, you know, it’s worth mentioning). And these friends actually play an important part in the story! They’re not just there for decoration, or for saying the right thing at the right time. They have their own personalities and their own plots, and you can love them for a whole different set of reasons.

The only criticism I can offer is that it sometimes got a little repetitive. I love that there was so much focus on Ryiah’s determination to improve, but there were a lot of training scenes and fight scenes and battle scenes. I would’ve liked a little more variation in between. For instance, the winter solstice ball could’ve been a really nice break from their hectic schedules where they had fun together, instead of using it as an excuse to introduce us to a different future love interest (and have Ryiah fight some more).

Other than that, I really enjoyed this book. The main character wasn’t a wimp – she was realistically flawed and great – and the tension – the tension! – was divine. Definitely worth picking up if you’ve got a few hours to spare. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
tom kollman
Technically NOT `Book 1': there is a {currently FREE} "PREQUEL" that they've designated `Book 0' {discovered in the `About This Book' section when I opened it to add this to my GoodReads `Currently Reading' list} -- which {I don't know about you but} I would definitely consider part of the series and therefore list with the others ...
As for rating the book -- I'll update this AFTER I've actually read it {to be honest though? I'm on Chapter 3 - of 15 - & it has it's ups and downs :/}
Ogf to read the Prequel: "NON-HEIR (The Black Mage Prequel Novella: Book 0)"
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Those was such an exciting story to read. The characters were easy to feel and understand. The one big major part that is left out the whole time that drives me crazy is who and why are they fighting? I understand that to be a combat mage will get you money, respect, and a good life if you survive.....but who the heck will they fight and why? I look forward to seeing what the next book will bring.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
grace lilly
I really enjoyed reading this book. The storyline is really interesting and the characters are lovable and very well developed. As usual with me and ebooks, I didn't spend much time looking into what the book was supposed to be about. I just love to read haha... I was very happy to have came across this one. The main character, Ry, is put through a really tough time and is trying to make sense of her abilities in the process. Add onto that the fact that she's vying for an apprenticeship against the other first-years and you can't help but be the only one pulling for her most of the time. Great read, great author. I'm excited to see what the rest of the series has in store.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
First Year was an explosive start to what I can see evolving into an amazing realm of mages, court intrigue and magic.
The first book of the black mage series follows Ryiah, as she and her twin brother enroll at the country's only Academy for Magic to compete with hundreds for one of the 15 apprenticeship positions. Ryiah's struggle intensifies when she strives for a position in the most popular faction, Combat. On top of that Ryiah must bear the difficulties that arise from her lowborn heritage and the elitism that is rife towards the members of court, particularly the second prince, Darren.
I loved that Ryiah was not a character that was 'blessed' with 'special' powers, but rather all her accomplishments arise from her dedication and months of tireless work ethic. This leads to an unlikely and tense friendship between her and the otherwise caustic Darren. Although the subsequent books have a greater exploration of the worldspace and an emphasis on romance, the keypoint of the first book is more about the pressures of intensive schooling, friendship and family.
I loved Alex, he's my dream big brother and Ella is the best friend that everyone needs. The Academy teacher's were realistic, they were unrelenting and had absolutely no niceties, which adds to the competitiveness and difficulty of the war school.
And of course there was Darren and Ryiah, I loved their rapport and Carter's foundation for an attraction between them, which I can see developing to something more in the future.
Overall, a great debut novel, which has built the framework for an imaginative Mage world and a truly epic fantasy series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
julie jaffe
It took me a while to get started in this book. I had it a couple months and tried several times to get started without results. I'm glad I finally got started. Its a good read. The book got better as it went along. If you enjoy magic, mysterious heros who might really be villains, and other fantasy war novel stories you'll like this one. Give it a try.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rebekah prager
I enjoy books of magic & well developed characters...excitement & overcoming adversity.
Loved this whole series...
Only thing i was disappointed in was I found the pre novella afterwards...& didnt want to get tangked into a trial...
I read the 1st Year & Apptentice hardly taking a after reading Candidate & barely finished with Last Stand...What a ride...
I was so into the characters & story line...i had tears running down my face as i tried to focus on the words as i read the last stands taking place...
Find my self kind of sad the series is ended...
Great Job...!!!
I will be watching for more of your reads...!!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book was amazing and the plot keeps you engaged. I finished reading the entire series and I have not been bored once.
The main character wants to be the black mage and works extremely hard to get to her goal and practice her magic. The prince, Darren, is a complex character with an exception magical ability. I loved Darren who thinks about the consequences to prevent irrational decisions. The other characters have depth and are not shallow or on the side. You get to know all the characters deeply and engage in their friendship. The friendships are very strong and you get to the know academy very well and those mock trials that they have are wow!
Overall, its YA, romance, fantasy and magic.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
alga biru
I didn't like this book very much, I'll tell you why so you can decide if you might still like it.

Firstly, I didn't like either of the main characters. The girl had tenacity but she was hot headed and impulsive to the point of just being stupid. The boy was just a cliche of every teen girl's supposed book hero fantasy. Eyes that look like red gemstones (?? are the brown, or...?), really good at magic, usually awful but can be nice - when he's alone with the girl (but never in public) her rival and oh yeah, he's a prince. Really??

The social classes just didn't make sense to me either - they made a big deal of the girl being lowborn, but then she is always answering back to the prince. Her first friend that she makes after one conversation is part of the Royal court and her only real response is like, "that's where she got that funny accent". Ummm... sorry, but in a feudal society there is NO WAY a commoner would answer back to royalty or members of the nobility and nor would they befriend each other casually. Like NO WAY. If you wanted to make that possible you could give magic users noble status maybe or something, but nothing like that was explained. Royalty and nobility has real power in that type of society - it just made zero sense to me. I felt like the author treated it like it was rich and poor kids at the same high school, but that's NOT what a feudal society's class differences would be like.

The world building wasn't very explicit, I still have little idea of the overall magic system after reading the book and the tutors/adults in the book just seemed strange. The whole "weeding out the weak" seemed weird, I get training them hard and the whole boot camp idea - but there was no encouragement or attempt to actually teach the kids at all. At one point the prince gives the girl some advice about fixing a particular weakness she has in her fighting style. Why didn't a teacher point that out to her? Just doesn't make sense, wouldn't you want to help the kids be the best they could be and then decide who to keep?

It just seemed predictable and lacked depth, plus honestly I hoped the prince and Ry failed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I likes the first book. Especially the difficulty she faces in just getting through each day of schooling. The job she is seeking is tough and the training is grueling. I enjoyed how she does not find any of this easy. Finally a book about how life would really be instead of a gifted girl mastering skills by applying herself. Sometimes the gifted get left behind and you can only get ahead by cheating the rules.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I loved listening to Melissa Moran narrate this story. She gave such emotion and so much excitement to the story is was wonderful. I loved Ryiah's trials and battles thought the mage school. There was so much awesomeness packed into 1 story I don't know how they did it. There was a wonderful fantasy world to escape into and so awesomely done its hard to believe that it isn't just another view on history. There is so much about this story I enjoyed I can't even name it all without just reading you the book myself and no way would I do the amazing job that Melissa did narrating.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kathy b
This was a strong start to a series, but as you keep reading the series just gets stronger and stronger. The characters end up taking on such a life of their own that every emotion they feel is felt equally by the reader, all their ups and downs affecting your every thought. The worldbuilding was amazing, too, with everything revealed in time in a way that managed not to be boringly obvious or at all hard to comprehend. The attention to detail made it seem like the magic and world and characters were as real as your own life no matter how fantastical it was. Would recommend to anyone with the time to read them straight through, because you will not want to put these down.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
john kenny
Reminiscent of the Harry Potter series, this book has a grittier flavor that is very appealing. Our heroine has drive and ambition to succeed. I good start to a series, but it never laid any real foundation for the overall series or even the next book. I cannot wait to see what the author brings in her next book of this series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hannah cp
I loved this book! I only stopped to read it when my kindle died. At a crutial part no less. If it was going to happen, it would happen during the trials! The only complaint I have is how often Alex is refered as Ryiah's twin. So many times it had to mention that he was her twin. I didn't quite understand that. I really hope that doesn't happen as often in the second book. But other than that, I love the story. The rivalry with non-heir prince Darren. Now, I kinda got annoyed with that as well. I don't think it needed to mentioned that much. But that twist at the end! Oh yeah...take that Priscilla!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
susan gilroy king
Absolutely 5 stars!!!! Before this book, I had never heard of Rachel E. Carter before. I am really glad I did. I heard about it one morning and I finished by the middle of the day. That's how much I liked it. It was a little slow at first, but then the rest was really good!!! This book was recommended for fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Harry Potter. And for fans of DAMON from The Vampire Diaries. Well that had me reading this book first thing because well..... TEAM DAMON FOR LIFE!!!!!!! This book was really great and I especially loved Ryiah because she had a big heart and cared about more than just her love life, although I loved Darren and he was totally worth it!!!! I can't wait to see what other books Rachel E. Carter will write in the future and the rest of this series, because I was hooked from the beginning!!!!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laura haven
To be honest I had never heard of this book until I was on Goodreads one day and one of my friends had it on their list of read books. I am a huge science fiction and fantasy fan and this book called out to me. I absolutely loved how Ryiah and Darren were always fighting their attraction for one another. Rachel did such an amazing job with her descriptions that I actually felt like I was right there in the Academy with all the mages. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who loves reading about magic and forbidden love.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Lightweight, but entertaining read. Not a very complex story, but some complex characters that I am interested in reading more about. I want to read of their development and see if the story becomes more than a precocious teen would understand or if it stays in what I consider a younger audiences realm of fantasy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sean d souza
4.5 stars

I am so glad that I picked this book up, it is so fast-paced, action-packed and it has an intriguing magic system. I'm hoping to see a lot more of the magic system in the second book (I'm sure we will). Even though I was warned that I might want to smack Darren even more on the head than I did after reading Non-Heir, he wasn't as infuriating as I thought he would be. He was still his arrogant, cocky self, but through some of his actions he scored a few points in my 'good books' (usually to lose them again straight afterwards, but still.)
I really liked Ryiah as a character, although sometimes I wanted to shake her and say: 'Believe in yourself, you know you can do it!'
I also enjoyed the banter between Alex and Ella, it was so much fun to read.
Priscilla on the other, I didn't like all the much (which was of course the point!)

The only thing I found missing was more of Eve's story and some more worldbuilding. I know they spend all their time at the Academy, but still! On the other hand, the magic system was explained very well and is very interesting.

I'm moving straight to book two :-)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is probably one of my new favorite books now! One of the things I really liked was the castings the characters could cast. Another thing I really liked about the book was that even though this book had a bit of romance in it, the main focus wasn't the romance. Instead, it was about Ryiah's journey in hopes that she could become an apprentice. I would recommend this book to anybody who likes fantasy (because if they don't, that may be awkward...) and to people who like books that include magic. Even if you don't, I think you should give it a try becuse every book deserves a chance :)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jeanne mower
There is magic and a school as in Harry Potter and a cut-throat competition as in The Hunger Games. As in most fantasy stories, the main character is on a quest ~ the main character in this story is on a quest to break free from her station in life. Ryiah, the main character, has equal internal as well as external challenges that cause her character to grow. Her nemesis is actually as much herself as the Prince in the story. The Prince is an excellent catalyst for exposing Ryiah and adding more depth to her character. It also pushes her to believe in herself in a way she never really had before ~ even though her desire to escape the life that others saw set in stone for her was strong, in the beginning it was more false hope versus blind faith. She slowly makes the transition to having faith in herself versus the false hope of external destiny.

