In hopes of something that may soon come to pass, I figured I’d start a book review.
By Michael D. Warden, I find Gideon’s Dawn, while having great characters and unlimited potential, has a somewhat confusing dichotomy. On the one hand, Michael has created a great “world”, rich with history and political intrigue. On the other hand, the author presents this information to us as if we should know exactly what he is talking about even though this book is first in a series. Let me explain a little of what I mean by that.
The premise is that the main character, Gideon, wakes up in a foreign world after he is swallowed by an earthquake here in this world. He is immediately attacked for no reason (he landed in the middle of a raid) and is left for dead. When he awakens, the people who helped him recover think he may be some sort of answer to their ancient prophesies. However, they tell him very little about those prophesies or the world he has been thrown into. They tell him little things like ‘past these mountains is a desert’ or ‘we’re the good guys, they are the bad guys’, however they never sit him down and explain things out. The main character asks questions and the others never give him straight answers. I, personally find this very annoying. I don’t think I can empathize with a character who doesn’t sit them down and say ‘we go no further until I get a few explanations.’ The author does explain a little to the reader from other characters’ points of view, but I still didn’t get enough to know as much as I would like, or as much even as I would have thought imperative were I in the main character’s place.
Also, he creates deep characters, while telling us little about them. We get a short background on the main character, enough to know he has issues, but little more until the bomb drops later in the book. (Speaking of the “bomb”, I found what the author was trying to get across as a little unclear for quite a while. That’s just me.) The other characters have great, distinct, fleshed out personalities, but we don’t know how they got them. Unless the characters have little to do with the story, I would expect to know more about there backgrounds, especially since some of the characters are so intriguing.
Enough about the bad let me talk about the good. This book is found in the Christian Fiction section of Borders, so how does it do Christianity-wise? While Christianity is mentioned only a couple times (bitter memories from the main character about his mom’s beliefs), the ‘Giver’ of the world that Gideon ends up in is obviously God. The ‘Pearl’ is obviously Jesus. With these things in mind, the book does a great job of portraying faith, separation unto God, trust in God for all that you need and the followers of the ‘Giver’ have a hope in the afterlife.
The political scheming in the book is well thought out. You definitely get a “house divided against itself cannot stand” view of people that have slowly left the one, true way to pursue power on their own outside of God. The book shows show insidiously evil creeps in, both in the ruling class and in their very souls.
The secondary characters caught my interest almost from the get-go. The first one we meet is an assassin named Donovan who was high leader in the enemy’s army but has found the redemptive power of converting to the Giver’s camp. He is a natural warrior and war leader. Next is Ayel, a man with natural leadership and charisma who should be leading a city or a nation, yet is fleet and likes to run with horses and dance before the Giver (King David, maybe?). Kair is a warrior with bitterness in her heart who is being set up by the author to be the Judas of the group. Revel is a mysterious foundling who is most at home in the forests, which he has a strange connection to. Finally Aybel is Donovan’s student in the art of battle who becomes Gideon’s love interest.
All in all, a few dichotomies like this are pardonable for a first time fantasy author, but I would hope for a little more clarity and elaboration in the future and in the sequel Waymaker. I know that it is usually a good effect to keep the reader hanging for a while; it keeps their attention, but when the questions never get answered, it gets a little frustrating on a reader. For an exciting fantasy realm and appealing characters I would give this book a good recommendation. For frustration, a bad one. How about 3 stars on a 5 star rating system I just made up as I was ending this review. I would expect that with the bugs worked out Waymaker would be a 4.