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Holly Black , Cassandra Clare

Magisterium (Series, Book 3): The Bronze Key

YEAR: 2016

COUNTRY: United States of America

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Title of the work

Magisterium (Series, Book 3): The Bronze Key

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

worldwide

Original Language

English

First Edition Date

2016

First Edition Details

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, Magisterium: The Bronze Key. New York: Scholastic, 2016, 249 pp.

ISBN

9780552567701

Official Website

magisteriumtrials.com (accessed: October 22, 2020)

Genre

Fantasy fiction
Novels
School story*

Target Audience

Children (middle grade)

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, s.deacy@roehampton.ac.uk

Daniel Nkemleke, ENS University of Yaoundé 1, email: nkemlekedan@yahoo.com

Female portrait

Holly Black , b. 1971
(Author)

Holly Black (1971) was born in New Jersey, USA, and published her first book in 2002. She is a bestselling author of more than 30 books and has won several awards and honours, including a Newbery Honor for Doll Bones in 2014. Black is perhaps best known as the author, with Tony DiTerlizzi, of The Spiderwick Chronicles series.

Black lives in Massachusetts, ten minutes away from Cassandra Clare.


Source:

Official website (accessed: October 21, 2020).


Bio prepared by Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk


Female portrait

Cassandra Clare , b. 1973
(Author)

Cassandra Clare (1973) was born in Iran to American parents and spent much of her childhood travelling. Following a career in magazine journalism, Clare became a full-time author in 2006 and is best known as the author of The Mortal Instruments series, which has been translated into over 34 languages.

Clare lives in Massachusetts, ten minutes away from Holly Black.


Source:

Official website (accessed: October 21, 2020).


Bio prepared by Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk


Adaptations

Audiobook:

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, Magisterium: The Bronze Key, narrated by Paul Boehmer, New York: Penguin Random House, 2016 [audiobook].


Ebook:

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, Magisterium: The Bronze Key, New York: Scholastic, 2016 [ebook].

Translation

French editions (France):

French: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, La clé de bronze – Magistérium, Tome 3, Pocket Jeunesse, 2017.


French editions (Canada):

French: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, La clé de bronze, transl. Marie-Josée Brière, Toronto: Éditions Scholastic, 2017.

Summary

The Magisterium series follows Callum (Call) Hunt and his friends Aaron and Tamara through their time at the Magisterium school for mages. The trio learn how to harness the magic of the four elements – earth, water, fire and air – along with the paired magics of chaos and the soul. [Read more in the entry for the Magisterium series]

The Bronze Key is the third book in the series and opens with Callum and his father travelling to the Collegium (a college of magic) to receive an honour. The character of Anastasia Tarquin, a member of the magic world’s governing Assembly, is introduced. Call receives a note signed by a girl from school, asking him to meet her, it is a trap and he is nearly crushed by a falling chandelier. The event is disrupted further by the discovery of a dead body – fellow student Jen – floating in the water surrounding the Collegium. 

Once back at school, the Magisterium, Anastasia arrives. She is apparently trying to find the spy who put Callum and his friends in danger in the previous novel in the series, The Copper Gauntlet. Meanwhile, Call and Aaron are taught by a group of rogue mages how to use soul magic to see and touch each other’s souls. This ends in disaster when Call accidentally turns the murdered Jen into a Chaos-ridden, a person or animal in a state of living death ruled by the element of chaos and at the command of chaos mages. Call’s fears of the spy grow when his water supply is sabotaged during a school trial in a maze of fire. 

An older student, Alex Strike, tells Aaron and Call that Tamara has been captured by the spy and lures them out into the woods. Too late, Call realises that Alex is the spy. Alex has stolen the Alkahest, a magical glove that can be used to strip mages who work with chaos – like Call and Aaron – of their magic. Alex tries to use the Alkahest on Call. Tamara saves Call and Alex kills Aaron instead, taking his chaos magic and escaping. Call’s identity as the resurrected Enemy of Death is uncovered, and he is sent to the Mage prison. At the novel’s close, Anastasia visits and reveals that she is the mother of Constantine Madden, the evil ‘Enemy of Death’ whose reincarnated soul lives in Callum.

