Timy reviews Dawn Razed, the fourth book in the Ethereal Earth series by Josh Erikson.
An eARC was received by Josh Erikson in exchange for an honest review.
The following review and book blurb might contain very mild spoilers, so please proceed with caution!
|Series: Ethereal Earth #4||Genre: Urban Fantasy|
|Date of Publishing: December 13, 2022||Trigger Warnings: violence, death, blood|
|Page count: 690||Publisher: Self-Published|
Possible The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge prompts:
After barely surviving an onslaught of elves and Templars and assorted monsters—not to mention the devilish machinations of an old god—Gabe and his friends had hoped for some time to recover. But when an overwhelming threat shows up on their doorstep far ahead of schedule, they quickly discover that time is yet one more force stacked against them. Along with practically everything else.
So together with old friends and new, Gabe searches desperately for more allies to form an unprecedented coalition to stand against the coming End—all the while being careful not to mention that it’s at least partially his fault.
But even Gabe’s rock-bottom expectations are thwarted when the shaky path he envisions for their future suddenly crumbles beneath him, and he’s taken on a wild ride far from home…straight into the grasping claws of his own nightmares.
Dawn Razed is the fourth book in the Ethereal Earth series, an ongoing saga about identity and imagination…and how dangerous it is to have one without the other.
“If you want to find ma gic, go to the transitions. That’s where it lives. The spots where things shift, big or small. The between moments. The connecting places or crossroads. The borders where two firm edges blend together like dawn, dusk, birth or death…or the instant of any change of any stripe where power coalesces like foam at the bend of a raging river. That’s where you’ll feel it. And that’s why we fear it. Change. Because in the single step between one place we know and one we don’t, anything could happen. And sometimes does.”
Excerpt from CONscience
Whoa, this was hard. For the previous books I mostly picked Three Days Grace songs, from the time Adam Gontier was their lead singer. Going through their catalog I didn’t really find one that would fit, so eventually, I turned my eyes on Saint Asonia, a band Adam started after leaving TDG. I don’t know if The Hunted is the perfect fit for Dawn Razed, but I like to think it works.
Dawn Razed is the fourth book in Erikson’s Ethereal Earth series, which I’ve followed almost since its debut. These past few years have been a journey for sure and it’s interesting to see what series I got stuck with for the long run, and which I abandoned – not due to dislike, but because my preferences changed. Ethereal Earth is one of those I keep following, as I have a special place in my heart for UF. But Dawn Razed made me wonder if we drifted apart in the past two years since book 3 came out. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time with Gabe and the crew again, but I felt like something was missing. And I don’t think that it’s Erikson‘s or the book’s fault necessarily. Maybe the timing was of the essence here. I don’t know. But either way, if you’ve been along for the ride this far, then you definitely won’t be disappointed.
I admit, my memories of book 3 were pretty rusty and my notes from the past didn’t help much either. And since I barely made any notes this time, the problem certainly will come back to bite me in the ass. It took a while for me to get refamiliarised with the characters, especially the events. For not much time passes between books 3 and 4 within the world.
Gabe and his friends are still trying to find allies to fight against the Endless Dark, which is not as endless anymore, thanks to Gabe. At the same time, different forces have different ideas about how to handle Gabe himself. Some want revenge on him, some want to use him for their own ends. Neither of these sounds like a good option to him. And then he also needs to come to terms with his apparent role as the leader of their small family. It’s interesting to watch his arc throughout the book, as he discovers his new skills, comes to terms with some things, and generally tries to find his own place in their team’s dynamic. Not talking about his relationship with Heather – it’s great to see them growing together. And I still love his voice coming through the chapter opening excerpts.
As we get further into the series, the cast keeps growing. One of the newest addition is Cadeau, an elf trying to save Elfhame from its eminent doom. Erikson did a pretty good job with him as a character, even if he won’t become my favorite, probably. But hey, never say never. Penny, on the other hand, definitely will. She is the best. Even if she would drive me crazy in real life.
The Ethereal Earth series always was a mix between UF and epic grimdarkish fantasy with some progression fantasy elements as Gabe keeps “leveling up”. And Dawn Razed fits into this mash-up pretty well. I don’t know if it’s me, but somehow this one had a darker undertone to it. This series never was about rainbows and sunshine, but this book gave me heavy feelings about its atmosphere. It was one imminent doom after another and after a while, it became kind of daunting to read it – or listen to it in my case. And I think it didn’t really help that despite the fact it was packed with action, sometimes it felt dragging because of the overuse of descriptions and generally just making some scenes take forever to move forward. With its 690 pages, Dawn Razed is the longest in the series, and I can’t help thinking that trimming it down a bit would have helped immensely, in my opinion. Then again, I’m not a big fan of chonky books, so take that as you will.
That being said, I think I enjoyed the second half of the book more once all the main characters in this particular book started coming together and Elfhame came into focus. Although I understand the choices Erikson made to build up the story until that point. But the feeling of heaviness didn’t only come from the doomy atmosphere, but also the themes Erikson explored in this book. Helplessness, loss, grief, making choices when there aren’t necessarily good choices, to begin with. The banter between Gabe and Heather and the humorous moments sprinkled throughout the book do help to lighten things up, however – and I still love the sass. But I think Dawn Razed needs a certain frame of mind to enjoy fully.
Just because I wasn’t into Dawn Razed as much as the rest of the series so far, doesn’t mean I won’t keep following Gabe to see what mess he gets himself into next. I know Erikson plans this series to go on for a while, but I also hope we’ll get a clearer image of where the story is heading overall because right now it feels a little bit aimless and a touch repetitive. I guess we’ll see. I still heartily recommend the Ethereal Earth series to those who are looking for something different within the UF subgenre. It’s witty, and dark, and brings together mythological creatures with a cosmic twist. In Dawn Razed Erikson definitely raises the stakes and it’s going to be interesting to see how far Gabe can be stretched before he breaks.