‘The Sunbearer Trials’ – Aiden Thomas

I’m hugely grateful to NetGalley for giving me the chance to read this in advance of publication, and am now excited to read the next instalment.

In what is being touted as a mix of Percy Jackson and The Hunger Games, Thomas creates an action-packed magical competition. We are in a well-established world, where the Gods need to be kept happy. Every decade a competition is held in order to find the winner of the Sunbearer Trials. Their win means that the Obsidian gods can be kept at bay, and the power of the Sol stone can be replenished in order to protect the people of Reino del Sol.

Our focus is the year that proves to be something of an anomaly. For the first time in a century not only Golds – who train for this event – are chosen. Two of the Jades – the lowest in the semidios rankings – are selected, and we see Xia, Teo and his best friend, Niya, collaborate to keep alive and try to be in with a chance of avoiding their intended role as the sacrifice.

Teo is a trans boy, son of Quetzal, the Goddess of Birds, and a large part of the story is about Teo learning to accept his identity and to consider the role he might play in his country’s future. The relationships between the characters were interesting, and I was rather taken aback by the unexpected shift in allegiances towards the end – however, it sets things nicely in place for a most entertaining story in book two.