Horror Book Review – Light Dawning (Ty Arthur)

About Light Dawning – Once known as the City on the Hill and revered far and wide for its independence and boundless opportunity, Cestia has become home only to the damned. Surviving under the brutal occupation of a southern empire for three long years, the oppressed populace has lost hope of liberation, turning instead towards an increasingly desperate rebellion willing to commit any atrocity for a chance at freedom. As total war approaches, four lost souls trapped behind Cestia’s walls are on a collision course with fate, destined to either save the city or see it utterly destroyed while calling on forces beyond mankind’s comprehension. For good or ill, the light of a new day is about to dawn.

Ty Arthur is relatively new to the world of fiction writing but is involved in writing for multiple websites and zines like Metalunderground. Ty’s debut sci-fi/horror novella, Empty, was released in early 2016. Ty writes to exorcise his demons and lives in the cold, dark north (Montana) with his wife Megan and son Gannicus Picard. Light Dawning is Ty’s first full length novel.

Light Dawning

Light Dawning is a dark, fantasy horror which is focused in a battered and torn city called Cestia. Cestia is under occupation by a powerful and malevolent army that are currently in the progress of marching North and taking every city they encounter. Cestia has been under occupation for a few years when we step into the story. We do this via the eyes of 4 main characters. As we see the story through their eyes we have no idea of the scale and size of the world Cestia exists in. Neither us, nor any citizen of Cestia, has seen outside it’s great walls for a long time.

The characters we read about are very different with different ambitions. We have Myrr who is being hunted by the enemy and is such is mistrusting and keeps his distance from others. Erret is an extremely religious man. He has come to Cestia to try to stir rebellion in the belief that he can convert the city to his beliefs in the disorder. Tala is a strong and determined woman who has suffered terrible travesties both before and during the occupation. That strength sees her still attempting to escape the doomed city. Finally we have Casterly who was beaten badly by the soldiers and is terribly disfigured. All he wants to do is take back his city but first, protect what remains of his family.

So, I guess in most fantasy books I would be introducing those 4 characters as the unlikely band of heroes but Light Dawning isn’t really like that. This book is grim. The invading force, representing a Southern empress, are brutal in their attacks on the Cestian people. The people themselves are frightened and weak, but increasingly desperate, as they are continuously terrorised. Religion, though unfamiliar religions, play a huge part in the violence and terror with there being 2 forces mentioned regularly. These forces are represented by the light and the dark.

To most readers the light and the dark represents good and evil. Here, and cleverly, both forces are explained as being cosmic entities far beyond human comprehension. Neither are the creator or protector of man. Neither can be called to save them. Erret, a devout and fanatical priest who follows the light, hopes for the destruction of the invading forces so he can force the light upon the remains of society. He promises destruction for all who follow darkness and is a good example of the kind of heroes that exist in Cestia. One who looks to free his world from the yoke of oppression so that he can place his own upon their shoulders.

Even Myrr holds a dark secret, being somewhat possessed by darkness. A darkness that wants to get out and reap destruction. He tries to hold it back. Tries to control it but it’s always there, ready to escape. The invading army have a new religion as well, one where they pray regularly to be granted the cruelty to destroy those around them. They perform rituals which include mutilation and self sacrifice. They are hunting for an artifact to grant them untold power, an artifact perhaps like the one hidden within Myrr.

With so much death and fear present constantly, it is hard to see an outcome where somebody is going to live happily ever after. The cast are on the run, trying to find a way out of Cestia and the empress’s whole army is marching towards Cestia. In a world where the goal is to survive each day at a time, you wonder who will be the next to fall. When the army arrives, do they even stand a chance at escaping or is it all as hopeless as it seems and feels.

Light Dawning has the feel of a world that reminded me of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. The huge conquering army sweeping across the world, the once powerful city now in ruins, the hopelessness of the continuing fight, the different religious factions trying to take control and the dark and powerful magic. The thing is, that is all just how I imagine it as you spend almost all of your time within the enclosed city of Cestia. I feel like there is a huge world outside those walls. I could be wrong.

The claustrophobic feel of Cestia adds a certain hopelessness to the story making it feel especially glum and desperate. I do hope we get to learn more about the world in future writings. There is a very strong plot in play here with good characters. Some I cared for, and feared for. Others I completely mistrust and read on wondering of their true intentions. Either way, I bought into the characters and felt emotionally attached, whether through love or hate. That ability is crucial for an author and Ty had no problems there. With a cast like that, and a world that holds so much promise, Light Dawning could become one of the most epic series put to paper. There will have to, at least, be a sequel as there is too much left unsaid.

It isn’t all perfect though. I do appreciate most of my criticism’s are personal taste but I do not like the short paragraph style of writing. I read this on an iPhone, a small screen, and each page had between 4 and 7 paragraphs on it. As most chapters dealt with one character at a time, why they had to be so separate is beyond me. It seemed a little odd to me, especially visually on the small screen as per the images below –

I am torn on some of the writing style too.  I love some of the clever use of vocabulary here. Even I, and my love of adjectives, felt some of the sentences were overly long and a few adjectives too many. Sometimes it is okay for “the chicken to just cross the road”. It doesn’t always have to be “the dark, desperate and lonely chicken carefully crossed the winding, dusty and rocky road”.

In regards to grammar, there are some issues in the Kindle version. There are duplicated words and missing punctuation at times. If you are a grammar Nazi, the early part of the book may irritate you. It does clear up as you get further in. Either that or I was too sucked in to notice.

Light Dawning is a good book with the potential to be the start of a great series. I highly recommend reading it. Just don’t expect to feel very happy at the end of it. Ty Arthur wanted to put a story down to spread around some of the anger and hurt he was feeling at the time. He succeeded there. Read it, enjoy it, feel down for a bit and then hope for a sequel sometime soon.

Pick up Light Dawning, or Empty from the links below.

[amazon_link asins=’1521201595,B01AK3NEH2,B0722FJ3ZB’ template=’UseThisOne’ store=’g0e5b-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’e426bda5-454a-11e7-ad89-8f9003cb4326′]

Light Dawning (Ty Arthur)
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