Dawn of Wonder by Jonathan Renshaw
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
Dawn of Wonder
The Wakening #1
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 wit...
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
Kim from USA
Incredible. I can't wait for the next book to come out. The story arcs are well thought out, the pacing is phenomenal. The themes this story explores are relatable and relevant. One of the best reading experiences I've ever had.
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.
9.5/10 from 4 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...
The Witchwood Crown
New York Times-bestselling Tad Williams’ ground-breaking epic fantasy saga of Osten Ard begins an exciting new cycle! • Volume One of The Last K...
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...
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...
Great fantasy books published in 2015
The Sorcerer's Glen
The Grand Master sat back in his chair with his blue eyes closed and sent a small prayer earthwards. The White Sorcerer had returned a little after the hour of the sabre-to...
The Hollow Boy
Lockwood & Co. might be the smallest (some might say shambolic) Psychic Detection Agency in London. But its three agents - Lockwood, Lucy and George - are exceptional T...
The Gameshouse is an unusual institution. Many know it as the place where fortunes can be made and lost through games of Chess, Backgammon - every game under the sun. But a...
For a moment, things seemed to be under control for Breq, the soldier who used to be a warship. Then a search of Athoek Station's slums turns up someone who shouldn'...
Half the World
Sometimes a girl is touched by mother war. Thorn is such a girl. Desperate to avenge her dead father, she lives to fight. But she has been named murderer by the very man wh...
Escaped from prison and back in his own body, life has taken a turn toward the domestic for Frank “Triggaltheron” Trigg. His days are filled with diapers, formu...
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...
Six of Crows
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price - and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy, Kaz Brekker. Kaz is off...
Queen of Fire
Queen Lyrna has survived the bloody siege of Alltor. Now she must rally her troops and take back the capital from the Volarian invaders. But driving her hated enemy out of ...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: