Cover of The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas

Korey B’s Review:

The Sunbearer Trials

Categories: Fantasy | Queer | Reviews | Trans | YA


The Sunbearer Trials is a rollicking, Mexican-inspired fantasy adventure filled with delightful characters and compelling questions of identity and privilege.

Once a decade, Sol chooses ten semidioses (half-gods) to compete in the Sun Bearer Trials to prevent the Obsidian gods from destroying the world. Sol usually chooses descendants of the Golds, trained away from society in an elite academy. This time, Sol chose Teo and Xio, Jades, who’ve never had the proper training to compete. They don’t have what it takes to win and become society’s savior. They’ll be lucky enough to survive.

Thomas included all his trademarks in The Sunbearer Trials, delivering an unapologetically queer story of identity and justice filled with compassion and community. The world-building is top-notch. The lush, richly-described Reino del Sol feels real and lived in down to the real-world inspired foods and treats. Thomas also spares no love for his characters. The main character Teo is delightful and hard not to love, while Niya frequently steals every scene she’s in. Thomas was also careful to create a world normalizing queerness and transness. It’s all too common for a story with a trans main character to be about their being trans. It’s refreshing to read about trans characters just being the hero sometimes. But Thomas is still no slouch when discussing identity and privilege, offering The Sunbearer Trials as a compelling example of questioning the very systems that define our privilege. Whether you’re reading the story for its queer and trans rep or simply looking for a fun, unique fantasy take on the chosen one vs. an unjust society, you won’t be disappointed by The Sunbearer Trials.

This book contains light descriptions of physical and verbal abuse and descriptions of injury and death.