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Welcome to the Candidacy. Where dreams go to die.

Twenty-year-old Ryiah is a black mage of Combat, but she’s not the Black Mage. Yet. She’s had her eyes on the legendary robe for as long as she can remember, and in just one year, she will have a chance at her country’s prestigious—and only—tourney for war mages... Too bad she is going up against a certain prince—the one person she has yet to beat.

The Candidacy finally arrives and a winner is robed, but something dark is lurking in her kingdom’s midst. Rival nations are closing in, and it’s time to make an alliance.

Unfortunately for Ryiah, that’s only the beginning. The worst enemy resides in the palace.

380 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 27, 2015

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About the author

Rachel E. Carter

9 books3,479 followers
Rachel E. Carter is the USA Today bestselling author of The Black Mage, a YA fantasy series about magic, love, and war -with future projects to come. She hoards coffee and has a weakness for villains and Mr. Darcy love interests.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 683 reviews
Profile Image for Rachel E. Carter.
Author 9 books3,479 followers
May 2, 2018
SERIES TEASER TRAILER: https://youtu.be/AJcWes2y__s

PINTEREST BOARD: https://www.pinterest.com/recarteraut...

AMAZON: http://amzn.to/2k4beWq
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BOOK DEPOSITORY: https://www.bookdepository.com/Candid...

*** PLEASE NOTE: The ebook editions of this series are only available through Amazon, however you can still purchase the paperback/hardcover/audiobook versions at all retailers. If you would like to continue reading the series as ebook, you can purchase the book/s on Amazon and either: 1) install the Kindle app on your e-reader, or 2) EMAIL RACHEL (rachelcarterauthor@gmail.com) a copy of your receipt and she’ll send you the ebook edition/s you need for your preferred non-Kindle device (ie iBook, KOBO, Nook reader, etc).
Profile Image for Katerina.
420 reviews16.8k followers
October 21, 2016
Did you hear an ear-piercing noise? That was me screaming. Did you hear something shattering? That was my heart. Did you hear that somebody stole all the ice-cream from your neighbourhood's convenience store? That was me trying to eat my feelings.

“Two longstanding rivals.”
“And only one robe to bear.”
“Who will win? The handsome prince?”
“Or his valiant betrothed?”

Ryiah is finally a black mage, but she is not the black mage. Yet. With the Candidacy approaching, she pushes herself to her limits in order to defeat the only person that stands in her way. The boy she loves. But nothing is ever easy, and she has to prove her value time and time again, while trying to maintain control of her life. To make matters even worse, the royal family hates her and her country is on the brink of war against an enemy they cannot win, unless they secure the support from every other nation. But the real enemy remains unknown, until it is too late.
“That’s the thing about enemies. You never know who they could end up being.”

Does loving Candidate even though it was a brutal and tear-jerking roller-coaster that made me forget how to breathe make me a masochist? Whatever the answer is, it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that this book tore me apart piece by piece and at the same time it completed me. It filled me with strong, devastating love. Love towards the plot, the characters and Rachel E. Carter. After this ending though I am not so sure about the latter. I can imagine Rachel writing the last chapters rubbing her hands, with a smirk in her lips and an evil gleam in her eyes.

Oh who am I kidding? I still love her. I love her because Candidate was different from the previous books in this series but equally brilliant. Because she wrote a solid high fantasy book, featuring every single element that makes me love this genre so much; politics, court intigue, murders, betrayals, deception, magic battles, blood. The writing was fluid and engaging, it got you with great precision inside Ryiah's head while uncovering the darkest secrets of the royal family, and the darkest secrets of her own family. While tragedies happened and insane plot twists took the air away from my lungs and punched me in the stomach and all I could do was watch. And suffer. And in my experience, if a book is capable of causing such a whirlwind of emotions, it is an epic book.
“Loyalty is never built upon honor, brother. It is built upon blood.”

I don't know how I feel about Ryiah. I spent most of the book angry at her for her recklessness and her decisions, judging her for being so darn competitive. But if I had to make the choices she made, if I was constantly deemed unworthy despite my efforts, if my nation and my family were falling apart, I don't know if I would act any differently. While flawed, she is realistic.
“Darren wasn’t darkness, and I wasn’t his light.
I needed to show him he was fire. My fire. Something filled with light. Something good. Something just like me but wrapped up so tightly in his own barrier of darkness it could burn. Unless you knew how to unravel him.”

What can I say about Darren? That my heart bled for him? That I shivered when his past was revealed? That I cried when he chose Ryiah? He is not one of the heroes who go easy on the girl they love, who try to change for her. He is far from perfect, and that's why I love him.

Dear Rachel E. Carter, I beg you to make things right in Last Stand and give my heroes the happily ever after they deserve, because I know that deep down you hurt when they hurt. If not, I watch Bones and I know how to dispose of a body.
Until then, I will die a thousand deaths.

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Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,014 reviews1,051 followers
October 9, 2015

I am truly honored to have received an ARC of the third book of the epic fantasy series called The Black Mage and to be one of the first lucky people to have read this. Rachel E. Carter , I will be forever grateful for this series and for the friendship you so humbly and willingly offered despite your grand awesomeness.^^

Non-spoilery glimpse at the first two books.

