Cradle Series is a progression fantasy series of novels, written by Will Wight. The first book was published in 2016, and Will has published two books per year ever since. The series tells the story of Lindon, an outcast boy from his clan, who ends up getting a glimpse of future, and leaves his home to save it.
I reviewed the books separately originally, but now, I’ve merged all the reviews into this one, where I review the series as a whole.
Wei Shi Lindon is an unsouled, those who are considered to be cursed, and are unable to follow the path of a sacred artist. As a result, he is virtually nothing among his clan. However, when Suriel, a very powerful woman comes there to stop a transcended being, she sees Lindon sacrificing himself despite his weakness, to stop this threat. She reveals his fate, and how his home will be destroyed in the coming thirty years. Lindon resolves to leave Sacred Valley, and become strong outside, and save his home from annihilation.
During his adventures, he meets a dangerous girl named Yarin, and a mysterious man called Eithan, who has too many secrets.
Unsouled is the first book in the series. So, the main character is weak. Like in most of his fights, he runs away, and has to scramble to come up with something which could save his skin.
Given how clearly this series is inspired by Chinese web novels, I suspected Lindon to devolve into an immoral thieving bastard, returning to his enemies and cleaning them out. he does do that, but not so completely. (Which is fine, I don’t think the western world is ready for the likes of Meng Hao.)
Naturally, since the world is inspired by the aforementioned web novels, it is huge. Like super earth levels of huge. And then there is life outside of it as well, something which is not just eluded, but basically hitting the reader over the head with it.
It also means that the animals and plants have very exotic names. Seriously, how do these authors come up with such names? When I try that, nothing results from it. (But I shall continue practicing!)
A word of caution. If you plan to kill someone in this world, run if you’re wounded. You see, once someone dies, they basically return into as remnants. (Which I hereby dub magical ghosts.) These remnants are only as strong as the person who is killed. But seriously, why would you stay around the ghost of the person whom you’ve just murdered? It is in bad taste, and literally asking for a beating. Don’t worry though. These ghosts don’t last forever. Sooner or later, they disperse. Unless they somehow manage to hang around, and become as strong as they were in their life. At which point, you should just leave the planet.
Second book is titled Soulsmith. It directly takes place after the first book. after Yarin and Lindon escape from the Sacred Valley, they’re quite banged up. They thought of resting, but they instead got attacked by the people who have snake like parasites attached to their bodies.
After that, they need to do a lot of running, while Lindon remembers the luxuries of the home. While people may have looked down on him there, at least he wouldn’t have to experience such hardships.
Then, they end up at the stronghold of Jai clan, which reminds me of the Ji clan from I Shall Seal the Heavens, since my screen reader pronounces Jai and Ji the same way.
Another thing of note is that Lindon reminds me of Harry Dresden. Mostly because he often takes a lot of beatings during the book. That, and he often tries to get out of the dangerous situations through cunning rather than brute force, since he is very weak compared to the most characters. There’s another character who got introduced here, called Eithan. And let me tell you, he is a delight to read. I do hope he appears more often in the series.
Third book is titled Blackflame. Lindon needs to prepare for his duel against Jai Long. I usually don’t include text from the books which I review. But I believe this warrants it.
“If their family and their Path are revived, the consequences could be—
Please commiserate if you have connection problems like this on the phone or the internet.
Lindon likes to be prepared. He always carries a large pack with him, carrying any item which he might need. Of course, we know that from the very first book. But it simply doesn’t dawn on me just how many things he likes to carry, when the book goes through his item list.
As a guy who likes to be prepared for anything myself, I certainly approve of this attitude.
We later meet a turtle named Orthos in the book. Usually, turtles are water or earth aligned creatures. But here, in this case, the turtle is the fire user. Not just the fire user, but the user of the black flames, reminding me of Uchiha clan’s Amaterasu.
Dammit, now I’m thinking of conspiracy theories like whether the users of the black flames are somehow related with Uchiha clan. This is what happens to you folks, when you consume too much media.
Also, Lindon learns a technique which from the description at least, sounds like Rasengan. Which wouldn’t surprise me. Will is a fan of anime just like me.
The fourth book is titled Skysworn. After his duel against Jai Long, Lindon loses an arm. Meanwhile, in an effort to defeat Eithan, Jai Daishou patriarch of the Jai clan, ends up awaking Bleeding Phoenix, one of the Dreadgods.
