Several years ago, I came across some chatter online about a great new fantasy series. Cradle, by Will Wight. And would ya know it? At the time, he was literally giving away the first five or six books in the series. Yes, they were self-published, but “free” is a pretty darn compelling selling point, so I downloaded them all and figured I’d read them eventually. They were in some new-fangled genre called “LitRPG,” which basically meant (from what I gathered) that they were like reading a video game. The main character kept leveling up to fight bigger monsters.
Well, here I am, years later, and I’ve now finished the series. It became one of the few books that I’d actively keep an eye out to see when the next book would release. I bought every single additional book as they came out (there are 12 total books in the series), and when it came time to read the last one, I decided I’d really better just reread the entire series so that I could properly enjoy it. That’s 4,683 pages in all, and coming from someone who generally doesn’t reread books these days, that’s saying something.
I love this series.
Now, mind you, this is not high literature. This is a series about a teen who starts off with everything thinking he’s super weak, and ends up with the ability to destroy worlds if he sneezes wrong. Each book focuses on how he becomes more powerful, showcasing him fighting someone or something way more powerful than the last book. My one complaint would be that reading it all at once, it became a bit more repetitive than it felt like when I was reading them six months apart or so. (Kind of like binge watching the Marvel movies. Sooner or later, you get to a saturation point, and that’s not as bad when they’re more spaced out.) But even with that caveat, it was a blast to read them. I would read instead of watching movies or playing games. I would happily stay in bed for a few hours, just to be able to keep going.
One of the reason they’re so good is that Wight does a fantastic job with action scenes. There are a ton of different powers people use in the books, and it feels like he makes new ones up as quickly as Hershey’s pops out Kisses. Flying swords, mystical punches, extra limbs, spitting acid. It goes on and on, and it always felt like something fresh might pop up at any time. Battles weren’t just punch punch kick punch. Instead, Wight would lay out the abilities of the opponents, and then have them duke it out in cool ways. (And yes, at times it felt like Yu-Gi-Oh, where suddenly someone unleashes an even bigger power you didn’t know anything about, but because Wight states in advance that there are always moves you might not know, that doesn’t feel like cheating. It just feels cool.)
I’ve read some other LitRPG now, and it’s not all nearly as good as this. (It seems it’s hard to get the feel of actual progression down. Sometimes authors just get bogged in the weeds, with their characters never really feeling like they’re advancing.)
I finished the whole thing in about 40 days, which is super fast compared to my typical reading speed. If you’re looking for a fast, fun, clean read, and you’re into fantasy, then I heartily recommend this entire series. It’s a blast from start to finish, and it has a very satisfying conclusion.