“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!
Great post, David! So glad that you’re just as addicted to it as we were. Can’t wait for Wintersteel and beyond!
Priscilla Bettis says
Wow, high praise. It must be good if you devoured seven books so fast. Thanks for sharing your review of the series.
David S says
I enjoyed reviewing and hope that if you check it out you love it as much as I do!
I never got into Manga or Anime or wuxia so I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading Cradle. The great thing about these books is just how well-written they are.These books are relatable and easy to read. I don’t mean that they don’t contain deep mysteries and complex plots, because they certainly do. In Cradle, he’s created a world of wonder and mystery and danger that I’m so eager to explore further.
Mr. Wight has three series he’s created, each quite a bit different, but all just very well done (and they all share a milieu – yet to be fully explored). He may not have the audience and recognition of Brandon Sanderson yet, but I believe him to be fully as talented and capable.
David S says
Yeah I like the straightforward nature of the writing that makes it incredibly easy to read and very accessible. He is quite talented
Great review and spot on. This is exactly how I feel toward cradle. I also read through the entire available books in record time(for me). READ!! THIS!!! SERIES!!!!
David S says
It’s incredible! I wanna buy the books at some point as I could totally see this series as being very rereadable.
I’ve personally read them at least 4 or 5 times. If you want to explore deeper, I recommend r/Iteration110Cradle on Reddit. It’s a very active community and Will Wight participates actively. You can also check out https://www.abidanarchive.com/ which contains a lot of his comments and musings.
Thanks for the review. You should also check out his other series
David S says
You’re welcome. And I plan to! I own all of them
I just finished book 8, and I loved it. Started book one a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t put it down! Iron druid, Swarm, and Cradle are my top 3!
David S says
I’m so sorry I somehow missed this comment! Yes Cradle is so dang good! So much action packed fun and awesome characters!
Maryann Bova says
The books of Cradle, I’m finishing up Wintersteel, are the first I’ve ever read by Will Wight. I feel like I discovered one of those Ghostwater wells! He still has some work to do on character development and world building. A more linear history of the different empires, their alliances, wars they’ve fought would improve the world building backstory. It’s explanation is a jumbled mashup up to now, rather than a coherent history.
That doesn’t mean I’m not devouring every word of Cradle like I’ll never be fed again. I love this tale.
Yes, Lindon is doltish at times but what 18-20ish human male isn’t?
Yerin is my kind of fierce female. The verbal sparring with her blood shadow in Wintersteel is sharp enough to slice and dice.
Her ‘Aunt’ Charity reminds me of Polgara the Sorceress from David Eddings Belgariad and Mallorean epic fantasy saga. Always in control, calm, collected, and always in command.
Fury is funny but Eithan just slays me. He’s my favorite human character. Little Blue my favorite, nonhuman barely nosing out Orthos and Doss.
I feel deep empathy for Mercy. If she is to inherit her mother’s throne, she must be as tough as iron, sharp as one of Yerin’s swords and can’t afford weakness or mistakes. Thousands of her subject’s lives hang in the balance. Her mother, Malice, plans to grind, cut and polish Mercy to the brilliant, hardness of aglimmering diamond.
I look forward to the 6 remaining books in Cradle.
David S says
Oh yeah it is definitely not a perfect series whatsoever. I agree one most of your points especially character development. And despite that I still love these characters and this series so much. It’s a ton of fun and I’m so excited for the remaining books as well! Though I believe it is a 12 book series so after Wintersteel there would only be 4 books left unfortunately.
Cradle Series is one of my favorite series! If you haven’t heard of these, I highly advise giving it a try. It’s a bit confusing in the beginning, but get past that and there are hours of entertainment to be had.
Will Wight absolutely does have a talent for writing fun, punchy dialogue.
If you still not convinced, you can read Top 9 Reasons Why Cradle is The Best Ongoing Series – https://www.issuewire.com/top-9-reasons-why-cradle-is-the-best-ongoing-series-by-will-wight-1714207861284426
Thank you for this! Because of this i will now be giving these books a go. I have been looking at them for a week or 2 now, and everything i just read from you has given me the push i needed!
David S says
That’s so great! That’s why I wrote this so it makes me so happy to hear this! Hope you love it!