Cradle is so much fun, y’all. While Uncrowned is not perhaps my favorite novel in the series to date (this honor still goes to Underlord), I still had a dang good time with it. Will Wight is a machine who churns out about one novel per year, and I have yet to be disappointed. Uncrowned is book 7 in the Cradle series.
These books are light, easy progression fantasy reads. This is not a series of fancy prose and clever writing. It’s not deep social issues, politics, or any of that jazz. It is a series of having your arm replaced with a badass construct that eats magic and overpowered intelligent dragons battling it out with a guy who uses a broom as his primary weapon. If you’re not the kind of person to be entertained by watching giant flaming turtles fight sea dragons and having a main character “level up” and gain new abilities, this is not the series for you… but if those things do sound good, saddle up, sunshine, we’re going for a ride.
As a heads’ up, the review here WILL contain spoilers for previous books! I am also working on putting together a collection of summaries for each of the books. They are still incomplete, but I will be updating them regularly. In the meantime, my reviews below may help jog your memory.
If you have not yet read any of the Cradle novels, I highly recommend reading my review of The first two Cradle novels here to start. I also have reviews of Cradle three through six with only minor spoilers for the first two books.
Yerin couldn’t be here. They called her away. . . So I’m going to say what Yerin would say!” Mercy slapped him hard enough that it echoed throughout the room, though he barely felt it. Yerin would have broken his jaw. “You have a sword! Stab the enemy!”
Compared to earlier books, Uncrowned has a significantly faster pace. There are a full eight months squeezed into this book, meaning it’s heavy on the action and light on the exposition. Although I would have loved to see most of the events in Uncrowned be a bit more fleshed out, I can understand the author wanting to keep the length somewhat consistent with previous books and bring the reader to an appropriate stopping point. If I have any complaint, it’s simply that I was left wanting just a bit more of everything.
The book opens on exactly the scene I was hoping for: Orthos and Kelsa in the Sacred Valley. I really, really wish we had gotten to see more of these two interacting, solely because I find it delightful to see them be shocked, awed, and disbelieving when Orthos talks about how powerful Lindon has become. It’s satisfying and is something I’ve been wanting to see for quite a while. Unfortunately, this first scene is the only one with these two in it, unfortunately – I had been hoping for three scenes: one at the beginning, one in the middle, and one at the end. Still, as per usual… it was fun to see. It was just more like only being given a small cup of potato chips when really I wanted an entire bag of salty goodness.
She relaxed her hands, which had tightened into fists. . . “You can blame whatever you want on an Unsouled.”
“He isn’t Unsouled,” the Turtle said.
Kelsa’s heart was still in turmoil, but somehow hearing that Lindon wasn’t Unsouled was stranger than hearing he might be alive.
Lindon, meanwhile, is showing the Akura clan the absolute monster Eithan has managed to turn him into with his somewhat unorthodox training methods. Dross, naturally, is also a large part of this. Dross’ comedic relief is always on point, and I’ll admit I’m very picky about humor in my books. I chuckled aloud at some of his comments. Sure, they’re often a liiiiittle silly, but sometimes that’s just fine. Dross treads a fine line between being overwhelming instead of being a nice bit of seasoning, but always manages to keep the balance. His character makes Lindon much more fun and interesting to read about, and also allows Wight to move the plot along more quickly by giving Lindon that training shortcut.
“Now we come to the mental tests,” the Archlord continued. “Reaction speed, memory, force of will, and resistance to incursion. These tests have disqualified many would-be geniuses, so I hope you are prepared.”
Within Lindon’s mind and spirit, a voice spoke up, [Oh, those sound like games!] Dross said. [I love games!]”
Unfortunately, once we get into the meat of the story with the kick-off of the Uncrowned King Tournament, these shortcuts are used a bit too liberally. There are a few techniques Lindon works on for months that are described only in a sentence, such that there’s no real sense of the work he truly had to put into them. The tournament itself lasts several months, but a reader might reasonably assume it lasts only weeks based on the pacing. Although I loved seeing so much action packed into this book, these bits made it less satisfying than it should have been overall.
The structure of the tournament itself was also a slight frustration for me. Although the first few rounds are well done, the round which takes the participants down to 8 from 16 is run as a single elimination round with arbitrary matches set up by the Monarch running the event. Given that this is a departure from the team activities up to that point and creates unfairness by assigning relatively even matches, I was not a huge fan. Should the number one contestant be paired with the number two contestant, number two will be eliminated completely despite still being better than fourteen other individuals in the tournament. While it did serve a narrative purpose and brought us some great action, I still was not a huge fan of this structuring.
Lindon and Yerin have a few absolutely adorable moments that I’ll continue to be pleased as punch about during the tournament. Mercy also spent some time channeling my inner romantic by more or less calling Lindon out with a “NOW KISS” kind of moment. These two kids are properly twitterpated, and thank GOD someone finally asked them what the hell is up with that. Seriously. Smoosh their faces together. I know they’re sheltered, but come on, please give it to me. I want the cute romance.
“First I thought you were together, “ Mercy went on, “and then after watching you and finding out you had both been adopted into the Aurelius family, I figured you might have thought of yourselves as brother and sister. But the more I watch you… there’s something there, right?”
Excitement painted every inch of her face.
. . .
Lindon’s face burned, and he dug for an excuse to get himself out of the conversation.
All in all, while I had some issues with this particular segment of the Cradle series, it was still a good book. Wight takes us on a ride, gives us some new tidbits about the magic system, and offers us some great action scenes and at least a taste of the character development I’m currently clamoring for. As always, I can’t wait for the next installment!