The Core marks the end of the journey for Arlen, Jardir, and all their allies in this demon war. This is the finale; do or die. Arlen, Jardir, and Reena have a chance to end this once and for all. Their efforts may be humanity’s last chance. Meanwhile, their allies on the surface prepare to face a seemingly unending demon horde. Faced with numbers and tactics never before seen against the seemingly mindless demons, the Free Cities will be forced to fight to the last man. Humanity has yet to truly unite in their efforts, but time is up. Sharak Ka is upon them all now.
With all that in mind, The Core is by far the most hardcore book of the Demon Cycle. It is as dark as it is violent, with the demon’s evil now fully mixed with the horrors of war. For a long time now, the rediscovery of magic has given humans hope. It has made them brave. And unafraid. That courage is more than tested here. While the previous book mostly set things up for finale, there is a little bit of final prep work in The Core. But once the action starts, it does not stop. Fighting takes place across the country simultaneously with the chapters jumping between different locations mid-battle.
The last book in any series is always hard. Authors must decide how this story ends and the ultimate fate of their characters. Since The Warded Man, about 30 years have passed in this story. Readers have been with some of these characters from their early childhood to the present day. We have seen them go from scared peasants to leaders and warriors. But by the end, every character from great to small has had an impact on this story. If even one person was not there, things would have turned out differently.
With the war kicking off, other conflicts cease to matter. The human characters realize real quick that their politics and schemes mean nothing in the face of total annihilation. But by the time the dust has settled, so has everything else. There can never be a final battle where the good guys just win. Defeating the bad guy must always come with a cost. A cost of life, a change in the status quo, or some other equally momentous sacrifice. This is not an easy thing for any author to accomplish, but Peter V. Brett has delivered.