Overall, it's an entertaining story with a strong central character. I look forward to the next installment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I am liking the story. The Highborn with their advantages and the lowborn who come from commoners and their skills in magic, combat and healing are put to the extremes of what are known at the Academy as the"first year" and their first year at the Academy is on of rigorous and exhausting routines.
Read more about it. [email protected]
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennine cheska punzalan
I truly enjoyed this book. It is hard to keep my attention typically unless I find my fully immersed in a story - a lot of times I will skip paragraphs when I find myself getting bored -- but I did not do that at all with this book. I really liked the concept, the characters, all of it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
john nondorf
This book is AWESOME, I just couldn't put it down! Got to the end and thought NOOOOOOOO, where is the next book????

I never expected this and I was just blown away with how quick I was sucked right into this book. I found myself almost cheering or booing when good and bad things happened.

I would easily recommend this book over all ages. I'm a nana and loved it!

Give it a try and you won't be disappointed!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
caleb smith
A well written novel featuring well developed characters, a marvelously Middle Aged type of setting, a task, and a satisfying resolution. Can hardly wait to begin the next book in this series. Rachel E. Carter is reminiscent of authors such as Angie Sage and Tamara Pierce.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
AMAZING! I have read a lot of books. This series is in the top 10 for sure. the first 2 books are good/entertaining and keep you reading. Mid third book turns amazing and the 4th book is amazing! it keeps you wondering. lots of twists and turns an unexpected adventures. the ending was awesome!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book - after reading it was recommended to Tamora Pierce fans, I was hesitant, as I love her book series and she’s quite the eloquent writer and plot developed. What I enjoyed most about this book is that it was unpredictable, not everything works out perfectly like a fairy tale. The only reason I’m giving it 4 stars is the language style - I felt it was a bit modern for the theme and world the author created. However that’s more of a personal preference on consistency. I look forward to reading the rest of the series! I love having a female lead in a good book series - interested to see where Ryiah goes!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cady ali
I received First Year, Black Mage #1, as a free copy from the author. The gifting did not determine the review/rating, which reflects my honest opinion. I really enjoyed the prequel, Non-Heir, told in Prince Darren's PoV, so I was mildly dissatisfied to find Ryiah was the narrator... regardless of this minor disappointment, the predictable plot was engaging due to interesting characters. A good, solid read with a satisfactory conclusion-- I'd consider going further in this series, as the writer has a lot of existing sub-plots to build on.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I haven't fallen into a book coma that fast in years! This is a zero-cliches book. The tension between the main protagonist and the love interest(s) holds the reader riveted, the clarity of the world-building shows great skill, and the intelligence of Ryiah, the kickass main character, is like a cool drink on a hot day.
This is a sleep-depriving series, and I was absolutely gutted to find the fourth book isn't out!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
will hines
i bought this book a while ago, it kept getting put to the bottom of my TBR pile.
this series is amazing!
after i finally finished this book, the second, third and forth came in very quick succession. my adulting duties were firmly put on hold until after it was finished.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This story made me stay up until 3 am, which was awful that next workday, but it was that interesting. I liked all the clashing and training. I liked the characters and the slow, evolving romance. I was glad there are more books in the series, since the characters are too young to have a real romance yet.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
oliver ian
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

This book was absolutely everything! I had no idea what to expect going into it. First Year was wonderfully written and I am so very excited to read the next one! Ryiah is an awesome protagonist and I really enjoy her relationship with both her brother and Ella! I can't wait to see more of her strength and perseverance in the books to come. Her determination to succeed despite the odds is inspiring.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kimmy cottle
This book kept me at the edge of my seat the whole time. This book has so much action and suspense packed into 300 pages that it's almost too much to handle.
I fell in love with the characters and there's so much to discover about them all. About the romance... it's not the main focus of the book and that's great, but it still had me hoping so hard and totally left me unsatisfied. Luckily there's more books to make up for that.
At the end of this crazy ride I was ready to start the second book immediately, only I realized I lost track of time and it was already 3am.
Can't wait for what this series is about to bring me. I'm sure it'll glue me to the pages, uncover more secrets and leave me with tons of unanswered questions once again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sarah wong
Yes, this is the story of young people, in school, trying out to obtain a few covenant positions. Love story and the mixed up understanding of young love. This was easy to read, and good young adult characters.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Okay, this book had been sitting in my recommendation for years..... should I have read it earlier... shrug. I've heard many fantastic reviews about the series. Yet, book one for me didn't seem as interesting. It wasn't a page turner and it did not have me anticipating book 2. I did love the female character. I loved her attitude and spunk. I will definitely read book 2.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
A tepid, single-plot story which does little to encourage page-turning. While the prose is reasonably constructed, the character development is grossly lacking and the school-bound wizard discovering herself is becoming a worn trope in the Harry Potter age. The main character is frustratingly unrelatable, the friendships/rivalries are contrived and forced, and the "romance" is really unhealthy. Won't keep reading the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This series is more for a young-teen crowd, but still well-written. I'd easily recommend this series for teens.

If you're older and don't care about age groups or don't mind reliving the awkward first love blues, then you'll enjoy this as well.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Loved this book- am so happy it was part of the kindle unlimited program! This book was well written for the most part- the main character was very likeable. She showed true determination and hard work, great qualities for anyone to aspire to! I especially liked that she had to work to be great and wasn't "born great" and naturally ahead of everyone else, like too many main characters these days. I enjoyed learning about the schooling of magics and physical training and really wish the same level of detail was kept up in the subsequent books.

I recommend this!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I am so pleased I started this series! Ms. Carter has created an amazing world of magic and perserverance.
I loved Ryiah. She is stubbon, independent and wonderfully flawed. Like all good women should be.

Darren, the prince and her love (?) interest, is a delightful character who continues to throw curveballs at the unsuspecting Ryiah.