Book One:First Year(The Black Mage #1) introduced us to Ryiah, a young heroine who dreamed of becoming a warrior by enrolling at the Academy, a School of Knighthood giving students a chance for apprenticeship in preparation to becoming a mage. A mage is someone capable of summoning different sorts of magic and casting spells and is meant to serve and protect the Kingdom of Jerar. The students selected their factions- Restoration, Alchemy and Combat through different tests and challenges. Of course, our heroine is a certified kick-ass and wanted to be trained for Combat. The tone of the story was playful and even a bit flirty especially with the adorable jerk of a prince called Darren. It had this Harry Potter/Divergent/The Selection feel to it and the reader simply enjoyed every bit of the story. Haven’t read this yet? What are you thinking? Go read this now!^^

Book Two:Apprentice (The Black Mage #2). The few carefully selected students from the School of Knighthood who passed the trial year moved on to apprenticeship which meant four years of hard and rigorous training under strict and harsh masters. The plot became more intense and action-packed not only because of the difficult training and the impossibility of becoming an actual mage, but also because of the brewing conflict between the Kingdom of Jerar and its neighbor, Caltoth. Add to that the really cute love triangle and rumors of rebellions. This is breathtakingly good and if you haven’t read this yet, what are you seriously thinking? Go read this now!^^

REVIEW PROPER (non-spoilery too)

The ultimate challenge for the former students now turned mages is for them to join the Candidacy which is a competition of the mages for the title of the lead mage role in the Council of Three, one leader for each of the faction. The story is so much more than that but I’m keeping my mouth shut because anything more will ultimately spoil your reading so instead, I’ll talk about how the story was written.

Candidate (The Black Mage #3) is by far, in my personal opinion, the best book in the entire series. The turn of events in the story made me want to beg for oxygen. I was completely taken aback and was totally amazed at the author’s boldness when she decided to take the course of the plot to somewhere I would never ever have predicted. The themes on politic s have become so strong; it has become the core of the plot. It was fascinating to witness how the characters (even the bad ones) develop and completely mature here. The settings and events have become more exploratory and I couldn’t help notice the slight resemblance of the settings to certain places at Westeros because If I’m not mistaken, the author is a hardcore Game of Thrones fan. It isn’t very obvious, but I am too! High five, Rachel!^^ Paige actually reminded me so much of Brienne of Tarth.^^

Click this to see an adorable photo of Jaime and Brienne. (Brienne is one hot momma!)

The first two books have already made me a fan of this author but after reading the shocking plot twists and surprising every other element in this installment, my respect and awe for the author went way up to a different level especially with her emphasis on girl power. Commander Nyx-woman, Paige who is a guard-woman, one of the best combat mages-woman! Yeeha! Perhaps my only complaint is my lack of preparation for the tragedies that happened in the story. I so didn’t see them coming AT ALL. Oh my fragile heart! The deaths! The rebellion! The deception! Dayum, the feels! I was gutted really hard. My heart shattered to pieces and I was so not ready for that. *glares at author*

The greatest news though is there is a fourth book! There is a fourth book! I have never been more grateful for a cliffhanger! So I’m guessing you haven’t read this yet, right? What in the world are you thinking? Go read books one and two now in time for Candidate’s release date on October 27.

P.S. Sorry for sounding like a bully. I'm just really, really enthusiastic. Lol.^^
Profile Image for Melissa.
355 reviews616 followers
February 22, 2017
First Year Book 1 review
Apprentice Book 2 review
Last Stand Book 4 review

Oh dear Lord was I scared. I mean First Year was awesome and then Apprentice came rolling along blowing second book syndrome out of the water with its freaking awesomeness, so you can imagine me, the pessimist that I am, waiting for the shoe to drop. It's not that I don't trust Rachel, it's that no matter how much I love series there is always that one book to bring down the parade. But Candidate?
Candidate blew my freaking mind.

As a whole, this series gets more complex and daring as it progresses. Each one able to stand in it's own light and right. Amazing characters developed with actual depth. Twist and turns you will not see coming. Literally, Candidate mocked my attempts at guessing any outcome. Just when I thought I knew what would come to be, Rachel pulled the rug from under my feet and showed me a chasm I couldn't even begin to fathom.

This book had me:
★losing sleep
★biting my nails (thanks for that btw -_-)

My feels are frayed. My shock, my glee. Will these books ever cease to amaze me?

Remember how I said Apprentice overshadowed its predecessor by miles on end. Well, Candidate blew those two to bits.

I will no longer doubt the epicness you can bring to life and I will never hesitate to read anything you write. This has undoubtedly become one of my favorites YA fantasy series. Hands down, no competition.

P.S. Totally random but...
“You, you are a cockroach."

I totally inspired that lol I called her "resilient as a cockroach" when I read the first book. My words have been immortalized! *cackles* :P

Also arc was provided by the author but that in no way swayed my opinion. Trust me, I would have been the first to point out that it sucked if it had. She knows that very well.

Pre review:
How dare you end just like that? HOW DARE YOU?!?!?! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!?!

Review to come...when I can actually think straight...
Profile Image for Ash.
382 reviews39 followers
August 24, 2017
first read: October 30-31, 2015
first reread: February 3-?, 2017

...........So............I just finished this book..............................and I think I will just sit here for a while, because.....I am just so......oh my god, this book fucking broke me.

I am seriously at a loss for words. I have NO IDEA WHAT TO SAY. I am both elated and traumatized, and in total disbelief about a few different things that came to light during this third book in the series. Just look at my status updates, haha. This book made me bipolar.

