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Cradle #3


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Lindon has a year left.

When his time runs out, he’ll have to fight an opponent that no one believes he can beat. Unless he learns the magic of the sacred arts the right way, from scratch, he won’t have a chance to win…and even then, the odds are against him.

In the course of their training, Lindon and Yerin travel to the Blackflame Empire, where they struggle to master an ancient power. Success means a chance at life, but failure means death.

In the sacred arts, only those who risk the most can travel far.

370 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 30, 2017

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Will Wight

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 760 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
673 reviews42.7k followers
July 8, 2022
4.5/5 stars

The dragon advances; Blackflame advances Cradle into an addictive series to read.

If I were to defined Unsouled as an invitation to Cradle, Soulsmith would be the appetizer, and Blackflame would be where the main course begins. Don’t get me wrong, the first two books were fun, they were great, and they were necessary installments full of proper foundations that made the ravaging Path of the Blackflame so compelling to read, but it truly felt like the meat of the story begins here. The cast of characters has been expanded, and the protagonists and antagonists are clearer now.

“The Path of Black Flame was stolen from ancient dragons. It is the art of pure destruction.”

The dragon destroys. Blackflame, the third book in Cradle series, picks up from where Soulsmith left off, and the book features some of the most exciting narrative and destructive action sequences within the series so far. Lindon has a new life or death mission assigned to him, an impossibly difficult duel to win and he has only a year of training and powering up to achieve this impossible feat. The situation demands Lindon to, once again, train himself to a new height of power, an extreme circumstance requires extreme measure, and the training/trial montage featured in this book is the most engaging in the series so far. The deeply developed world-building and intricate magic system established in the previous books start to pay off wonderfully. I have also mentioned how Eithan charmed me since his first entrance, and I grew to feel that he seriously WILL be the best character of the series. Eithan stole the spotlight, simple as that. I’m not kidding; I’m hurting myself here from holding back on telling you the details of the action sequences in this book that involved him. So much scheming, so much flashy moves, so much deadly strikes, so much power.

“That was the real lesson: if you were powerful enough, you could accomplish anything.”

The dragon conquers. The power of the dragon is terrifying. I’ve mentioned in my Unsouled review that Cradle is a progression fantasy, similar to Naruto/shonen manga, every book or story arc will most likely showcase the main character’s advancement and attainment of a stronger power. Get used to me saying this. Will Wight has proven this notion once again, and this time the series all the better for it. The flashy moves portrayed by the Blackflame, Silver Steps, and The Path of the Endless Swords were just utterly fascinating. The combination of the Path of Blackflame being unraveled gradually with the inclusion of monstrous creatures and complex villains that were missing from the previous books made the rising quality of the series provided in Blackflame unstoppable. I loved it, there was so much upgrade and it felt like the characterizations of the characters have improved significantly. The power, strength, schemes, tactics, magic, flames, and swordplay combined into the narrative were just spectacularly done. Plus, the new characters—Sylvan and Orthos—helped enrich the varieties of characters’ interactions and relationship dynamic.

“Sometimes the game is rigged against you, and your only option is to flip the board.”

The dragon advances. The dragon destroys. The dragon conquers. Blackflame is an outstanding installment in Cradle and it is, in my opinion, the strongest installment in the series so far. It’s quite insane to think that there are still nine books left in the series, seeing that the series has constantly upgraded its quality with each successive book, how far will the series increase from here? For instance, I’ve heard that the sixth book in the series, Underlord, has been unanimously hailed as being THE best book in the series. You have no idea how excited I am to find out what’s going on inside that book, but first, I have two more books to go through and I expect great things. I’m moving onward to Skysworn next!

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Mike, Hamad, Miracle, Devin, Nicholas.
Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
234 reviews3,010 followers
May 19, 2022
Check out my new youtube channel where I show my instant reactions to reading fantasy books seconds after I finish the book.

A ridiculously addicting book that is a wonderful addition to this series

This series continues to impress me, and while I recognize this book won't be for all the fans of the fantasy genre - it really resonates with me in a positive way. This book is the definition of a "progression fantasy", where it almost reads like a video game in that the main character is constantly "levelling up" by learning more powers, increasing his rank and marching towards a very clear endgame.

In this book, the world has finally greatly expanded from the relatively small scope that the first two books surrounded to the greater continent. It feels like a huge veil has been lifted on this story, with the scope expanding and far greater stakes on the line.

These books are small and you can crank through them in a day or two. In my opinion you really need to read the first three until you can get a feel on whether you will like this series or not. If you don't like it after the first three, put it down because this series is not for you. But if you are like me, you will devour these books the first moment you can get your hands on them.
Profile Image for Calista.
3,869 reviews31.2k followers
August 27, 2021
3rd reading:

I am getting reading for the 10th book in this series coming out this fall. Will has bundled together in one volume, books 1-3 online and it feels like these 1st 3 books make one amazing story. The first book simply runs right into the 2nd and it really should be read as one story. Book 3 fits in with that so well.

Lindon is able to level up twice in this story. Yerin levels up one more time. That battle with Eithan is everything. It's my favorite. I love the training scene in this book. This series is still so much fun to read. I'm going right into book 4, which is my least favorite in the series so far.

2nd reading
I am going through this series again. Blackflame is a good book, but Book 2 Soulsmith was better. This is still good, I just didn't enjoy it quite as much the 2nd time through. Eithan just gets better and better. He is still my favorite character.

This book introduces us to Orthos and he is a whole lot of fun. Lindon advances once in this book.

