Dawn of Wonder is a coming of age story within a fantasy world. The story follows Aedan an abused boy from a small town (Mistyvales) whose life is shattered whens slavers visit his town, kidnap his best friend Kalry, and kill her. Aeden then commits his life to justice, to stopping the slavers who are from a nation called Lekrau from hurting anyone again. To do so, he trains to be come a grey marshal.
The centre of the story is Aeden’s time in training as a grey marshal and the struggles he faces. The main struggle that he faces is his own fear. Aeden’s father had beat him before his father abandoned his family. As a consequence, Aeden freezes up in combat with anyone who reminds him of his father.
Perhaps it is better to say the main conflict of story is not so much the slavers that Aeden vows to stop. Rather, the main conflict that Aeden must resolve is his own fear. And his fear is aided by the ways that he avoids the problem. He becomes bitter and angry at his father and others. But this only serves to create more problems for Aeden. I will not spoil the ending, but Aeden has an awakening of sorts late in the book and is able to overcome his fear and bitterness.
The story is not without its problems. The first few chapters had cringeworthy statements about Aeden’s strategic prowess, as if the author needed us to know that Aeden was destined to be a military strategist. It would have felt less forced if the mistyvales town folk would have described Aeden’s strategic ability in more homegrown ways.
There is also a perhaps too convenient connection between Aeden and another character. A leader of the marshal’s just happens to know about Aeden’s childhood bravery because his relative observed it.
But the strengths of Age of Wonder far outweigh its weaknesses. The portrayal of the inner-life and conflict of Aeden, which shows the consequences of bad decisions, makes the book feel realistic and personal. The writing is well-done. And the story is enjoyable to read from beginning to end.
It’s fun and engaging. This should be your go-to fantasy book for this Summer.