I am totally serious, I can't wrap my head around it all....so, I will not be writing a coherent review right now. THANKS RACHEL....

come find me:
IG: ash.reads Twitter: @ReadsAsh
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,014 reviews1,405 followers
May 2, 2020
First Read: June 2017, Rating: 4/5 stars
Second Read: February 2020, Rating 3.5/5 stars

I had wrongly assumed my adoration for this series would nose-dive once it was removed from its magical academy setting, but boy was I wrong! Ryiah's character arc throughout this series has been momentous, and it is heartening to still share her journey even after her school days are over. She continues to learn and continues to grow, just as this series continued to evolve from strength to strength. Her ambition and her desire to succeed made this book an inspiring one and although I may have not been finally convinced of this series romantic focus I am sold on the badass female this centres around.
Profile Image for Lucía.
169 reviews2,339 followers
April 23, 2017
Son pocos los libros que me aceleran el corazón por la ansiedad que me causan. Este libro estuvo del carajo.
Profile Image for Inge.
347 reviews880 followers
May 4, 2017
I may be a little late with writing this review, but never any less enthusiastic. First of all, I have received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. And while I’m good friends with the author and would gladly have her babies, this in no way affects my opinion of the book. You’ll find that in Apprentice, I wanted to chuck frozen egg rolls at Ryiah, and would have gladly done so if it was required in Candidate.

Fortunately, that’s not the case. Candidate is everything you’ve ever loved about the Black Mage series and more, so much more. It’s most parts kickass and some parts swooning at their feisty relationship. Add a shitload of battle scenes, which are written brilliantly, and some really strong side characters, and this is what you end up with.
"Do you know the difference between a nation of merchants and a nation of warriors? Only one of them is prepared to fall on its blade."

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but I absolutely love Ryiah as a main character. First of all, she works her butt off to get where she wants to be. She doesn’t get anything thrown in her lap, but she trains and trains and trains to become the badass motherfucker that she is (I may have to edit this one for the Amazon review hahaha). On top of that, she’s not whiny, she’s not defined by her boyfriend, and she has hopes and dreams and goals outside of her relationship. It’s honestly so refreshing.

The events in this book were truly so exciting – we get to meet a new favourite side character in the form of Paige, who’s three parts sarcasm and one part badass, and we finally find out who will wear the Black Mage robe in an epic arena fight that can only be described as the 77th edition of the Hunger Games, with magic.

And then the story punches you in the face. And laughs at you. Then laughs at you some more.

But overall, Candidate works excellently as a story in itself, while also building up for the awesome badassery that will be Last Stand. With war on our hands, I’m expecting Carter to make the finale exceptional.
Profile Image for Natalie (Never trust a duck).
264 reviews170 followers
October 27, 2015
I won an ARC of this book from the author! (THANK YOU!)

The first book made me want to tear my hair out in frustration and punch certain characters in the face. (All punching would've been done lovingly)

The second book did indeed rip my heart to shreds and scream a bit more. (THE ENDING THOUGH)

The third book made me shout HALLELUJAH!


This is the book where we get into the nitty-gritty political details and learn what Ryaih's and Darren's world looks like. And, as a bonus to us readers, Ry and Darren are actually together. Yes they fight and have to separate for a chapter or two, but finally FINALLY, they're a thing and Darren is too darn cute.

And it's time for the Candidacy!!! The big tournament to choose the next top mages and naturally Ry and Darren both want to be the Black Mage. That's as far as I'll go into that, but know it was.....yeah, stuff happened. Boy did stuff happen. Cause and effect, people. Cause. And. Effect.

Now, I don't want to give anything away, so just know it was amazing.

A little quote for you before I go......how about meeting the parents?

“Mom, Dad, this is Darren.” I couldn’t help but notice how stiff and quiet our audience had suddenly become.

My father was first to break the silence. Unfortunately for me it was in the most embarrassing way possible. “Well, well, ‘tall, dark, and handsome.’ I can see why my daughter picked you. She certainly has a type.”

Alex guffawed, and even Derrick had to hide a grin as the prince’s face shot up in flames. Not even Darren was prepared for my father.

Happy Reading!!!
Profile Image for Lo9man88.
130 reviews46 followers
April 10, 2018
OK, this book snuck up on me , i didn't anticipate those series of unexpected events: treachery and betrayals and so on , it was too much to take in , really, it serves me right i suppose : going in underestimating the author and the book , i wasn't prepared, and this novel sucker punched me, it is a feeling that i treasure very much, i wish the author the best of luck in her next book : it's gonna end bad i feel it in my bones ... D:
Profile Image for Tanja.
233 reviews21 followers
July 13, 2019

"Das ist das Geheimnis an Feinden.Man weiß nie, wer sich am Ende als einer entpuppt." (S. 118)

Meine Meinung:

Bereits schon in den letzten zwei Bänden habe ich gemerkt, welche Charaktere mir zusagen. Und ich muss sagen, dass Ryiah es mir ab dem ersten Moment an wirklich angetan hatte. Eine unglaublich starke und selbstbewusste Persönlichkeit, die sich durch die schlimmsten Zeiten hindurch kämpft und trotzdem hoch erhobenen Hauptes von sich behaupten kann, sie ist sie selbst und lebt für niemand anderen, sondern will ihren Traum erfüllen. Ein wenig sehe ich mich auch in ihr, denn bereits im ersten Band hatte ihre Geschichte eine große Ähnlichkeit mit meinem Leben und auch in dem 3. Band kann ich sagen, ich wäre gerne Ryiah, was ihre Persönlichkeit betrifft. Noch nie (oder eben ziemlich selten) hat mich eine Protagonistin umgehauen und in keiner Minute genervt. Sie ist eine meiner absoluten Lieblingsheldinnen. Und ja, ich sage Heldinnen, weil sie tatsächlich eine ist.
Und es tut mir so leid für sie, dass in diesem vorletzten Band nochmal gewaltig mit ihren Gefühlen gespielt wird und ihr Leben komplett auf den Kopf gestellt wird. Denn nun ist nicht nur mehr die Schwarze Robe und ihre Liebe zu Darren wichtig, sondern auch ihre Familie spielt eine große Rolle. Und ich habe einfach mit ihr mit gelitten und mich mitgefreut.
Und dadurch, dass ich Darrens Vorgeschichte auch kenne, durch die Kurzgeschichte, habe ich ihn auch ziemlich gerne. Und die Szenen mit ihm und Ryiah, die liebe ich wirklich sehr. Sie sind voller Humor und Spannung und natürlich auch Ernsthaftigkeit. Sie sind wirklich ein tolles Paar, allerdings befürchte ich im finalen Part wirklich das Schlimmste. Denn da wird ihre Liebe auf eine ganz harte Probe gestellt, wie es sich auch am Ende dieses Buches herausstellt. Und ich bin sehr gespannt, welche Rolle Darren dort spielen wird!