Holy J.K. Rowling, that was a Page turner. I raced through that book and I want to know what's going to happen next. I need the next book, NOW.

The 2nd book ended and we start off with Lindon being a fresh Iron. He's slowly moving up the rankings, but he sure pays the physical and emotional price to be moving that way. Yerin is frustrated that she doesn't seem to be able to move. She has the sash that is holding her back.

Eithan is one of my favorite characters. He is written so well. I love how airy he is. I can't wait to see him show up on the page. He collects his house and they take a ride over to his city. It's built in a valley of dragon skeleton's and all the buildings are built into the skeleton's. It's such a cool image. Eithan puts the kids to training right away and we find out that there are politics going on in the city, of course. It's always pressure from every angle. It never lets up.

I will say, one of my critics to this series is no one anywhere really has any fun. There isn't any dating or dancing or life going on. It appears that everyone is only focused on advancing and getting ahead. It seems to be a sad commentary on their society. There is no where to have any real joy that we have seen. It's all work, work, work. There needs to be just a little bit of breathing room where life actually happens. There might be too much pressure, but then again, I can't put these silly things down.

The weirdest creature I've seen in some time appears in the middle of this book. I'm not sure it even makes a whole lot of sense, but I enjoyed it all the same.


The Aurelius clan still has a dragon under the mountain, but it is a cousin. It's a giant turtle that is huge and shots fire out of its mouth like a dragon and is filled with fire and heat and its also going slowly crazy. I love that it's used to help get Lindon to the Jade stage. It's a great scene.

The most interesting thing, is the celestial that we meet in the first book we see again at the end. She sent Lindon on his trip to become powerful. When she looks in on him, she realizes that the future she saw for him has changed and she doesn't know what this means.

We also find out that Eithan is on the path of the twin spirits as well and I thought that was the case. That did not surprise me, but it was wonderful how it we found out as readers. This was a great entry and I can't wait to get the next book.

If you haven't read this book and love fantasy, you need to begin reading these books.
Profile Image for Anna [Bran. San. Stan].
260 reviews80 followers
May 25, 2023
4.25 stars. Those final 100 pages were insane! To be honest, there were times I was not sure if I wanted to continue with the series at all – people keep saying this installment is much better than the first two and at first I just couldn’t see why. So much time was spent on “leveling up,” which didn’t really keep me invested. I figured, maybe this RPG-like type of fantasy isn’t for me. Then the final 30% happened and let’s just say I’m completely on board now. Wow, just wow.

Of course, there are other things I enjoyed apart from that: For one thing, the action moving to the city of Serpent’s Grave, which is constructed in those huge dragon skeletons, was just really cool, as was the Blackflame Path and how it was used. Also, the duel we are promised keeps me going; I wonder, however, if it’s really going to happen or if we’ll eventually be given something even better.

And most importantly, I still really like the characters – even if character arcs are mostly focused on rank advancements and character growth seems secondary. (Come to think of it, that might be part of the reason why I was slow to completely embrace this progression fantasy. Usually, I prefer the way it is done in Stormlight Archive, when personal growth leads to higher levels of competence.) All things considered, Eithan continues to amaze, intrigue, and delight and he doesn’t even need character growth for me to love him (also I still think he is Ozriel); Lindon, on the other hand, gains some much-needed confidence, and Yerin, our badass fighter who is mostly just along for the ride, finally reconciles herself to the loss of her master.

Now let’s talk magic. I’m generally a fan of hard magic systems and especially those that have a cost. Here, large parts were dedicated to explaining said magic system, which I found a bit tiring; however, they were apparently necessary for stupid little me to finally get a better grip on the complexity of the sacred arts. Also, I really appreciate that rank advancement isn’t merely the culmination of the plot, but a plot beat along the way; I have no clue, though, if that is how progression fantasy is usually structured – this is my first one.

Another thing I really love about this magic system is that it’s hereditary in a universal sense – not just a select few, but the entire society is impacted by those powers. I’m not sure if I have encountered this type anywhere else except in Warbreaker. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy selective hereditary magic systems like in Wheel of Time, Mistborn, or Harry Potter or personality/ability-based ones like in Stormlight, but it’s just such a nice change of pace.

As for narrative techniques, I feel WW has gotten really good at showing us the action through a viewpoint character so that it benefits the story. Only seeing Eithan through the eyes of others, for example, perfectly showcases the mystery that surrounds his character. As I’ve stated ad nauseum in other reviews, I have thing for indirect characterization.

I can only hope that Cradle keeps growing on me as I crave the companionship and commitment a series like this brings with it. Wheel of Time has changed me forever.



Some random thoughts:

1. When Lindon feels Jai Chen looks familiar, is it possible it’s because she is the girl Suriel showed him in a vision of his future back in Unsouled?

2. The description of the Sylvan Riverseed as a “tiny woman in a flowing dress, all seemingly formed from azure liquid” really reminded me of Sylphrena.

1 Unsouled – 4 stars
2 Soulsmith – 3.75 stars
3 Blackflame – 4.25 stars
Profile Image for TS Chan.
698 reviews868 followers
November 2, 2019
I think I am completely in love. Blackflame is an amazingly fantastic continuation of the Cradle series.

