Seeking summaries of Will Wight’s Cradle series? Need a recap of each book? You’re in the right place! See all Cradle-related summaries available on my website here. Obviously, these are designed to have spoilers. Don’t read any of the summaries if you are hoping to go in to the series without being spoiled! If you haven’t yet read any of the Cradle novels, I have a no-spoilers review of the first two books.
Quick Summary of Skysworn
Lindon’s duel with Jai Long has finally arrived. He loses, but Jai Long takes his arm. He and Fisher Gesha work together to create a prosthetic arm using the hunger binding from the Ancestor’s Spear. Eithan uses the duel as an opportunity to uncover the crimes of Jai Daishou, who opened the Dreadgods’ labyrinth to steal an Archstone.
By opening the Labyrinth, Jai Daishou has awoken the Bleeding Phoenix. Eithan is sent to ask the Akura family Monarch for help; she agrees to aid them, but warns that they will be on their own next time. A greater calamity is on the horizon.
Lindon and Yerin join the Skysworn to fight the Bleeding Phoenix and Redmoon Hall, a sect of sacred artists who use the powers of the Bleeding Phoenix. Yerin reveals her Blood Shadow, a creature of the Bleeding Phoenix, and ultimately overpowers it and gains control of it. It can act as a double outside of her body.
The Akura Monarch fights and defeats the Bleeding Phoenix – for now.
Eithan also reveals he intends to take Lindon and Yerin with him all the way to the top. He lets Lindon view the vision in his Abidan bead, which was from an ascended ancient ancestor, now known as Ozriel. Ozriel’s recorded message shows them the nature of Cradle within the universe and the other worlds who the Abidan care for. He asks them to join him and ascend – not as part of the Abidan, but as part of a separate group he leads.
The Dreadgods stir in their slumber, soon to awaken once more.
Detailed Summary of Skysworn
Jai Daishou, Patriarch of the Jai Clan, is seeking to kill Eithan Aurelius after Eithan’s failed attempt to murder him during coup attempt in Blackflame. He approaches a clan of assassins, a Remnant called the Lord of Specers, and even seeks to unleash an ancient sacred beasts chained in the jungle. At each turn, he finds Eithan has already precipitated his actions – even going so far as to leave a cheeky note saying “Nice try” in the jungle beast’s cage.
When these attempts fail, he takes drastic measures. He enters the labyrinth of the Dreadgods, knowing full well that his entry could awaken them and spell doom for all in the Blackflame Empire. It is punishable by the death of his clan if he is discovered to open it, as it can rouse the Dreadgods from their sleep. But if he is undetected… Weapons fit for Lords lay beyond.
Searching the treasure cabinets inside, most are empty or contain weapons too powerful for immediate use. He’s limited to choosing one, as he can only carry a single item in his soulspace. He recognizes and chooses a crystal orb, and Archstone, which he believes may be able to replace the Ancestor’s Spear.
Suriel pays a visit to Makiel. He has created an outpost just for himself and his hounds, away from Sanctum, where he monitors the strands of fate. They argue about her choices in seeking Ozriel, Makiel stating she did not try hard enough and was manipulated.
Further, he highlights her actions on Cradle. With Eithan and Lindon crossing paths, fate has been drastically changed. Makiel cannot see further than thirty years into Cradle’s future. Makiel intends to accelerate their fates such that they will be forced to ascend from Cradle early, lessening the damage. Suriel accepts his assistance in this matter, recognizing it as a peace offering.
While normally Jai Daishou’s intrusion would have gone unnoticed by the Dreadgods, Makiel twists the world’s fate. The Bleeding Phoenix takes notice. It begins to awaken.
Lindon is in a very comfortable Skysworn prison, having been placed under arrest in Blackflame, and slowly going crazy from inaction. He’s been there for a week, perhaps two, when Eithan and Yerin finally show up. Lindon asks Eithan about his experiences with Abidan entities, but Eithan deflects and promises a conversation after Lindon duels Jai Long.