Die Handlung hat mir auch hier wieder unglaublich gut gefallen. Ab der ersten Minute war es einfach unglaublich spannend und überraschend. Wie vorher erwähnt, habe ich einfach mitgefiebert und konnte das Buch kaum aus der Hand legen. Es gibt schöne, ruhige Szenen, aber auch andere widerum spielen mit den Emotionen des Lesers und haben mich vollkommen in den Bann gezogen. Hier geht es nun auch mehr darum, wie Ryiah ihr Leben am Hof verbringt als Verlobte des Prinzen und trotzdem ihren Traum leben will. Ich hatte so viel Spaß am Lesen, aber dieses Buch hat mir auch unglaublich das Herz zerrissen. Es war einfach unglaublich!

Der Schreibstil hat mir auch dieses Mal wieder sehr gut gefallen. Ich war sofort drin und bin durch die Kapitel geflogen, wobei diese nicht gerade kurz sind. Die Autorin hat es wirklich geschafft mich in ihren Bann zu ziehen. Hier wird aus Ryiahs Sicht in der Ich-Perspektive geschrieben, wie es für dieses Genre auch üblich ist. Ein großes Lob an diese Autorin und ich bin so gespannt auf ihre weiteren Werke. Aber eines habe ich ja noch vor mir!


Dieses Buch hat mich einfach umgehauen. Es hat mir so das Herz gebrochen und ich kann mir nicht vorstellen, wie die Autorin das im finalen Teil wieder gut machen will! Ich will mehr von dieser Welt! Und es hat deutlich mehr als nur 5 Sterne verdient.

Es bekommt dementsprechend 5 von 5 Krönchen!
Profile Image for Avy ❄️.
298 reviews64 followers
July 24, 2018
I haven't cried that hard since the Clockwork Princess Epilogue... I sobbed. Ugly sobbed. With snot dripping and snorting and loud keening.

It was bad.

That ending...THAT ENDING. Holy crap. I couldn't even look at another book for a week after I finished Candidate. Rachel played with my emotions. But it's ok, she's just such a great writer that I'm ok with it.

Candidate was compelling and so much more. I'm scared to see what happens in Last Stand, but we all know I'll pre-ordering it the first opportunity.
Profile Image for Martini_tnt.
346 reviews31 followers
December 20, 2020
Lepsza od poprzednich części ale nie do końca mi siedzi ta seria. Chociaż ja najbardziej kocham fantastykę to po prostu myślę, że to może być jednak skierowane do młodszego czytelnika, który nie miał jeszcze kontaktu z wieloma książkami z tej kategorii. Dokończę to ale nie spodziewam się fajerwerków w ostatniej części.
Główna bohaterka strasznie irytująca, nie mogę jej znieść, oby w ostatniej części się poprawiła.
Profile Image for Muse-ic ♬.
381 reviews110 followers
September 27, 2016


I'm sorry, that was unclear. Allow me to rephrase that.....


You see that read blob over there on the floor? The one that has been torn to pieces?

Yeah, that's my heart!

Throughout reading Candidate I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I wasn't unbearably in love, but I was hooked and wanted to know what the hell was going to happen.

And then the Candidacy took place and everything beyond that point....

You know how people say "be careful what you wish for"?

Yeah, I found out the hard way!

I'm not typically an emotional person when it comes to reading books. Yeah I get fangirly and excited, but by "emotional" I mean crying.
I do get sad and feel for the characters, but I don't often feel the need to cry.

Unfortunately for me, this book happened.
And I was sitting among my family members, so I had no choice but to sit there, holding my tears at bay and silently suffering at the hands of Rachel E. Carter!!

I will also add that the most magical books aren't the ones with magic, but rather those that can cause real emotions in a reader. The exact opposite of indifference. Candidate was pretty magical!

I shall not divulge the secrets of this book because (1) spoilers suck, (2) You need to read it! (3) Why are you still sitting there? (4) Get up! (5) Go acquire this book! (6) Read it. (7) Sob.

The characters are truly amazing, as much as I hate some of them! They are all dynamic and multi-dimensional.
One of the greatest parts of this whole series is Ryiah and Darren's relationship. And it's not because of the romance.

I mean, let's be honest here; the romance is pretty awesome! (and I'm still waiting for more....)

But I say that because of their flaws. Darren and Ryiah are both seriously flawed. Like normal humans (except for, you know, the magic and stuff)! They are both prideful and they both make mistakes. But their love for each other prevails because they both sucked it up and tried to work it out! Yay!

So I did some Goodreads snooping and discovered that some of my lovely friends have this on their TBR's but it's still in the "Want-to-Read" shelves.
As much as I love you guys, I have to ask....................................


aaaaand scene!

