Will Wight's Cradle Series.
Cradle is going to be tough to write a review for, because I don’t want to sound too biased, despite my love for the series.
I’ll focus upon the first few books here (Unsouled, Soulsmith, Blackflame) and try to keep spoilers for the rest of the series locked away in my heart.
The story follows a young man hailing from one of the clans of Sacred Valley. This is Lindon. He is, shall we say, unfairly treated by the clan, who believes he has no aptitude for the spiritual arts. They are, ever so slightly, incorrect. So, after Lindon witnesses a vision of the future wherein his home is wiped out, he decides to leave and seek the power to save his family and his clan outside of the Sacred Valley.
It turns out, this was a very good decision. On the way, he is joined by the young prodigy Yerin, and a mentor Eithan.
Eithan is, undoubtedly, my favourite character in all of fantasy. Keras, sorry mate, you’re no longer number one.
The banter between characters is distinctive, unique, flowing. The goals for everyone… apart from mysterious old Eithan, are transparent and provide an endless well of determination for both Lindon and Yerin. Their challenges fit within the world and make sense, and the dichotomy between patient, respectful Lindon and the assertive, aggressive Yerin is a source of humour, conflict, and personal growth.
The systems in place in the world straddle the line perfectly between giving enough information for you to imagine how you would approach various challenges, but not too much information that some min-maxer could come along and determine the perfect strategy mathematically.
But most of all, what Will Wight does right in the series is keeping things fresh.
Characters do not languish at school for consecutive books. The demands of the world press in on them, and they are constantly on the move, learning in different ways, facing different problems, meeting new people, developing new and inventive powers.
This is the secret.
No matter how far in you get, there is probably something awesome just a few dozen pages away, and so you keep turning.
I found this series after a few books were already released. I read the first four in four days.
And every time there’s a new release (which is pretty much every six months on a dime, no waiting years for the next book, which is so damn nice), I go back and relish rereading the entire series.
This is not always a good thing, because my own writing productivity drops to almost zero when this happens.
But I keep doing it. And I’ll keep doing it until the series is finished. May it be another dozen books.