Book Review: Bonds of Chaos (Threadlight, #3) by Zack Argyle

Book Review: Bonds of Chaos (Threadlight, #3) by Zack Argyle

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Cover art by Omer Burak Onal

Bonds of Chaos by Zack Argyle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Threadlight (Book #3 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Pages: 360 pages (Hardcover edition)

Publish date: 25th of August 2022 by Zack Argyle (Self-Published)

Bonds of Chaos has successfully nailed the necessary satisfying conclusion to the Threadlight trilogy.

“No matter how hard a man may try, he never truly understands hurt beyond what he has experienced himself.”

It is always a good feeling to read a series that ends satisfyingly. Having finished the Threadlight trilogy, I could truly understand why this series is so beloved in the indie fantasy community. The resonating themes of the series, while they are common in the genre, were executed to the fullest in a relatively small number of pages. Threadlight trilogy by Zack Argyle is not a big series. I’m sure Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson is bigger than the entire Threadlight trilogy. And yes, some preferences with chonky epic fantasy did lead to some unfulfilled potential—more on this later—in the trilogy. However, it is hard to deny the enjoyment of experiencing the palpable sense of camaraderie, found family, justice, faith, and friendship evidenced in the texts of Bonds of Chaos. This is undoubtedly my favorite installment of the series.

“A friend once told me that people are like trees. The way I see it, it doesn’t matter how many broken branches you have, or how many leaves you’ve lost. If a tree is standing, it’s no less whole than the trees beside it. “I watched my friends die because I wasn’t enough to save them, and I can still feel the pain where those branches split. But new branches grow where old ones break. No matter what it might feel like right now, how dark or empty you feel, it gets better.”

Similar to how its predecessor started, the story in Bonds of Chaos continues immediately from where Stones of Light ended. As you can probably expect from the similar-sized, but in my opinion, short novel, Argyle needs to quickly turn the story into something incredibly engaging. I believe he has achieved this. The first part of the story in Cynosure can be categorized as the only part that felt slower, but it was never uninteresting. I loved the Theo game section. It was short, tense, and integral to the story. Argyle included characters/elements from his fellow SPFBO finalists’ books into this game, too, and in a way, I feel this action is a nice gesture that speaks volumes about how he treated his fellow finalists not as competitors but as friends.

Picture: Theo by Rashed AlAkroka.

But really, the entirety of Bonds of Chaos is a fast-paced reading experience as the characters escape, plan, and try their best to desperately win against the overwhelming odds stacked against them. Bonds will break. Sacrifices will have to be made. The gods need to be stopped. Chris and his family, together with Laurel, Alverax, will have to rely on each other and more.

“Being the hero is never easy. But we don’t have to do it alone. All of us here, we’re in this together. Life or death. I don’t know about you, but no matter the outcome, there’s no one I’d rather try with.”

Having all the main characters in Threadlight trilogy in close proximity was one of the main reasons why the pacing in Bonds of Chaos worked so well for me. In my previous two reviews, I mentioned how I felt invested in Chrys and Alverax’s story but not too engaged with Laurel’s storyline. That situation changed in this final installment. After what happened in the previous two books, and now that Laurel is being put together frequently with the other main characters, her POV chapters feel more intriguing and crucial to the narrative than before. This is just one of the benefits of having all the main characters together doing their best to survive their ordeals. The action scenes were superb, and the character development for some of the main characters was simply rewarding.

“The point, Alverax, is that some burdens are handed to us, but others we pick up for ourselves. Our job is not to wallow in the gravity of it, nor to simply push forward and accept it. Our job is to ask ourselves which burdens are worth the weight and which are not. My boy, don’t wait until you’re falling over to lighten your load. This grudge you have for what your father did, you have to set it down.”