Profile Image for Anna (Enchanted by YA).
360 reviews352 followers
October 11, 2015
***I received the eBook free as a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review***

Wow. Rachel as done it again! Just thinking about this book makes me grin, and also want to throttle something – an unusual combination but you’ll understand once you’ve read it (which you totally should. And soon, because I need to fangirl with someone okay? Okay)

There’s so much to say about this book and so much I can’t say for fear of spoiling, so I’ll start with the fact that everything has stepped up a level. The world, the character depth, the “oh my god that did not just happen” moments all got a whole lot greater and I couldn’t be happier about it. As a reader I often go into books (particularly sequels) excited as well as nervous but I found that I was only excited (jumping up and down excited no less) because I knew that even if the author threw in hundreds of curveballs and killed off characters, I’d still thoroughly enjoy it. And she did. And I did.

One of the biggest surprises for me was the amount of time spent away from my beloved Darren (granted it’s probable that I would have wanted more scenes even if we saw him every other page…) This isn’t a “romance” series and so their relationship didn’t take centre stage, which made me treasure those moments even more; while also opening the story to many different directions.

In this instalment tensions are rising throughout the world, revealing secrets and characteristics people would prefer to be kept quiet. True colours are starting to come through… My non-spoiler low down of characters: love bad-ass female protagonist, want to marry 1 prince and kill the other, a certain king is full of ****, the kind best friend is someone everyone should have in their life, MC’s parents break my heart, the brothers… Yet to be decided.

What it comes down to is the fact that this book has everything I could have asked for, so if you’re like me and love an epic fantasy series with a kick-ass heroine, momentous plot, complex characters and enough action/romance to be satisfying, picking it up is a no-brainer.


Posted on: http://enchantedbyya.blogspot.co.uk/
Profile Image for Hetal.
732 reviews94 followers
June 19, 2017
reread thoughts: 5/28/2016. Just as good as the last read. I had totally forgotten Ryiah's terrible epiphany at the end so I got to experience that agin and it broke my heart. RACHEL PLEASE WRITE THE NEXT BOOK. I NEED IT.

I really wanted to write this review the moment after I finished it, but I was so overwhelmed I had to let myself think about it for a couple days, or my review would have seemed like 10 year old fan-girl gushing.

This is by far the best book in the series thus far. Ryiah is now Darren's betrothed. But, before they get married, she wants to get away from the castle and work for Commander Nyx in the north. She and Darren separate for a while, but are brought together again by the Heir's marriage plans, mutiny, love, rebellion...just a cornucopia of problems, really. Let's not forget the pending Candidacy where Ryiah, Darren, and others will fight for the esteemed position of the Black Mage.

Candidate really gave us a good look at who Darren was and how he got to be the person he was today. It's not secret that though Darren and Ryiah love each other, they are stubborn and fight like there is no tomorrow. This book gives some back story that helps Ryiah and Darren's relationship mature.

"Darren wasn’t darkness, and I wasn’t his light.
I needed to show him he was fire."

Oh my god that line. SLAY Rachel E. Carter. SLAY.

Candidate is also by far the best written book by Carter, in my opinion. Carter as a writer has REALLLY grown and it is SO CLEAR in this book. We have watched Ryiah, Darren, and the others go from clueless students-to apprentices-to full fledged mages. Their emotions and personalities grow so much. I can't even say anything or I risk ruining the story, so I leave you with this line:

"People make mistakes all the time –some of us just are in more of a position to leave an impact when we do."

...just think about that for a second.

Second over. Other things you will find in this book: love, betrayal, and loneiness. I was not expecting the roller coaster of emotions that was Candidate, so I'm telling you now, be prepared. I suggest keeping a tissue box and a nice hot cup of tea by your side. Also maybe a fan for those steamy moments (thank you Rachel.)

If this had been a hard copy and not on my kindle, I would have thrown my book across the room and screamed at the ending in frustration and agony. What this book teaches us is that life isn't fair. That least scene at the end which i was looking forward to SO MUCH, was marred by LIFE BEING TERRIBLY UNFAIR. Like really though, IT'S NOT FAIR. The crap Ryiah goes through in the last 30% of the book will break your heart. My heart already breaks for Ryiah in the next book and it hasn't even come out.

All I can say is I am willing to build a temple in Rachel's honor and possibly sacrifice some puppies if it gets Rachel Carter to write faster. I will start saving up tissue boxes right now, because if The Last Stand is anything like The Candidate, one box will not be enough.
Profile Image for majo .
652 reviews278 followers
July 13, 2018


I've had heard that the third book was the best of the series but i certainly did NOT expect what happened.
Dear Rachel E. Carter, you blew my mind.

*4,5 stars*

This book begun with Ryiah and Darren wanting to go to the competition to be the new Black Mage. The first half of the book, was ok. I mean, there were a lot of angst and drama, but i really liked that in this book we finally discover Darren's past. Let me tell you, his father, King Lucius is a fucking MONSTER. i HATE HIM SO MUCH. And I liked a lot that Ryiah has to be part of the court. Yeah, she doesn't feel comfortable at all, with all the royalty surrounding her, but she prove herself a lot of times in the book.

But in the second half, with all that happens in the Candidacy, the book becomes a lot darker. We discover a lot of conspiracies and alliances that make everything GO TO HELL.

This book made me cry a lot, because in the last 30% something happened and my heart was breaking alongside Ryiah's. I felt her so much, because all the things she were, were destroy. Things she cared about. . I couldn't believe what I was reading and that doesn't happen to me often.