I can't wait to read more of this series and of Ms. Carter's entire catalog!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Very enjoyable story with great promise for the rest of the series. Ryiah's sheer grit is unbelievable but admirable. I also liked to see her world view expand as she got to experience both good and bad from the high and lowborn interactions. Also loving Darren...cant wait to see where that goes. Really nice cast of characters ...even though the core plot is a bit predictable. Would enjoy reading more of the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Wow! I just picked up a series not expecting much and got so much more! I literally could not put this book down! The story and characters are built up nicely and I found myself wanting to know more and more and every encounter held promise that didn't disappoint!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
pembenci kecap
I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Ryiah and her twin brother, Alex, are lowborns. They dream of becoming mages. In order to do this, they must score an apprenticeship after ten months of training at the Academy. The problem is there are 122 first years and only 15 spots. Ryiah must learn to control and use her magic to push her way to the top, where the highborns, led by the arrogant Prince Darren, seem to have already secured their place. In a place where even the Masters of the Academy seem to be waiting for the first years to fail, Ryiah will find friendship, treachery, and most of all her magic.

It was refreshing for the lead female character not to fall head over heels with some guy. Romance did not take over the entire plot, like so many books do. This is definitely different than other magical academies because the focus isn't always on the magic but the endurance as well (I would not last running that much lol). This book really shows that if you want something, than you better put everything you've got into trying. I also really like how Ryiah was not ignorant to the fact that she was struggling. She kind of reminded me of myself. "It seemed that no matter what I tried, it would never be enough. I didn't have enough time to do everything the masters asked of me, and when I tried to make time, my work only suffered somewhere else." Sounds like college, am I right? This, and so many other aspects of the character, is what made Ryiah relatable to me. I can totally respect a girl who doesn't want others to see her cry!

Obviously Ryiah still has room to grow with her magic and she totally feels something for Darren! I am really looking forward to the next book to see what happens in the next stage of her training. I am hoping we learn more about Jerar and life outside the Academy. And of course I want more scenes with Darren!!! (:

The series just gets better from here on out!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I enjoyed the book immensely. It was a very good story with an interesting ending. I was very surprised at the turn of events, but pleasantly so. I only have one complain, the training classes in the arena and classrooms were not detailed. It was a actually almost non existent. I still enjoyed the book and I'll highly recommended it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
samantha c ross
This book had been eyeing me for what felt like an eternity. I had heard of it when the author of the Air Awakens series; Elise Kova. Did a signing with Rachel E. Carter. Since then this book has been in the back of my mind. Well to no shock, this book was just as amazing as I thought it would be; quite possibly even more amusing than I anticipated. I give the first book in The Black Mage series a rating of 5 out of 5 stars and a trip to my favourites shelf.

The thing that blew me away the most would have to have been Carter's unique and intricate magic system. I was a little worried getting into this book because I feared it would turn out to be one of the typically magic systems. However that is not the case at all. There were three types of mages, Restoration, Alchemy, and Combat; out of the three the most prestigious was the Combat faction. Each brought a different component to battles and mock trials, so it was always interesting to see how they all interacted with each other. Within the factions there were always those who surpassed the others, and those were always the people to look out for. I also liked the element of pain casting. It was an interesting and very unique idea to add to the story that set it aside from other magic books. The idea of inflicting pain to cause sorcery. However the characters who could do this would have to demonstrate excellent concentration during fighting to not have an outburst of casting. So that was really neat to see as well. All in all I was very impressed with the way the magic worked in this society.

The story line itself was also quite enticing. From the beginning all the way to the finishing page, my interested was more than just peaked. I knew that the story would be epic just by reading that first little scuffle scene Ry had within the first few chapters. Throughout the novel we follow the developments and struggles the main character must face in order to survive the trail of becoming an apprentice. The events she must endure show what kind of character Ry is meant to be. I loved reading endless hours of deadly training. I was always interested in finding out what the first years would have to go through to prove themselves.

Another very awesome thing about this book were the characters. Rachel created a handful of main and secondary characters; each had a story and each stole the show every time they were presented. I loved getting the opportunity to read about each. Like the story, the character themselves had so much uniqueness to them. We got the introduction to the main character and her brother (Ryiah and Alex) with a brilliant first scene. The scene allowed us to see that from the very start Ry was a thinker and would be someone very important. Ry was one of my favourite characters. She had such strength behind her. She was put into many difficult tasks; however she not only complete these tasks she exceeded expectations in every way possible. I also liked that Ry has a very stubborn side to her. The next characters must fall as a pair because they were amazing together. This pair would have to be Ella and Alex; Ry's best friend and brother. I loved seeing the three of them interact, but I equally lived seeing the tow of them interact with each other. Alex was definitely a charmer, but it was great to see that Ella gave him a hard time. These were just a few characters I had to mention, but the rest should really all be mentioned as well. Every character had a point and not one was a filler.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tamara rodrigues
This was good. My only problem with it was, especially in the first half, it appeared to really lag and slow up. This generally came in the form of extended detail on banalities, with lots of repetition of similar activities. I found that I didn't need these factors repeated to me. Often. This made the book too long.

The characters were pretty good, including the supporting character. The love interest was stereotyped, but played his part well. The bitchy girl suitably bitched.

