Not to be confused with Bloodline, by Conn Iggulden, which we reviewed last year. I’m sure that won’t confuse the search algorithms for the site at all. This happens to also be the first book whose title is not strongly reflected by a component in the book; the closest I came up with for the name’s inspiration was a vision Lindon has at almost the end of the novel. All of that, however, is getting ahead of ourselves; the relevancy of the title was far from the only thing different about this latest instalment in the Cradle series (I will link to the reviews for the previous books in the series at the bottom of the post).
All of the traits that have made the previous Cradle books enjoyable were still present in this latest volume: the intricate magic system, the aggressively fast-paced action, the interweaving plot threads, titanic forces, and glimpses of larger events. As always, this was a very fast read, which is a result of the work’s brevity, the pace of the action, and the author’s writing style, which is in many ways the opposite of mine. Where my writing is predisposed towards lengthy paragraphs and intricate sentence structures, bedecked with accoutrements like semicolons, adverbs, and Oxford commas, Wight’s writing features paragraphs so short that they almost seem clipped; I don’t think there was a paragraph in the book that was longer than a sentence or two. For a longer piece, on the scale of something like Stormlight Archive, this would probably be exhausting for the reader, but for the length of the Cradle books, and their overall tone, it works surprisingly well, and makes these stories very hard to put down mid-book.
All of that being said, I did not enjoy this volume as much as some of its predecessors (Ghostwater is definitely still my favorite). While it was technically better executed, showcasing Wight’s continued improvement as an author, I found the story less satisfying. The basic idea of the hero’s return, now possessed of great power, to his homeland is a common one, but very difficult to execute, especially for the length of an entire novel. The intricacies of the magic system received less attention in this book, to the point that I don’t think there were any major revelations about how it works, and when it does come time to advance, as has happened in every other book so far, the event is cursory and rather anticlimactic. I also found that many of the other characters felt a little flat in this book. Maybe that’s in part because it’s been awhile since I read the other books in the series, but Lindon and Ziel seemed the only major characters with significant personality. Even the irrepressible Eithan felt largely forced.
In my Wintersteel review, I recall complaining that there were none of the scenes of the larger universe’s drama interspersed throughout, as there were in the other books. Bloodline brought those back, and in a major way. I have to be careful not to give spoilers here, but we finally get some answers as to the source of the conflict at this level, we see some major action, and the stakes are raised significantly for the next book. Speaking of the next book, Wight claims that there will only be three more novels in this series, and looking at the length that gives him I’m having to already revise my hypotheses about how the rest of the series is going to go and how the storylines might be resolved.
I wouldn’t be surprised if in every Cradle review I’ve concluded by saying that these are fast, enjoyable, action-packed, and surprisingly complex books, but since all of those things remain true through Bloodline, I don’t see any reason to change. The good news is that Will Wight has an incredibly fast turn-around on writing new books, so the next review for a Cradle book should be in somewhere around eight months (give or take, since I rarely read something immediately after it comes out, and even when I do, my posts are scheduled months in advance). Until then, I hope that you continue this series with Bloodline.
As promised, here are the reviews for the other Cradle books: