First Truth (Truth #1) by Dawn Cook [Review from the Archives]

April 5, 2017     Michelle     Book Reviews

First Truth (Truth #1) by Dawn Cook [Review from the Archives]First Truth by Dawn Cook, Kim Harrison
Narrator: Marguerite Gavin
Series: Truth #1
Published by Ace Books on May 28th 2002
Genres: Epic Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: Audiobook
Series Rating:

Alissa doesn't believe in magic. Her father's stories about the Hold, a legendary fortress where human Keepers learn magic from the enigmatic Maters, are just that―stories. But her mother insists that Alissa has inherited her father's magical ability, and so she must go to the Hold―the only place her talents can be trained.

On her way, she crosses paths with Strell, a wandering musician from the plains. And though Alissa is not sure she can trust a plainsman, Strell has something she needs―one of her father's old maps. Travelling together, they can reach the Hold before the snow sets in.

But they don't know that the Hold is nearly empty. Something is very wrong and someone believes that Alissa and Strell knows about a book called First Truth.

This book was originally read and reviewed in April 2016.

All transparency here right up front: I bought this series without even reading any of the blurbs because Dawn Cook = Kim Harrison and I love Kim Harrison. So I was definitely pre-disposed toward liking this book by the time I actually picked it up and gave it a read.

I originally read this particular book in 2013, and I fell in love. Unfortunately, for whatever reason (I truly have no idea), I didn’t bother to read the next 3 in the quartet. The entire series only has 4 books — I SHOULD have just plowed through them. But I didn’t, and I recently decided that I really wanted to finish the series. Instead of starting on book 2, I figured why not go back and re-experience book 1? I don’t think I really needed the refresher, but I enjoyed it enough to give a go with round 2.

For the reviews of all 4 books in this series, I’m going to use this format to discuss what I think of the developments in plot, pacing, world, and characters. That’s just how I feel like keeping the books distinct this go-round.


I like the plot that’s developing throughout this book. We’ve got a LOT of mysteries to be solved, and this book leaves things well-positioned for at least one follow-on book.


This is probably the weakest part of this book for me, though it wasn’t a particular bother. The meat of the plot doesn’t really become evident until you’re more than halfway through or so, which is a bit late in my opinion. But the set-up to get there is entertaining enough that I honestly didn’t really notice the first time I read it.


This is an original fantasy world that has 3 distinct cultural groups: the plains, the foothills, and the coast. We see a bit of the plains and foothills, but since the coast is separated by a mountain range, we don’t really see much of it. Strell, one of the main characters, has recently come from the coast, so we learn a bit about it through his stories.

There’s an interesting set-up around how magic works in this world, and I REALLY liked how it relates to modern neuro-science ideas. Magic is conducted by viewing your “tracings,” which are described basically like neural path-ways. By the end of this book, you get a basic understanding of how this stuff works, but there’s still a LOT to learn — which is fair, since Alissa doesn’t even believe in magic at the start of everything.


The characters totally make this book. Alissa and Strell have some-what of a love/hate relationship, and they’re both incredibly stubborn. But it’s kind of sweet how their relationship evolves throughout the book — it leaves you wanting more, which is great.

There aren’t a LOT of other characters in the book to be able to speak toward supporting character voices, but of the ones that are there, they all have very strong traits on their own, and I’d be more than interested to get a short story or something written in any of their POVs.

Side Note!

I switched to audio for the re-read, and the reader is Marguerite Gavin. For those of you who don’t know, she’s also read some of The Hollows books for Kim Harrison. There were several instances where I kept expecting a pixie to fly in out of nowhere and start making smart-ass remarks. Sooo … head’s up if you listen to this and have listened to any of Gavin’s books of The Hollows.

Rating Report
Writing Style
  • I had no idea, and love Harrison. Of to grab on audio!

    • Michelle

      This series is a lot of fun! I think you’ll like them 🙂 and the audio is pretty decent too!

  • I didn’t know Harrison writes under a different name? Thats awesome. I feel like thats her thing, keeping the pacing a bit slow to begin with? But I am glad it held your attention, because the setting and the plot-line do sound fascinating.

    • Michelle

      Yep! Dawn Cook is actually her real name; Kim Harrison is a pseudonym — crazy, huh?! You’re right about her pacing in general — in that aspect, these books are very similar to Harrison’s other work’s.

  • Ooh this cover is pretty, and I like the sound of the characters and their relationship! Going on my maybe list 🙂

    • Michelle

      It’s definitely a fun concept! I have reviews for the rest of the series going up (there are only 4 books) — you should read those too and gauge what you think after that. The quartet as a whole gets pretty interesting!