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The Sunbearer Trials – Aiden Thomas

Thank you very much to the publishers, Macmillan, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

As each new decade begins, the Sun’s power must be replenished so that Sol can keep traveling along the sky and keep the evil Obsidian gods at bay. Ten semidioses between the ages of thirteen and eighteen are selected by Sol himself as the most worthy to compete in The Sunbearer Trials. The winner carries light and life to all the temples of Reino del Sol, but the loser has the greatest honor of all―they will be sacrificed to Sol, their body used to fuel the Sun Stones that will protect the people of Reino del Sol for the next ten years.

Teo, a 17-year-old Jade semidiós and the trans son of Quetzal, goddess of birds, has never worried about the Trials…or rather, he’s only worried for others. His best friend Niya―daughter of Tierra, the god of earth―is one of the strongest heroes of their generation and is much too likely to be chosen this year. He also can’t help but worry (reluctantly, and under protest) for Aurelio, a powerful Gold semidiós and Teo’s friend-turned-rival who is a shoo-in for the Trials. Teo wouldn’t mind taking Aurelio down a notch or two, but a one-in-ten chance of death is a bit too close for Teo’s taste.

But then, for the first time in over a century, Sol chooses a semidiós who isn’t a Gold. In fact, he chooses two: Xio, the 13-year-old child of Mala Suerte, god of bad luck, and…Teo. Now they must compete in five mysterious trials, against opponents who are both more powerful and better trained, for fame, glory, and their own survival.

It was only recently that I read Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas and loved it. So, when I saw that Aiden Thomas was releasing a new book that has been described as Percy Jackson meets The Hunger Games, I was beyond excited to give it a read. Something about books with deadly competitions has me hooked right away and this was no different.

I used to be terrified of reading new fantasy books especially those that contain mythology. I struggle to pick up new worlds and new fantasy elements. But, Aiden Thomas has done an amazing job of making the world-building easy to understand and fit seamlessly with the plot. It did take me a little while to get completely into the world but once I got my head around it, it was very easy to join Teo in Quetzlan. It made reading this fantasy book incredible accessible to those who aren’t avid fantasy readers.

One things that helped me to understand the world quickly were the references to things such as social media and celebrity life. In particular, the fact that platforms like Instagram and TikTok are included but have slightly different names and there are couple of simple changes to common phrases. It all helped to make the story feel modern and interesting. Also, the fact that the media sensationalises The Sunbearer Trials in a similar way that it did in The Hunger Games was something I enjoyed.

I adored the characters in this book. Each of them is unique and brings something completely different to the story. Be that with their personality or even just their powers. Teo is an extraordinary main character who I loved reading about. Teo’s power is excellent and his wings are stunning. I really enjoyed that there is a deeper meaning and story being his wings which we get to learn about. As a bird fan, I loved how bird played a huge part in Teo’s story too. Niya, Aurelio and Auristela were other character highlights for me and I’m sure others will love them too.

For me, The Sunbearer Trials themselves were a highlight of the story. I was always anticipating the next trial and I loved how the got more intense each time. The descriptions and setting building around the trials, in particular, makes it seem like you ware watching them right in front of your eyes.

It may have been compared to The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson but The Sunbearer Trials is unique and deserves all the praise it gets. It is unique, intense and a truly thrilling read. The ending is fast-paced and left me incredibly excited to see how the story continues in book two. Aiden Thomas is an extraordinary author and I cannot wait to read more books by them.

Overall, The Sunbearer Trials is a book I would highly recommend if you are looking to read more fantasy and like a high-stakes storyline. I adored this one and cannot wait to see what happens next in the story.

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