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First Year

The Black Mage, Book 1
Narrated by: Melissa Moran
Series: The Black Mage, Book 1
Length: 8 hrs and 9 mins
Categories: Young Adults, Ages 13 & Up
4.5 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For 15-year-old Ryiah the choice has always been easy. Become a warrior and leave the boring confines of her lowborn life behind. Set to enroll in the School of Knighthood on the eve of her next birthday, plans suddenly shift when her twin brother discovers powers. Hoping that hers will soon follow, she enrolls with Alex at the Academy instead - the realm's most notorious war school for those with magic.

Yet when she arrives, Ry finds herself competing against friend and foe for one of the exalted apprenticeships. Every "first-year" is given a trial year to prove their worth - and no amount of hard work and drive will guarantee them a spot. It seems like everyone is rooting for her to fail - and first and foremost among them Prince Darren, the school prodigy who has done nothing but make life miserable since she arrived.

When an accidental encounter leads Ryiah and Darren to an unlikely friendship, she is convinced nothing good will come of it. But the lines become blurred when she begins to improve - and soon she is a key competitor for the faction of Combat. Still, nothing is ever as it seems - and when the world comes crashing down around her, Ry is forced to place faith in the one thing she can believe in - herself. Will it be enough?

©2014 Clean Reads (P)2016 Clean Reads

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

good for a long drive

entertaining, surprising and occasionally graphically violent. this book was easy to follow and well read.

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Profile Image for Ashanti
  • Ashanti
  • 07-02-2017

A Great YA Novel And Promising Start To A Series

“First Year: The Black Mage Book 1” is an excellent YA novel about twins, Ryiah and Alex. The two set out to join a prestigious mage academy, but the road to becoming an accomplished mage is not easy. The Academy has a brutal weeding out process that takes power, talent, and a strong will to survive.

“First Year” seems to be more about Ryiah than Alex. The mage academy teaches three types of magic, alchemy, healing magic known as restoration, and combat. Ryiah, who wants to become a combat mage, has her work cut out for her. Surprisingly, author Rachel E. Carter didn’t make either Ryiah or Alex particularly skillful. Both children are perennially at the bottom of their classes, but they somehow manage to hang on.

There are other students—supporting characters that are likable and not so likable, but definitely not one dimensional. “First Year” is all about the weeding out process just to earn the right to become mage apprentices. Although that isn’t a whole lot of plot, enough happens in book one to feel like a full length novel without feeling like the novel was padded to reach its length.

Narrator Melissa Moran did a great job bringing the Ms. Carter’s words to life. She also has a pleasant sounding voice that sounds age appropriate to the characters. Her male character voices weren’t bad either. Sometimes I find male character voices done by female narrators a little comical, especially if the female narrator has a naturally high voice.

Overall I found “First Year: The Black Mage Book One” to be an enjoyable read/listen and I would definitely like to finish the story by reading/listening to books two and three in the trilogy. Finally, this audio book was provided by the narrator at no cost in exchange for an honest review, courtesy of Audio Book Boom.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Ruby McDemon
  • Ruby McDemon
  • 22-04-2017

So much awesome and only 1 story

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anne
  • 16-03-2017

awesome!!!

I cannot wait to hear the sequels​!! thank you audible books! I would recommend this

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for T. Lynn Moellendorf
  • T. Lynn Moellendorf
  • 20-12-2016

I love the story and the writer but...

What made the experience of listening to First Year the most enjoyable?

I just started listening to audiobooks recently and have fallen in love. I don't always have to read the hard copy story, so listening to them is easier.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

The only thing that I felt detracted from the story was that at times the narrator sounded more robotic then human. When speaking for the characters, she had personality. But as narrator, she sounded more like the automatic narrator on my kindle then a real person.

Any additional comments?

Overall, this book was enjoyable, but could have been better. I look forward to the second and final book to come out.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Kim
  • 24-10-2019

Narrator really brought the story down a peg

This narrator just wasn’t the right fit. The aristocracy had exaggerated Brooklyn accents (wrong for “high-borns” and just generally wrong for the world Carter creates). The prince ended up sounded like a dumb bro. Moreover, the narrator didn’t use contractions even when they were built into the writing, so it constantly sounded like someone was reading from some formal treatise — really unnatural. I enjoy Carter’s writing in ebook format, but wouldn’t purchase other audiobooks in the series if they have the same narrator.

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  • Paula
  • 21-09-2019

It'a okay, , but I'm not sure if I liked it

This first book presents a basic story: a simple girl who needs to fight to prove her capacity , and struggles with a arrogante boy (who is also a prince). So, say I didnt like the story is a little to much, but I'm not looking for listen the next books now.

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  • Sophie
  • 27-06-2019

Annoying characters

It's not a book, but I can't stand the heroine. She needs to stop whining and get over herself. Hopefully, there will be character development in the 2nd book.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • MossyFernForest
  • 06-10-2018

like a gritty army bootcamp version of hogwarts

The first 5 hours are one painful, long, boring struggle, and you have to suffer through the whole initial boot camp with her. I've never longed for an 80's montage so much! It would be so great if I could just have the sweetened, condensed version of this first year struggle. I kept thinking maybe something would happen that will be fun or enjoyable to listen to. I get that it is gritty and realistic to describe the whole cruel and tough love experience, but there wasn't much to keep me excited. The prince she likes sometimes seems to have potential as a hottie, but most of the time just seems like a jerk for most of the book. It's not until about 5 hours & 15 minutes in that things get even slightly less dreary and the interesting things pick up.

The narrator is actually really good, but I don't like the accents she chooses. For some reason the high born characters sound like they're old New Yorkers...that's not a sophisticated sounding accent, IMO.

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Profile Image for Erin Farmer
  • Erin Farmer
  • 22-07-2018

Harry Potter + Divergent = The Black Mage

This was my 100th book of the year, hitting my Goodreads goal! Harry Potter + Divergent = The Black Mage! This book has all the makings of a great series! A quick read, but very entertaining! Highly recommend if you like magical boarding schools. I know I'm excited to continue on with the series. Narrator was great, really fit the story I thought. Listening definitely adds to the experience of the book.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-10-2017

A decent start

I enjoyed this book more than not, but did feel there was a bit too much struggle for the main character. After all her hard work, she deserved a pay off, but it never came, which was frustrating, her wins come through luck or 'potential' not her hard work. I hope that gets cleared up in the upcoming volumes and she van succeed for her work, not just plot reasons.