“When a traveler cannot find a path, sometimes he must make his own.”
I have fallen 3 reviews behind on this series because of reading it so fast (7 books in 22 days). I finished the last published book in this planned 12 book series today and I have a strong need to talk about this series that has become my favorite self published series of all time!
I have probably about 15- 20 series that I have read in my life that have just completely gripped me. Series that stole away any desire to read anything else and I couldn’t stop thinking about until I turned the last page. The Cradle series is one of them. A series that destroyed my TBR for this month so thoroughly that I havent picked up a book in my planned TBR since I started book 2. Why you ask? Well here. we. go!
“He is not confident enough in his results to let them speak for him, so he has to distinguish himself in another way. He is the weakest sort of scavenger, crawling along the bottom and looking for scraps. Crush him.”
The Magic System
I’ve been told by a fellow book blogger that the Cradle magic system is inspired quite a bit by Shonen style manga and in particular, Naruto. If you are a fan of that type of Manga, you will probably love this series. However, I came into this series blind about those things. I had never watched or read Naruto or any other Shonen manga. Perhaps because of my lack of knowledge beforehand, I not only enjoyed the magic of the Sacred Arts, but it blew me away. At first, I was a bit skeptical. Everyone seemed to have some level of Sacred Arts ability. How could that hold my interest? How could magic that is so common in this world hold enough mystery, intrigue, and wonder to keep me interested? I had nothing to worry about.
If you are a lover of complex, methodical magic systems with differing branches of study and ways to implement the magic then this series is for you. In the 7 books that are published up until this point we are able to see the earned power progression of our main characters. We get to learn alongside them as they are mentored, challenged, and thrive as they dig deeper and let nothing stop them from reaching further than ever before. The two main characters’ single minded intensity and determination to grow stronger and stronger reminded me a lot of Goku and Vegeta from the Dragonball anime series (haven’t read the manga). It is fascinating to grow in understanding of the Sacred Arts as they do while still looking up to see how far they will eventually go.
“He drew himself up as though proud to be asked the question. “Young lady, I am the greatest janitor in all existence. I am the son of a janitor, last in a long line of janitors that stretch all the way back to the Sage of Brooms…and beyond!”
Speaking of the characters, there has been some comments that this series struggles a bit with character development, specifically with Lindon who is the main character. Though I must admit I would love to see more character development from Lindon to make him a more well rounded character, the other characters that are mainstays in this series pick up a lot of the slack. Eithan is a masterful character and my favorite in the series. When we first start out with him he is a very mysterious character and although we learn more about him here and there throughout the series there are still so many questions I want answered. Eithan also brings a sense of humor to the story that is so fun and sorely needed as the two main characters are quite serious most of the time.
That leads me to talking about Yerin. Yerin is a complex, female sacred artist who is determined above all else to prove herself. She is very compelling as we are able to delve into her past, see emotional moments, and grow with her throughout the series. There have also been a few other additions to the series including Little Blue, Dross, Mercy, and Northstrider that have me really intrigued and invested in their fates. All in all, the characters in this series are excellent and easy to get attached to.
The first two books in this series are quite foundational. They are somewhat slower paced (slower compared to the rest of the books anyway) as we learn about the world and our characters. However, as the books progress we start to learn more about the world as a whole. We learn about the different clans throughout the world and although they have similar views on pride and honor, they are all very unique and well done. Each clan has its own way of practicing the Sacred Arts and different traditions and values outside of the magic system that is central to their world. We also learn of the threat that is being faced by the most powerful beings in the Cradle universe. We get snippets of what is being done to combat that threat and how it will affect the lives of the characters that are followed throughout the series.
An Underdog Story
I am a sucker for the underdog trope in fantasy. Give me a character that has seemingly impossible obstacles to overcome and I will eat that right up. From the first few pages of book 1 we are able to see that Lindon is viewed as less than in his clan. He is viewed as basically worthless by most of his clan because he is born without a specific affinity for the Sacred Arts. Everyone’s value in this society is largely based on how powerful of a Sacred Artist each person is so someone who does not have this affinity is viewed as shameful, weak, and a useless waste of resources. Although Lindon has his flaws he is determined to overcome them and throughout the series we are able to see to what lengths he is willing to go to achieve his goals. Lindon is also a very likable character in my opinion so it is really easy to cheer for him as he battles his way through this harsh and unforgiving world. He never grows bitter towards those who have bullied him and made him feel like dirt. Rather, he uses those hardships as fuel for the fire to keep him going and be the best he can possibly be.
This series is incredibly fast paced at times and very addictive. As I stated above I finished all 7 published books in a little over 3 weeks and that is really fast for me. The action sequences are intense and get more and more riveting as the characters’ power increases and we are able to see more abilities and techniques of the Sacred Arts. The stakes are also continuing to be raised throughout the series as we learn about the global and immminent threat that is coming. This series is the very definiton of a page turner that will leave you gasping for breath and at the same time wanting more. An adrenaline filled thrill ride of a series!
The last thing I want to say is READ. THIS. SERIES. I read it on audiobook and I can say that Travis Baldree does a phenomenal job of bringing the world to life and giving each individual character a unique voice. I love it so much and I cannot wait until the next book, Wintersteel, comes out. I have included links for the first book, Unsouled, below. The whole series’ kindle ebooks are also on Kindle Unlimited!