Analysis

While all the novels in the series draw on overarching themes and touchstones from antiquity, the second and third books – The Copper Gauntlet and The Bronze Key – make additional use of specific references. [Read more in the entry for the Magisterium series]

The Bronze Key continues the classical theme established in earlier novels. For example, “a giant weird statue of Poseidon” marks the entrance to the underwater Collegium (p.14). Later Call is attacked by a multi-headed elemental (p.89), reminiscent of a Hydra narrative. ("Elementals" are creatures with tremendous power, who embody one of the elements – air, water, earth or fire.) This elemental is later named as Skelmis (p.110). The students later encounter an air elemental called Chalcon (p.137). In Greek mythology, both Skelmis and Chalcon are among the Telchines, punished for their misuse of magic in the same way Black and Clare’s elementals are. Finally, the maze of fire that appears in this novel (p.190) recalls the Labyrinth of Greek mythology.

Along with classical references, this novel and the series as a whole also refer to figures from Renaissance history and culture, such as the alchemist Paracelsus (p.17). Neo-classical uses of Latin and Greek are also referenced, for example, the "prima materia" of alchemy. Similarly, the mage prison is named the "Panopticon", after philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s design of an institution in which prisoners would be under constant surveillance. This combination of classical and neo-classical references positions the series’ magical society as Eurocentric. This is reinforced by a plaque Call finds in the Collegium (p.31), itself built into the Virginia coastline, honouring a mage who died in 1609: 1609 was the year of the Second Virginia Charter, an important colonial document. Readers do not need to have any knowledge of these references to follow the plot or engage with the characters; rather, they contribute to a rich sense of world-building and magical heritage.

Further Reading

Leeming, David Adams, and  Leeming, Margaret Adams, A Dictionary of Creation Myths, Oxford University Press, 1994/2009.

Owen Christopher, Systemic Oppression in Contemporary Children’s Fantastika Literature. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, Anglia Ruskin University, arro.anglia.ac.uk, 2019 (accessed: October 22, 2020).

Addenda

Fan website (accessed: October 22, 2020).

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Leaf pattern
Leaf pattern

Title of the work

Magisterium (Series, Book 3): The Bronze Key

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

worldwide

Original Language

English

First Edition Date

2016

First Edition Details

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, Magisterium: The Bronze Key. New York: Scholastic, 2016, 249 pp.

ISBN

9780552567701

Official Website

magisteriumtrials.com (accessed: October 22, 2020)

Genre

Fantasy fiction
Novels
School story*

Target Audience

Children (middle grade)

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, s.deacy@roehampton.ac.uk

Daniel Nkemleke, ENS University of Yaoundé 1, email: nkemlekedan@yahoo.com

Female portrait

Holly Black (Author)

Holly Black (1971) was born in New Jersey, USA, and published her first book in 2002. She is a bestselling author of more than 30 books and has won several awards and honours, including a Newbery Honor for Doll Bones in 2014. Black is perhaps best known as the author, with Tony DiTerlizzi, of The Spiderwick Chronicles series.

Black lives in Massachusetts, ten minutes away from Cassandra Clare.


Source:

Official website (accessed: October 21, 2020).


Bio prepared by Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk


Female portrait

Cassandra Clare (Author)

Cassandra Clare (1973) was born in Iran to American parents and spent much of her childhood travelling. Following a career in magazine journalism, Clare became a full-time author in 2006 and is best known as the author of The Mortal Instruments series, which has been translated into over 34 languages.

Clare lives in Massachusetts, ten minutes away from Holly Black.


Source:

Official website (accessed: October 21, 2020).


Bio prepared by Sarah Hardstaff, University of Cambridge, sflh2@cam.ac.uk


Adaptations

Audiobook:

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, Magisterium: The Bronze Key, narrated by Paul Boehmer, New York: Penguin Random House, 2016 [audiobook].


Ebook:

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, Magisterium: The Bronze Key, New York: Scholastic, 2016 [ebook].

Translation

French editions (France):

French: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, La clé de bronze – Magistérium, Tome 3, Pocket Jeunesse, 2017.


