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I read this novel years ago.

The story was about a kingdom where the future king is chosen by the king having a certain number of children, then as the kids grow up, they have to compete against each other in ever more deadly trials. At one point the kids have to swim to the bottom of a lake and recover a flower, another trial is climbing a mountain after a feather I think.

The next to the last trial is a quest they have to undertake and the main character has to recover some sacred stone of Boah or Baoh. Then he elects to go save some princess after he returns with the stone even though it means helping his brother and he has to cross some deadly swamp to do it. The final trial is a trial by combat with all the living heirs and last man standing will inherit the kingdom.

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  • it sounds like a similar plot to the book rex electi, although that came out in 2016. The children of the emperor compete against each other to see who becomes the next emperor. goodreads.com/book/show/33004566-rex-electi
    – mgh42
    Feb 7, 2019 at 2:51

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This is unlikely to be it as according to your rough timeline it is probably too recent and it only involves two siblings but Dividing Eden (2017) features the twins Carys and Andreus who have to compete in a Trial of Succession to find out which of them will rule.

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

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