It’s been a few months since I’ve done one of these. Partly that’s for personal reasons that I won’t go into here, and partly it’s because I haven’t received a lot of submissions lately, so I went looking for a book to review, and I ended up with one that proved a little longer than I anticipated. (If you’d like to submit a book for me to review, please see the instructions.)
This month’s self-published book review is of Dawn of Wonder, by Jonathan Renshaw, a 700-page novel of epic fantasy. Mr. Renshaw doesn’t need my help selling his book, as he’s sold over 200,000 copies, has over 2,500 Amazon reviews, and has won a bevy of awards. But it is a self-published book, and I was curious whether it could live up to the expectations.
It is certainly a well-written book, with rich and poetic language and strong characterization. Aedan, the main character, is instantly likeable, adventurous and bold but with a grave weakness that will haunt him throughout the novel. We’re first introduced to Aedan as a boy, together with his friends, most notably Kalry, the daughter of the local noble. When tragedy strikes and Kalry is lost to slavers, Aedan is blamed, and his family has to leave the area. It is here that we are introduced to the source of Aedan’s fears and weakness, his father’s abusive temper. When they arrive in the city of Castath, Aedan’s father separates from his family to return to the criminal lifestyle he had practiced before marrying.
Aedan quickly decides that what he wants is to become a soldier, independent of his father and the domineering woman his mother finds shelter with, and more importantly, able to pursue revenge on the nation of slavers who took Kalry. When he seeks out the training to become one, he quickly catches the eye of General Osric, and is offered a place at the Academy, studying to become a gray marshal, the spies and scouts who are Castath’s first line of defense. Believing that becoming one would give him an even better chance to avenge Kalry, he leaps at the opportunity.