Dawn of Wonder by Jonathan Renshaw
A Recommended Book of the Month
Dawn of Wonder is, at 710 pages, a big book and one that is undeniably a labour of love for its author Jonathan Renshaw. It's epic fantasy, but epic fantasy with a difference as this is more fantasy in the Robin Hobb and Patrick Rothfuss mould, where the 'hero' is not all-perfect and highly skilled at everything they set their mind too, Renshaw's hero Aedan is intelligent and talented, yes, but he is also flawed, emotionally damaged by his childhood and those scars shape his present and future life.
But first, before the review, a synopsis to whet the appetite:
When a high-ranking officer gallops into the quiet Mistyvales, he brings a warning that shakes the countryfolk to their roots. But for Aedan, a scruffy young adventurer with veins full of fire and a head full of ideas, this officer is not what he seems. The events that follow propel Aedan on a journey that only the foolhardy or desperate would risk, leading him to the gates of the nation's royal academy - a whole world of secrets in itself. But this is only the beginning of his discoveries. Something is stirring in the land, something more ominous than the rising threat of hostile nations. Fearful travellers whisper of an ancient power breathing over Thirna, changing it, waking it. In the very heart of these stirrings, Aedan encounters that which defies belief, leaving him speechless with terror - and wonder.
Dawn of Wonder is many things that regular readers of the fantasy genre will both recognise and enjoy. It is a coming of age story and much of the narrative follows Aeden's training to become a Marshall at a military Academy. I know that this is something other readers will love as the schooling part of a fantasy book is, in my opinion, always a winner - think Roke from Le Guin's Earthsea, Hogwarts from Rowling's Harry Potter, the University from Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles. Although to be honest, Aeden's training and environment put me in mind most of the Cavella Academy featured in Robin Hobb's slightly lesser known work, The Soldier Son trilogy. These educational/military institutions are where the lead character meets good friends and good teachers, enemies and bad teachers, they get into scrapes, always risking expulsion, and all the while… coming of age. I have always loved this element of any fantasy story and will always continue to do so. Another impressive element within this story is painstaking research that must have gone into the making of swords and bows - the detail here is very impressive and I cannot think of any other book that explained the complex methods involved in creating these weapons so well.
And then, once training is completed, or interrupted, there comes the quest into danger with a motley assortment of comrades. Beset by danger our hero needs to win through while uncovering secrets of by-gone millennia.
My reading of Dawn of Wonder was almost universally positive. Some big books can lead to me wishing that parts had been edited a little more aggressively but never, not once, did things drag. The care and attention that was placed on the settings (the world and its villages, towns, cities, and especially Kulthum are very well described, allowing them to come to life) and the characterisation shone through and the narrative is perfectly paced. Yes, the path of a hero's journey may be well-trodden but, for me, it's what happens on the way that makes the a book unique. There is a pleasant lack of deus-ex-machina and the spelling and grammar are excellent, showcasing a very high standard of editing.
This is definitely a book that should be recommended reading within the epic fantasy genre and I am greatly looking forward to the second instalment.
As always, don't just take my word for things. Dawn of Wonder is a winner of these awards: the 2015 LYRA Awards for Sci-Fi/Fantasy, 2015 CIPA EVVY awards for Fiction/Fantasy and the 2015 Beverly Hills Book Awards for Fantasy. And the reviews on Amazon are plain wonderful and you should definitely check them out.
This Dawn of Wonder book review was written by Floresiensis
All reviews for: The Wakening
Have you read Dawn of Wonder?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Dawn of Wonder reader reviews
Greg from Australia
Tremendous book - just got better and better as it went on.. I would rate this a better debut than either Rothfus or Anthony Ryan..
Joshua from Smith
Just stunning and touches many hard themes. I am extremely hopeful the story will find its end.
9.3/10 from 3 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Lord of the Rings
Sauron, the Dark Lord, has gathered to him all the Rings of Power - the means by which he intends to rule Middle-earth. All he lacks in his plans for dominion is the One Ri...
Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Lifelong friends, they went their separate ways. Now they are together again, though each holds secrets from the others in his heart. They speak of a world shadowed with ru...
Wheel of Time
Life in Emond's Field has been pretty boring for Rand Al'Thor and his friends until a strange young woman arrives in their village. Moraine is an Aes Sedai, a magic...
Blood Of Elves
For more than a hundred years humans, dwarves, gnomes and elves lived together in relative peace. But times have changes, and now the races once again fight each other - an...
The Dark Elf Trilogy
Drow ranger Drizzt Do’Urden, first introduced in The Icewind Dale Trilogy, quickly became one of the fantasy genre’s standout characters. But Homeland first rev...
Deep Into The Heart of a Rose
On a crisp autumn morning, in his cottage in the idyllic land of the Vale, Mr. Edward T. Cozzlebottom composed the following letter for his secret love, the graceful and lo...
Crown of Stars
The Kingdom of Wendar is in turmoil. King Henry still holds the crown, but his reign has long been contested by his sister Sabella, and there are many eager to flock to her...
The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Set 'In Britain's land beyond the seas' during the Age of Chivalry, The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun tells of a childless Breton Lord and Lady (the 'Aotrou'...
Monster Blood Tattoo
Rossamund has always dreamed of a career in the Navy, fighting tentacled monsters and rescuing damsels from hook-handed pirates. But fate has chosen him for a different pat...
Wards of Faerie
With the discovery of ancient powers, a legend begins... There was an age when the world was young. It was a time before the coming of humans, a time when magic was the dom...
The idyllic life of Princess Inos is disturbed when a god appears, hinting that she will wed. As no eligible suitors ever visit the kingdom, Inos is exiled to learn how to ...
Forging of a Knight
Hugo V Negron
A battle against the forces of Those That Stand in Shadow brings an end to an old hero and a beginning for a new one. Together with a half-orc thief named Glaive, a young w...
James A Moore
The people of Fellein have lived with legends for many centuries. To their far north, the Blasted Lands, a legacy of an ancient time of cataclysm, are vast, desolate and im...
Drizzt joins Bruenor on his quest for the fabled dwarven kingdom of Gauntlgrym: ruins said to be rich with ancient treasure and arcane lore. But before they even get close,...
In the years before the Dragons laid waste to man's empire, the fearsome monsters were used for war and as gifts of surpassing wealth to buy favour in the constant poli...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
- Recommended high fantasy books/series
- Recommended books/series similar to J. R. R. Tolkien
- Recommended books/series featuring royalty, monarchy and empire
Best of 2016
The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Set 'In Britain's land beyond the seas' during the Age of Chivalry, The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun tells of a childless Breton Lord and Lady (the 'Aotrou' an...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
When Vivian is evacuated from London in 1939, she expects to be staying in the countryside. Instead, she is whisked away to Time City – a place that exists outside time and space. It is a strange and remarkable place, where technology rules – yet important events of both past and future are marked by the appearance of mysterious Time...
The Guns of Empire
As the roar of the guns subsides and the smoke of battle clears, the country of Vordan is offered a fragile peace... After their shattering defeats at the hands of brillian...
At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth....
Events are coming to a climax in the Banished Lands, as the war reaches new heights. King Nathair has taken control of the fortress at Drassil and three of the Seven Treasu...
For Kivrin Engle, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the four...
The Banished Lands are engulfed in war and chaos. The cunning Queen Rhin has conquered the west and High King Nathair has the cauldron, most powerful of the seven treasures...