Integrating the fascinating Eastern-inspired worldbuilding and magic-martial arts system with better characterisation, Blackflame was easily the best book in the series so far. Even though I'm still not wild about the main protagonist, Wei Shi Lindon, I was growing more invested in what his future may bring. At the end of Soulsmith, Lindon found himself being given one year to train and advance in his sacred arts in order to fight an opponent that is way more powerful. Lindon seemed to be the typical underdog character who kept defying the odds through a combination of sheer drive, ambition and a bit of providence. Notwithstanding, one can't help but be curious to see how his story will pan out.

"Sometimes the game is rigged against you, and your only option is to flip the board."

Yerin, a key supporting character in Lindon's journey, was one whom I have not mentioned in my earlier reviews. She first appeared towards the end of Unsouled, and started having her own POV in the sequel, Soulsmith. As an apprentice to the Sword Sage, her fight scenes were amazing, but I wasn't feeling her character all that much until now. Yerin was just simply badass and her fortitude harder than steel. It would be interesting to learn more about her past, which I hoped will be revealed in future books.

"If you don't feel like you're going to die when you're training, then you're doing it wrong."

Jai Long's story, on the other hand, faltered a bit in my opinion. And they were all overshadowed by the mysterious, insufferable and irrepressible Eithan. While his methods may not bode well with most (except himself, to be exact), Lindon and Yerin would not have had the required growth - in character development and power advancement - without his intervention.

"There is an old saying about asking forgiveness rather than permission, but the essence of it is, ‘I'm going to do what I want.'"

I absolutely delighted in reading every scene where Eithan made an appearance. Even though these scenes were rarely written in his perspective, they were always the most entertaining and fascinating to read. As Lindon and Yerin were undertaking a gruelling test that was only surmountable by a team of Highgolds, a backdrop of political manoeuvring within the Empire was taking place to topple the Arelius clan. This culminated in an epic showdown scene. I've never thought that such a scene could make me laugh so much, but somehow Eithan managed to do it. He even reminded me of another favourite character of mine from one of my favourite series, Bob Heartstriker. The revelations about Eithan towards the end of the book only served to make him even more intriguing.

I will now like to talk a bit about the magic-martial arts system. Cradle is a world where vital aura exists in everything. Sacred beasts and sacred artists are the wildlife and humans who can control and use the aura through what is called madra (in my mind this is like internal energy or power within the soul). The higher the capacity and strength of one's madra, the more powerful the sacred artist can be. The levelling up on strength in this system is highly reminiscent of RPGs. The deployment of such powers can be also categorised into different battle techniques - Enforcer, Striker, and Ruler. These techniques manifest in different ways for different Paths; a Path takes the form of an aspect of aura that the sacred artist is most proficient at controlling with his or her madra.

It took me three books to grasp and appreciate how all these components come together. Even then, there are times when I am still struggling to keep up with complexities of auras, madras, techniques, Paths, etc. There is a 4th technique, Forger, which shapes madra into a spiritual weapon, and is also a term used by Soulsmiths in harnessing vital aura from Remnants into constructs. I have mentioned how incredible the powers are in my earlier review. Well, it was even more breathtaking in this book, as we finally get to see what the Underlords were capable of. It was just amazeballs and so darn fun to read. And we haven't even fully touched upon the even more astounding galactic powers, which at this point only appeared in snippets.

As the series progressed, the worldbuilding also gradually expanded in scope. We first saw the Sacred Valley and its sheltered people in Unsouled. Then, in the sequel, there was the Desolate Wilds and its corrupted beasts. In this third instalment, we learnt more about the Blackflame Empire as the narrative moved its location to Serpent's Grave; a most appropriate name which was related to why the Empire was called Blackflame. The world of Cradle itself was named quite literally for its role and significance in the cosmos. We also get brief interludes which provided a glimpse of other planets, or what the galactic entities call Iterations. All in all, I get the feeling that the author has formed an ambitious foundation of worldbuilding from which multiple stories can be told.

Blackflame was only the third out of six known books in the series, with five self-published so far. Nonetheless, this third instalment was so good that I'm going ahead to recommend this series to lovers of fantasy; especially for those looking for Eastern-inspired ones. If you are a fan of anime and manga as well, I'm sure that it will work out even better for you.

You can purchase a copy of the book, or read it free via Kindle Unlimited on Amazon US.

You can also find this and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,007 reviews1,326 followers
January 26, 2021
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“That was the real lesson: if you were powerful enough, you could accomplish anything.”

Unsouled ★★★ 3/4
Soulsmith ★★★ 1/2
Blackflame ★★★★

The more books I read in this series, the more it feels like watching anime. Each book reads like an episode here and usually an anime season has 12-13 episodes and this has 12 books planned. And as much as can be crammed in 20 mins anime episode, those books are relatively short but full of action. Blackflame was the most balanced in the series writing wise so far and that’s why I gave it a 4 star rating.

In my review of the last book, I complained about the characters that I felt cold toward. In this book, my feelings has warmed toward most of the characters. Here’s a secret, I am usually not a fan of the MC when it comes to anime, I am always fascinated by the secondary characters and here it is no different. Although Lindon is a cool character, and I am all in for the theme of the importance of hard work. I loved Yerin’s Arc, Eithan and Jai Long were equally great too.

The writing is great in this one, I am just amazed by how much can happen in almost 300 pages. Adult books usually are dense and slow but this is the total opposite. This series is action-packed and fast paced which makes it very addicting.

The last book focused too much on the world-building and although we still have progression in that aspect, it was more balanced as I said above. The magic system is great and with each book there are new surprises and yet there are more 9 books to come so I don’t know how crazy things can get. The fight scenes are very vivid and entertaining which is not easy to write so this only increases my respect for the author.

“River doesn’t get too far without banks,” Yerin said. “Out of control, it’s just a flood. Spills everywhere. You want it to go where you want it to go, you have to guide it.”

Summary: This was the most balanced entry so far in the story, the writing is simple, the characters are well written, the world is vivid. The books are fast paced and gripping. Each books feels like an anime episode that ends with a cliffhanger and that makes it very bingeable. I am happier with the series now and can’t wait to see what will happen next.
Profile Image for William Gwynne.
354 reviews1,458 followers
March 23, 2023
Really enjoyed the first two instalments, and I have consistently been told that Blackflame is where the series really kicks off. So, I had high hopes, and feet pretty certain this is going to be another enjoyable and entertaining read that is easy to blitz through. I'm glad to say it was. And, on top of all that, it has a giant turtle!!!! What more could you ask for?

4.25/5 STARS
Profile Image for Terence.
1,113 reviews345 followers
February 2, 2023
Eithan has offered Lindon all he could want. A powerful family and instruction from a master. Eithan unfortunately also left Lindon in a predicament. In one year's time, he has to fight the Highgold Jai Long. Lindon is prepared to do anything to get strong enough to win, he just may not realize what that means. Eithan once again has dangerous plans for Lindon and he's made sure to include Yerin as well.

Blackflame was a strong sequel. The scene shifts to the home of the Arelius Family, Serpent's Grave. The Serpent's Grave is also the home of The Jai Clan and they have declared a silent war on the Arelius family. Eithan has plans on plans, but the threat of the Jai underlord looms over everything. Eithan is continuing his training of Yerin and Lindon in attempts to maximize their potential. He just has no interest in doing things in a traditional way. As Eithan said in Soulsmith, "Nothing reaches its full potential unless it's threatened." It's a motto he fully adheres to. Lindon will either grow stronger or die under Eithan's tutelage.

Meanwhile Jai Long has his prize, the spear of the ancestors. He intends to use it's power to get stronger and get his revenge. With the help of the Sandvipers and their Truegold leader Gokren, he plans to start his plans for revenge with the clan who discarded he and his sister Jai Chen. Jai Long is a well written character. His motivations are clear and he's ruthless.

One especially enjoyable part of Blackflame was the study of techniques. More are put on display than ever before as Lindon tries to decide what path to follow with his second core. He's restricted because he needs something strong enough to defeat an opponent that will be undoubtedly stronger than him in a year's time. That leads to some unforeseen developments.

The characters were excellent once more. Yerin struggles with her advancement, Eithan's instruction, and trusting Eithan in general. Lindon is desperate to get strong enough to survive his upcoming duel with Jai Long. Eithan is well Eithan, in the best ways possible. He's equal parts flashy and calculating.

The book featured two especially interesting additions, Cassias Arelius and Orthos. Cassias was the former heir of the Arelius family before Eithan arrived 6 years ago. His personality is the opposite of Eithan's in every way and he disagrees with most of Eithan's choices. He also shares the amazing Arelius bloodline awareness ability. Orthos is the descendant of dragons and a majestic turtle indeed. He has the power of blackflame, but he's losing his mind due to it's power. Orthos is haughty, powerful, and hungry. He's often heard munching on anything he wants including stone.

Blackflame was a really enjoyable story and I can't wait to begin the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Eon ♒Windrunner♒  .
421 reviews466 followers
November 20, 2019
Blackflame delivers on a whole new level and is a fantastic story, fully deserving of my first five star rating for this exciting series.

At the end of Soulsmith our main character is assigned a seemingly impossible task. A duel with an opponent who is a lion to his mouse. The inevitability of Lindon’s defeat and death is scheduled for a year later with Blackflame picking up almost immediately after Soulsmith and with Lindon training in the hope of survival. Who doesn’t love a great training sequence! Eithan has arranged for both Lindon and Yerin to hone their skills and hopefully “level up” on an ancient, almost mythical training ground that was used by the Blackflames.

This is where it all starts coming together friends. Lindon has come so far, but in a world of numerous, vastly more powerful practitioners of the sacred arts, he is an eternal underdog. It only makes it that much more exciting though to embrace his journey and root for him. I hold out hope that through his sheer will, fortitude and tenacity he will one day be able to level the playing fields.

The story took me to places I did not expect, with surprising and delightful results, whilst also expanding the world even further than what was revealed in Soulsmith, and not only limited to the geography. So much more was revealed regarding the history and mythos of the world and the people in it, whilst still barely giving us an impression of the entirety of this creation. I get the feeling that I might be saying that same line with every book I read in this series, so much is there to discover. Every time I thought that I had glimpsed the limits of the author’s ambition, he pulled the rug out from under me. Or rather, he pulled back the curtain to reveal a new layer of this detailed world, all the while distracting from the fact that there was another curtain behind the part just revealed. You thought this? Nope, it’s actually this! If you asked me about the strengths of the story, I would be at a loss which to choose, because Will Wight seems to be great at everything. I thought I was starting to get to grips with the magic system, but I kept on being reminded that like Jon Snow, I know nothing. Characters are given the same treatment, with the author really just starting to show off his skills. Lindon and Yerin are steadily becoming full colour versions of the black and white characters we first met, and don’t get me started on Eithan, who could carry this series by himself and needs more page time. I am in fact tempted to talk about a particularly noteworthy fighting scene involving Eithan and… Naah, let me not spoil the fun.

