Lightblade by Zamil Akhtar — A Review

Lightblade’s greatest strength is also its only weakness. The dream layers that entangle and rest alongside the story provide its greatest mysteries and moments, but also draw the reader into a twisty plot that is sometimes hard to follow.

At its core, Lightblade is fun. Versatile lightsabers and an extremely fun magic system mixed with Inception-style dreamscapes kick off this adventure. I would have been sold on that premise alone, but throw in some Matrix-style questions about reality and a shadow over the memories of the main characters, and I’m doubly sold! … and also second guessing everything I read.

The way memory, motivation, and character are handled in this book wouldn’t work in any other story. I’ve seen amnesia plots and destroyed families and such before, but the way things are presented and handled here feels new. The action is vivid and brutal, the characters brash and active, and the world-building is exceptional.

On the downside, the plot takes a while to figure out where it is going, and won’t stop twisting expectations down to the last page. Some of these twists were awesome, some were cliched, and some took me away from the story a little bit. The pacing changes caused by jumping into the dream world at times helped or hindered the story’s flow. It’s all over the place, yet every page feels like it would have a double meaning if I reread the book. Kinda awesome, but in the moment I struggled a couple of times to keep up.

The character dialogue is also a little rough in places, and characters are free to rant about philosophy or rip and roar from subject to subject with little regard for situation. This could be a culture or language thing.

As winding as the plot and dialogue can be, it’s usually lightning paced, vivid, fun, and full of an amazing world, interesting characters, and a lot of mythological weight. I could go on about how perfectly Zamil balanced the progressive fantasy elements even with the broken powers of the dreams, or the uniqueness of the premise and world. 9/10 would read again. And apparently I need to read Gunmetal Gods now.

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