In my review of Voice of War, I said Chrys was my favorite character in that book. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Do not get me wrong here. I still like Chrys, Iriel, and the family theme demonstrated in their journey. But if I were asked to pick my favorite character of the trilogy, Alverax would win the spot. Easily. Out of all the main characters in Threadlight trilogy, Alverax is the one that developed the most. His entire character’s arc was great and organically built. While it is true that I like Chrys, if I exclude the circumstances he encountered from the equation, he did not progress much as a character throughout the trilogy. If you look back to the beginning of Threadlight trilogy and remember how Alverax’s story began, comparing his actions and behavior to those at the end of the series, you will see how much he developed as an individual. His hardships shaped him into a stronger, kinder, and better person instead of turning him into an embodiment of evil.

“Of course not—most people we forgive are undeserving—but the only person a grudge hurts is the one who carries it. If you want to live a life hunched over in pain, go ahead. But if you want to stand as tall as the world deserves to see you stand, then you need to shed your burden.”

Majority of Threadlight trilogy was incredible. As I said, Bonds of Chaos is my favorite volume in the series. My criticisms of the trilogy are caused by the shorter length of the series. This isn’t to say shorter epic fantasy series aren’t allowed in the market, or short epic fantasy books cannot be brilliant. At the time of writing this right now, shorter epic fantasy books are demanded by traditional publishers. However, I believe Argyle has the skills as a storyteller to potentially transform Threadlight trilogy into something even more impactful and immersive. As it stands now, despite how much I enjoyed the trilogy, I do feel the main villains were forgettable and lacking in development and background. Although the world contains more than a thousand years of history and lore, it never felt that way because more pages are needed to improve the immersion and intricacies in world-building. Maybe rather than criticisms, it would be more precise to call these what I would say as unfulfilled potentials.

Picture: Heralds by Omer Burak Onal

Fortunately, there were minor pet peeves on the grander scheme of the trilogy. Bonds of Chaos ended powerfully with a memorable climax sequence that continues from strength to strength. This is my favorite sequence in the entire trilogy. It was reminiscent of reading Sanderson’s Sanderlanche. With exciting twists and turns, sacrifices, moving speech, and every main character burning with maximum spirit to accomplish their respective mission to save the world, if this is how good Argyle is at concluding his first trilogy, I am excited to read what he will write next. The ending scenes were satisfying, and the bonus chapter contained in the deluxe omnibus edition made it even more.

“No matter what he may claim, a man’s heart never truly grows accustomed to loss. He may believe it has, but it’s not the loss that has grown dull. It is the depth of his love, driven by fear, which has grown shallow.”

Bonds of Chaos is my favorite installment in the Threadlight trilogy. Simple as that. The writing was easy to read; they flowed well, and the pacing was engaging. I had a wonderful time reading each book in Threadlight trilogy. As I always say in every review of each book in the series, I cannot recommend this series highly enough to readers who love reading Sanderson’s books but want to read a smaller and compact version of it. This is it. Threadlight trilogy is it. It may not break any new ground, but the themes were executed with finesse in a comparatively small number of pages for an epic fantasy trilogy. Not only that, I think this is a worthy series to recommend to beginners in the fantasy genre who want to experience reading a great epic fantasy series without feeling overwhelmed. I am satisfied. And I certainly will read Symphony of the Skies by Zack Argyle when it’s ready.

“But sometimes life does not give the most to the deserving. Sometimes, life takes, and it takes until the once-filled well runs dry. Sometimes, it is cruelest to the kindest and coldest to those already bitten by the frost. It is brutal, callous, and most of all, unfair. And so, it becomes the work of men to bring balance. To fill the empty wells. To warm the shivering shoulders. To sacrifice for the greater good.”

Series Review:

Voice of War: 4/5 stars
Stones of Light: 4/5 stars
Bonds of Chaos: 4/5 stars

Threadlight trilogy: 12/15 stars

“Do not doubt the path, his voice bellowed in Alverax’s mind. No matter how dark the way may seem, there is always light beyond the bend, if you will take the steps to find it.”

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