RIGHTEOUS DAWN by Catrin Russell is the first prequel to THE LIGHT OF DARKNESS series, the other one being THE REDEEMED. I don’t read high fantasy very often but after I read FORGED BY BLOOD, the prequel to the A KINGDOM SCARRED series, I was hooked!
As with the previous book I read, I read this one out loud to myself as well. As always when I relax and read a book, I sat in my favourite reading armchair with a hot tea, a candle burning by my side, and read this wonderful short, fast-paced story. And what an exciting story it was!
The first prequel to the series is set forty years prior to the start of the series and gives background information about the situation the characters find themselves in in the main series. This one starts with a young man, the neophyte of a priesthood who sets out to find the one man who can defend the clergy’s village from Bear demons who regularly attack humans in this region. However, finding this man who seems to be more of a myth than a real person, proves to be a challenging task and young Jaxon has to overcome many obstacles during his adventure.
I fell in love with Jaxon from the start. The young man is brave and not afraid to do what he can to save the priesthood he belongs to, as well as the other humans living under the protection of the clergy, and acts of his own volition. He has confidence, is intelligent and dedicated.
The world Russell builds is sketched out bit by bit, more being added as the story progresses, which is a great way of easing the reader into her fantasy world without info-dumping and overwhelming the reader from the start. Personally, I find this an especially good way of proceeding with fantasy stories where the entire world is created by the author’s imagination, other than with contemporary fiction with real-life locations, people and cultures. As a Goddess coach, I loved that the people in THE LIGHT OF DARKNESS series worship a benevolent Goddess that otherwise has some similarities with Christianity, including churches being the buildings where the Goddess is worshipped. It makes for an interesting and fascinating mix of the familiar and new twists, which I greatly enjoyed.
Another highlight that stood out to me was that Father Hampton, an older priest in possession of great powers, had given up hope that he would find anyone whom he could teach in the art of The Light. The mature man is wise and powerful, yet he also knows, how important it is to pass his knowledge and skills on. After years of searching for a single person he could teach, he has become jaded which doesn’t stop him, however, from hurrying to the rescue.
Ekelon heaved out a breath. “It is hard to explain, son. Believe me, I have tried to pass my knowledge on to others, but I am yet to be successful. As it happens, I suspect it is not Her powers flowing through me but my own. It is like a spiritual wildfire, released amidst my complete faith and trust in the Goddess.”
This also brings up the topic of magic, or spiritual powers, as they are called here. And although this series has magical creatures like demons and priests who have the talent of The Light, the characters do not use it all the time. It is not a universal go-to tool for every situation in life. Rather, the magic as it is defined by Russell is a part of a natural order that is not overshadowing nature but part of it. It is part of the story but it doesn’t dominate it and is not used overly much for shortcuts in the storyline. It is also linked to self-knowledge and the study of natural laws and can therefore not be conveniently abused by any dumbwit.
I like this very clever way of weaving magic into the story enchanting and unobtrusive. It has its moments but so have many events and people throughout the story. The magic is confined and specific and no snake oil cure-all. I cannot wait to discover more in the next books.
To tell you more would be to spoiler the book. However, be assured that there are many gems to be found, adventures to be had and pieces of information dropped that will have relevance in the following books of the series.
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Catrin Russell is a Fantasy and Romance author from northern Sweden. Her books are all written in English and are mainly part of the Epic and High Fantasy Genre. However, she does use influences from Dark Fantasy, and a touch of Fantasy Romance.
Growing up outside a small town, basically in the middle of nowhere, Catrin eventually moved to Stockholm, where she studied computer game development and design. Meeting her soon-to-become husband online, she lived outside of London for the best parts of a year, before finally settling down in Piteå, back in Sweden. Since then, three children and two dogs have joined the family.
With a background in design and holding a degree as a registered nurse, she writes novels in medieval settings, with plenty of action and romance. She often brings moral struggles, or highlights issues in society, into her writing. Another subject that is often highlighted is mental health.
Catrin also creates concept art, bringing her characters to life on the screen, and her own cover designs, much of which can be seen on her social media pages.