Rise of Dawn was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Taking the story as a whole into account, Rise of Dawn reads like many other fantasy novels. You have a fantastical world with humans and various other species (in this case, animal people). There is magic and swordplay and a group of heroes. These heroes largely consist of your general fantasy tropes; the young hero, the old man, the honorable thief, etc. The issues that the story suffers come more from its construction than its material.
What sticks out the most is the extremely fast pace of the story. Fantasy books tend to be on the slower side, albeit not all of them need to be Tolkien-level slow. In Rise of Dawn the needle is in the red for practically the entire book. It felt like the content of this one book could have been stretched out across five. When the journey of the characters gets started in the beginning, it is just two people in the group. By the end that has expanded to over a half-dozen adventurers. Not to mention the small horde of villains readers will also be keeping up with. Characters are introduced so rapidly it was hard to keep everyone straight.
The influx of characters combined with the page length also made character development virtually non-existent. Three or four of the characters get focused on and developed, but the rest are static after their introduction. It feels odd for them to change so quickly, but it is not 100% clear how long the group was adventuring. We do not really see them trekking through the woods or walking down roads. They set out for a destination at the end of one chapter and are there once the next one starts. Even when they are sitting around, whole weeks or months just pass in between sequences.
Rise of Dawn’s other pressing matter was the need for a bit more editing. This may have just been an issue with the paperback copy I received, but I cannot say for sure. There are many parts in the book with missing quotation marks, no indication of who was talking when a group is present, punctuation errors, misspelled words, and more. It causes the book to read more like a draft or outline than a complete novel. Rise of Dawn’s story has potential, it just needs to be cleaned up and polished off.