Date of Award


Document Type

USM Access Thesis

Call Number

PS3607.A97588 D38 2017

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Theodora Goss

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Hand

Third Advisor

Justin Tussing


Hiding from the mistakes of his past, Arnet has devoted himself solely to his duty as a captain in the border guard of the kingdom of Eadril. However, when an attempt is made on the king’s life, Arnet is ordered to lead an investigation. He is joined by a woman from his past and the convicted assassin on whose testimony the mission is founded. The assignment appears foolhardy, and the assassin guiding them may well be the enemy they seek, but Arnet’s orders are clear and his only course is to obey.

Their investigation leads them into webs of corruption and intrigue lurking beneath the surface of their society, but the most difficult struggles may exist within Arnet’s company. Ill-equipped and uninformed—their situation is desperate. But Arnet also struggles to keep control of the conflicting motives of his companions, even as his own inner demons threaten to overwhelm him.

This thesis is the first section of a longer fantasy novel that examines how corruption and apathy can fester just beneath an otherwise unassuming surface. More centrally, Dawn’s First Light is a story of characters faced with their own inner darkness, and the way in which those characters may strive to do what is right, even when everything in their world pushes back.


This is a record is restricted to USM access only.