The duel between Lindon and Jai Long is set to take place in just a few days. Fisher Gesha loads him up with constructs to the point that he looks nearly clownish wearing them all. Soon, the day arrives. They strip Lindon of all weapons above his advancement level, Lowgold, and lead him into the arena to face Jai Long. As it is a duel for pride, they will fight to either death or incapacitation.
Jai Long thanks him for healing his sister, but states he still must fight for his clan. He promises to be as gentle as he can. They begin to fight their duel.
Lindon attacks aggressively, seeking to end the duel quickly. The tide turns against him, and Eithan intervenes, fighting Naru Gwei, the Underlord assigned to oversee the battle. This, however, is in part a ruse – Eithan’s true target is a spectator. Once Naru Gwei is distracted, he goes for Jai Daishou.
Meanwhile, Lindon manages to destroy the Ancestor’s Spear using Blackflame. He attempts to take the spearhead, which remains intact, but Jai Chen grabs it with her bonded dragon remnant first. Unfortunately, he loses the duel – and Jai Long wins by cutting off his hand.
Jai Daishou triggers the Archstone he took from the Labyrinth to save himself from Eithan. It pulls madra from everyone in the arena, draining them dry. Jai Chen kills him with the spearhead, stealing his madra with it. Eithan notes to himself that she will gain some of the Aurelius bloodline abilities, as she took in some of his madra due to the Archstone, though she’ll have to expend madra to use it as opposed to it happening naturally as within Eithan. Eithan pockets the spearhead.
Eithan takes stock of the situation. His plan to force Jai Daishou to reveal the Archstone and his illegal descent into the Labyrinth in front of Naru Gwei succeeded, but he recognizes that Lindon has paid dearly for it. And it’s Eithan’s fault.
After they return to the main facility, Fisher Gesha and Lindon discuss how best to approach a prosthetic arm for him. His arm was sliced just above the elbow. He’s deeply disturbed by its absence, feeling it as a phantom. Eithan appears with the spearhead, and Fisher Gesha agrees to try incorporating it into an arm from a pure madra remnant for Lindon.
Lindon confronts Eithan about having caused him to lose his arm. He is angry, near tears, but ultimately asks why he did it. Was it worth it? Eithan explains that the Jai Clan has been irreparably damaged now due to the risk in opening the labyrinth, and that it is possible a Dreadgod will stir.
Aboard a skyship away from the arena, Yerin and Cassius are training. While both are Truegold, Cassius is much more experienced, and beats her handily in spars. He encourages her to take on interests outside of simply becoming a sage. Even her master had been a famous refiner in addition to being the Sword Sage.
Abruptly, before they land at the arena and discover the duel’s result, the binding on her blood shadows slips away. It unknots, immediately trying to devour her and reaching towards Cassius. It destroys the controls, and the ship heads straight into the side of a mountain. She jumps from the skyship, hoping to use a technique to soften her landing but unable to do so. A shudder ripples through her as she feels a blood-red power rising. It is getting closer, and giving her Blood Shadow its strength.
Elsewhere, Red Moon Hall and the bloodspawn of the Bleeding Phoenix drestrih Lastleaf Fortress. No one escapes alive. A red wall of light advances across the land.
Yerin is badly hurt in the crash. Her blood shadow is unbound, but Eithan binds it again for her before she awakens. The red wall reaches them, and their spilled blood awakens into bloodspawn, attacking them.
An Underlord emissary of Redmoon Hall, a sect devoted to the Bleeding Phoenix, appears, introducing himself to Eithan as Longhook. He has a gleaming red hook hand, connected to a chain he can control. Eithan attacks him in a flurry, and their fight moves away. Additional bloodspawn advance towards them. Yerin notices Lindon’s (lack of) arm and expresses genuine sympathy. She’d lost limbs previously, but fortunately the Sword Sage had pills to regrow them. Lindon does not have access to such resources, but he is doing his best to be optimistic about the prosthetic Fisher Gesha is working on.
