The Core is the fifth and final book in The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett.
It's been a thrilling, enjoyable ride reading this series; I still remember the excitement as the plot of the very first book (The Warded Man) enfolded and we were introduced to (what we thought at the time were all the main characters), Arlen Bales (the sheltered country boy who dreamed of leaving his small village of Tibbet's Brook and becomes humanity's greatest champion), Leesha Paper (the young apprentice to the village's ancient medicine woman) and Rojer Inn (a talented and creative musician and entertainer).
However in the second book The Desert Spear we were introduced to a completely different culture in Krasia which is clearly based on (or strongly influenced by) Arabic traditions. In this book we were given stories about the lives of Ahmann Jardir and Inevera, Ahmann's first wife (of many) and the love of his life. I can't overestimate how different Krasian society is from the Thesan society we were first introduced to in Book 1. Basically, it's like going from a story set in Iowa to one set in Saudi Arabia. This was a very unusual way to expand the original story but I believe it was an excellent choice. Books 4 (The Skull Throne) and 3 (The Daylight War) involve a clash of civilizations as Arlen, Leesha and Rojer interact with Ahmann, Inevera and Abban (among others).
By the time we get to the fifth book The Core the cast of characters has literally grown to hundreds and the story has branched out in multiple directions and several locations.
The central plot point of The Demon Cycle is the existence of violent and deadly "demons" which occur in different forms (stone demon, wind demon, fire demon, water demon, field demon, etc) that appear every night once the sun goes down and the moon rises. This means that humanity is basically prevented from leaving their houses at night and are only protected via "wards" which when written correctly on a surface can prevent the passage of the specific Demon it is designed for. Before Arlen, only wards that could be used to protect humans from specific demons were known and the knowledge of the existence of offensive wards (that could harm demons, not just block them) was lost until he rediscovered it.
The plot of The Core is too intricate to summarize here but suffice it to say that there are several developments in the final book that are both surprising and heartbreaking. As with all good epic tales of quests, journeys and battles not all our heroes survive to the end but they (mostly) acquit themselves with glory and honor. Since we know that not everyone may survive all their encounters with peril the reader is really focused on how the story develops and the dangerous situations the characters are in.
I must applaud Mr. Brett for finishing his Demon Cycle series in such a satisfying manner while also providing hope to the reader for the ways the story could continue in the future. In my opinion, the Demon Cycle is one of the best additions to the epic fantasy genre and Brett is a major talent whose work I will be looking forward to for a long time.
Title: The Core.
Author: Peter V. Brett.
Paperback: 800 pages.
Publisher: Del Rey.
Date Published: October 3, 2017.
Date Read: November 1, 2017.
GOODREADS RATING: ★★★★½☆ (4.5/5.0).
OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).