“There’s an old saying about asking forgiveness rather than permission,” Eithan said, “but the essence of it is, ‘I’m going to do what I want.’”

The writing once again delivers pacing that makes the story a breeze to read and the series almost impossible not to devour in one go. Paired with fantastic fights and filled to the brim with complex characters, detailed world building, unique magic and more, I cannot help but recommend this series to all fantasy fans. If every book in the rest of the series matches this one’s quality I will be happy as a kitten with catnip.

“I would urge you to remember what happened when you took over the training of our family Coppers.”

“Oh, that's nothing to worry about.”

Cassias turned to Lindon. “I personally rescued a girl who ran from his training into a place called the Thousand Beast Forest. She survived by hiding from two-headed bears. I found her crouched in a cave, dirty and bleeding, but she begged me to leave her rather than take her back to train.”

Lindon moved his gaze from the pill to Eithan and back. “That does seem…harsh. Perhaps she may have been pushed a little too hard, don’t you think?”

“Don’t worry, I don’t train my students like that anymore,” Eithan said, holding up a bottle to the light. “I was far too lenient before. After weeks of my training, that girl should have been fighting those bears. With her fists.”
Profile Image for Michael.
267 reviews71 followers
July 30, 2021
3.5-stars rounded up to 4.

As others had suggested this is the best book of the series so far.

There seems to be more of a plot in this one, rather than just Lindon and Yerin jumping from one combat to the next. And now that Eithan has been added it gives us another character to focus on that has some more substance.

I still prefer Yerin at this point, though Lindon did advance a lot more during this book. There was a lot of description of Lindon having to picture things in his mind in order for him to advance. I would have been utterly useless at this as I can't visualise anything from written text; I'm told my condition is called "Aphantasia". Just as well Lindon doesn't suffer from that!

I'm not so sure about the cosmic stuff with Suriel. Aside from her brief encounter with Lindon early on I don't really get how she's useful to plot development. I suppose I will find out later in the series.

I'm going to take a break from the series while I'm reading some of Brandon Sanderson's work but I'll be back with Cradle again later.

Thanks for reading.
Profile Image for David S Meanderings).
325 reviews86 followers
March 23, 2022
8-23-21 - 2nd Reread done.... just over a year from the first time I read it. You could say I like this series just a little bit😁

Reread done. SO ready for Wintersteel!

4.75 stars.

I loved this book! This series has been addicting and fun throughout and Blackflame has only increased my love for it. Narrator Travis Baldree continues to impress as he brings this world to life and gives each character a unique voice. After this series is up I am definitely going to be looking into other series that he has narrated.

The first two books in this series were really good. Unsouled introduced the world, magic system, and some of the characters, while giving hints of a larger plot. Soulsmith expands on everything, showing that there is a wider world outside of Sacred Valley that Lindon couldn’t have ever imagined. It introduced major characters into the mix and the events happening in Soulsmith served as a catalyst for Lindon’s own advancement in the sacred arts. And then Blackflame happened….

If I had to sum up Blackflame in one sentence, I would simply say that it was the best book in the series so far and near perfection in its execution. Since I’m writing a full review, you’ll have to suffer through my eloquent script as I try to piece together why it is that book 3 is my favorite so far in the series.

One thing I always talk about for Cradle reviews is the magic system. It is unique, has strict rules about power advancement, and employs defined levels of power that hugely affect the outcomes of battles. It is creative, imaginative, and relies on both the power level and the intelligence of the sacred artist in its use. Not to mention it is so much fun! In Blackflame, there are training sequences, pitched battles that took the fighting and plot to a whole other level, and lessons from more powerful sacred artists than Lindon that fascinated me and just increased my hunger to learn more about this magic system and its applications.

Another thing that really increased in its magnitude was what we knew of the world. At the end of Soulsmith we know about a few tribes outside of Sacred Valley and a large, powerful empire that is feared by those within those tribes. In Blackflame, we not only learn more about that empire, but is also so much more about the world as a whole. As events escalate we get to see clan rivalries, political infighting, and a whole new level of power that was unseen before this book. We also get to see more of the Abaddon that guards the realms of reality itself from chaos.

The weakness that still pervades throughout this series and I why I couldn’t give the book 5 stars is Lindon’s character development. I still found it hard to really connect with and care for him. I said in my review of Soulsmith that I admire Lindon for his courage, determination, and sheer force of will. However, while Lindon has more than enough grit, he lacks in emotional depth. It is hard to empathize with someone who just seems to get over everything like there was nothing wrong in the first place. However, I also want to emphasize that the cast of characters alongside Lindon just about made up for his lack of depth. Yerin, Eithan, and Jai Long are fascinating characters and ones that I hope to continue to be able to follow throughout the rest of the series. They are characters that have depth, mysterious back stories that we slowly get to see more and more of, alongside a similar level of determination and will that has brought Lindon so far since leaving Sacred Valley.

This series is one I will highly recommend for those that love methodical, well developed, and creative magic systems with realistic and earned progression. I really enjoyed Blackflame and I hope that if you decide to pick it up you do too.
Profile Image for Deborah Obida.
673 reviews602 followers
November 12, 2021
Buddy read with Snezana

Blackflame is the third book in the cradle series, just like the previous books this book is fast paced and action packed. It took place in another location from the previous books. The setting of this book is different from that of the first two, this took place in the Blackflame empire.

“That was the real lesson: if you were powerful enough, you could accomplish anything.”

The world and new location was well depicted, the houses in this new location are built in the skeleton of a dragon, how cool is that. The writing is awesome as always, just like the previous books this book is written in third person multiple POV with Lindon having 80% of the POV.

“Show me a fair fight,’ her master used to say, ‘and I’ll show you an opponent who has lost his mind.”

The plot though straightforward has a lot of information. We finally know more about The Blackflame empire and the path of the Blackflame that use literal fire. We also got to know more about the politics and there is a caste system. Eithan is more unique and powerful than you’ll think. I still don’t know his end game.

I love Lindon’s character development so much, though he is more powerful than before he is still and kind.

Yerin’s character development is slow but I still love what I got, though tough on the outside she is actually a good person.

I’m still unsure whether Eithan is a good person, he sounds like a good person but I know he has ulterior motives.

Jai Long is now one of my favorites, I get why he is the way he is now, he loyalty and love for his sister is so admirable. I just hope he succeeds.
Profile Image for Rob.
848 reviews535 followers
August 5, 2018
Executive Summary: This series started out pretty solid, but this book got really really good. I read the first half over several days, but I read the second half in one sitting. For that reason it was a pretty easy 5 star for me.

Full Review
A friend of mine was recommending I read Will Wight for a long time, but there are just so many books/authors out there that I never got around to it. It took getting a free copy of the first book of this series to get me to finally give him a shot.

I keep coming back to Naruto not because this series is a knock-off of that, but because some of the notes it hits keep reminding me of my favorite parts of that series. I'd be really shocked if Wight isn't a fan/wasn't inspired by that or other Shonen fighting series.

This book starts off right where the last one left off, and Lindon is once again training to take on a challenge far beyond his power. It's not until he starts this trial (that reminded me slightly of the Chunin exams) that this book really gets good.

I was only going to read another 2-3 chapters and instead I stayed up an hour later than I intended just so I could finish. I also rushed right out to buy the next book.

This series has some really great characters. Lindon is likeable enough but he's kind of the typical protagonist for this kind of a story. I really love both Eithan and Yerin as well. Eithan is both mysterious and hilarious. The book also introduces another fantastic new character whose name I can't recall but he's a giant insane Dragon-Turtle so really what does it matter what his name is?

There were some pretty interesting developments with Lindon in this book and some pretty intriguing revelations about Eithan as well. I'm really looking forward to seeing where this series goes next.

I'm not sure how many people are reading Will Wight, but I'll be joining my friend in recommending him, at least to my friends who enjoy Shonen fighting series.

Profile Image for Jim Robinson.
76 reviews18 followers
March 23, 2023
5* This was the best Cradle book to date

Wow this book was a big step forward from Book 2 in terms of plot progression, battle scenes and the advancement of our now not so helpless protagonist Lindon. I really loved this book it had a nice balance to it which kept me reading that extra chapter which is always a good sign for a book.

Lindon levels up significantly in this story which is cool too as he has been pretty weak to date so that was fun to watch him learn and be tested both through trial and combat. Plus his bestie Yerin also has some nice continuing arcs and reveals to her story which I loved as she has been a very shielded character to date. Throw in some more time with Jai Long and Eithan plus the introduction of Cassius and things seem to be building nicely.

But the best thing of all was a few chapters we get with Suriel which really starts to foreshadow some of the cosmic plot machinations playing out and I found fascinating.

Best Cradle book yet! Might take a small break now as Iv'e read 3 straight then will pick up book 4 soon.
Profile Image for Robert Thompson.
169 reviews35 followers
September 17, 2019
"Someone," Bai Rou said, "is making a monster." I've reread the final chapters at least four times already. Each time, that line gives me chills.

The world of Cradle is an engrossing, meticulously built fantasy smorgasbord of epic challenges. It's filled with murderous antagonists, literal soul crushing characters(normally that would be bad but these are the real highlights) and a hero desperately out of his depth.Boilerplate you may think but packaged so perfectly. It's amazing!

Having read the first two installments of the Cradle series, the first being spectacular. Each volume is progressively better than it predecessor. Blackflame delivers, yet again.

Will Wight is building a monster of a series and I can't wait for more.
Profile Image for Andrew Rockwell.
115 reviews38 followers
November 12, 2021
5.0 stars—-

Had to bump this up half a star after my 3rd reread. This is where the series really takes shape and things start to get interesting.

4.5 stars---

This series keeps improving book after book. I'm glad it is a long series
Profile Image for Izrezar.
85 reviews1 follower
November 13, 2022
series going STONKS

Quick review : Stakes are raised yet again. Plot and progression are the tightest in the series so far, there's no moment where it feels like the plot is slowing down or stopping. Character work in this book was an improvement over previous entries; Lindon does progress, but character-wise it's Yerin and Eithan that steal the show. There's still work to be done in this department, but at the very least Blackflame doesn't feel empty in this regard.

Overall, a great entry that raises the stakes and scales of the series without feeling forced, while pushing characters further.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,962 followers
July 15, 2022
I'm continuing to be impressed with the series. It hits that sweet spot between normal LitRPG goodness, training adventure, and cool use of truly diverse magic elements.

Yes, it's martial arts training in a massive fantasy, almost SF setting, with lots of travel to new realms, clearly defined goals, and baddies, with self-enhancement as the endgame. In this particular case, it's all about learning a terrible and corrupting Blackflame technique that will eventually make him a target for a whole empire. Oops. But at least it's POWERFUL. And that is super fun. :)

Very fun stuff, well-balanced, and pure popcorn-fiction. :)
Profile Image for R. A. Strich.
168 reviews6 followers
April 24, 2023
Well, Will Wight knows what he is doing. In fact, he knew it the entire time and I was wrong.
Did not expect to rate this as highly as I do, but wow. If you struggled with books 1 & to (as I did as well), I can only repeat: Read at least until the ending of Blackflame.
Because with this book, Wight changes everything, I critizised in the previous entries. Apart from one thing.
So for the reason of what this book is and what it did, I decided to bump my more accurate rating of 4* (4.5 rather) up to 5*, because... Damn...

So what was critizised about books 1 & 2?
- Prose on the weaker side / confusion and lack of control over what should be shown
- Flat characters with little depth, especially weak protagonist
- Flat protagonist leasing to: Rather dull POV
- No plot or urgency, just a repitition of training and progression in the magic system
- worldbuilding limited to the magic system, little to no image of the grander world and its workings

If you were annoyed or held back from one of these factors- or multiple, this is what Blackflame changes now:

1. Pretty simple, but the prose is great.
The reader finally gets the full image of the locations, characters, atmospheres and the likes. Will Wights language has drastically improved to convey, what he wants to convey and in the meantime meeting, what the reader was previously only disappointed to not get a full image of.
As this book dives deeper into both world, culture, lore, magic system and even something... Bigger, the tonality and feeling of the writing becomes *way* more appropriate to all of these things. And this is mainly because of:

2. Multi-POV.
Oh my god, you can't even imagine, how much this was needed. How much I was satisfied, when switching POVs constantly became apparent. This has so many benefits.
First of all, you get scenes from multiple perspectives, therefore creating more depth and thorough the more advanced picture in the head of different pov-characters, everything feels WAY deeper now.
Secondly, Will Wight uses this technique very cleverly to strenghten certain emotions in the reader; mostly awe, urgency and wonder. Also this drastically improves the pacing, making the previously more tedious training montages less dominant in the book. You will fly through most of this book.
Really great is also, that we also read from the perspective of the "antagonist" side of things. This improves urgency and actually leads to some VERY satisfying and even emotional moments in the last act. Truly great.

3. What also improves thanks to, but not limited to multi-pov, is the worldbuilding.
On it's own, this book would have opened the curtain towards this truly huge world, but to also see it from perspectives of the biggest players known so far, is eye-opening.
As the title suggests, we finally get to visit the Blackflame empire. We learn about it's culture, about it's people, hints about it's history and actually get a vivid image of what these cities look like.
And damn, this is some epic shit.
Still, one thing that bugged me before and also didn't stop doing so in here is the fact, that literally anything is just based around progressin and improvement in magic. Nothing else.
To be fair though, we also can explain some of that a bit better in this case and it doesn't feel as stupid as before. This fact even gets explored a bit further and ties into the plot and themes of this book, which yes: This has that.

Now there are also some major changes to the rest of the series. How massive the leap between book 2 and 3 is in raw scale and power-levels is shocking. I would have never expected, that we see this level of strenght and output this early on in the series. Both the protagonist(-s) and the secondary characters show off in here - and so does Will Wight.
The fight and training scenes are better than ever. This time though, there are actual stakes at play. There is a level of clarity to everything and an understanding of motives, consequences and action. The final act SLAPS.

Speaking of stakes: This is also something I found to be improved on in Blackflame.
The set-up is easy. Understood in the first page of the book.
Protagonist has one year to train until he will duel an unbeatable enemy. Boom, urgency established.
What follows seems like something of the first books, but easier to follow, clearer, more enjoyable and most importantly: cooler.
But that's not where it ends. Not to spoil anything, but how all of that is resolved and plays out is not what you'd come to expect from having read up to this point.
The author lifts the curtain and releases the reader into his vision.

Now I have either read/seen Hunter x Hunter or Avater TLA, but this might not be too far away from that - with some addition of cosmic horror and wildly abstract SciFi.
The combination works so well and I am now fully hooked for the rest of the series. 3 done, 9 to go.
(Where in the hell is this supposed to end???)
That being, because I am finally also invested in the characters.
Everyone gets more depth in this book and more details for me to latch onto.
Lindon is way more enjoyable than ever, getting some really cool add-ons to play off of and some really cool "character traits" that make him feel less then a vessal to explore the magic.

Same for all the side-characters. The added POVs do a lot about this. There were some characters that were enjoyable before (mainly Yerin and Eithan), but this finally lets them shine fully.
The dynamic between Eithan, Yerin, Lindon, certain entities and other characters are so much fun to read.
Eithan is an absolute G btw. The dude is hilarious, while still being the most badass dude in the series, showing off like nothing else, blowing everyone away with his impossible strenght, while at the same time being such a fascinating and mysterious presence. And all of that WITH HIM having a POV!!!!
But as I said, everyone (that we do get to see) rocks. Yerin is being Bae even more here and the new additions also all feel unique and interesting.
With what they all do in this book and what the fact of having multiple povs and characters in the first place, everything else improves.
Everything gets clearer, more ambitous, more fleshed out, more mysterious and intriguing, more thought-through.
And now I am at the point, where I actually can't stop thinking about certain scenes, mechanics of the magic, characters, etc.
Can't wait to continue with book 4!
Profile Image for Rob Hayes.
Author 35 books1,364 followers
September 7, 2022
An excellent addition to the series that makes me excited to see where it will go next.
Profile Image for Soo.
2,598 reviews256 followers
March 10, 2022
03/10/2022 Notes: 4th Time Around

I didn't enjoy the plot process as much during this re-read, but that may be due to the other cultivation stories I've been reading. Most of them are not as well plotted as Cradle, and that's put me in critique mode. The only part that's a bit off in pacing was the last quarter of the book, but that's not a new thought from me.

