Lightblade – Review

Author – Zamil Akhtar

Pages – 516

Publishing Information – Self Published,

The One Sentence Review

A smart, surreal science fantasy with welcome Middle Eastern influences and a truly imaginative world.

The Blurb

In three days, Jyosh will slay the God Emperor, or die trying.

But first he must train his lightblade skills. While asleep.

Each hour of sleep equals a day in a lucid dream, plenty of time to master the essential lightblade techniques and hopefully get skilled enough to defeat the monster who enslaved him and beheaded his parents and sister.

When Jyosh awakens to learn that the God Emperor has surrendered to an even crueler foe, a mysterious lightblade master who can summon divine dragons to burn whole cities, he’ll face a trial by fire against forces far more frightening than he could ever dream.

That is, if he’s not still in one.

The Full Review

“One — dragons are born in the dark and die in the light.” She held up two fingers. “And two — only a dragon can teach you how to slay it.”

Lightblade by Zamil Akhtar is one of the most unique books I’ve read, unlike anything I’ve read previously.

It’s fantasy, and it’s sci-fi. It’s the matrix and inception and star wars and total recall, with Middle Eastern influences. It feels dystopian but also wondrous and magical and I really feel like the author has taken a bold leap that really makes you pay attention. That’s good, because it’s a book that you certainly have to pay attention to, in order to follow the plot and the various elements at play.

Parts of the book feel like a fever dream. This is mostly achieved because our main character Jyosh is able to travel to a seemingly boundless world in his sleep, where time passes much slower. Akhtar’s writing and imagination really shines during these sequences, where the limits of the real world don’t have to be followed.

Each grain of sand is a world, and the water frothing at my feet is the spirit from which souls are made.

I look at the horizon. I see a tree formed from starlight, its root submerged in whatever existed before time began its flow. Its branches extend upward into the future. There are so many branches, so many futures, so many possibilities.

For the most part, the author has a control on what must be a big challenge in keeping the plot moving, when there are endless possibilities to diverge into. Despite being quite action packed (and I love the light blades, which are essentially lightsabers) this isn’t a short book at over 500 pages, and the pacing can go between a real frentic page turner to more of a meandering speed. I do feel there is enough interest and intrigue to keep you reading when the action isn’t happening though. Because you know as much as the characters, it helps keep you interested as you learn about what’s going on along with Jyosh as he navigates the story.

I had to concentrate more than I had to for the other two books of Akhtar’s that I’ve read (Death Rider and Gunmetal Gods) mainly because this is a different subgenre with different themes than I usually read, and the subject matter is a little more mind-bending. Saying that, I’m glad I gave something a go that isn’t usually my sort of read as I was able to experience a really colourful, imaginative story.

I burned. In my soul, a twirling demon poured millions of colors together, mixing with the pressure of a billion fists. I blazed, lighting the dark as I melted into pure light. I brought warmth and life, but burned so hot I could deal death, too. I turned into a new sun, and around me swirled the ten divine dragons.

I think to fully appreciate Lightblade, it’s definitely one of those books you need to be in the right mood for – in this way it could easily be a favourite, 5 star read of some readers whilst others might decide to take a short break and come back to it when they’re ready. I also think I probably missed some references or parts that were inspired by mythologies/stories I don’t know and those readers who understand them will benefit from an extra layer of cleverness.

In Gunmetal Gods, I was really impressed with how the author was able to write captivating characters and you can really hear Jyosh’s voice too and feel his emotions in this too, aswell as the continuing theme of antagonists not being pure evil – or at least, having their own motivations they believe to be the right ones.

Akhtar’s imagination is perhaps the biggest star of the show though, with some beautiful prose and scenery you can really fall in love with. Often this is like one of those dreams where you wake up in the morning and fall back to sleep; vivid, wondrous and expansive. You wake up and it feels almost real. I’m not sure I’ve read many (if any) authors who have such a fantastic, ambitious imagination and the ability to put the world on paper in such a striking way, and this often blew me away. Of course, I also really enjoyed the writing alot (but I already knew I would) and many of the ideas presented were really thought provoking, in the sense that you are still thinking about some of the ideas later in the day.

In addition to this, despite being a regular fantasy reader I am actually not usually a fan of magic – yet I loved the magic system here. The titular lightblade and the magic system surrounding them, with different colours of light having different power for example, I really enjoyed.

I have a massive admiration for Zamil Akhtar taking this book in a direction quite unfamiliar to many readers (or at least most of the books I’ve seen advertised).

Fiction is often an escape from reality and this is the perfect read for leaving the real world and experiencing a dream – complete with lightblades, dragons and stunning descriptions.

Thankyou to the author for this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Lightblade is OUT NOW!

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