I'll definitely be going on to the next novel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book always gives me all the feeels! So this is my second time reading it, and I loved it just as the first time if not more! I really love all the characters.... Even the ones that I wish I could just... You know make disappear.... *Cough* *Cough* Priscilla *Cough* *Cough* I just love the world, the writing is faced paced, the story pulls you in so much so that you never want to put it down! Everything about this book I love!!!!! <3 And if you're still not sure if you should read this, well I totally recommend it! xD

5 ginormous stars <<<<33333
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
doc kaos
Easy good read, I just wished that Ryiah had a stronger voice, that she wasn't so useless. Her powers progressed but the reader was left in the dark until the final match. I just feel like her character was not as developed as a leading character should be, other than that, good story line, decent amount of action, and slow but cute romance.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
heather king
Sure it had a few (ok maybe a bunch) of grammatical errors! I found it charming! Quaint!
I fanned myself, invented a new language, bounced off the walls, and internally screamed for a considerate amount of this book.
It reminds me of themes from The Hunger Games, Divergent, Harry Potter, and maybe a sprinkle of Throne of Glass, but I am not one of those people that desperately loves to compare every new book with those amazing series. I'm simply saying that at various points in time, I was reminded of those story lines. But this is not some rip-off of all those series. Nope.... It's in its own league, on its own shelf, and for me, I enjoyed every second of it.

The Black Mage follows a 15 year old girl named Ryiah as she begins her journey to The Academy, a place where those younger than the age of seventeen (who have potential for magic) train to compete for the opportunity to become an apprentice. There are three factions: Alchemy, Restoration, and Combat. But each year only fifteen are chosen for an apprenticeship; 5 for each faction. The odds of getting one of these renowned spots are slim, and the competition at The Academy is incredibly fierce.

Ryiah has a twin brother named Alex who, not too long ago, discovered that he had magic. And it is known in Jerar that in the case of twins, if one has magic, the other will inevitably have magic of his/her own. Ryiah hasn't been able to summon her powers yet but she is hoping that the masters at the academy will help her unlock her potential. On the way to the Academy Ryiah discovers that she does indeed have magic of her own, but once she sees her competitors at The Academy, there arises one simple question: Will it be enough?

The romance, if it can even be called romance, took a backseat (no really, in like row 100) and I didn't resent that at all! I'm thankful for it; otherwise it would have taken away from the manic, grueling, hardship that is apprenticeship training. I could almost feel all the suffering Ryiah went through as I read along. Ryiah was a strong, badass, independent woman who didn't need no man! (Ahem. But I'm still fangirling hard over some of those scenes between Darren and Ryiah. I love nothing more than witty banter and love/hate relationships.)

Honestly, I don't know how Ryiah does it. If I was in her position, I would be sleeping in every night and running away whenever I heard the word "training". But I was swept up in her story. Alongside Ryiah, I had doubts and fears, I felt pain and relief, and I held on to a goal with determination and perseverance. I really felt as though I connected with this character. My interest in all the other characters was peaked as well. Rachel Carter is a master at dialogue. Even when it comes to (the sometimes dreaded) love interests! ;D I am a strong hater of insta-love and I think the author handled Darren and Ryiah's relationship really well. I respected that she eased them together (really, only as friends) without forcing them together like so many authors do, nowadays.

I loved watching Ryiah's slow progression from having one of the lowest aptitudes for magic, to being able to hold her own against those who seemed impossible to catch up to. She was never made out to be some magical, mystical, chosen one who suddenly had the whole world at her feet just because she was so very speshul. She had to fight long and hard to claw her way to the top. She struggles and falters, but she reins in her emotions, corrects her mistakes, and fights on. I obviously I rooted for this strong-willed underdog!

So yes, when this was recommended to me, I was a bit dubious, but now I am tremendously glad that I took a chance on this book. However... Now I'm absolutely itching to get my hands on the second book!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
From the first chapter I was drawn in and didn't put it down until I was finished, literally. I loved the way she developed the relationships between Ry and her brother, Ella, and Darren. She was able to create an entire world surrounding Ry and the Academy that leaves the story open to so many possibilities. Ry reminded me alot of Tris from Divergent in her willingness to never give up and defy all odds, and of course a little bit of forbidden love thrown in that keeps you constantly holding your breath to see what happens next. Can't wait to read book two!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nancy shippen livengood
I really, really enjoyed this novel, and I highly recommend it to anybody who shares my love for young adult fantasy. It actually reminded me of Tamora Pierce's work, and that's probably one of the highest compliments I, personally, can pay to a young adult fantasy author.

Ryiah, the main character, is not particularly strong at first, but her determination really makes you root for her success. Her growth throughout the novel is enjoyable and gratifying to watch. The interactions among her and the other main characters are very multi-faceted in terms of each character's motivations and allegiances. On top of that, the fantasy elements were very compelling and interesting to learn about. The book has action and romance and character development, and I honestly can't think of anything more to ask of it. If anything, I thought it could have been a bit longer - but I suppose that's what sequels are for!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
joshua jerz
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

First Year follows the main character, Ryiah, through her trials at the Academy that trains future mages for a particular faction. The Academy is different than other schools in that the teachers try to discourage students and wish to see them fail rather than succeed. Therefore it is up to the student to decide what they can handle and if being a mage is right for them. I liked that Ryiah started off struggling but her will and determination to do well kept her moving forward. She faced a lot of difficulties but didn't let them get the better of her. Her tenacity is admirable in a main character.

The relationship that blossomed between Darren and Ryiah had a Pride and Predjudice feel to it. I'm not a fan of Darren's character because of how he initially treated Ryiah and all those he considered low borns. In my opinion, insulting someone and treating them badly in public is no way to gain their affections. While Darren's intentions may have been good, the end doesn't justify the means. I was also disappointed that Ryiah would fall for a guy who refused to show others basic kindness and respect.

I also would have liked to see more back story. This book didn't delve into any history of the lands, why the Academy was established, or why mages needed training. The plot lacked that crucial foundation that made me want to get truly immersed in the importance of what these characters were going through. I feel as though the plot would have been better aligned with a modern day high school setting.

Overall I give First Year three stars.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
maggie hammond
This story followed the life of fifteen year old Ryiah, a lowborn girl who wants to become a mage. It follows her trial year at the Academy, where she competes against over 200 other children for a chance at 15 apprenticeship slots.

