Review: Blackflame (Cradle #3) by Will Wight

Rating: 9.5/10

Synopsis

Lindon has a year left.

When his time runs out, he’ll have to fight an opponent that no one believes he can beat. Unless he learns sacred arts the right way, from scratch, he won’t have a chance to win…and even then, the odds are against him.

In the course of their training, he and Yerin travel to the Blackflame Empire, where they fight to master an ancient power.

Success means a chance at life, but failure means death.

In the sacred arts, only those who risk the most can travel far.

Review

I loved this book! This series has been addicting and fun throughout and Blackflame has only increased my love for it. Narrator Travis Baldree continues to impress as he brings this world to life and gives each character a unique voice. After this series is up I am definitely going to be looking into other series that he has narrated.

The first two books in this series were really good. Unsouled introduced the world, magic system, and some of the characters, while giving hints of a larger plot. Soulsmith expands on everything, showing that there is a wider world outside of Sacred Valley that Lindon couldn’t have ever imagined. It introduced major characters into the mix that and the events happening in Soulsmith served as a catalyst for Lindon’s own advancement in the sacred arts. And then Blackflame happened….

If I had to sum up Blackflame in one sentence, I would simply say that it was the best book in the series so far and near perfection in its execution. Since I’m writing a full review, you’ll have to suffer through my eloquent script as I try to piece together why it is that book 3 is my favorite so far in the series.

One thing I always talk about for Cradle reviews is the magic system. It is unique, has strict rules about power advancement, and employs defined levels of power that hugely affect the outcomes of battles. It is creative, imaginative, and relies on both the power level and the intelligence of the sacred artist in its use. Not to mention it is so much fun! In Blackflame, there are training sequences, pitched battles that take the fighting to a whole other level, and lessons from more powerful sacred artists than Lindon that fascinated me and just increased my hunger to learn more about this magic system and its applications.

Another thing that really increased in its magnitude was what we knew of the world. At the end of Soulsmith we know about a few tribes outside of Sacred Valley and a large, powerful empire that is feared by those within those tribes. In Blackflame, we not only learn more about that empire, but is also so much more about the world as a whole. As events escalate we get to see clan rivalries, political infighting, and a whole new level of power that was unseen before this book. We also get to see more of the Abaddon that guards the realms of reality itself from chaos.

The weakness that still pervades throughout this series and I why I couldn’t give the book 10/10 is Lindon’s character development. I still found it hard to really connect with and care for him. I said in my review of Soulsmith that I admire Lindon for his courage, determination, and sheer force of will. However, while Lindon has more than enough grit, he lacks in emotional depth. It is hard to empathize with someone who just seems to get over everything like there was nothing wrong in the first place. However, I also want to emphasize that the cast of characters alongside Lindon just about made up for his lack of depth. Yerin, Eithan, and Jai Long are fascinating characters and ones that I hope to continue to be able to follow throughout the rest of the series. They are characters that have depth, mysterious back stories that we slowly get to see more and more of, alongside a similar level of determination and will that has brought Lindon so far since leaving Sacred Valley.

This series is one I will highly recommend for those that love methodical, well developed, and creative magic systems with realistic and earned progression. I really enjoyed Blackflame and I hope that if you decide to pick it up you do too.

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