tl;dr: Wintersteel is an outstanding second half to the Uncrowned story arc and is a notable entry in the Cradle series.
The Cradle series is an exciting mix of wuxia, magic and science fiction. People on the world in this series practice The 'Way' - a blend of magic combined with martial arts. Their place in this world is based on their mastery of 'The Way'. It is intricate. There are multiple levels ranging from Copper (the lowest) to Monarch, Sage and beyond (the highest we know of so far). There are many 'Paths' with unique abilities that the practitioners can follow - Blackflame, Hollow Domain, Redmoon, Stormcallers etc. Also, there are multiple techniques within each of these paths - Ruler, Striker and so on. And, there are different kinds of Madra (mana) that can be produced and consumed - blood madra, pure madra, hunger madra to name a few. As I said, it is a complicated system. This series skirts on the edge of being LitRPG but it is not - it only incorporates certain elements to make the story and action better.
Lindon, the protagonist, is the proverbial ugly duckling. This series follows his journey from his village, where he is shunned for being different, to the monastery in his valley and to the lands outside. He catches the eye of 'Eithan' - an enigmatic member of the Aurelius Clan. The books focus on the challenges he faces, his relationship with Yerrin and the levels he ascends in his quest for mastery.
There have been seven books in the Cradle series with 'Uncrowned' ending on a cliff-hanger.
'Wintersteel' is the eight book and continues where 'Uncrowned' left off. And it provides a satisfying conclusion to the 'Uncrowned' tournament arc.
The stunning parts of the book are classic Will Wight. The battles, the world-building, the characters, the levelling up. This time around the characters (including Eithan) are trying to hit Overlord level, and each of them does it in different ways. The pacing is relentless - seriously, this is one of the books where things happen all the time. Also, Will Wight manages to find time for some character development too. Oh, and we discover how Yerrin's master got himself assassinated by a bunch of dweebs in the Heaven's Gate monastery. This book provides more information about the characters' pasts as well as a more holistic view of the world.
In conclusion, 'Wintersteel' rocks. If you are a Will Wight fan or a long time reader of the Cradle series, you will not be disappointed. On the other hand, if you are new to this series and looking for fast-paced fantasy with great action, I wholeheartedly recommend this series. This is a series designed for binge-reading.
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