Thanks to Rachel E Carter for giving me this book to review.
Before the age of 17, young men and women are able to go to one of the 3 schools study as either a solider, a knight or a mage. Ryiah has always wanted to leave her lowborn life behind so she decides to attend one of the schools. When her twin brother, Alex, develops magic, they both travel to the Academy hoping her magic will emerge soon. But the Academy is much harder than either of them imagined, especially with the people from higher in society having a massive head start, and everyone is fighting for a small amounts of spots to become an apprentice. The person who seems the most against her in Prince Darren, but after an encounter they develop an unusual friendship. With Ry having to work very hard as her faction of combat the toughest to get into, she must place her trust in herself, but will it be enough?
First Year is a really enjoyable YA fantasy novel and while set in a magic school, it is different from the others I have read. This book has action, twists and the beginning of a romance, although it does lack world building.
I really liked Ry as she never gives up and although she is not super smart she works really hard for what she wants and makes friends really easily. Darren is an interesting character as I was never sure what to make of him, as he was a bit two faced, although some people can be at that age, but I feel there is much more to him. I liked Alex as he was protective of his sister and obviously loves her, and I also liked how Ry had a group of friends that did not have conflict, which is unusual in YA books.
I really enjoyed this book and cannot wait to read the next book in The Black Mage series Apprentice. I would recommend First Year to fans of Tamora Peirce and The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan.