Review | Stones of Light – Zack Argyle

About the Book

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.

356 pages (kindle)
Published on April 4, 2021
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I really enjoyed Zack Argyle’s debut book. It wasn’t perfect, but I loved the story it told and the foundation it established in this new world. Argyle has long said that he thinks book two is stronger than the first book, and so I was pretty excited to read Stones of Light. Added to this, I’ve been on a bit of a “nostalgic fantasy” kick recently, and this fits the bill in some ways. When I had a window open up in my fantasy reading routine, I jumped on this book, and I’m glad I did. Stones of Light took everything I loved about Voice of War and improved upon it.

I will say, this is the second book in a series. You need to read Voice of War before you read Stones of Light. I’m also going to try very hard to not drop any spoilers in this review. Some points I’ll make will be vague due to this. 

This series is scratching a certain itch at the moment. In a lot of ways, Argyle has taken me back to the glory days of fantasy, where there were civilizations rising and falling. Life is perched on the brink, and there is darkness all around. People from numerous walks of life are thrust into the center of a situation that is far larger than anyone anticipates, and it’s through their own ingenuity, and strength of character that they see it through. Add in a helping of magic that kind of reminds me a bit of both Sanderson and Weeks, some poignant emotional moments, and a quiet, simmering malice lurking around the periphery, and we’ve got something quite engrossing on our hands.

Stones of Light, as I’ve said above, takes everything I enjoyed about the first book and improves upon it. It also takes some of the aspects that didn’t quite hit the mark in Voice of War and actually makes them work, and made me think, in retrospect, “I understand why that needed to be that way in the first book” (read: AH HA moments all around). I honestly am not sure how Argyle did it, but he basically took book one, which was already amazing, mind you, and levelled up in just about every respect. Even the prose, which was anything but bad to start with, were tighter, more fluid, with some turns of phrase that filled me with admiration.

Stones of Light, in a lot of ways, is a book about expansion. The world gets larger, and a bit more firmly realized. There’s a lot of depth added to what readers do see, which makes it feel a bit more realistic. This had the wham-bam effect of making events that transpire in this book feel real, weighed down with higher risks and rewards that mattered to me, personally. I was invested, because I was living it rather than reading about it. The impact of this was felt throughout the novel. The risks were greater, the moments were darker, the attacks and action were more fraught. The characters were more emotionally gripping and memorable. From the ground up, this infusion of realism and carefully executed detail seemed to be the thing that elevated this book to a whole other level.

I also want to briefly touch on characters. Similar to the previous paragraph, I felt like the character development and overall character arcs were a lot more firmly rooted in this book. The characters I struggled with the most in Voice of War ended up being some of my favorites in Stones of Light. I was also introduced to some new faces that all offered unique perspectives to the looming conflict(s). What, perhaps, pleased me the most, was the emotional depth layered into these character arcs. There were quiet moments of reflection, and plenty of pain and angst and anger. Things got nice and messy, and it was in all that chaos of emotion and movement that the character arcs and development truly shone. Like the world, I felt like Argyle expanded his skillset a bit in regards to characters, and due to that, they all felt so real to me, which made me feel so invested in their various plights. It made them matter. They stopped being people on the page, and became people that lived and breathed on and off the page.

The book is perfectly paced, with a depth of plot and a cadence to the events that transpire that really sucked me in, to the point I found it almost impossible to put it down. I was “just one more chapter”-ing this sucker for hours because I was just that engrossed. When I wasn’t reading it, I was wishing I was reading it. I was surprised by a lot of the twists and turns, by the depth and darkness of some of the plot elements. Mostly, I was in awe of just how Argyle used the foundation he set in Voice of War, and expanded on it, from the world, to the magic, to the characters themselves. There was a lot of artistry here, but the plot never got overwhelmed or bogged down by any of it. The thread of the plot, as complex as it is, stays true to itself throughout, never losing sight of just where things are going, and where they’ve been.

There were enough answers at the end of the book to leave me satisfied but I NEED TO READ THE NEXT BOOK, ZACK. LIKE, NOW. I don’t mean to be one of those people who is demanding authors adhere to their personal schedule, but I am really, really excited about this series. I am positively aflutter with anticipation. I want, desperately, to know what happens next.

So, where does that leave us? 

Stones of Light blew me away. A perfect blend of nostalgic fantasy and something that is purely Argyle’s own, reading this book was like drowning in an ocean of awesome. (Okay, worst metaphor ever.) A gripping continuation of an unforgettable saga, Stones of Light truly swept me away.

5/5 stars