Guardian of the Core

Review from Nádia Batista

Posted by on Dec 14, 2013

“4/5 stars

Until this day I am still asking myself the reason why this book caught my attention. Its cover did not please me, and the synopsis didn’t seem like something new and wonderful; still, I gave it a try, and I’m glad I did so. This first volume in Guardian of the Core series is really good.

The Trials of the Core tells the adventures of six contestants, who fight among themselves to win a spot as the Guardian of the Core’s apprentice. At the beginning, they were eight, but we only know six (and the plot thickens…), who have to fight to win the four trials. At the end, there will be only one winner. Who will it be?
One of the things that I liked the most was the fact of the story being told by three of the characters. This gives us a different insight of the people, while we get to know them better, and this made me fight with myself on the way I felt about the characters. Prince Hydro, for example. When we was the one telling the story, I felt sorry for him and was rooting for him; when he was seen by others, he was nothing more than a cocky coward who should have lost at the first trial. This example reminds me of another fantastic thing about this book: the intelligent and complex creation of the characters.
As the story is told by different characters, we have different ways of looking at it. I already spoke about Prince Hydro, who made me feel compassionate and disgusted. Eirek, the commoner, the poor contestant whose greatest desire was a better world. Zain, that we hate at the beginning, but that eventually conquers our heart. Zain is probably the character that had the greatest development and enrichment, and his final decision amazed me. The remaining contestants, although we don’t get to know their side of the story, keep creating conflicts on the reader: Cadmar, harsh and sensitive; Cain, cocky and good; Gabrielle, accomplice and treacherous. Michael E. Thies did such a great work at creating the characters and this fact, all alone, makes this book worthy.
We have mystery and action throughout the book. There is no dead moments, there’s always something in the air in The Trials of the Core. Whether it is the hidden motives behind someone’s action, or Zakk’s apparitions, or Hydro’s necklace, or the girl with the black hair… (and yes, without telling you any spoiler, I was trying to make you curious!)

I don’t know if it’s usual for those who read this book, but it reminded me a lot of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I’m not saying that it is a bad comparison, in this case it was actually pretty nice. The only thing is that I don’t know if it was intentional or not. If it was, it’s a good tribute; if it wasn’t, than it’s a tremendous coincidence.
Besides this, I’d like to add that there is something missing in this book, regarding maps, families’ trees, badges. There should be an illustrated appendix with this information, so that the reader can have a clearer view of the book. Maybe in the next volume.

As a very promising series, there are left a lot of things to explain and develop. Besides choosing the winner, he or she still has fifteen years of training ahead. And I’m curious about knowing which characters will be returning or not. Are they all returning, or only a few of them? Also, I want to know if Michael E. Thies can write a second volume as good as the first one, with the same quality, or of course, better.

I highly recommend The Trials of the Core to everyone who loves a good fantasy book, with a little of science fiction on it, a lot of technology and magic, a lot of intrigues and mysteries. And there’s even room for love – even love is part of the game. Which side are you on?”