Profile Image for Emmeline (The Book Herald).
384 reviews45 followers
October 16, 2015
I got/won this ARC from the author, in return for an honest- unbiased review.

Rating- 4.5 Stars!!

"Flames erupted in a tempest of red. Against the bright summer sun it seared. Red like blood. Red like rage. red like revenge."


Let's do a little hop and delve into the plot! (I'll write it almost like Ryiah is narrating, it's not a quote).

Life should have finally been a dream,
everything worked out right?
I had everything i ever wanted.
And then it was not.
And then everything changed.
And then I was falling.
The price to be with the boy I've loved for years was much more than I anticipated,
and my soul has taken the damage.
War is coming and the only thing i feel is rage,
A numbness that prevails.
I have to win.
I will be the best,
I will be the Black Mage.
But things are bigger than even that,
Can Darren and I survive what's coming?
Betrayal prevails in Jerar, nothing is ever as it seems.

Darren took my hand..."If anyone beats me, I want it to be you, Ryiah."
I shut my eyes and sighed. "Perhaps the gods will surprise us and it will be neither."
"A true tragedy" he agreed.
"Of epic proportions."
His smile was just the faintest line in the shadows. "Two longstanding rivals."
"And only one robe to bear."
"Who will win?"

This book is like the holy love child of Game of Thrones and Avery (The Chronicles of Kaya #1) only the Young Adult version!!!

This book made me feel like i was falling in love, dying, betrayed, dying (it had to be mentioned twice), angry, hurt and extremely happy.

Seriously, so many scenes i was pretty sure a horde of elephants had a stampede on my heart and soul, i got all tight throat and teary, I was roaring for justice and there were moment i forgot that this is fiction because I was so freaking invested!!!

Well done, Rachel Carter!

Ladies and Gents, this book is like nothing we thought it would go. It took an unexpected angle from book 1 and 2- fear not, it's a good unexpected angle. We got to learn more about the characters, about the kingdom of Jerar, about the politics, about the royalty. We learned about fickleness and hate, we learned about what love will do to a person and the extent one would go to protect someone.

We learned about loss.

Our children are no longer children anymore! They have matured, they are adults and man, that character-growth shone through.

This book is what I would call complex-politics, we delve more into that- which I personally loved!
There were so many plot twists in here that i almost pulled out my hair! It took my breath away and left me clutching my stomach, gasping for air, while my heart was ripped out of my chest! I blame you for my emotional instability Carter! :P

Okay now that the background stuff has been discussed, let's reel it in to the more character-complex stuff.

When this book started, I felt like it was a bit slow compared to the first 2 but once the action got going, it never stopped.
It's filled with action, suspense, magic and general awesomeness!
Carter took it up another level!

Ryiah in here came across to me as very jealous and power-hungry, as in more than ever before. I will admit that it annoyed me a fair bit because I kept wanting to whack her over the head and scream that she shouldn't think ill of the boy she'll marry! However, I felt like that also made her very real. Ryiah isn't perfect, she's all passion and brawn but she has enough courage and compassion to face her mistakes when she makes them.

his royal hotness, Darren...what can I say about him. My God I love this boy. Rachel Carter finally gives us what we've all been dying for- his backstory. AND I almost died. Many times because of it.
It's quiet possible that i fell more in love with him in this book. I kid you not, prepare yourselves guys, this book is emotionally heavy and daunting but oh so goooood!

"...even when he was arrogant, he was attractive. Or maybe it was because of his smug self-assurance. It made me want to slap that silly smile off his face, and then grab him by the collar and kiss him until I couldn't breathe. Not necessarily in that order."

I love him so much, haha. Sorry, I'll try to stop the sappiness but so many times I kept thinking "Yup, I'd kiss him!"

THE BETRAYALS IN THIS BOOK DROVE ME MAD!! I suspected from the start, i did but i almost screamed at what happened towards the end. I can't, I just can't!

My tummy cramped up from stress, fear and hurt so many times! But it also had a major case of the butterflies! Rachel Carter, on top of my emotional instability, I also blame you for my health problems now!

There was also incredible villains in this book! seriously, this author kept me guessing the ENTIRE time and my mouth dropped open towards the end. I nearly had a seizure by the way it ended! (see health problems!)

Okay, now let's get to the juicy bit I know you've all been itching for- the romance.

OH. MY. GOD. There's no other way to express it.
I'm totally twitterpated, i can't even begin to explain it to you guys, but I'm going to try REALLY hard!

This romance is raw, powerful, beautiful, painful and mesmerizing.

But the emotions are so potent and raw!

It felt exactly like a real relationship should be (minus Ryiah's power-hungry tendencies- which stole the .5 stars for me). It was accepting, loving and the thing that got me the most, is that they never gave up on each other. No matter the pain, no matter what, they would go through hell and back for each other. This is one of my absolute favourite YA relationships, hands down.

Also, it gets a bit more physical but not NA physical! which I know will make some very happy haha.

This series keeps getting better and better! Rachel Carter has a definite fan in me forever, keep doing what you're doing Rachel because you write an amazing story!

My favourite part in this book was the moment Ryiah spoke out to a certain DUKE! I cheered out loud and happy danced all around my room!
I have so many favourite bits to be honest!

Side Note- the candidacy thing took a total unexpected turn! it was freaking brilliant. Thank for keeping me on my toes Carter! loved it!

The Winner of the candidacy is:


Stay awesome my lovelies and BUY THIS BOOK! JUST DO IT!

Side note- how cool is the cover???!

