Today I am delighted to be reviewing ‘Stones of Light’ the second book in the Threadlight series by Zack Argyle, which it out in the world today!!! So happiest of Book Birthdays to Zack. I read and reviewed the first book ‘Voice of War’ (which is a finalist in SPFBO #6) earlier this year and you can find that review here, and I leapt at the chance to review Stones of Light. I absolutely loved this book and it’s taken me longer than it should to try and put that into words that aren’t just rambling nonsense (hopefully) and I’m not sure I’ve really come close to capturing just how much I enjoyed every single thing about this book or how much I need book three.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review, all views are my own.’*
The coreseal is shattered and a new darkness is coming.
Chrys swore to never again let the Apogee take control but, in a moment of desperation, he gave in. Now, he will learn what the Apogee truly wants.
In Alchea, Laurel will do anything to get her threadlight back, even if it means working for the leader of the Bloodthieves. But she has no choice…a life without threadlight is no life at all.
To the west, Alverax travels with the Zeda people to the large port city of Felia, where they seek refuge after the fires in the Fairenwild. But he shattered the coreseal, and no one quite knows what the consequences will be. They only know it won’t be good.
Together, they doomed the world…now, they must save it.
There’s always that anticipation when you pick up the next book in a series, especially a book that you’ve been waiting for, and it colours your expectations and, in many ways,, I think sequels have even more to live up to than the first book does. Stones of Light was a book that I went into with high expectations as I’d really enjoyed Voice of War (and not that long ago), and with a lot of anticipation. To the point where I was nestled in bed and reading it barely five minutes after I’d received it, and when I tried to put it down to get to sleep at a decent hour…I ended up picking up again a few minutes later and staying up until the wee hours to finish it because I needed to know what happened.
Needless to say, I LOVED Stones of Light and it took all my expectations and blew them sky high.
Firstly, a shout out to the author for the wonderful ‘story so far’ section at the beginning of the book. I was lucky in that I had read the first book fairly recently, but I am definitely liking the increasing occurrence of these summaries, especially for series like these where a lot has happened. There’s also a map, which always makes me happy. And the cover is stunning – and I may have a large soft-spot for Chromawolves, especially Asher who is the best and deserves the world.
Threadlight continues to be a series that is driven forward by its characters, and it was a pleasure to be reunited with Chrys, Laurel and Alverax – the three main POVs – albeit in very different circumstances than where we met them. Both they – and the world around them, have undergone a lot of changes since we last saw them, and not all by choice. The character development that we see is a testament to Argyle’s skill at writing relatable, believable characters whose dilemmas and choices are incredibly human. It might be magical, earth-shattering threats that they are facing, but they are still people with family and friends on the line, their own lives – and worse – at risk. As apt as the titles of the books themselves are, the imagery of Threadlight is also on point because in many ways it feels as though the characters are caught in the threads of fate – not without choices necessarily, but without any easy ones, and that is reflected in their development and the paths they follow.
Alvarex was a character who’d had a lot of potential in the first book, and here we got to see him truly come into his own, and as much as I still love Chrys and Laurel, I think he has edged into the forefront as my favourite character – although they’re all so fantastically written it is hard to choose favourites. However, in Stones of Light I felt that we really got to know him as a character and to understand where he had come from, the legacy he was trying to escape, and watching him trying to find his own path in an everchanging world – that he makes mistakes, that he has doubts and fears – just make him all the more gripping as a character. That said, Laurel’s arc in this book was spectacular and painful (and my kindle died at one of the most emotional moments of her story which was the worst), and I think in some ways she almost had the most growth. I was delighted that we also got to see more of her with Asher, and their shifting relationship was fascinating to read. Chrys was already a strong, well-defined character and here we got to see him having to fight to come back to himself and who he was in the early stages of the book, his growth was more subtle I felt – he was a warrior and a father, and he is till both – and yet he is different and changing through the events he is living through.
I mentioned in my review of the first book that I wanted to see more of Willow, and I was delighted that we got to see more of her in Stones of Light. Similarly, we got to learn more of Alabella, who was another interesting character, and here we got to see more of both women, but also learn more about their motivations and character. I like that in particular with Alabella, learning more about her, made her role in the story more complicated, because it cast a different light on what she was doing, blurring the lines. We are also introduced to more characters throughout Stones of Light, and with more than a few twists that I won’t spoil here, but these new characters are treated with the same deft hand as those already established, giving them all strong, individual voices, setting them up beautifully – I particularly enjoyed Jisenna and her relationship with Alvarex.
The worldbuilding was not left behind. Argyle has achieved a wonderful balance between creating a beautiful world and expanding on it in breadth and depth where it is needed to shape the story, without losing sight that it is the characters and the plot that are the primary driving forces for this story. It is a minimalistic approach, which makes the descriptions, and what we are given all the richer. I particularly enjoyed the time that was spent in Felia – with their faith and traditions, and I loved the details that were woven in. There were also some delicious twists with the worldbuilding – which was another reason I couldn’t put this book down, and honestly, I am in awe at just how much was packed into this book. We also got to learn more about the magical system of Threadlight, and again see it expand, and I think it is rapidly becoming one of my favourite magic systems – it’s creative, the imagery is beautiful and I’m loving learning more about it.
Voice of War was an excellent foundation for this series, but Stones of Light took that foundation and honed it to a whole other level. Argyle’s instinct for characters – both characterization and development and dialogue – has given us characters on both sides of the growing conflict that are complicated, stronger and still developing and carrying the story forward, while the world and the magical system have been expanded on to accommodate not only this growth but to help spur it forward. This all fed into the growing tension, because the stakes continued to grow – for the characters, for the world, and for us the reader as we become more and more invested in those same aspects, and there were many moments where I was on the edge of my seat. The writing also mirrored this growth, because for me the pacing was spot on and combined with everything else it kept me hooked from start to finish and left me longing for more, especially with how it ended. That action was gripping, suspenseful and always carried the weight of consequences, while there are also some truly beautiful descriptions throughout the book.
I really enjoyed the first book, but I loved Stones of Light and this book has catapulted the entire series up onto my favourite shelves. The only downside now is that I have to wait for the third book to discover what Argyle has in store for us, although on that bright side that gives me not only time but an excuse for a reread of this fantastic series in the near future.