The book is well developed, fast paced and interesting. I thought I was not going to like it at first due to the first chapter, where it felt as if her twin brother was presented as an entirely different person than he is the rest of the book. This and some typos (some back to back) are the only reason why it is marked down to four stars. Over all, it was an enjoyable read.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review (Lovers of Paranormal)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
intan baiduri
This series have brought me so much joy and heartbreak, chaos, rages, motivation, anger, jealousy,etc.. Every little detail are so perfectly written. I love this series with all of me. I got so lost in this world and i wish Rachel could continue the books set after everything that happens after book 4. After everything i wish Ryiah and Priscilla can finally be bestfriend and work together and we get to see almost everyone has a happy ending. I couldn't be more intrigue!!!!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
colin wilkinson
If you read Harry Potter a couple too many times and "need a break"...
You'll like this book.

I came across this book on Goodreads through the Giveaway section. I was immediately intrigued by the book. There are different "factions" of magic specialties. It's very Divergent meets Harry Potter, but INTENSE like the Hunger Games.

Great characters *drools a bit about Darren* *claps for Ryiah's endurance and tenacity*. Celaena Sardothien can learn a couple of things from Ryiah. It's action pack and it's an amazing adventure. You read about dangerous obstacles and tribulations, with hints of romance.

P.S. The author is like the nicest, funniest person ever. If you like Jennifer L. Armentrout, or any of the books I mentioned, definitely give this book a go.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ronan fitzgerald
It’s funny to read about the whining of youthful hopefuls about all the things they have to learn to become better fighters. It’s encouraging when they start to figure out how to apply all they’ve learned. It’s inspirational when they make their dreams come true.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mohammad sarshar
Okay story, engaging characters. Sort of frustrating - maybe it's my age, but I decided not to continue the rest of the series. I'm not much into forbidden relationships and the frustration that goes along with it. Many others will enjoy it so don't let my review stop you if you enjoy that kind of thing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stella pierides
The first year book was great because of the way the masters worked the students to the core reminded me of my old high school marching band first year conditioning and how Ryiah worked really hard to try and get what she wanted. Reminded me of myself at times. Rachel's writing style was also great I also loved that it was not a typical magic fantasy story
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I received this book in exchange for and honest review lop.

This book is a classic the rich get richer the poor get poorer. The noble born where leagus ahead of the lowborn because they can afford tutors. I love this book and Ry. She is strong and so headstrong she doesn't even realize what is going on till it is too late. I can not wait until she knock Priscilla on her butt. She is a smug little witch. I so see Clay coming back later as an enemy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
caroline owens
****I was gifted this book for a review****

I really did not know what to expect entering into this book but I am so glad that I went on the exciting journey! This tale, reminded me somewhat of Harry Potter in feel, was a fun and intriguing adventure through the first year training to become a mage. I liked the historical feel coupled with magic and envious teens. This book was a tale of friendship and courage with a small dash of romance thrown in. I loved scenes between Darren and Ryiah- I would have liked even more :) and I also enjoyed participating in the relationships involving Ella and Alex. I admired Ryiah's strength and eagerly look forward to reading on and watching her grow into her powers even more fully. Overall, a very mystical and enjoyable start to a new series!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julianne moore
I was entranced from start to finish reading this book. I cannot wait to see how this story continues. Usually this kind of story is slow at the beginning and gets exciting and draws you in at the end but this story truly was exceptional from the first page to the last.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Overall good book, fun characters and interesting concept for the story line! Only thing is hat the main character got angry ALL THE TIME. Everything made her angry. Still a great book and I’ll read the rest of the series!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
caryn caldwell
This book was absolutely everything! It was wonderfully written and I am so very excited to read the next one! Ryiah is an awesome protagonist and I really enjoy her relationship with both her brother and Ella! I can't wait to see more of her strength and perseverance in the books to come. Her determination to succeed despite the odds is inspiring.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The book is a fast read with action and drama. However it is the understories of the characters that make you want to keep reading and find out the why's and for what purpose truly lies behind a characters actions. Looking forward to book 2.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
harry indrawan
Really enjoyed this story. Great character development with a touch of “action” and other possibilities. i really enjoyed that Ry wasn’t automatically “good” at everything, but she worked hard and didn’t give up - even when the odds were against her. Looking for book 2!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.

Harry Potter a little bit, just starting older.

Magic. Just getting started.

Romance. Wait and see.

Underdog. Yes.

Add them all together and you have a great book. Would recommend this to everyone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
vlm 1124
I read. A lot. So I can guess what's going to happen fairly quickly in a book. But this had me tossing ideas back and forth up until the last two pages. My heart was racing during the duels, I shared the embarrassment, loss, anger and determination of the twins and their friends. I hated and loved the prince to the point where the emotions became one. Absolutely loved it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julien kreuze
I loved this book, it was definitely one where I read the whole series in a couple of days. The characters are strong and I love the interactions between them, especially Ella and Ryiah, I like when books put effort into non romantic relationships.

The magic system is a little different, it feels like there are no rules, they can all just do anything. The only downside is they have limited power. It's weird, but I love it.