First, the awesome moment for the strict grandmotherly type Gesha.
You’ve got Eithan, one of the strongest people in this part of the world, and she lectured him. She told him off for pushing Lindon so hard. You might expect violent retaliation from Eithan, but he actually acknowledges her point, and vows to do better.
But I don’t have much confidence in his words. Don’t get me wrong. Eithan is fun to read. But he is one of the most manipulative characters in this series.
Gesha didn’t stop there. She actually lectured Lindon as well, for his constant hard work; she asked him what does he wanted to do with that much power. But Lindon couldn’t answer her questions.
While admittedly, Lindon has his struggles, Yarin is the one whose struggles are those that have the most emotional impact. At least she got a clone / spirit / puppet thing out of the whole thing.
the fifth book is titled Ghostwater, and it is my favorite book in the series. Now that the Bleeding Phoenix has been taken care of temporarily, the underlords, the most powerful sacred artists of the Black Flame empire right after the emperor are taking care of the stragglers of the Redmoon Hall.
Meanwhile, Lindon runs around in the pocket dimension, trying to avoid the strong artists there. He ends up finding a chatterbox spirit who he names Dross. This dimension did good for both Lindon and Orthos, as Orthos regained his youth and sanity, while Lindon became stronger.
We also meet Ziel, who appears to be working for the Beast King. He has the air about the guy who worked hard, climbed all the mountains, and found that there was more climbing to be done, and crashed down. He even lectures Lindon about this.
Which kind of reminded me of an employee who works and works, climbs all the ladders, and finds that there are even more ladders to climb, and ends up crashing down.
To avoid these depressing thoughts, let’s talk about a funny moment, which has nothing to do with the plot. After the Beast King throws the bones away, the dogs start to fight after it. But, you see, they weren’t fighting like savage dogs.
No, they were arguing about it like how siblings do for the desert. It was quite amusing to read. But this isn’t the first time I’ve seen talking dogs in this series. In the previous book Skysworn we see how some dogs are going around the floating city of Skysworn, talking about who will guard the territory tonight.
The funny moments don’t end there. When emperor Huan, the emperor of the Black Flame empire, (Trademark), is holding court before fisher Gesha, he acted like a bombastic monarch, complete with court crier, and all. But when she leaves, everyone in the court deflates, including the crier and the emperor, and they breathe a sigh of relief, since it was the last thing for the court that day.
That tickled my funny bone. Usually, emperors in the fantasy worlds act like the self-important twits 24 / 7. But here, it is just part of the job, and everyone is happy to act like themselves once it is over. (Incidentally, 24 / 7 is an improper fraction, thought you should know.)
the sixth book is titled Underlord. There is a tournament coming up. Three underlord-level sacred artists can participate from each kingdom and its vassals, and they must be younger than 35. As such, the Black Flame empire is doing everything in their power to prepare their younger members for this tournament. Akura Charity opens the Night Wheel Valley to the vassals of Akura, but both empires end up getting on each other’s throat, after which the Black Flame empire has to abandon the valley. How will they prepare for the tournament now?
This book, first and foremost, is about character development. It has to be, since underlord is the level which you can only reach after you understand why you walk the way of the sacred artist.
That might work for humans, but Orthos has his own path to walk. As a result, he ends up leaving Lindon for a while, promising to come back in the future.
Dross on the other hand, he just keeps improving. Not only is he amusing to read, but his abilities are also awesome. He also likes Eithan’s theatrics, wishing more than once to be a part of him instead of Lindon.
Orthos ends up in the Sacred Valley, where we get to see what has been happening behind Lindon’s back there, since the turtle ends up finding Lindon’s sister.
the seventh book is named Uncrowned. The tournament is just a few weeks away, and the Golden Dragons have started to move against Akura clan. They nearly eliminated the Black Flame empire from the tournament, but they managed to survive. Elsewhere, Lindon is representing the Akura clan (most unwillingly), can he live up to the clan’s hope? Or will he get annihilated in the process?
First, developments outside of this world are quite concerning. But I’m sure they’ll become relevant sooner or later. So, we shall talk about them at that point.
Apart from that, let’s talk about the final fight in the book. Yarin and Lindon fight one-on one, for the first time. And though I kind of was disappointed that he lost, he displayed just how far he had come from his humble beginnings.
