The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas, Can be read in a few nights depending on your speed, Young Adult
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“A single choice could end the world.”~Narrator, p. 321
One of the reasons fantasy is my favorite genre is because, when done right, they can pull you into a new world that makes you rethink the possibilities of what could be. This book does that from page 1.
The Sunbearer Trials follows Teo, a semidiose, in a decennial event known as the Sunbearer Trials. At the end of these trials, the winner will perform a ritual sacrifice of the semidiose who ranks last in the trials to ensure a group of renegade gods doesn’t destroy Reino del Sol and their world is protected for another 10 years. The stakes of the trials are high. But, so are the stakes that come when Teo and one his fellow competitors have to convince the other semidioses that they are not less than simply because of who they were born to.
In a lot of ways, this book reminded me of Goblet of Fire, but so much better. The trials feel dangerous. The characters, even the side characters, feel real. And the world feels like a place we you would love to visit, or maybe want to live in.
Teo is the perfect main character. He’s mischievous, reckless, and exactly the kind of pain the ass that you expect teenagers to be—but in a loveable way. Through his eyes, we learn about the hierarchy of the gods, why the trials are so important, and the wonders of the world. By telling the story through Teo, as opposed to an omnipotent narrator, we get drawn into Reino del Sol bit by bit. In a lot of fantasy novels, this kind of worldbuilding can feel slow. In Aiden Thomas’ hands, it feels like you’re a tourist learning more and more with each day of your journey.
This is honestly one of the best books I’ve read all year and now I’m anxiously awaiting the sequel. If I have any complaints, it’s that I wish the book had ended about two chapters sooner, but I also understand why it didn’t.
Either way, if you want a fantasy book that will suck you in and has beautiful writing, this is it.