If you like books that are written purely to entertain, this is it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I really enjoyed reading this story. Within this book I was transported to a magical world of a girl who has desire and the determination to reach her goal at any cost.
While I ending was a bit cliche I wouldn't change anything about it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
connie tuttle
My favorite type of books are usually young adult fiction, although I had never read anything in the medieval era before this book. I was unsure about the period setting, but The Black Mage had me hooked after the first chapter! It was the perfect blend of romance, magic, and fighting. The author keeps the reader on the edge of their seat all the way till the last page. After finishing the book, my first thought was I can't wait for the next one!!! I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed books similar to The Hunger Games or Divergent. While the book is clearly set in medeviel times, the book's strong female character and her journey in finding herself is just as compelling as Katniss' or Triss'. I am looking forward to more!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
The prose was nice, but it just read as a huge, overplayed trope. Young girl has power she doesn't know about. She meets a talented, good-looking, and arrogant boy who treats her like crap time after time but she still falls for him anyway. She finds her confidence/skill and "breaks through his walls." They both need more redeeming qualities from the start and Alex needs to be a little less of a creep when Ella rejects his advances the first dozen times. "Persistence wears down resistance" probably isn't the best motto for your dating life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lisa a
Kind of slow but the character building was well done and necessary. However I really would've liked more world building. We know next to nothing about this world and it's pretty frustrating but it's a promising start so we'll see how it continues.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elahe panahi
I read voraciously and rarely give a rating of 5. This book is easy and fun , with a variety of characters that are developed enough they could stand alone. I will watch for more books from this author.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
terra holman
I got this book as a gift from a friend and i absolutely loved it. I'm so glad she picked it up for me. The plot was highly wntertaining, and kept me reading till the early morning hours. The characters were very interesting and had a lot of development as the book went on. This is my first book that I've read by Rachel E. Carter, but I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I was hooked form the start with this book I could not put it down I was lucky enough that I read this book when tthe second and 3rd part where out already because I got to read them back to back. Love this love story and how it develop and can't wait to find d out what Rachel has in-store for us. Counting down the days till I can read the last part ?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Having met the author several times and being good friends with her father, this will be a highly biased review. Nevertheless, I read it in two sittings and enjoyed it very much. The interactions between characters are well done from beginning to end. Profanity and explicit sex are absent, thank goodness. I especially liked the underlying messages. (1) Anything truly worthwhile is worth giving it your all to achieve. The effort to that end will cost some, or perhaps much, pain. (2) Life has many distractions. We have to learn which ones are harmful and which are actually helpful. Often it isn't obvious. (3) To have friends you have to be one first.

I give Rachel an A+ for this effort and for providing me with something positive to give to my granddaughters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
maria ramirez dodson
Ryiah shows a lot of strength and character fighting against the odds. She faces many obstacles to obtain her desires. She has few people she can rely on, but she can certainly rely on people trying to push her to fail. This is truly a wonderful story that makes you anxious to read the rest of the books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The aspect that struck me most with this book was how “normal”/not astoundingly unique or unusual the author decided to make the main character, Ryiah. It was refreshing to read because of that, even if it did make for some frustrating moments.

The book is written from Ryiah’s POV so you’re limited to her knowledge, discovering things as she does, therefore knowing her thought processes and how she reasons. Her personality is so very different from mine, but I admire her for her tenacity and will. She is a little hotheaded, which made for some cringe-worthy moments. However, I was continually rooting for her and I felt for her, with her frustrations of not being good enough.

This book reminded me a little of Tamora Pierce and her Alanna books- not exactly sure why- perhaps the training Ryiah goes through and the rigors of that? Darren, the dark prince, reminded me a little bit of Aldrik, from the Air Awakens series, but he is different in his own right. Maybe even more of an ass, if that is possible (HAHA) The training in the book was a huge part of the plot, which I enjoyed reading about, but at the same time, it was like one long hazing nightmare- the appalling things that the students had to go through!

There were funny moments, an assortment of characters, but mainly the story was on Ryiah’s trials to get a coveted apprenticeship spot. If you like a good read with a spirited heroine, you'll like this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
5stars and more!

this book, seriously, this book is one of the BEST I HAVE READ SO FAR! it's crazy! i haven't been this excited for a long time and this book is awesome and rachel is brilliant for writing this! as i have said, i am in a hurry to write reviews everywhere just so everyone will know who great this book is. YOU GUYS NEED TO READ THIS! i love every part of it.

signing off now because i need to start book 2, the apprentice.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I really enjoyed this book. It does appear to be marketed toward the YA set, but I found appeal as an adult. If you are a fan of strong female characters, this is a must-read. Word of caution: This is a series with 4 books at this point. I devoured the first two in the series but have grown bored in the third book. I think all of the twists and turns that were refreshing in the first two have been played out by the time the third book rolled around IMO.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jodi skeris
This novel was absolutely fantastic! It keeps your attention from the very start! By the time you get to the third page you are already immersed in the story!!! By the end, you will be chomping at the bit to buy the next installment!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
The author tried a bit too hard to follow the clique of a hard knock school and they dialogue was a bit weak. However I appreciate that the focus was on effort and character rather than a character who succeeds against all odds
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
h r koelling
As a huge fan of supernatural young adult stories, First Year definitely did not disappoint. I liked how Carter built her world, she gave the reader information but not too much, to keep them interested and guessing. I really had no idea what the next page was going to hold. I found myself rooting for Ryiah so hard. I'm off to go purchase the second book so I can start reading it as soon as possible!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cem bozku
I read all 5 books (including the non-heir) in 6 days. I couldn't put the books down! Some of it, cliche, but other parts great and unexpected! Although I wish there was more romanicng instead of the long periods of nothing and some points.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Ryiah and her twin brother Alex really want to be mages so they travel to the mage academy and sign up for a brutal year of training to compete against a bunch of other hopeful teens. Only a small fraction of them will be able to make it to the end of the year, at which time they will then compete for a few of the coveted spots to become apprentices. The fact that the mean and totally stuck up prince thinks Ryiah and her low born brother have no chance at becoming mages only makes Ryiah even more determined to become a warrior mage.

The glowing reviews here really surprise me. This story is mostly told internally, so there's too much telling and not enough showing with the end result of it all feeling pretty 1 dimensional. There's not a whole lot to the plot (you already know what's going to happen) and barely any character development (i guess maybe the author decided to wait until the next book?). I don't think the author even bothered to explain why this girl wanted to be a warrior mage so bad.

There's basically no world building unless you count the academy and vague descriptions of magic (i don't). Seriously, there's not even an attempt at developing the world history despite the fact that Ryiah describes having to study it intensely! There are just long descriptions of what Ryiah's school schedule is and the various tests and trials she's always undergoing and how hard it is to study and train. Lots of obstacle courses and sparring sessions.