They move back into the arena facilities, seeking to grab their belongings and then escape. Eithan reappears, thrown through a wall by Longhook. He is not doing well in the fight.
The Skysworn appear in the nick of time, causing Longhook to flee. Naru Gwei gives them fifteen minutes before he must take them and go.
Jai Long and Jai Chen are fleeing together. Lindon finds them, and tells them of a path to freedom through the mountains. They leave.
Lindon and co. are taken to the Stormrock, a massive flying fortress. Orthos is highly displeased to be flying again, but accepts it grudgingly. Renfei takes them on a tour through the city, leading them to the Skysworn headquarters in the center where they can receive medical treatment.
Yerin and Lindon step aside, where she explains about her Blood Shadow. She was only eight when a Blood Shadow found her. Her father tried to pull it out of her, but he was cut and the blood turned into bloodspawn. Soon, her home was massacred. She held off the Blood Shadow for hours, maybe days, until the Sword Sage found her.
She wants to fight Redmoon Hall, and proposes they join the Skysworn to do so. Eithan is out fighting, however, and Lindon is uncomfortable moving forward without him. She signs up with them anyway, despite Lindon’s pleas to give him more time.
The Emperor calls together a meeting of the top seven underlords in the Blackflame Empire, including Eithan. He explains the betrayal of Jai Daishou and the arrival of the Bleeding Phoenix. Redmoon Hall is made up of vassals, people taken over by a Blood Shadow, and emissaries, who control theirs and use it to increase their own power. There are multiple Underlord emissaries, an Overlord, and the Sage of Red Faith to contend with – not to mention the Dreadgod itself.
Eithan proposes the Underlords directly assist the Skysworn in a bid to position himself as a guest officer, given he’s discovered Yerin’s plans. Naru Saeya recommends they fight head on by acquiring a sage, perhaps the Sage of a Thousand Eyes from the Aurelius Homeland. Eithan notes that the door to the Homeland won’t open for another three hundred years, ruling that out.
The Emperor assigns Eithan to be the representative to approach the Akura family Monarch for assistance under the Naru name. The Emperor reveals that the Akura family has recently asked him for a favor, increasing their standing and the chance of Eithan’s success – and failure likely means his death given the fickle nature of Monarchs.
Back in the Skysworn tower, Fisher Gesha and Lindon prepare to create a prosthetic arm. She notes that this one will likely need to be replaced if he reaches Underlord, as it will be made of Gold stage components. The notes on the hunger binding they’re using, which was obtained in Soulsmith in the mysterious pyramid, note that it was taken from “Subject One.”
When the binding from the Ancestor’s spear combines with the arm and the smaller binding, the arm goes wild and attempts to absorb Little Blue, Lindon’s Sylvan Riverseed. Lindon wrests control of it and manages to attach it to himself. It continues to behave radically, but Fisher Gesha assures him he can adapt over time and control it. She tells him to wait four to six weeks before activating the hunger binding.
Yerin is, naturally, delighted by the skeletal appearance of his new arm. However, she continues forward in her intent to join the Skysworn, despite Lindon’s continued unwillingness, and bids him goodbye as she goes to test into their ranks. Lindon goes to speak with Orthos. After contemplation and realizing that waiting is cowardly, he follows Yerin and sets himself to join the Skysworn as well.
Naru Gwei is unimpressed and at first believes Lindon to be a part of a scheme by Eithan to undermine his control of the Skysworn. He discovers Yerin’s Blood Shadow and becomes even more perturbed. However, he remains unconvinced that the Sword Sage is truly dead. Therefore, he does not immediately move against Yerin. Instead, he chooses to fold them into an already existing plan. The favor the Akura family asked the Emperor was to take in their wayward daughter, Akura Mercy, into the Skysworn, and place her in harm’s way. Let her sink or swim by her own power; no retaliation will occur if she dies. Why not wrap these two up in that plan?
