Ghostwater by Will Wight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Cradle (Book #5 of 12)
Genre: Fantasy, Progression Fantasy, Xianxia
Pages: 310 pages
Published: 31st May 2018 by Hidden Gnome Publishing (Indie)
Started a bit stale for me but it ended up being a gripping and entertaining story with Dungeon Crawl element.
For this review, let’s start with why I haven’t given any books in the series a full 5 stars rating, shall we? If you want to know what the premise is about, read the official blurb at your own risk. Ghostwater is the fifth book in the Cradle series, and it didn’t start off as smoothly as I hoped. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed the series very much and I continue to do so; my rating for each installment pretty much speaks for themselves. However, I want to love it more, if I were to be brutally honest, Cradle has been missing one crucial aspect that’s, more often than not, is very necessary for me to love a book even further: an empathizing main character. Up until now, the side characters—Yerin, Eithan, Orthos, Jai Long, Little Blue—were the characters that made the series shine for me. This notion of mine was proven even further with the inclusion of a new character in Ghostwater, an A.I named Dross which I loved ever since its first appearance. I don’t think I need to explain further how much I loved Eithan, Yerin, Mercy, Orthos; I have enjoyed reading about all the side characters more than I enjoyed reading about Lindon.
“And I can see your face so much clearly now! It’s…well, at least you have a wonderful spirit. Yes, indeed. That spirit of yours, wow.”
Lindon himself felt like a ‘platform’ merely used to show the gradual advancement of power in the series; he made the Sacred Arts and the side characters shine but he was lacking in characterizations. With that info in mind, many action scenes throughout the series—especially the first quarter of this novel—that involved Lindon became stale and non-reactionary to me. Don’t misinterpret this as me saying that the action sequences were lacking in quality, they’re not. The actions have always been well-written; the anime-style display of power and magic system were all superbly put to the series, and they totally worked well when they involved the supporting characters of the series. However, at the end of the day, if an action scene involves characters I don’t care about, then the actions were exactly just that, cool flashy fight scenes that don’t spark emotions in me, and that’s what happened with Lindon. Throughout the series so far, Lindon’s sole motivation has always revolved around getting stronger, there’s no complexity to his character motivations other than that. Thankfully, the second half of Ghostwater finally started to fix this issue. Wight showed Lindon’s depth of relationship with the other characters; there’s more to life than Sacred Arts advancement and this was incredibly effective in improving my enjoyment of reading his chapters.
“The prize is an illusion…The mountain has no peak. You keep climbing and climbing until you fall and break yourself at the bottom. Highgold is one step, Truegold is another step, but there’s no end to it. You could walk forever, but every Path ends in a fall.”
I noticed that many people were disappointed with Skysworn—my favorite of the series so far—because it didn’t have any training or advancement stage for Lindon. There’s still no training per se here, but Lindon’s advancement is back, and it’s back stronger than ever by involving an interesting Dungeon crawl method. The advancement’s scenes in Ghostwater actually became my favorite in the series since Blackflame; I found it to be intriguing. Within these advancement pages, we also get to see Lindon’s relationship development with Orthos, Dross, and Little Blue. As for Yerin, her and Mercy’s story were utterly impressive and badass. It’s a bit unfortunate that Eithan didn’t have many presences here, but the few chapters he appeared in, as usual, stole the highlight of the novel for me.
“Just focus on doing your best. Don’t think about the massively improbable odds, or what will happen if you fails.”
I did fear I wasn’t going to enjoy this one at the beginning of this book but by the conclusion, I ended up feeling incredibly positive for the sequel. I continue to enjoy reading Cradle. Ghostwater was exciting, full of destructive anime-style action scenes, and most importantly, it gave the series the much-needed characterizations for Lindon that I’ve been craving for five books. Because of these, I have a good feeling that the next book, Underlord, will finally earn the first 5 stars rating for the series from me. Let’s find out.
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