Goodreads Synopsis: Hakan, son of Haldan, chosen son of the Lord of the Northern Jutes, swears loyalty to his father in fire, in iron, and in blood. But there are always shadows that roam.
When a terrible tragedy befalls Hakan’s household he is forced to leave his world behind. He must seek to pledge his sword to a new king. Nameless and alone, he embarks on a journey to escape the bonds of his past and fulfil his destiny as a great warrior.
Whispers of sinister forces in the north pull Hakan onwards to a kingdom plagued by mysterious and gruesome deaths. But does he have the strength to do battle with such dark foes? Or is death the only sane thing to seek in this world of blood and broken oaths?
Author: Theodore Brun
Title: A Mighty Dawn
Publisher: Atlantic Books
It wasn’t the declaration that fans of George R.R. Martin would enjoy A Mighty Dawn that drew my attention. It was the time period, the themes and the synopsis! The comparison felt literally like a sales ploy – the two didn’t compare! Fans might like it – but so might everyone else!
A Mighty Dawn had its ups and downs the whole way through. By the end, I was thoroughly enjoying it, but there were several moments where it dragged. It starts with Hakan becoming a man, finding love and experiencing battle for the first time. But secrets tear this love apart and he flees his home. This whole first section was slow paced, not helped by a few changes in narration from a character with turmoil emotions.
Wisdom taught its lesson again and again. You must hold onto life lightly. The things you love will be taken away.
Why then was it such a hard lesson to learn?
The second half, when Hakan pledges himself to a new lord, was hit and miss. For the majority of this section, Hakan is moping around, not wanting to live. It doesn’t make for entertaining reading. But then he finds his fighting spirit and the final third of the book had me on the edge of my seat, desperate to find out what happened.
If only the entire book could have been that strong.
For the most part, the characters were well formed and engaging. Hakan has his highs and lows, but you ultimately root for him and want him to confront his demons. He doesn’t desire honour or love, and that makes his motives purer than any of the other men.
Kai stole the book. He was the light that Hakan needed, the proof that love and loyalty do mean something. He stopped Hakan’s moping from ruining the book and became a hero in his own right. He was one of those loveable characters where both the readers and the other characters adore him.
There were a few too many names floating around in the second half for any of the secondary characters to develop any true depth. Lillia wasn’t kind to Hakan, yet her own narration means the reader knows she has a good heart. She grew on me; after her ordeal, she was determined to do whatever necessary to survive, including picking up a spear and taking on a mighty bear to save her father.
The king was a good man: his son was not. The queen is definitely up to something. All traits that means I know Hakan’s tale has not ended and there is more to come. I, for one, would be interested to see what happens next now that Hakan can move on with his tale rather than being stuck in the past.
I was drawn to this book because it echoed themes of Roman fiction, which I love. I’ve read enough Viking/Dane based stories that I understood where their beliefs were coming from. There is death and blood from the opening of the book and some quite gory violence later on. Not for the squeamish!
Overall, a good book that would have benefited from a slightly faster pace.