Guardian of the Core: The Trials of the Core
Guardian of the Core: Trials of the Core is a riveting new science fiction/fantasy novel that will delight those who are new to the genre. To those who have read the Harry Potter series or Lord of the Rings, or for those who have seen a Star Trek movie or two, the plot will seem bizarrely recycled.
Edwyrd Eska is the Guardian of the Core, a sort of leader who seeks to maintain a balance of power between all the noble families in one cluster of planets. As the end to his 200-year term approaches, Eska must choose a successor. He selects several young people from different worlds to join him at the Core and participate in a series of challenges to prove their worth. One is a labyrinth, one is a riddle, one involves hand-to-hand combat and the last involves a treacherous mountain ascent. The contestants all have some sort of emotional baggage. Prince Hydro, perhaps the most powerful and influential of the group, experiences rejection and animosity from his step-mother. Zain accidentally causes the death of his friend, Zakk, or so he thinks. Gabrielle has experienced a long life of abuse at the hands of her father. Eirek comes from a common background and has no magical abilities. There are several others involved in the contest, but narratively, they get pushed to the back burner while the other characters work around them.
The biggest issue I had with Trials of the Core is that the plot was over-recycled. The structure reminded me mostly of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but with different character archetypes. Even subplots were borrowed from somewhere else. At one point, Prince Hydro encounters a dangerous-looking necklace in a maze. He takes it from the maze, and from that point on, it tries to coerce him into wearing it. That sounds like the plot to Lord of the Rings a bit. Some of the sentences read a little awkwardly. For example, Eirik talks to his uncle, Angal, about the trials early in the book. One passage reads, “Looking at the stars, Eirik searched for a reason to hate him. They were few and dim.” I get what Thies was going for, but the “wait, what?” moments interrupted the flow of the story.
“Trials of the Core” left a lot of loose ends. There are hints of corruption among the nobility and even with the Guardian of the Core himself. Zakk swears revenge on Zain for ruining his chances in the contest. Prince Hydro still has the evil necklace in the end. It’ll be interesting to see what Thies decides to do with his Guardian of the Core series.
Ultimately, I enjoyed the book, for all of its plot pitfalls and awkward sentence structures. I appreciated the characters and all of their troubled backgrounds. The book read like a movie, and I could clearly imagine the trials and the characters in my mind. While not on my top-10 list of favorite books, I’d probably keep an eye out for the sequel and read it again.
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