I found this all very boring. It doesn't help that Ryiah sucks at pretty much everything she does and has to spend the whole time studying despite the fact that it NEVER seems to pay off! I mean, I don't want to see everything get handed to the main character cause she's a super special snowflake but come on! The author went to the other extreme here, and the end result was just as bad cause there's basically ZERO character development and it's just frustrating to read. This girl claims to be working her butt off, yet she somehow always fails despite all the hard work she puts in (MAJOR spoiler alert: she doesn't even pass her big trial at the end! Seriously, she only gets in cause they make an exception). Don't even get me started on the "romance" going on here (there is none worth speaking of).

Also, I highly recommend avoiding the audio version. The narrator has the characters speaking in bizarre NY accents that only become more pronounced when the characters are "high born" (that's right; apparently in this world the "high born" people are from Jersey). It doesn't help that whenever there's dialogue (what little there is) it's very awkwardly written due to the lack of contractions (this is a major pet peeve of mine whether in print or on audio).
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A lovely beginning to this interesting new series, one which I hope the future novels will bear out.

An intriguing premise, an original take on magic, and a fantasy world t h at never feels trite.

I can heartily recommend this novel to all!
Cameron S. Wright
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shannon barber
Am really enjoying this book. I had not read anything from this author previously but will definitely read the entire series. This is another YA book about magic which I enjoy and I feel the author has done a good job developing her characters. I sometimes feel that Ryiah's actions are not always in line with her role as an apprentice but then I remember this is a YA book. Easy light reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
patrick allred
I've always loved strong female MCs, a bad boy you'd love to hate and a relationship where combustion is inevitable. A book with all three plus brilliant banter is really the icing on the cake.

If you're looking for adventure, romance and a thrilling journey filled with magic & feels, then this is the book for you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I read this book and ADORED Rachel's characters and story. I am at the moment going to be starting Book 3 in hopefully a week. But so far Book 1, 2 and the novella were completely breathtaking. The magic system blew me away!

to read a full review of FIRST YEAR (THE BLACK MAGE) click the link below!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
emily gamelin
Follows a bit of a formulaic story, but still interesting enough to not lose my attention.
The characters are also a bit flat, but not enough to truly annoy me.
All in all, an interesting YA Fantasy novel that hits the major points of the genre, but nothing extraordinary.
A bit of brain-candy literature to spend an evening with.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I was pleasantly surprised with this book. I originally got it as part of a 20+ book set and within the first few chapters I was hooked. It did a wonderful job of piquing my curiosity and keeping me interested theoughout the duration of the book, which I finished in a day.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
drew compton
I enjoyed the characters journey. I loved that even when something predictable happened, it was still entertaining. This book isn’t really on the suspense level promised in the “recommended for readers who loved...” but it was still worth my time. I will definitely read book 2. Great job!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
colby westerfield
I happened across this book while looking for something to read from the library. The premise seemed interesting so I decided to pick it up. I'm SO glad I did. The world and the story that Rachel developed were super interesting and I was swept away almost from the beginning. After devouring this one, I bought the sequel on the store and devoured that. I cannot wait for the third installment!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
These books will have you hating them and loving them at the same time. You fall in love with some of the characters and want to murder others it pulls you in and doesn't let go even after the last book. I highly recommend this series
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book is amazing! I fell in love with the characters, everyone of them is amazing! It is beautiful and funny and sad all wrapped up in awesomeness! Couldn't stop reading and have purchased the rest of the series!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I enjoyed the whole series, but beware it is pretty lght reading. The love story plot overlays everythng else. And while the lovestory is a little trite and predictable, I still found myself pretty engrossed and engaged with with the heroine.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
As I write this- I really should be sleeping. Life’s been... well life. But, I could not do it! I loved the development of the story and the characters! My heart soared and plummeted, thank you author
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
daniel miller
If you like magic and battle this is a great story about learning to become a mage to help the battles that are yet to come. The unreadable prince and his connection to the main character keeps you guessing. Is he friend of foe to her??
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
my review title says it all I think.
Romance and plot are straight out of the standard YA formula. But I thought the idea behind it to be intresting enough that Im actually going to try reading the second book because I reaaly want/hope that the author was able to develop her writing more.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sean jenan
At first I questioned if my choice was correct to start this book.But after I started reading it I literally fell in love with the book!It is a thrilling and amazing book and one of the best I have ever read!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I never thought that this book was interesting. simple yet it has good execution of story. At some point I can relate to the characters on how they were striviing for their goal and never vive up and of course the typical scenario for high school students. the ending made me want to buy the second book. hopeful i will enjoy as much as i enjoyed the first book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I enjoyed this book greatly. I could imagine that I was inside the pages.

I also found this book that made me feel that way.
Futures Past
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katherine leppek
I stumbled across this book on Facebook as a "because you like Tamora Pierce's book you may like this". There's magic, weapon combat, and though it's a world away, you get drawn in like you're there. There are writing similarities between the two authors, but enough differences to keep it fresh.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alexander sardanov
A great start to a phenomenal teen series! I sincerely enjoyed reading this, as it involved character development, an intriguing plot, and a diverse set of players that includes all the struggles of what being in school does. I truly connected with the main character, Ryiah, and her challenges with classes, boys, and the unending question of "what more can I do?"
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
First Year is an amzing start to Ryiah's story. Between Ryiah's desperation and commitment, her rivalry with Darren and Priscilla, and her adventures everyday, it's hard to put this book down. First Year is aboslutely enthralling, and will appeal to fans of The Iron Trial and maybe Harry Potter. Or, anyone who has a love of magic and action!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I enjoyed this beginning because it held my attention through out. The characters developed predictably not to say poorly. I did like this book and intend to continue reading the sequel, my only criticism - the Prince is revealed too soon
Please Rate First Year (The Black Mage Book 1)
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