Summaries Of the Books in A Trial of Sorcerers Series
What is this page and who is it for?
This page provides a full summary of all of the events in the A Trial of Sorcerers series.
It is intended for people who have already read the books but need a refresher on what happened previously before reading the next book in the series. The summaries are not intended to replace reading the book, and do omit some of the finer details, but should refresh the memory of someone who has already read them.
Each book’s summary explains the whole book, meaning that there are a ton of spoilers!
I only recommend reading the summaries of the books you have already read to preserve your reading experience.
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Use the tabs along the top to navigate to the book you need a refresher for.
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SUMMARY OF A TRIAL OF SORCERERS
Spoilers ahead for the entire book of A TRIAL OF SORCERERS.
Do not read if you have not already finished A Trial of Sorcerers (A Trial of Sorcerers, #1)
The walls could talk, and they had secrets…
The series opens on our main protagonist, Eira Landan. She’s a Waterrunner in the Tower of Sorcerers and is on the outs with most other apprentices of the tower given an unfortunate incident 3 years ago when Eira accidentally killed one of her peers. Her ability to hear echoes of the past in inanimate objects is also a source of skepticism at best, and outright fear and worry at worst, from those around her. All this combined with the feeling of living in the shadow of her older brother, Marcus, has Eira shutting out most other people and holding herself back, even when she desperately wishes she could be seen.
Eira and her brother Marcus receive their daily assignments working in the clinics of the city. They use their powers to help record mementos from the dying into vessels. But Eira’s day takes a turn when she hears a disembodied voice suggesting to kill the Emperor Solaris while in a Waterrunner supply room in the Tower of Sorcerers.
Led by the voice, Eira discovers a strange, secret bedroom hidden behind a wall. The only indication of who might have occupied the space are a series of journals that contain writing on forbidden, Waterrunner sorcery. The room is also connected to a dark tunnel that Eira forgoes exploring in favor of reading.
Rejoined with her brother, Marcus announces that Cullen, the “prince of the tower” as many call him, will be joining them for dinner. Cullen is the first Windwalker returned following the Empress Vhalla Yarl and has quickly been elevated to lordship status. Eira cannot stand him.
As the two head to the training grounds to collect Cullen from his practice with the Empress, horns ring out and herald the return of the crown princess, Vi Solaris, from Meru (the Crescent Continent, as it was formerly called). They go to the Sunlit Stage to see the return of the princess. She has been in Meru for two years now following her betrothal to the Voice of Yargen, Taavin.
The last, and only time, Eira had seen Taavin and Vi was at the announcement of their betrothal, shortly after Eira’s incident.
However, Vi has not returned.
Instead Ambassador Cordon of the Solaris Empire arrives with Ambassador Ferro — sent on behalf of Queen Lumeria of Meru. They’ve come to announce that the crown princess has brokered a deal — not just with the Queendom of Meru, but with the Twilight Kingdom, the Kingdom of Draconi, and the People’s Republic of Qwint — called the Five Kingdoms Accords. The Accords will cement trade and peace between the five territories and to celebrate this historic deal a Tournament of Five Kingdoms has been announced. Each territory will send a delegation of their finest sorcerers to compete in the spirit of peace and goodwill.
This announcement creates a frenzy in the Tower with every apprentice excited for the chance to compete. Eira is interested in the competition not for glory, but for an opportunity to travel to Meru as she has always held a deep fascination for the nation. Eria’s best friend, Alyss, encourages her to compete.
But Eira’s hopes are dashed when her uncles, the Minister of Sorcery Fritznangle “Fritz” Charem and Grahm Charem discourage her from competing. Given her past, they want her to refrain from anything that shows off her magic too much. Her aunt, Gwen Charem, is of a different opinion and thinks that the only way Eira can move past the incident is to keep trying to move forward while atoning for her crime as she’s able.
This discussion with Gwen offers a bit more clarity on the events of 3 years ago:
The incident was brought on one night after she’d confessed her feelings for another Waterrunner, Adam. He invited her to meet him in the dead of night and Eira had gone in the hopes that he was going to confess his feelings for her as well. But instead, Adam and his friends made a mockery of Eira (Noelle, a Firebearer and Adam’s current girlfriend, among them). Eira’s magic got the better of her and spread through the tower; in so doing, she froze one of her peers to death.
Ultimately, when it’s announced by Fritz that sorcerers of every affinity will compete for the top spot and the opportunity to participate in the tournament, Eira decides she will… especially after she overhears her brother speaking with Cullen about how he’s held himself back to look after Eira. She’s further determined when Eira receives a letter from her parents also discouraging her from participating in the trials because of how much the trials will “mean to her brother.”
To sign up to be a competitor, sorcerers must pass a preliminary test of getting past a barrier made of the same element that they have control of. Eira knows the ice barrier for Waterrunners is being made by her brother and destroys it anyway to sign up her name.
Marcus confronts her and they talk about his worries for her, especially surrounding the voices she hears. Eira insists they’re echoes from unintentional vessels — items accidentally and unknowingly marked by magic. Marcus insists such things are too rare to really exist and doubts Eira. Signing up has also earned the ire of her uncles, which she was expecting. What she was not expecting was Cullen confronting her about signing up. Since he wanted Marcus on his final team (and Cullen has a guaranteed spot as the only eligible Windwalker) he sees Eira as a threat to his own goals.
Eira gets a lucky break when Mister Levit, one of her instructors, tells them their first trial will be a written test on Meru. Since the competitors will be representing Solaris, the test is to weed out any who would possibly embarrass the Empire. Levit also passes on a book from Meru to Eria, as the two share an interest and fascination in it.
Alyss takes the examination first and passes. Marcus comes to Eira the night before to try and convince her to throw the examination. He says that if she does, she can still go to Meru as his assistant.
Eira passes the test with a perfect score.
Following the test, Eira shows Alyss the hidden room she’d found (and had been using to study). They investigate the rough-hewn passage which forks. Down it leads to a pool of water. Up it leads to forgotten halls of the castle—deep in the mountain. Here, Eira hears mention of Adela, the pirate queen. The two run into Ambassador Ferro’s guard and quickly flee.
The room ultimately worries Alyss and she makes Eira promise not to go back there alone.
At the candidates’ dinner they receive their candidate pins:
“The pin bore the symbol of the Tower—four circles interlocking in a diamond shape. There was a triangle in each that corresponded with the elemental affinity from each of the four different regions of the Solaris Empire. In the center of the circles there was a fifth circle that was usually solid and unadorned. But on this pin it had the number 5 embossed into what would’ve been a blank space. No doubt to represent the Tournament of Five Kingdoms.”
They also learn that for their next trial they’ll compete by showing off their magic in an obstacle course and the field will be further cut by a third. When Eira returns to her room from dinner, she finds a mysterious note directing her to the Sunlit Stage. Once there, she finds Ambassador Ferro waiting for her. They sneak back into the castle, retreating to a lounge where they form an agreement that they will indulge each other’s fascinations of their respective homes. Ferro swears her to secrecy to avoid “the perception of favoritism.”
A week later, Eira is summoned by Cullen to the Windwalker’s study. There he asks her to be his guest at Court, explaining that there’s a way to get an advantage in the next trial by doing so. She’s later sent a dress from Cullen and Eira confronts Marcus about the whole plan who begs her to do so, even though she’s not keen on cheating.
At Court, Eira meets Lady Allora and other courtiers. But her main focus is on a piece of art showing the capital of Meru, Risen. Her and Cullen share a brief moment in artistic appreciation before Ferro and Prince Romulin arrive. Eira sneaks off to get a glimpse of the obstacle course but on her way back is cornered with Cullen. Not wanting to risk their pins being taken from them since they’re in an off-limits area, they pretend to be lovers who sneaked off and kiss.
Eira is later summoned by Ferro and she explains the kiss meant nothing.
The obstacle course arrives and Eira makes it through by the skin of her teeth (and by leaving some skin on the course). Her parents have come to watch Marcus compete and her throw her run. So she expects them to be cross when they come to her later… she doesn’t expect to find out that she was adopted by them as a baby when she was left on their doorstep with the Pirate Queen Adela’s mark pinned to her.
This revelation sends Eira into an emotional tailspin. In telling her parents to go away, she accidentally turns her magic on them (though doesn’t hurt them). They leave and Eira’s state deteriorates until Cullen arrives. He comforts her before leaving to meet with the Empress.
Alyss comes shortly after and Eira confides in her friend at their favorite bakery, Margery’s. However, after Eira has composed herself and has resolved to apologize for how she handled things and talk them over like an adult, she finds that her parents have already left. Things remain on bad terms.
As her and Alyss head to dinner they encounter a lover’s quarrel between Noelle and Adam. Eira helps diffuse the tension, her squabbles with Noelle seeming so inconsequential in contrast to everything else. They learn Noelle and Adam are no longer an “item” because he cheated on her with a stable hand.
The Emperor and Empress arrive at dinner to announce that the third trial will be a display of magic — competitor’s choice.
Following dinner Eira confronts Marcus about the truth of her parentage. It goes poorly and the two part ways filled with tension. Upset and feeling lost, Eira retreats to the secret room where she’s confronted by Ferro’s guard, Deneya, who asks what Eira’s relationship is with the Pirate Queen Adela Lagmir.
Eira swears she’s not with Adela in any way and learns from Deneya that the room she’s been occupying was once Adela’s. Deneya is ultimately intrigued by Eira and invites Eira to train with her.
At her next meeting with Ferro, Eira opens up about her possible parentage and learns that Adela is part elfin — the people from Meru who tend to have longer lifespans than the humans of the Solaris Empire. Ferro says he’s also an orphan and Eira feels closer to him than ever.
Eira begins to alternate between her meetings with Deneya and those with Ferro. She learns more about Adela from Deneya (like the name of the pirate queen’s ship, Stormfrost) and more about Meru from Ferro. She also spends time with Alyss and ultimately makes up with Marcus. The two finally reach a peaceful understanding between them about the trials.
