Warning: this post may contain spoilers for Will Wight’s Skysworn, as well as previous novels in the Cradle series.
Looking back, I realize that I kind of blasted Blackflame. I stand by my critiques, but it really was a book worth reading, and I certainly wouldn’t want its possible missteps to dissuade you from reading Skysworn, because this fourth book in the Cradle series was exactly what the series needed.
Throughout the first three books, the world keeps getting progressively larger and larger (not really, but Lindon’s view of it does), but the places we were going and the things we were seeing were largely small in scale, and didn’t offer a very good view of how the politics and cultures of the various nation-states interacted with each other. We had a vague understanding of a few of the players, but no real conception of how it all worked. Skysworn changed that in a big way, and coming off of Blackflame, was an injection of depth, detail, and intrigue that the series needed.
As with the other books, Skysworn was largely driven by external forces and the magic system, exploring those capabilities and potential further. However, unlike any book since the first one, the character development and interaction played a significant role, which strengthened the book as a whole, and the more organic nature of the threats that are faced made the plot feel less contrived and more believable.
I mentioned in my review of the first book that there’s this fascinating sub-plot woven through the whole series involving a conflict taking place at a celestial scale, but that I wouldn’t be talking about it much until reviews of the later books. That still holds true, but I would say that it is in Skysworn that we begin to get a better idea for how that celestial civilization even came to be, and what they’re evolution might be like. I’ll be focusing much more on this in my review of the next book, where we really gain insight into that larger system, but the pieces were laid well in this novel.
Admittedly, I had reservations about Skysworn, especially after Blackflame. I was worried that the series had lost its originality and was going to start feeling repetitive. I’ve seen it happen before with works that should have ended after a few books and were continued, instead. Even Terry Brooks’s Shannara series sometimes feels like it’s playing out the same stories with different characters. With Skysworn, Wight proved that it was worth sticking with this series, and left me eager to read the next book.