Title: Salvation’s Dawn
Author: Joe Jackson
Series: Eve of Redemption #1
Karian Vanador has the dubious distinction of being the only known case of anyone being resurrected. In her former life, she was a renowned demonhunter, but in the current one, a massive war everyone calls the Apocalypse sidetracked everyone for the last eight years. Now, with no war to distract her from contemplating another lifetime alone, she’s tired. But just because the war’s over doesn’t mean the demons are through, and it isn’t long before Kari is sent out on yet another mission. This time, she’s got partners in a group called the Silver Blades—half-demon demonhunters. It’s up to the few of them to investigate rumors of a civil war, and do anything they can to stop it. . .
This was fascinating. There’s so much backstory that I read the sample, then looked for some prequel series that surely had to exist. Who starts a story AFTER the main character has already lived (and died), and then finished out a world-altering war? But this level of detail is actually characteristic of the book. Nations, races, languages, historical events, various gods, and more all have a lot of depth. The various information might seem slow to some, but I found it all naturally building up not just a few characters but an entire world.
The characters that populate this world are equally strong. Karian isn’t human, though humans exist (and amusingly enough, are hinted to come from somewhere beyond the stars, thus adding a nice bit of sci-fi to an otherwise solidly fantasy plot). The various humanoid races include Karian’s own draconic race, the rir, which is itself split into several sub-races (and if this is confusing, there IS an appendix that helpfully lays things out at the back of the book). Karian is also a fascinating person. Her prowess as a demonhunter was a result of her personality, drive, and the knowledge she was already dying from a terminal illness, which made her much more willing to walk headlong into danger.
I also particularly like Karian’s Order, who serves a deity whose motto is “Love justice, but do mercy.” Not exactly what you might expect from a god dedicated to wiping out the demon scourge. Karian embodies much of this apparent contradiction: a deadly warrior who hasn’t closed off her heart, and whose compassion tends to get her more involved with the suffering than some of the other hunters.
The Silver Blades are another interesting wrinkle. They’re a tight-knit group of siblings with a wide variety of skills, and they aren’t sure what to make of Karian. Some flat-out refuse to believe Karian is THE Karian Vanador. Others do but don’t know what to do about working with a living legend. And while Karian is adaptable, some of them are less so.
The plot kept throwing one surprise after the next. I liked the layers of mystery, and the various things going on around the possible war. It was also a lot of fun to see Karian changing her perceptions bit by bit, as her longstanding beliefs are challenged by the people she meets.
Honestly, the only thing that I wanted to see differently was to have the nameless female in the prologue get a name in the prologue. It’s not like it matters since she’s not actually mentioned by name until much later anyway.
Overall this was an excellent read. The world, the characters, and the plot are all very strong, and I look forward to future books. I rate this book Highly Recommended.