French editions (Canada):

French: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, La clé de bronze, transl. Marie-Josée Brière, Toronto: Éditions Scholastic, 2017.

Summary

The Magisterium series follows Callum (Call) Hunt and his friends Aaron and Tamara through their time at the Magisterium school for mages. The trio learn how to harness the magic of the four elements – earth, water, fire and air – along with the paired magics of chaos and the soul. [Read more in the entry for the Magisterium series]

The Bronze Key is the third book in the series and opens with Callum and his father travelling to the Collegium (a college of magic) to receive an honour. The character of Anastasia Tarquin, a member of the magic world’s governing Assembly, is introduced. Call receives a note signed by a girl from school, asking him to meet her, it is a trap and he is nearly crushed by a falling chandelier. The event is disrupted further by the discovery of a dead body – fellow student Jen – floating in the water surrounding the Collegium. 

Once back at school, the Magisterium, Anastasia arrives. She is apparently trying to find the spy who put Callum and his friends in danger in the previous novel in the series, The Copper Gauntlet. Meanwhile, Call and Aaron are taught by a group of rogue mages how to use soul magic to see and touch each other’s souls. This ends in disaster when Call accidentally turns the murdered Jen into a Chaos-ridden, a person or animal in a state of living death ruled by the element of chaos and at the command of chaos mages. Call’s fears of the spy grow when his water supply is sabotaged during a school trial in a maze of fire. 

An older student, Alex Strike, tells Aaron and Call that Tamara has been captured by the spy and lures them out into the woods. Too late, Call realises that Alex is the spy. Alex has stolen the Alkahest, a magical glove that can be used to strip mages who work with chaos – like Call and Aaron – of their magic. Alex tries to use the Alkahest on Call. Tamara saves Call and Alex kills Aaron instead, taking his chaos magic and escaping. Call’s identity as the resurrected Enemy of Death is uncovered, and he is sent to the Mage prison. At the novel’s close, Anastasia visits and reveals that she is the mother of Constantine Madden, the evil ‘Enemy of Death’ whose reincarnated soul lives in Callum.

Analysis

While all the novels in the series draw on overarching themes and touchstones from antiquity, the second and third books – The Copper Gauntlet and The Bronze Key – make additional use of specific references. [Read more in the entry for the Magisterium series]

The Bronze Key continues the classical theme established in earlier novels. For example, “a giant weird statue of Poseidon” marks the entrance to the underwater Collegium (p.14). Later Call is attacked by a multi-headed elemental (p.89), reminiscent of a Hydra narrative. ("Elementals" are creatures with tremendous power, who embody one of the elements – air, water, earth or fire.) This elemental is later named as Skelmis (p.110). The students later encounter an air elemental called Chalcon (p.137). In Greek mythology, both Skelmis and Chalcon are among the Telchines, punished for their misuse of magic in the same way Black and Clare’s elementals are. Finally, the maze of fire that appears in this novel (p.190) recalls the Labyrinth of Greek mythology.

Along with classical references, this novel and the series as a whole also refer to figures from Renaissance history and culture, such as the alchemist Paracelsus (p.17). Neo-classical uses of Latin and Greek are also referenced, for example, the "prima materia" of alchemy. Similarly, the mage prison is named the "Panopticon", after philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s design of an institution in which prisoners would be under constant surveillance. This combination of classical and neo-classical references positions the series’ magical society as Eurocentric. This is reinforced by a plaque Call finds in the Collegium (p.31), itself built into the Virginia coastline, honouring a mage who died in 1609: 1609 was the year of the Second Virginia Charter, an important colonial document. Readers do not need to have any knowledge of these references to follow the plot or engage with the characters; rather, they contribute to a rich sense of world-building and magical heritage.

Further Reading

Leeming, David Adams, and  Leeming, Margaret Adams, A Dictionary of Creation Myths, Oxford University Press, 1994/2009.

Owen Christopher, Systemic Oppression in Contemporary Children’s Fantastika Literature. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, Anglia Ruskin University, arro.anglia.ac.uk, 2019 (accessed: October 22, 2020).

Addenda

Fan website (accessed: October 22, 2020).

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