Dawn of Wonder: An Incredible Tale Worth Indulging
A few months ago, when I had a few credits available on Audible, I snagged Dawn of Wonder, Book 1 of Jonathan Renshaw’s “The Wakening” series, out of sheer curiosity. I knew nothing of the story, I’d never even heard the title. But it was at the top of the lists, and the cover intrigued me. And at about thirty hours as an audiobook, I knew it would indulge my time long car rides.
I made the right choice.
Dawn of Wonder presents a most ambitious tale, well beyond most modern epic fantasy. Its world slowly expanded from the valleys of the Mistyvales to the plains of Din’Eilan, thrusting me through twists and turns of emotional turmoil as the main character, Aeden, encounters increasingly difficult challenges.
While I can’t speak to the experience of reading the book, since I listened to the tale on Audible, the story captivated me from the start. The first act plunges readers into the action within its first pages. What’s more significant, however, is that the first chapters of the story are, in fact, the most important chapters. They set the stage for every conflict experienced by Aeden throughout Dawn of Wonder, all the way to the very final story arc.
And through that act, Jonathan Renshaw masterfully executes a most difficult aspect of the art of storytelling. While he’s establishing a longer series, Dawn of Wonder stands on its own as a masterpiece. The internal conflicts of Aeden felt raw and real through a broken mind that continues to plague him with every step. Renshaw’s choice to attack domestic abuse through fantasy provides insight into the fear gripped by victims, reminding readers of the complexity of the human psyche.
The scale of this tale also staggered me. Taking place over at least four years of Aeden’s life, I’m excited to experience the next stage of The Wakening. The world only continues to expand; the myths only continue to burrow into my brain; the mysteries will only further excite my mind when the second book drops on shelves.
If you’re looking for a medieval fantasy that will suck you in like Lord of the Rings, Narnia, or Mistborn, experience Dawn of Wonder. You’ll leave its pages with both shock and awe.
Dawn of Wonder is the first book reviewed under our new scoring system.
Writing: 7/10. In some places, it suffers from a lack of immediacy to the narrative.
Character: 8/10. Even with a diverse set of characters, the story mostly focuses on Aeden’s path. However, Renshaw superbly develops complex characters, both men and women, who break many of the barriers faced by older medieval epic fantasy.
Setting: 9/10. I hesitate from providing a 10/10 on setting because you only experience one nation in Dawn of Wonder, but the hints at complex peoples in future stories entice the mind. And Kultuhm will forever remain entrenched in my memory as a place of wonder.
Plot: 10/10. Possibly the most character-driven plot I’ve ever read in the epic fantasy genre.
Five stars. Dawn of Wonder deserves the Two Doctors Review’s first five star rating.