A.M. Macdonald gives us an entertaining read in Remember the Dawn. If you like fun and interesting magic systems, you’re in for quite the treat with this one! Astrals, the magic users of Macdonald’s world, use the power of the stars - and particularly of their family’s constellation - to power their spells. But something sinister is afoot as two scions of an influential family are assassinated. Thus begins Macdonald’s tale that is equal parts finding yourself story and epic fantasy.
Hands down, the best part about this novel is the magic system. I absolutely loved the intricacies of the way magic works in this world. Since all magic is powered by specific constellations, what happens if one’s view of the stars is obstructed? It’s impossible to cast spells, or one’s spells are much less powerful. This was interesting, but Macdonald has done the hard work of thinking through the implications here. Magic users have houses with many skylights, or if they are in an underground area, they tend to build shafts to allow starlight in. The way the magic works has repercussions not only on the architecture of the world but on a number of important events in the plot. It all feels very well researched and laid out. Even beyond the magic system, the worldbuilding is very strong in Remember the Dawn. The Astral families, since they aren’t allowed to rule outright, have essentially established an economic hegemony which allows them to rule, if not in names at least through their influence. Again, the intricacies here are excellently crafted. There are also some very intriguing and well crafted elements to the religious system in the world. While I might have liked to have discovered more about this aspect of things, I imagine that it will play an even larger role in subsequent novels - which is something I look forward to! While not every character connected with me, I did think that Takha was particularly interesting in terms of his personal story arc. He changes while staying the same in many ways and I was invested heavily invested in his arc.
There are some weaknesses that need to be mentioned, however. The most disappointing was the number of typos that plagued the novel. From almost the first page this was a noticeable issue that ended up distracting from the story. In addition, there were a number of odd turns of phrase. For instance, in one scene where some ale is knocked over and splashes on a character’s cape, we read, “she shook fallen ale from her cape,” which is a weird way to word that. The pacing was also a bit uneven at times. In parts the novel was well paced, but other parts seemed to drag a little, the end game almost seemed to move too quickly only to be followed by what was probably one or two chapters too many of anticlimax and setup for the next book in the series.
Remember the Dawn has a creative and unique magic system that shines throughout the novel and is strongly integrated with the plot. The worldbuilding overall is excellent and tantalizes with even more to be discovered. This is marred by some poor copy editing and uneven pacing that detracts from the overall quality of the story.
Review by Calvin Park
6.5/10 from 1 reviews
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