They say the sacred arts are lonely. The higher you climb, the more alone you become. That is the first rule I’d like to rewrite.
‘Skysworn’ is written by Will Wight, author of the Traveler’s Gate and Elder Empire series. Skysworn is the fourth book in the fantasy ‘Cradle’ series.
If you are new to this series, its unique aspect is an interesting mix of wuxia, magic and science fiction. The ‘Way’ is a mix of magic combined with martial arts and people in this world work their way up to mastery. It is exactly like a final fantasy or any other JRPG leveling system. There are many ‘Paths’ with unique abilities that the students can follow.
Wei Lindon, the protagonist, is the proverbial ugly duckling. This series follows his journey from his village, where he is shunned for being different, to the monastery in his valley and to the lands outside. Due to a concatenation of circumstances he is now adopted by the Aurelius clan, is in the capital of the Blackflame empire, taken on a familiar, has learnt the forbidden Blackflame magic and is now imprisoned for having this learnt this forbidden magic. Oh, and he is also now scheduled to duel to the death with Jai Long who is a couple of levels above him. And this is where ‘Skysworn’ begins.
I strongly recommend ‘Skysworn’ and the ‘Cradle’ series to fantasy readers. While ‘Skysworn’ is not as good as the other books in the series, it is still a lot better than the dreck out there. My criticisms of it are just nitpicking.
‘Skysworn’ has all the elements that have made the earlier books enjoyable. It is fast paced. There is a lot of action. We get to meet the hitherto hidden threats that Suriel was referring to and we get a conclusion to the duel that has been teased for the last couple of books.
The world building continues to be excellent as always. We get to see a bit more about Suriel and her compatriots towards the end of the book. While it is not exactly an earth shattering reveal, it is still good to know that the various threads are being tied together.
I found the character development to be the weakest link in this book ( along with one plot point which I will discuss in the spoilers section). This has not been a strong point in Will Wight’s books and is the only issue I have with the series. These books would have been much better had some amount of the care and attention, which Will Wight has devoted to world building, gone towards this facet of story telling. This is not a deal breaker by any means. It is just something to watch out for.
Other Thoughts (Spoilers warning)
Spoilers below. Continue reading at your peril.
The duel! After all the buildup to it, I was left underwhelmed. It was not as epic as I thought it would be. Plus, it ended being a footnote in the story instead of being a major plot point. Granted that Eithan finally kills Jai Daishou and Jai Long chops off Wei Lindon’s arm. But these happen in addition to the duel and not as part of it.
Kaiju. The hidden threats are basically giant monsters, called dreadlords, (does Raymond E. Feist know that this term is being reused here?) that no body can kill. And the ones who can hold them to a standstill are Jaegers. We get to see the effects of one dreadlord – the Bleeding Phoenix and it is cataclysmic. The future holds multiple dreadlords waking up and devastating Cradle.
Eithan. He finally gets his ass handed to him by Longhook. It was good to see that Eithan is not some all-powerful entity and is still vulnerable to larger threats.
RPGs. I have said it in my earlier review and I will repeat it here. This series is basically one large RPG which I would love to play as a video game.
I am looking forward to book #5 – Ghostwater.
Also published on Medium.