Dawn of Wonder (The Wakening #1)


Got in a fistfight with Dresden
I found this book on Audible and bought it because of previous good experience with the narrator and the glowing reviews on Goodreads.

It has a 4.41/5 average rating on goodreads (n=2754) retrived 7.5.2015.

My rating: 1,5/5

I'm always on the lookout for new unknown fantasy books and hidden gems. Previous self-published "gems" I've found were Blood Song by Anthony Ryan and The Shadow that was Lost by James Islington, both extraordinary reads that compete against this century best fantasy authors like Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Pierce Brown, Brent Weeks, Peter W. Brett et al.

I mention these authors so you can decide if you have a similar taste to me:and want to take my review seriously or just ignore it as a piece of crap. :)

So was this book a gem? An author worth mentioning in the previous list of names. Sadly .... Not. However, it was not a completely bad read. So let me break the book down into pros and cons:

Narrative perspective: 9/10
It's active and engaging (just like B. Sanderson would write) you experience the world and story trough the eyes of the main character. Probably the main reason I finished the book.

World building: 6.5/10
It's decent, if you would stand inside the story you would probably feel that the world was alive and had some depth in it.

Complexity of events and reader deduction needed: 2/10
Overall, everything that happens is predictable. Events are explained to the detail, and there is no need for the reader to deduce mysteries or read between the lines. I identified no plot-twists and never got surprised. There are things left unexplained, mostly antagonist monsters, who are literally refereed to as monsters whom the protagonist needs to overcome. Also there is a religious undertone in the "ancient one" resembling the christian God and the "rationale of faith", however it's not too pushy. The overall complexity of the book is low. I would recommend more experienced and mature fantasy readers to read books by the authors mentioned in the beginning of the review.

Plot and pacing: 3/10
The plot and the pacing was (barely) OK, a coming-to-age tale of a farm boy who gets picked up to join the training to become an elite soldier/spy. His time in the school is motivated by vengeance and overcoming emotional trauma to defeat the evil empire who enslaved his friend. The plot works, but it's not subtly crafted. Some character dialogue and events are very clumsy, non-logical and generally exists only to enforce the story onward. Sometimes the pacing becomes painfully slow, for instance, the crafting of bows and swords are given hours (audiobook) of time being explained in smallest detail. The ending also left me unsatisfied, while being a long book in terms of pages the story did not cover much. If you have read Blood Song, imagine the book ending after Vaelin saved Frentis from the crypts.

Character depth: 3/10
Generally on the par with children's books and fairy-tales. Aside from the main character, most characters can be defined with one line. The bimbo girl that is good looking but empty inside who exploits others with her extraordinary beauty. The trickster that enjoys mischief and is always ready for adventure. The rival guy in school who only cares about demoting and picking on the main character. The big fierce warrior that everyone respects but is kind and warm on the inside. The selfish and hands down evil guard that only wants to hurt. Just examples, but the common theme is that characters in this book are two dimensional and their acts and deeds are motivated simply by their character description. The main character is problematic to describe. Sometimes likable, smart and wise for his age, but sometimes the complete opposite. While having more depth than the other characters, he still doesn't feel authentic or believable.

Reader emotional investment 2.5/10
This is highly personal and subjective, and is closely related to the similarity and "like-mindedness" between the reader and the author. I can't say I got too invested in the characters or the story. Emotional investment is important since it makes me (the reader) care for outcomes in the story, get excited about the obstacles and weep for the deaths of friends. Needless to say, I never wept, or lost sleep because of the excitement. There is one exception: the first 5 -10% of the book is more intriguing and interesting than the rest of the book and actually gave me some higher hopes about the book, unfortunately the quality declined after that.

Overall I would not recommend this book. However it will make a good book to read to your children as a bedtime story. Thanks for reading the review and hope it will help you to decide whether or not to buy this book.



Journeyed there and back again
Great review Kaladin!

Btkong mentioned this book in the thread 'top 25 indie list'. He didn't included it in the list itself but it got discussed in there. He seems to hold a similar view as yours.


A farm boy with a sword
I like this book. In the context of indie I'd give 7/10. A large part of it is 'gritty military Harry Potter' but there are enough interesting happenings that I was kept curious for the next in the series. I think the world has a lot more potential that was explored in this book. Probably could have chopped out some of the unnecessary kid gets into elite school and is bullied bit and I'd upgrade to 8-9 (still in the context of indie published).