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Unsouled (Cradle Book 1) Kindle Edition
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In recent years I have been excited and lucky to watch and take part in fantastic new entries into the genre (Mark Lawrence, Patrick Rothfuss, Martin, Anthony Ryan's first book). In between the "big authors" releases I have downloaded, read and discarded probably forty or so indie entries. Some have been good. Some have been bad. Most have been terrible.
What I can't figure out is how some of these books obtain 100+ reviews averaging 4 stars or better, or how they can contain multi-paragraph hand written write-ups praising the "original story" or "unique characters" or "intriguing plot line". I am at a loss because most of these books end up turning me off after about 50 pages because they are some combination of a) illegible writing, and b) a protagonist that is unrealistic/whiny/overpowered/smartwhilestupid.
This book is none of those things. This author's other works do not fall into those categories. Will's stuff is well written, entertaining and contains characters that are funny, relate-able and have depth. I am a fan of pretty much every character in his Traveler's gate and Elder Empire Series. Will does small short-stories filling in background on the characters in between book releases and it is a testament to his writing that fans get excited to hear from minor characters who barely got any lines in the book (incarnation's daughter... more please).
The magic systems are well thought out and unique. The action is fast-paced and well described. The dialogue is sometimes laugh out loud funny and you actually care about what happens to each of the characters.
Honestly my only complaint with Will's stuff is that I want more and wish he could write longer books, but if he did that we wouldn't have so many releases in such a short time span.
Seriously, buy this book, then buy his other books. They are all good and they are stupidly cheap compared to some of the others out there on amazon.
Regarding Unsouled specifically, this is actually my least favorite of his three series, but I still enjoyed it immensely and believe it deserves a 5 star review. I read two other self-published Xianxia novels before this and the state of that genre is currently terrible. One of the novels was unreadable (I won't mention a name, but it involves a certain bird that is a certain color). Even if you don't like Will's other stuff, or just don't like fantasy in general, but somehow you still like Xianxia, you should read this. Its by far the best available.
If you read this and wonder which to go to next, start with Traveler's Gate. It starts a little slow in house of blades but it quickly ramps up into the awesome-sphere. The Crimson Vault and City of Light are even better.
This is a classic hero's journey set in a universe of godly fighters and monstrous remnants, where the cultivation and control of life energy known as madra is the basis of civilization on the world of Cradle. Wei Shi Lindon, a member of the Silverfox Clan, has had the misfortune to be born an Unsouled: someone unfit to harness the power of madra. Lindon, however, is not satisfied with his place on the lowest rung of society, and is determined to do everything he can to prove his worth.
(Back-of-the-book level spoilers follow)
Oh, and did I mention that there's a high-technology, space-time time manipulating civilization of angel-like wardens watching over countless worlds (Cradle among them)? Well, there is, and Lindon's life is changed forever the day one of those wardens is drawn to Cradle in the course of her duties.
Pretty soon Lindon gets the shock of his life, and suddenly his drive for self-improvement has a whole new level of urgency...
This is a story about a boy, who apparently has no talents, and his struggle to fit into his family and society, all who have the talents necessary to survive in their society/clan. He struggles, even with his family and their perceptions of him, as being 'unsouled'.
That all changes during the 7 year festival, when all the clans of the region get together every 7 years and have a contest among the souled ranks to determine the best. Something happens, and his outlook on life changes. The rest of the book is about his struggle to deal with what was revealed to him during the festival.
Good plot lines, great conflict among the characters in the book, well written and descriptive thru out the book. I would recommend this book for anyone to read and enjoy