From Zack Argyle’s prose to the character arcs to the pacing and plotting of the story, Stones of Light is a step up in the Threadlight Trilogy in every way, and that is not to downplay the positives of Voice of War.
Stones of light picks up where we left off with Chrys mentally subservient to the foreign entity in his head, whom we later discover is a god-like being with the ability to take over people’s bodies and live off the life energy of others. This whole concept takes the world and the lore established in book one and expands upon it in interesting directions.
While Chrys is doing his best to survive and escape the situation he has found himself in, his wife, Iriel, and child are traveling with the people of Zedalum to find new shelter. They come to the Kingdom of Felia, where they are met with suspicion. Alverax, the obsidian threadweaver, is our central protagonist of this story line, and he differs greatly from how I recall him in book one, in good ways. He has found a charm and a confidence that makes him a more enjoyable character, while also maintaining some of his self-doubt that grounds him. I loved this story line. Alverax is struggling to keep his secret while failing for a love-interest and trying to discover the courage he doesn’t believe he has.
Our last primary POV is Laurel, who has made her way into Alabella’s throng. She was perhaps the character that I was least engaged with until the end of the book. Her primary motivation is her desire to get her threadlight back, and she finds herself addicted to threadweaver blood. The exploration of Alabella’s character in this storyline is the most interesting element, while still leaving me wanting to understand more of her motivations.
One of the stars of this book is the plot. About three-quarters through the book, there is a plot point that ramps up the tension for the reader while putting the protagonists at ease, and it is the shining moment of the whole book. The way the antagonists plan unravels is amazing, and it drove me through the last few chapters.
However, the negative here, and in a couple of spots throughout the book, was how cleanly things came together for our protagonists to get out of the amazing mess Argyle put them in. Chrys and Alverax both escape scenarios earlier in the book, not through their own actions, but through someone saving them out of nowhere. The deep hole that the antagonist built for the characters in the final chapters with their plotting is fairly easily escaped.
The last critique I will mention is the characterization of the Wastelanders. The way this group presents could be seen as a play on the “wild savage” trope. From descriptions of their culture to warriors in painted faces and feathers, this group fell into some potentially triggering tropes. I will say that it comes off as Chrys being bigoted towards the Wastelanders and failing to understand their culture. Still, there will be people who have difficulty with this characterization.
Stones of Light is an amazing entry in the Threadlight series and has me excited to reach for the next book. Zack Argyle has taken the characters established in Voices of War, given them more depth and nuance, placed them in a more complex world, and given them a clear understanding of the dire stakes in front of them. I would highly recommend Stones of Light to anyone who is looking for a fast plot, complex characters, an ever-developing magic system, and excellent prose.