Dawn of Wonder
Dawn of Wonder follows the early life of Aedan, who lives in a small farming community that is overrun by slavers. His best friend is captured, which sets Aedan on the path of revenge.
Dawn of Wonder is an example of a book that barely meets our criteria of “good” (2.5 stars). It has several large problems, but is saved (for me at least) by a compelling series plot. I’m a sucker for revenge plots, especially if the scale becomes as large as hinted in the first book.
The biggest problem I had with Dawn of Wonder is the large number of forced situations. The author didn’t take the time to write logical and reasonable characters with actions that lead to situations. Instead, he had characters act in an unreasonable way to advance the story. Here’s an example that should be enough to warn you away from the book if you expect rational characters:
A military official from another town shows up in Aedan’s village and warns the residents that slavers are in the area. The official won’t allow them to travel to a larger town because of the danger of being captured on the road. Instead, he has them gather in the village lord’s house where they’ll wait until morning to travel into town as a group.
Aedan notices several inconsistencies from the military official (reluctance to post sentries and the like). He warns two village officials who brush off his concern. -- I’m good so far, but then this happens -- Aedan sneaks off in the night to bring help from the town sheriff. The sheriff raises fifty men to go rescue the villagers and/or escort them into town. When they arrive, the village lord berates Aeden for the embarrassment he’s caused, stating that there is no risk to the villagers. The lord then sends the sheriff and his fifty men back to the town saying that they’ll follow later. – Seriously? He doesn’t thank Aeden or the sheriff, then welcome the armed escort for his villagers? Nope. He sends them away. You can guess what happens next. Yep. The military official is really a slaver and his pals show up to capture the village inhabitants.
This type of forced situation is littered throughout the book. At the 14% mark, I’d had enough and almost put the book down. Instead, I started skimming and stumbled across what I believe is the series plot. It was interesting enough to keep me skimming, only to find the plot better than the story.
A second problem was that the writing isn’t clear. There were several places where I had trouble trying to envision the scene. In many of the action scenes I couldn’t tell who was where and how events occurred. It made them boring rather than exciting.
There were some good points in the book. I enjoyed the details on military strategy, details on hunting, tracking, bow making, sword making, etc. I think most epic fantasy readers would agree that we love the details.
Here’s a philosophy example that I enjoyed (and got the book extra points): “You are fixed on this idea of absolute truth, but do we possess it? And even if we did, would people want it? How many of our people worship a lump of metal that’s been shaped a bit, or some invented deity? In every sense, these are created gods, even down to their supposed instructions and blessings. If you were able to point people to a real god, I suspect a lot of them would prefer their own creations – easier to control, less likely to make demands.”
Dawn of Wonder is barely readable. The series plot, medieval details, military strategy, and bits of philosophy kept me skim reading despite several huge problems. I skimmed my way to the end so the book made it to 2.5 stars. I’d save this book until you can’t find anything else to read.
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