The Core is the fifth and final installment of the Demon Cycle series.
I’ve been a huge fan since The Painted Man came out –
and it’s been re-read many times since!
The war is here and while Arlen, Jardir, and Renna head to The Core, humanity will need to hold their own.
For time out of mind, bloodthirsty demons have stalked the night, culling the human race to scattered remnants dependent on half-forgotten magics to protect them. Then two heroes arose—men as close as brothers, yet divided by bitter betrayal. Arlen Bales became known as the Warded Man, tattooed head to toe with powerful magic symbols that enable him to fight demons in hand-to-hand combat—and emerge victorious. Jardir, armed with magically warded weapons, called himself the Deliverer, a figure prophesied to unite humanity and lead them to triumph in Sharak Ka—the final war against demonkind.
But in their efforts to bring the war to the demons, Arlen and Jardir have set something in motion that may prove the end of everything they hold dear—a Swarm. Now the war is at hand and humanity cannot hope to win it unless Arlen and Jardir, with the help of Arlen’s wife, Renna, can bend a captured demon prince to their will and force the devious creature to lead them to the Core, where the Mother of Demons breeds an inexhaustible army.
Trusting their closest confidantes, Leesha, Inevera, Ragen and Elissa, to rally the fractious people of the Free Cities and lead them against the Swarm, Arlen, Renna, and Jardir set out on a desperate quest into the darkest depths of evil—from which none of them expects to return alive.
REVIEW – *contains spoilers*
The start of this one fell a little flat for me. We had an action-packed ending and big cliffhanger at the end of The Skull Throne. However, The Core was filled with trivial things and buildup we didn’t need – especially as a final book. I was looking forward to major characters having more central roles again…. and no more drama’s in the hollow. And no flashbacks!
I admit my high expectations definitely led to the disappointment of the first half, but from halfway I COULD NOT PUT DOWN. It more than made up for it! We feel some of the tension and fear of the night that I’m not sure we’ve felt since The Painted Man.
Most of the novel focuses on those left above the surface. We have a few new points of view, though the main characters are still Leesha, Abban, and Inevera. Leesha is preparing The Hollow and for the birth of her baby, Inevera is busy with Asome’s betrayal, and Abban… had a very rough start to the book; I did like how his story panned out though, but quite a few cringe moments!
During the journey to The Core with Renna expecting it makes the situation even more stressful for Arlen. We see more of the relationship between Arlen and Jardir. We experience their disagreements and arguments with points being valid on both sides. They now trust each other, though not completely, still with a mutual respect.
The battle scenes are awesome! At several points in the book, we have almost every character going through a major battle. The detail is brilliant and you’re on the edge of your seat! We do have a sense of urgency in the last half of the book, particularly from those on the surface. With each waning the battles are larger and more desperate – it is certainly all or nothing.
Though this is not the strongest book in the series for me, the end is great and should satisfy most fans. I’m sad to have the journey finished but looking forward to whatever Peter v Brett writes next!