Dross and Eithan continue to be delightful as always. Whenever they’re together on the screen. (Or should I call it text? Pages?) laughter is guaranteed. Also, we finally learn the name of Yarin’s master. It was probably mentioned in the prior book, but I only catch it here.
Wintersteel is the eighth book in the series. In the last book, a messenger from the Abidan descended in the middle of the tournament, and declared that the winner of the tournament would get a weapon so powerful, that it could kill a monarch, the most powerful sacred artists in the world. Naturally, none of the monarchs wanted any such weapon in the hands of the champion of another faction. So, in this book, they just tried to make sure that they were the ones who would win this tournament, and through their champion, they would have control over this weapon.
Let’s talk about the Abidan messenger first. He basically bullied all the monarchs, and threatened them to ascend beyond this world. But I suspect they wouldn’t want to. Mostly because they’ve gotten used to their powers here. Whereas when they would ascend, they might have to start at the bottom of the ladder. After all, why struggle in heaven when you can rule the earth? Northstrider, one of the monarchs, remarked that he would ascend; but not because some dog of the heavens told him to.
One of the monarchs managed to buy the match for Eithan. So not only did he squeeze him for everything he could, but Eithan lost in the most dramatic way possible, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that he had been bought.
The format of the tournament has to be changed, because the Abidan messenger has no patience. It now resembles the UFC, with three rounds of battle, and the final battle being five rounds long. Will should have added some great commentary. Such a shame he missed that chance.
Bloodline is the ninth book in the series. After the uncrowned tournament is over, the Wandering Titan, one of the four Dread gods (same as the Bleeding Phoenix), starts to move towards the Sacred Valley, and Lindon, along with his friends leave to evacuate everyone.
Can they evacuate everyone on time? Will the inhabitants listen to them? Or will they all be flatten by the Dread gods? Find out in the next exciting episode—
Ahem. Let’s move to the next part before I embarrass myself even further.
Returning to the Sacred Valley illustrated the progress Lindon had made since he left. It was great, since we get to see how much he has grown, since this is where his story began.
But oh my god, I wanted to manifest myself in this world and kill everyone. Seriously, the behavior of the Sacred Valley artists is strange. If you’re strong, they’ll respect you. But they’ll just try to deceive you and kill you. And no amount of reasoning will work with them. This is how they actually killed Yarin’s master. (That, and he underestimated them too much.)
No matter how many appeals they do. Aside from a few smart people, who are sharp enough to recognize the coming danger, most of them just refuse to leave, especially Lindon’s clan. They just refused to listen to him out of principle. Things got so bad that he needed to cripple the patriarch of his clan to make them listen, and they still didn’t listen.
Naturally, when Titan arrives, these same people start to flee like ants. But by that point, it was too late.
But on the other hand, we see the reunion of Orthos and Lindon! That is something, right? Not to mention, Dross gets to show even more of his awesomeness, not that he wasn’t awesome to begin with.
the tenth book is titled Reaper. After learning that the secrets to destroying the Dreadgods lie in the labyrinth of the Sacred Valley, Lindon and his friends make their way into the labyrinth. Reigan Shen, one of the monarchs, has been there for months, however, and a race to get to the secrets of the labyrinth ensues.
First, let’s talk about the monarchs. Apparently, they are linked to these Dreadgods. Which honestly, didn’t come as a surprise. But again, if you’ve read one of my previous reviews of this series, you’ll remember how I said it is best to rule over Earth, rather than suffer in heaven? The same problem happens here.
And yes, you can kill me for dropping vague hints.
We also learn more about Ozriel. He has been a shadow over this entire series so far, with only glimpses. But now, we get to learn more about him, not completely, of course, but enough information to paint a picture of him. (Figuratively, of course, I’m blind. I can’t draw.)
And then, we learn a secret, and have to say goodbye to Eithan. To be honest, the books have been like this. First, Dross lost his original personality. And now this.
Now, let’s answer the important question. is this series worth reading?
I do think it is worth reading. However, the books are interconnected with each other tightly, you won’t be able to skip any books. You will miss important details if you choose to do that. you might remember how I compared this series to Chinese web novels, and you might think that you didn’t enjoy reading them, so you won’t enjoy reading this series either.
But you will be wrong. I do think you should give this series a chance, it is very well written, and definitely worth your time.
The eleventh book Dreadgods is now out, I will post its review as soon as I’m done reading it. in the meantime, you can read about my potential voice cast for Cradle Animated Series, if it ever got adapted.