Cover art illustration by: Patrick Foster
Bloodline by Will Wight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: Cradle (Book #10 of 12)
Genre: Fantasy, Progression Fantasy, Xianxia
Pages: 465 pages
Published: 2nd November 2021 by Hidden Gnome Publishing (Indie)
Will Wight keeps on upping his game; Reaper is the best book of this series so far for me and delivers one hell of a payoff!
You would think that the tenth book in a not yet completed series might be prone to losing some steam, and in many cases, you might be right. Regarding Reaper, the book that takes the Cradle series into double digits, you would be wrong. This is of course only my opinion and is greatly influenced by the spotlight being shone on my favourite character throughout, but that is just one aspect of the story. What makes this better than any other for me, is how much the story focuses on teamwork, and just like this plot, Wight has made all the different parts work together to result in what I believe to be the strongest Cradle entry to date and also the most revelatory.
I won’t say much about the plot as we are getting into major spoiler territory now, even reading the blurb for Reaper will spoil you as to what transpired previously, but suffice it to say that the previous book, Bloodline, was in essence the nexus of the path or plan that Lindon set out on from the first book in the series and that that specific storyline was resolved by the end of that book. Reaper does pick up some threads that still need answering, but also poses the question of what is next, and has our team entering the Labyrinth in search of knowledge long ago lost to the sands of time, an advantage that can help them in their quest to advance, but most importantly to arm them sufficiently in the war against the Dreadgods.
One of the most rewarding aspects of this series is experiencing the growth that the characters have exhibited. Reaper starts off with an extended quiet period, if you can call it that, almost a slice of life, in the wake of the insanity that was the second half of Bloodline and it’s an early peek at how much they have changed. As the story progresses, the characters focus more on unity, growing together, achieving goals through teamwork and not leaving anyone behind, than ever before. I found this to be a clear reflection on their development, as they now place much more value on friendship, trust and loyalty than ever before. And I dare say, this is all thanks to the guidance, investment, wisdom and belief of my favourite Cradle character, Eithan Arelius, who is without a doubt, the star of the show for me here. I am very tempted to wax lyrical on this point, but I will reign in my enthusiasm and leave this review twenty-four thousand words shorter as a result.
“Oh no, I missed something!” Eithan cried. “Quickly, repeat your entire conversation before you forget a word!”
The cherry on top of the cake that ensures Reaper is a cut above its siblings is the finale of this book. Throughout the cradle series Wight has written two distinctive storylines (one the main and the other just fleeting glimpses of one) that have at moments touched upon each other and once or twice firmly stepped into each other’s worlds, but for the most part, have read as separate stories. Reaper finally brings the two together in the most awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping way possible, wringing the very essence from the word epic, mixing it in with shock, terror and joy, and making a bonfire of it centre-page. I had been waiting for this very moment without quite knowing what shape it would take, but just knowing it would be an amazing moment, and Will Wight rose to the challenge, delivering it with a perfect sense of occasion and timing and imbuing it with both the flair and gravitas it deserved.
Reaper is a perfect start to Cradle’s endgame. It delivers another fantastic story, progresses the overall arc, showcases how far everyone has come and ramps up the stakes exponentially. All this while dropping some revelatory BOMBS that had me tearfully smiling from ear to ear. I can hardly believe there are only two more books to go. I’m both exhilarated and sad that the end is in sight; I want to see the culmination of this brilliantly absorbing series, how it all ends, but I dread saying goodbye to the characters. Such is the way of great reading, unfortunately. Sigh. Que será, será. It’s been one hell of a journey.
“If we can’t use our power for this, why have it?” He looked from Eithan to Yerin, and he could feel a fire in his eyes even with no Blackflame. “I don’t want to win by giving something up. I want it all. I want all of it.”