Keepers of the Dawn (The Dawn Cycle #1) by Herb J Smith ll

Published: 18th September 2014Goodreads badge
 Bright Realms Publishing
Pages: 668
Format: ebook
Genre: Epic fantasy
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

For two thousand years the Teeth have stood, three immense barriers of divine light rising high into the heavens, encircling the world, dividing it from Paradise. Like others of the Penitent world, Dreen and his telepathically impaired son, Bartu, cling to a dream. A dream that one day a savior will arrive to fell the imprisoning Teeth. Unlike others, however, their dream rests on more than mere faith. It rests on the promise of an artifact that came to their family centuries ago. A holy relic that is key to a future savior’s success.

To keep the relic safe, Dreen and Bartu must keep it secret. A task not easily accomplished in this world of telepaths. Making the task even more difficult is an obscure prophecy that foretells of the sacred artifact. A prophecy that Rue-A-Kai, the Destroyer, knows well. With the strength of a hundred wizards, the reincarnated savior of the Vile hordes imperils not only the Penitent kingdoms he now threatens to overrun, but also the promised arrival of a true future savior. Were the demonic Rue-A-Kai to acquire the holy relic, his perverse interpretation of prophecy would transform the relic from a device of deliverance to one of damnation, ensuring that the Teeth never fell, that the world never saw Paradise.

Yet the relic remains safely hidden, as it has for centuries. And there is no reason to believe it will not continue to remain so for centuries to come. No reason at all, that is, until the accident…

Note: I was provided a copy of this book for review

The first thing to say about this book is that it’s epic fantasy and it is LONG! At 668 pages I was not prepared for how long it took me to read this book. Length aside the other reason it took me so long to read was that I found it extremely hard to get into this book which made me not want to keep going.

From a slow beginning it took me about 1/5 of the way through before I became interested, and then it wasn’t until the halfway mark did I feel the story took off. Understandably being an epic fantasy there needs time to introduce and set up a story and world, but because I could not find interest in the story unfolding the first half of the story dragged on.

The other thing I found was that I could not connect with the characters. The problem being that there was very little depth to any of the characters, yes you knew what they stood for and knew who they were in as much as their role and responsibilities, but there was never an exploration of who they were as people. Braxton and Volar were perhaps the only two I enjoyed reading about and who I felt any real liking for. They both had more depth to their character than the others, while the rest I was indifferent to in a way, not really caring what happened to them.

What Smith makes clear is showing who is on the side of good and who is classed as the enemy but as the story progresses this varies and who you think you can trust alters and at times there is never any real certainty about who is in the right.

There are positives in this story, Smith’s writing is very descriptive and poetic and the idea behind his story is sound. There is also no doubting his development, explanation, and execution of the telepathic communications the characters have, a part that was quite interesting to read about and Smith incorporates it into the story seamlessly.

The final half of the book is where I felt the story kicked off and I could become more engaged in the events unfolding. This final half saved the story for me because there was intrigue and adventure of sorts, and something was actually happening and progressing in the story, more so than it seemed before.

The story covers many years and is shown from multiple points of view though Bartu is seen as a key character. Bartu was likeable enough; his ostracism from his community made him different and his family’s secret made him special. This comes across on the page and it is clear Bartu is someone unique, but despite getting a bit more depth into his character than most it still was not enough to truly care for him. He is young and naive, and he is a follower rather than someone who takes any initiative, though there are brief moments where his maturity and courage shine through as he acts as the Keeper he has been trained to be all his life. Braxton I think would have been a better main character, if only because I understood him more and he had more depth, but I understand why Bartu is the focus.

There are multiple surprises in this book, certainly situated in the latter half, but they take the story on an interesting journey and add suspense and mystery. I think the redemption in this was the events in the later half; the characters are busy with tasks and a mission so there is less need to know them as characters in order to support or judge their decisions, and the unfolding plot is dramatic enough for it to no longer matter.

There is a lot to take in with story, from the beginning even to the end. There are a lot of factors to grasp and understand and many points of view to consider as each one affects another. Once a solid understanding is achieved of the world and it past, as well as the present and ongoing conflicts, then engagement in the story is much easier and enjoyable.

With an intriguing concept and a good foundation Keepers of the Dawn is a decent start to the Dawn Cycle series. Smith has created a solid premise for the next book and an interesting introduction to the world and its people. While there is work to be done on the vividness of the writing in terms of character and the world itself, there is enough to make it pleasing.

You can purchase Keepers of the Dawn via the following


Amazon Australia


Barnes and Noble



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