The day of the third trial, Cullen reassures Eira in a tender moment between them. She then goes to the Sunlit Stage to present before an audience of peers and the panel of judges. Eira uses her magic to listen to echoes trapped in Vhalla Solaris’s crown (much to the shock and amazement of all those gathered). One of the other judges, Ambassador Cordon, is still skeptical and tests Eira on a ring. She hears something scandalous about the ambassador and the test comes to an end with Eira ending up with the highest score.
After the trial, Fritz tries to apologize for how he’s been acting, but it doesn’t go well. She retreats back to her room and is startled to find Ferro waiting for her. He passes on the rough plans for the next trial to her.
The next day Cullen arrives to take her to Court again, this time as a personal favor to him because he doesn’t want to confront his father and step-mother alone. When his parents arrive, Lord Yemir and Lady Patrice, Eira realizes that his father was one of the senators whom had pushed for the harshest punishment for Eira. Yemir takes Cullen aside and while Eira is alone with Patrice, the woman discourages her from taking a romantic interest in Cullen. This is because Cullen has obligations to his status-seeking family to marry well. Eira retreats and in doing hears a recent accidental vessel about Yemir’s concerns with her magic; Yemir fears that Eira will “uncover the truth” of Cullen’s past. Eira confesses hearing this to Cullen and he pulls away from her.
Overwhelmed with everything, Eira leans on Alyss again who encourages her to “go for it” with Ferro. She also shares with Alyss and Marcus the notes that Ferro passed onto her. She prepares with them and Deneya for the upcoming trial.
Ferro surprises her on the night before the trial by showing up in her room once more. He kisses her for good luck and leaves.
The trial is a wilderness test in which the seventeen remaining competitors are taken out into the snowy mountains and left to fend for themselves — using their magic to return back to the capital, Solarin. Eira quickly gets her bearings and sets out, but an avalanche slows her progress. She makes it out unscathed, but she notices her brother further up the mountain. He’s all right, just a little slower to resurface. The two ski down the mountain and ice skate under the stars. All is well until a lightspinning glyph (the magic of Meru) appears underneath the ice, breaks it, and they plunge into the cold waters.
A new barrier appears above them and Eira struggles to escape, already knowing it’s pointless thanks to her training with Deneya. Marcus drowns, shattering Eira’s notion that the trials only contain the illusion of danger. Eira pulls him from the frigid waters and onto the snowy embankment. But it’s too late.
However, Eira doesn’t get a chance to mourn for her brother as Ferro emerges from the darkness. He’s used the knowledge she gave him through their meetings to craft a trial that ended in the deaths of her fellow competitors. Ferro claims to be the son of the champion and almost bests her. But as he’s about the deal the killing blow, his magic unexpectedly fails him and Eira gains the upper hand.
She freezes him in place, icing over his mouth to keep him from using Lightspinning. Then, keeping her magic around him, she begins the trek back, Marcus in tow. But the night has been hard on her and Eira collapses. Just as she’s about to succumb to the cold and her wounds, Cullen arrives.
Cullen tries to explain to Eira how it will likely look, given her history, if she returns to Solarin with a dead body and the ambassador to their political ally held hostage, with all other Waterrunners dead. Eira refuses to listen, she will return to Solarin with Marcus or not at all. They go together and when they arrive Cullen does his best to see that Eira is taken to a specific location (even if she doesn’t realize it at the time).
In the palace dungeons, Eira is visited by none other than Vhalla Yarl herself. The Empress escorts Eira into the Imperial chambers where she can hide until things are more settled. She’s reunited with her aunt and uncles. Eira isn’t permitted to her brother’s Rite of Sunset — the final sendoff for the dead in the Solaris Empire.
Eira is woken late at night by Deneya. She learns that Deneya was not just a guard, but observer as Ferro was a suspect on Meru as part of a shadowy organization that is working against the crown. Eira agrees to help Deneya by telling her everything she knows, as well as through listening to the unintentional vessels in Ferro’s room. There she learns that Ferro is reporting to his father (him being an orphan was a lie) whom is also part of an organization working to undo the Treaty of Five Kingdoms so they can “purge the heretics.” Eira asks Deneya for the chance to avenge her brother, suspecting Deneya is a part of the Court of Shadows — the group working against the people Ferro is allied with. Deneya agrees.
Finally, her name is cleared and Eira is allowed out of her house arrest. Alyss informs Eira that her parents attended Marcus’s Rite of Sunset. She asks Fritz if they left her a note but they did not. Fritz tries one final time to get Eira to step out of the competition because he’s worried for her, and their family might not be able to handle another loss, but Eira refuses.
She emerges on the stage as a final competitor for Solaris alongside Alyss, Noelle, and Cullen.
She vows to go to Meru and avenge her brother.
… The story continues in book two
Summary to Come when Book Three Releases
Summary to Come when Book Four Releases
Summary to Come when Book Five Releases