10/07/2019 Notes: 1st Read

Book 2 was a transition piece. This one had a nice balance of overall progression in plot + characters and action.
Profile Image for Maurice Africh.
88 reviews25 followers
December 8, 2022
Ah, that might be one of my favorite books of the year. This series is so damn good. Review to come!
Profile Image for Olivia.
709 reviews118 followers
December 31, 2021
If I were to read Cradle again (and I probably will), I might consider starting with Blackflame.

Unsouled and Soulsmith are basically an introduction to this world. They're fun, and they're the foundation, so it's impossible to skip them as a first-time reader (and you shouldn't; they're great), but Blackflame is where the real story starts.

Blackflame is where Cradle stops being an entertaining popcorn read and turns into a truly epic progression series.

Action-packed and fast-paced, this book is an early highlight in the Cradle series and Wight delves deeper into the characters, expanding the scope.

I recommend Cradle to anyone who is looking for some light popcorn entertainment with surprising depth.
Profile Image for Kevin.
1,500 reviews34 followers
July 2, 2017
This was the best book of the series so far and I was happy to learn that what I assumed was a trilogy is actually longer and that a fourth book is to be released. Which is great because I think there is a lot more story to tell in this universe. I'd highly recommend this entire series to anyone who would like an Asian influenced fantasy series, heroes that use their brains not hidden over powered skill sets.
Profile Image for Joseph Doan.
40 reviews13 followers
April 24, 2023
Ultimately this was a huge step in the right direction but the ending couldn’t live up the the promise made to the reader. Everyone feels more powerful after this outing but we didn’t see a real payoff here.

Though nothing from this book will stick or linger with me, I had an absolute blast. Anytime I feel like I still want to continue a series after the third book JUST BECAUSE I’m having fun—that’s a big win.

The Doan advances!
Profile Image for Shreyas.
485 reviews10 followers
May 7, 2023
'Blackflame' (Cradle #3) by Will Wight.

Status: First Read.
Dates Read: 12th January to 14th January 2022.

Sometimes the game is rigged against you, and your only option is to flip the board.

Rating: 4.75/5.


1) Continues the upward trend:
The books in the Cradle series have got progressively better with each subsequent addition (so far). This book is bigger and better than the second book and takes the series a notch higher. The book is entertaining right from the first page until the last, with an amazing climax towards the end which could perhaps rival the ending of Sanderson's books.

2) Much more expansive:
The book expands in almost all of the aspects as compared to the previous two books. It is bigger, better, and more immersive than those books. We get a look beyond the Sacred Valley and the Desolate Wilds, right into the Arelius territory and the old centre of the Blackfire Empire. Even on the Celestial scale, Will Wight drops even more tidbits about celestial other than the Abidan Court. Needless to say, he has got me hooked on the series.

3) Characters:
Lindon and Yerin undergo trials, confront their doubts and fears, and work together as a team. There's significant character development for both of them throughout the book. It also serves to correct Lindon's characterisation; considering the second book failed to do justice to Lindon by portraying him more towards the greedy side rather than being an ambitious one. There's also a significant amount of chapters dedicated to Ethian, Cassias, Jai Long, and Jai Daishou; which offers some refreshing perspectives to the narrative.

This might seem to be nitpicking, but this particular sentence bothered me to some extent: "It's got a menacing look to it, I'll tell you true. Jai Long will have to bring a diaper to the fight."
Considering the story is set as a medieval fantasy to some extent, a thing like a diaper (which originated in the 19th century) just took me out of the story for some reason. But it's a minor thing, and I'm ready to overlook it.

Overall, this was a gem of an addition to the series. The series gets progressively better with each entry, and this one book has almost been a perfect follow-up! This series is truly addictive, and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book.

📚 📚 📚 📚 📚 📚 📚

Status: Second Read.
Dates Read: 2nd May to 6th May 2023.

Rating: 4.5/5.

I must admit that I liked this book more than its predecessor during the current re-read. The book starts slow, but the action just ramps up once the team reaches Serpents Grave. The book is perfect in every way possible, with the only blemish to the perfect art being its slow starting chapter. Lindon's Soulsmith training with Fisher Gesha fails to set the tone for the rest of the book. It rather feels like an unnecessary addition to the story in that context, and the story might have benefitted had those sections been a part of its previous book.

I checked my earlier reviews of this book. I seemed to have loved it as much as I did it this time around. Although, it seems I had a hard time finding a particular weakness in the story the last time around. I did mention back then that the mention of "diaper" in the medieval setting took me out of the story, but I do take my complaints back. On doing some research, I learned that the word 'diaper' has been in common usage ever since the 16th century.

Overall, 'Blackflame' is another solid entry in the Cradle canon. It takes the story even further, expands the world beyond our scope of imagination, and leaves us begging for more. On to the next one, then!

📚 📚 📚 📚 📚 📚 📚
Profile Image for Kacy❁.
351 reviews44 followers
April 27, 2021
The story and characters were slow to develop, but it is still an easy read/listen. Honestly didn't get good until 3/4 of the way through but I am still enjoying it. The way this book ended was fantastic.

Travis does a great job narrating the characters.
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