Sincerely yours forever,
-The Book Herald
Check out my blog- The Book Herald Blog (Help the little people!)
tweet me @thebookherald
Profile Image for Jessica.
719 reviews611 followers
March 11, 2018
4.5 stars

Hell yes, that’s what I’m talking about! The writing improved and the story was so damn gripping I’ve read for hours on end until I felt like my eyes were bleeding. Finally, we also got to see more of the bigger picture. I’m not saying that the world building is the best I’ve ever seen but it has improved since book one and I didn’t figure out how everything played together, not exactly at least, until Rhyia realized the truth.

The Rhyia I’ve come to admire in book one was back in this one but damn, the stuff she had to endure broke my heart over and over again! And to think it’s only going to get worse. :-( I am gutted; and terrified of starting book 4, to be perfectly honest. The more I think about all the things that happened, the more I realize there are some things you just can’t come back from. I don’t see how this can end in anything less than utter heartbreak. I’ve felt so betrayed while reading this I’m not sure I can take anymore. The emotions I felt were mostly a mix of betrayal, hurt, crushing disappointment, despair, envy, hopelessness, pain, pain and more pain. There are so many characters I’m mad at, I want to scream and rage at them and demand to know WHY?! Two characters I hate SO much, I want to see them strung up by their filthy necks.

Rhyia and Darren haven’t been perfect in either of the 3 books and I loved them all the more for it. The situation they’re in now is so unbelievably messed up and you know, sometimes there are no right choices. Only bad and worse ones. And I’m scared. I’m SO scared for these two characters I love so much and I know, there are things that are going to happen, need to happen, which cannot be forgiven. After all they’ve been through, they deserve better than this. :-(
Profile Image for Sophie.
338 reviews61 followers
December 21, 2016
I had thought I had written a review already on this but apparently I didn't.
Anyway, this series has been on that I am so glad i've been apart of. Riyah is even more bad ass and Darren is even more swoon-worthy. I'm generally not surprised at the twists in books anymore, but Candidate kept me guessing and I need the 4th book right now.
*I won an ARC of this through a Goodreads contest, but all opinions are my own*
oh my god. i'm going to need the night to process all of this. but let it be known that it was amazing and I need the final book in my hands now.
Alright, Rachel. I'm ready for this book to be published now
Profile Image for Anja H..
714 reviews449 followers
May 31, 2017

"That’s the thing about enemies. You never know who they could end up being.”

What the hell was that ending??!!?? How can Rachel E. Carter do this to us?? That's just pure evil! Thank God the next book is already released or I would've died from anticipation!

Review coming soon!
Profile Image for Rachel.
403 reviews68 followers
October 20, 2015
ARC won via author's giveaway

When given the option of an ARC or a free ebook upon release, which did I choose? The ARC of course! I couldn't wait to get my hands on this title. And boy did it not disappoint!

Riyah is only one year away of fulfilling her dream of becoming the Black Mage. Will Ry be able to beat the one person she has never been able to defeat: her rival, future husband, the non-heir?
Perhaps the gods will surprise us and it will be neither.”
“A true tragedy,” he agreed.
“Of epic proportions.”
His smile was just the faintest line in the shadows. “Two longstanding rivals.”
“And only one robe to bear.”
“Who will win?” Darren’s tone was wry. “The handsome prince?”
I grinned. “Or his valiant betrothed?

Her new life with Darren was supposed to be perfect, but she has only met complication after complication. Of course the King still loathes Ryiah. He'd rather she didn't exist. But what's done is done and Ry just wants is to stay under the radar and avoid his wrath. He really is a sick bastard. As the war seems to be coming closer and closer, Jerar is desperate for allies.
...This entire kingdom will fall to Caltoth. And when it does? Your lowborn wife will be the first blood I spill.

But Ry is taking full advantage of the time she has before her wedding and her princess duties call her. With Darren stuck at the Palace, Ry sets out to Ferren's Keep in hopes of some action and additional training before the Candidacy tourney. Rebels are on the rise and everything is not what it seems....

When the actually Candidacy started I think it was only 60% into the book. I remember thinking: what the heck else could possibly happen?? The answer: A LOT.

But seriously, that ending was mean! What is gonna happen?!?!

I knew I was going to love this book but it turned into much more than just a rivalry between two loves or the quest to become the next Black Mage. It was SO much more. And that made it oh so much better. I love me some betrayal, action, and suspense!

How many times can a person shatter?
Profile Image for Rose.
61 reviews
November 6, 2015
Slow Clap for Rachel E. Carter, because I believe your book just broke me. I don’t know what to do other than grasp for words like amazing, brilliant and incredible, because wow this book blew my mind and splattered it over a 10 mile radius.

*Tries to compose myself*

So, in Candidate you see Ryiah struggle on two fronts as she deals with the politics of court and her ambition to become the black mage by winning the Candidacy. Looking back, this book really opens up what the pressures and expectations that were on Darren through the previous two books, so Darren “I. Forgive. You.” for what you put me through in the first two books.

This instalment has an incredible amount of character development as the intentions of a lot of the secondary characters come to light. I loved Ryiah and her incredible perseverance, honestly, I love the fact that she’s not some special little sparkle who has everything at her feet because she has exceptional talent, but rather all her achievements come from her hard work.I loved Darren and Ryiah’s relationship in this, because Yay! they are finally officially together, and zohymgoodness they are freaking adorable! And Wow, Candidate really highlighted how much Darren loved Ryiah and just how much he’d put on the line for her. Not to mention, I adore the sibling love and loyalty in the book, which is probably the most deciding motivation for many of the characters.

