Verdict: EMPEROR HON’s pacing is brisk, its narrative twists and turns are entertaining, and it takes place in an intriguing world riddled with mystery that will have the reader hoping for a Book 3 sometime soon.
EMPEROR HON is the second book in the “Dawn of the Awakening” series by author Raymond Springer. Though the book swaps between POVs, most of is told from Zachary’s, a cadet in Emperor Hon’s palace who has been kept isolated from the other cadets his entire life.
Once Zachary joins the other cadets, he finds both friendship and bitter rivalry. A boy named Victor with the ability to start fires grows increasingly more dangerous as Zachary pursues friendship with Tae-Lin, a girl Victor considers his own. The beats of Victor’s bullying will be familiar to any Young Adult reader, though some of the book’s subject matter leaps far out of what a reader might consider appropriate for that age range, including a detailed torture scene, a highly disturbing sub-plot regarding the Ascendants and a vividly-described death.
While EMPEROR HON’s info-dumps are clumsily done, the world of EMPEROR HON is an intriguing one. The enigmatic, manipulative Emperor Hon heads a hidden rogue nation-state and is building an army of supernaturally-powered cadets to establish and expand his territory. Given this context, which Zachary, Tae-Lin and other POV characters know only bits and pieces of, everything that happens has extra urgency. The author makes an effort to include diverse characters, and the setting itself is heavily Asian-inspired without being specific to any country, which makes for a welcome change of pace.
EMPEROR HON is noteworthy for its quick pacing, which only rarely sags. Things happen in this book and happen in a big way, swirling around the cadets as they advance from childish problems and school issues to a far more sinister world intruding around them at every turn, culminating in the events at the final trial. Zachary is a sympathetic, intelligent protagonist who works hard for every accomplishment despite his profusion of supernatural gifts. Lesser characters such as friend and love interest Tae-Lin or raging bully Victor aren’t as memorable as Zachary, but EMPEROR HON is more focused on action than character, so this is not really to its detriment.
EMPEROR HON’s pacing is brisk, its narrative twists and turns are entertaining, and it takes place in an intriguing world riddled with mystery that will have the reader hoping for a Book 3 sometime soon.
~Nathalie Medina for Indie Reader