He frees them to the application process.
The other applicants take issue with a Blackflame trying out due to their negative history as a family and Path in the empire. They attempt to bully Lindon. He gets into a fight with another Lowgold, and much to his shock is head and shoulders above him in strength. He nearly kills him simply by accident. Akura Mercy makes her appearance, healing him with a pill. The other potentiates flee at her name, and even Orthos hides into his shell.
Eithan, meanwhile, has successfully secured the aid of the Akura Monarch. She foresaw him coming in dreams, and has agreed to defend them – once. She passes along a message via her emissary that the empire must raise its own protectors afterwards as there will soon be a greater calamity that will require her attention.
Lindon discovers the application process is a race through an obstacle course. He rides Orthos through it, who barrels through each challenge – much to Lindon’s dismay. Yerin came in first in the Highgold course, and heads over to see the end of the Lowgold race. Akura Mercy emerges first. Lindon comes in fourth.
All of those who passed are sorted into the. Naru Gwei, however, leaves Lindon, Yerin, and Mercy for last – with only Renfei and Bai Rou rather than a full team with High and Truegolds. They make it clear they won’t hesitate to send them to their deaths to get as much use of them as possible. Further, they are prepared to kill them if they step out of line.
Eithan asks Cassius to arrange for members of the Aurelius clan to gather information to dangerous lands in the South and West. He is not happy with the decision, which will put lives in danger, but Eithan insists it will be best for the clan. Cassius speaks to his wife, Jing, and determines he must go to the Aurelius elders to let them rein Eithan in instead.
Before he can set off, a scream erupts and crimson light shines. The Bloody Phoenix has awoken.
Aboard a Skysworn skyship, Yerin’s Blood Shadow breaks through Eithan’s barrier, squirming violently. Bai Rou grabs her and runs with her, Lindon follows. He flies high… and drops her to her death. Lindon destroys his Thousand Mile Cloud in a bid to save her, but even overloading the binding isn’t enough. Mercy saves them, however, and Orthos follows after. They seek shelter before the Akura Monarch and Phoenix do battle, as they will die if caught in the open.
In the relative safety of a building, London uses his new arm to try to consume the Blood Shadow. He succeeds in pulling it out… Which was what it wanted. Now, it’s free. It takes on Yerin’s shape. They fight, and Yerin wins – trapping it once more in her soul. She succeeds in controlling it, now able to use it outside her body.
Akura Malice appears and begins to fight the Phoenix. Eventually, after days of being trapped, the fight ends and Eithan arrives. The Phoenix voluntarily retreated, and Eithan believes it is biding its time for the other Dreadods to awaken.
Lindon shares that Suriel said it would be in just thirty years before the Dreadgods descend on Sacred Valley. Eithan, however, believes it will be sooner – he senses that fate was twisted to raise the Phoenix.
Eithan also reveals he intends to take Lindon and Yerin with him all the way to the top. He lets Lindon view the vision in his Abidan bead, which was from an ascended ancient ancestor, now known as Ozriel. Ozriel’s recorded message shows them the nature of Cradle within the universe and the other worlds who the Abidan care for. They draw power from the Way, which is the power of order in inhabited worlds. He shares the pain of dying worlds, which he himself feels – over and over and over, endlessly, as worlds become corrupt.
Further… He reveals he wishes to raise them to ascend and join him. Independently, and not as part of the Abidan. To save dying worlds, the people the Abidan abandoned. You can step out of the Cradle, he says. And join him.
Eithan reads a letter from Cassius. It states the elders have decreed he must step down as Patriarch.
The Dreadgods stir in their sleep. The Phoenix prepares to rise again. The Weeping Dragon stirs. The Silent King senses the Phoenix. The Wandering Titan shifts.