The book made me cry, laugh and sulk for hours, with its unpredictable plot twists that made me dread turning the page, and its cast of loveable (and at times punchable) characters, not to mention the truly heart-warming moments like the bit where Darren meeta Ryiah’s parents and any scene with Ryiah and Ella.

I love the progressive improvement of each successive book, I thought apprentice was much better than first year, and Candidate was monumental, which means that Last Stand will make me want to carve the author’s face on the moon….so, looks like the wait is probably going to kill me.
Bottom line, I love this book it was everything I was hoping for and more, and I without restraint recommend everyone to read it and to join me when I run like a lunatic to the bookstore when the last book comes out.
Profile Image for Cee (The Mistress Case).
253 reviews161 followers
March 31, 2016
MARCH 20, 2016:

I discovered I had money left in several of my gift cards.

I ordered this book! Obviously, I can't wait to read and review it. I'm positive I will be gushing and raining gifs again for this series ;)

APRIL 24, 2015:

I am famously known for my patience.


I think.

I mean I'm serious if you are.

Let the waiting game (as Ashley tells me) begin.

Spectators, please move aside. Make room for the participants as we collapse with grief and excitement.
Profile Image for Heather.
123 reviews19 followers
November 3, 2015
A must read!

So how do I put this? I LOVE THIS SERIES! Did that come across clearly? If you have not read this series by Rachel Carter than you need to get on it. This a series that stays in your head long after you have finished it. So pick this one up start reading it unless you haven't read the first or second book...then you might want to start there ;)
Profile Image for Denielle.
471 reviews83 followers
October 5, 2016

So that just happened.
I don't think I could begin to start putting words together to write a review. Nothing I could possibly say would do this book any sort of justice. I think I may need to sleep on it so that I could wrap my mind around what the hick Rachel E. Carter just put me through! But one thing is for sure, like I predicted at the beginning I knew if I read to quickly I would be craving more and with an ending like that well... *walks off to my bedroom to try and put my broken heart back together*

That (above) was my reaction at around 3 in the morning after reading this book. Let me tell you, it was a ringer. After First Year I was excited because this author was new to me and she wrote a story filled with action, intrigue and enough emotional madness to guaranty I read her second book.
(Check out my review of book one here)

Then I read Apprentice and I was blown away! These characters, I have grown to love them in this book and by the end I was an emotional wreck! I wanted to scream at Rachel for what she put me through during that story but nothing could have stopped me from obtaining book 3.
(Check out my review of book two here)

I don't know how she does it but Rachel has been able to outdo her self with each book. Candidate is by far the best book of the series. I really thought nothing could have surpassed Apprentice and for that I was a fool because I should have known Rachel had more up her sleeves.

This story had a lot more politics than the others. Now that Ry has her robes, she has to find her place (yet again) in this new environment. The way Rachel wove her story... I suspected some of the possible outcomes but never, would I have suspected some of the stuff that was going to happen.

I'm not going to lie, but through out this book I just really wanted to smack Ry. Over and over the things she did and said, even the things she thought... gaaahhh!!! I just wanted to shake some sense into her. At the end though (after I forgave her power hungry tendencies) she was my favorite person again and I was in utter awe of her. She had to overcome so much, I loved watching it unfold.

Darren, oh my sweet non-heir. I grew to love him again during this book and I was so, so glad to see the way their love had a new dynamic now that they didn't have to hide. He was perfect, with his arrogance and self confidence but most of all, his love for Ry. There were a couple of times (when I wanted to smack Ry) that I just wanted to give him a cuddle. He has my heart and I know it's going to be deadly come book 4.

We revisited some old characters (I got to see my boy Ian again, I still love him) and we're introduced to some new ones. My favorite was Paige. Since I know that Rachel is a Game of Thrones fan, I was pretty pleased to spot the resemblance to one of my favorite characters from the show, and she was just as badass as Brienne!

Now I was so enraptured with this story. Every word was more intense than the previous books and I was so caught up, even though I knew there would be betrayals, I was still caught of guard. At about 85% I wanted to stop reading. I couldn't walk my heart, head first into the kind of heartache I KNEW was going to come. But I did and I couldn't believe the way things unfolded.

I want to talk about it so bad and just place a bunch of spoilers but I will stop myself here. But note this, that ending is going to be driving me crazy until next year. This is the first cliffhanger off the series and it was a doozy.

Rachel, you deserve an award after this. Bravo!
Profile Image for Tammie.
1,308 reviews149 followers
October 1, 2017
Welcome to the Candidacy. Where dreams go to die.

The Candidate is the third book in the Black Mage series and the plot definitely got thicker with this one. There were some good twists and turns and I could sympathize with the predicament Ryiah is in at the end of it. I still think she should trust Darren and his love for her enough to tell him what is going on though! And his jealousy over Ian in the first part of the book was ridiculous.

This book was a step up from the last book. Not many time jumps in this one which was good. I enjoyed it just as much as the first book and looking forward to reading book four.

Review also posted at Writings of a Reader
February 14, 2017
Let it be known. Rachel E. Carter is hereby claimed as a Master of Sorcery.
For I am shocked!
And devastated.
And shocked.
And dying
And shocked.

Did I mention shocked?



*heavy breathing*


*Sorry about the abrupt end to the rant, the reviewer went up in flames *
Profile Image for Stephanie.
825 reviews8 followers
July 27, 2016
So the downside to binge-reading Apprentice and Candidate means I now have to wait until Last Stand comes out to find out what happens to our plucky heroine and her tortured boy toy. Boo.

Seriously though, more action, more twisty twists, more humor, more kissing, better editing...there's lots to love here, even if Ry did annoy the heck out of me a few times.
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