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Review: The Rising Dawn Saga Book 1: The Exodus Gate by Stephen Zimmer

It’s taken me a long while but I’ve finally finished The Exodus Gate. 🙂

The Exodus Gate is a massive mixture of genres and ideas with an intricate plot and many characters. The story unfolds entirely in alternate worlds – an Earth (named Terra, in the novel) much like ours in its past and present, and the realms of the Abyss and Purgatarion, and it is, at its core, an End of the World novel, touching on much that we as humans have interpreted the Book of Revelations in the Bible to represent – the rising in power and influence of the Dark while the Light makes ready to take a stand.

The story begins in Hell, or the Abyss; a host of Avatars and fell beasts (Angels and demons of various kinds) are preparing to assault the Middle Lands, the realm in which Purgatarion (Purgatory) and the White City (Heaven) are situated. It is their intention to fight the hosts of Adonai (God) on behalf of their lord and master, Diabolos, The Shining One (Satan), and overthrow Adonai as the ruler of all realms.

Down on Terra, a massive cast of characters, human and non-human, begin to move onto the paths that will allow them the hope and ghost of a chance to play their part against the powers that follow Diabolos on Terra.

The first thing that caught my attention about this immense novel (in both scope and vision) was the ease with which Stephen was able to conjure the incredible imagery of the Abyss and its denizens in my mind. His descriptions are intense and lengthy (one of the draw backs, but more on that later) and make it easy to place yourself in the landscapes and places where the characters interact and tell the tale.

Purgatarion is my favorite realm – it was immediately apparent to me that Stephen put plenty of thought into what kind of place Purgatarion is, what happens there and why, etc Terra, too, was masterfully imagined – every institution and country as was as the details that keep everything running were present, leading me to practically a full immersion in the world. Terra is what our world could become if some things went awry or were manipulated in a certain way and there were plenty of echoes that made me really curious about events in our own world. 🙂

The characters peopling The Exodus Gate are many and varied; there are humans (the core cast being Benedict Darwin, his niece Arianna, the friends Seth and Jonathan, and the scary and intensely devoted Dagian and Xavier), An-Ki (a race of wolf-like sentients who lived during the time in which the Great Flood occurred), Avatars, Nephilim, and many more besides.

The humans are well-realized and colourful – Benedict, who runs a radio show dealing with those subjects commonly attributed to Urban Legends, is asked by a friend to test a new gaming system, and is immediately taken with its incredible attention to detail and reality. It is through this game that Benedict meets the An-Ki, and is drawn into the larger tale; Arianna comes to visit him, tries out the game while he’s at work, and also interacts with the An-Ki;

Seth and Jonathan are teenagers who decide to go out on a camping trip, coming into contact with beings they never even knew existed;

Dagian and Xavier are but parts of a plan that were set in motion hundreds of years ago (and thousands, in the case of the Avatars) and are linked to yet more characters;

The result is that the tale being told is huge, encompassing many different points of view (I mean that literally, not in terms of writer-jargon); the characters each had an arc that not only let me get to know them all a bit but which also revealed more about the tale – some of the characters are absolutely pivotal to events, others are pivotal to other characters, and I felt they were all handled very well. 🙂

There is also plenty and action in the novel, taking many different forms, and many events that were pretty awesome to witness, especially where the Avatars were concerned, and the scenes conjured have an almost movie set-piece-fell to them.

One thing that I did struggle with, though, is that Stephen seems to explain and describe a bit too much in certain cases. Some scenes, and much of the dialogue, could have done with shortening and tightening up – some of the descriptions came across as a bit too detailed and in these cases some of the rhythm of reading was interrupted, but it didn’t happen too much or in a way that overshadowed the tale – I was still captured completely by Stephen’s vision and really enjoyed the novel. 🙂

If you’re looking for a a novel that deals with the events pertaining to Revelations and the end of the world in the Bible but don’t want to be innundated with Bible-quotes and the like, and want to discover new worlds and realms with interesting and incredible creatures, then The Exodus Gate is for you. Stephen has created worlds that enthralled me and characters that intrigued me – the kind of thing that every writer aspires to do. 🙂

I give The Exodus Gate a resounding 8 / 10 – incredibly imaginative and highly enjoyable, and I really looking forward to Book 2, The Storm Guardians.

You can order your copies of The Exodus Gate here (Amazon US and Kindle Edition) and here (Amazon UK), but I suggest heading over to Seventh Star Press, Stephen’s publisher, and ordering your copy through them (just scroll down to The Exodus Gate and check out the rest of the products available while you’re at it). 🙂 Don’t forget to head over to Stephen’s website – you’ll be able to read samples and more besides. 🙂

The next book by Stephen that I’ll be reading will be his Epic Fantasy novel, Crown of Vengeance. 🙂

Be EPIC!

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Posted by on June 4, 2010 in Reviews

 

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Announcing: The Rising Dawn Saga Book 2: The Storm Guardians by Stephen Zimmer

I’m on the cusp of finishing the first book in Stephen Zimmer’s The Rising Dawn Saga, The Exodus Gate, and I’m really enjoying the book – Stephen has great vision and his tale is really epic in scope, so it’s definitely great news that the second book in the series, The Storm Guardians, is on the way. 🙂 Here’s the cover, and check out the details below the cover.

For Immediate Release
May 18, 2010

Stephen Zimmer’s The Storm Guardians, Book Two of the Rising Dawn Saga,
Set For Launch at Hypericon

Seventh Star Press will be launching Stephen Zimmer’s second Rising Dawn Saga novel, The Storm Guardians, at the Hypericon science fiction and fantasy convention in Nashville, TN, taking place from June 4-6, 2010.

Book two in the epic urban fantasy series, the release reflects the commitment of Seventh Star Press to have a new title out each year in the Rising Dawn Saga. The Storm Guardians follows the events and characters introduced in The Exodus Gate, and is an installment full of action and intrigue set in a parallel world very similar to Earth.

With a multi-threaded style that focuses on a diverse range of characters, the novel appeals to readers of epic and urban fantasy alike. The danger rises and the stakes grow throughout all of the story threads in The Storm Guardians: A massive battle looms in the spirit realms, as the Fallen Avatar Beleth’s legions pour into the Middle Lands. Babylon Technologies prepares to unveil its greatest invention, a technology that will impact every living being on the face of the world. The shape-shifting An-Ki find themselves in grave peril, as the Night Hunt resumes once again. A
small group of high school students make an incredible discovery, even as tensions swirl in a small town over a law enforcement deadlock that causes a sheriff to question his own part in the course of events. The Convergence continues its steadfast march towards a global legal and economic order, using all means at its disposal. The question is: Who will be the guardians against the storm?

The Rising Dawn Saga is just one of two active fantasy series by Stephen Zimmer, whose epic medieval Fires in Eden series was set in motion with the release of Crown of Vengeance, in November of 2009. The second book in the Fires in Eden series is slated for winter of 2010.

Amanda DeBord, chief editor at Seventh Star Press, and who was the editor for Zimmer’s The Exodus Gate and Crown of Vengeance novels, said about the new book, “I’m so excited for the release of The Storm Guardians, and happy to be one of the first to tell readers that they’re going to love the developments in this second installment of Zimmer’s Rising Dawn Saga. Fans of The Exodus Gate will be happy to see the return of familiar faces, and some real heroes arising from the action. However, Stephen has taken
care to ensure that new readers to the series will be able to jump right in to the story.”

The Storm Guardians also continues the artistic collaboration between fantasy artist Matthew Perry and Stephen Zimmer, featuring no less than thirteen brand new, full page illustrations, as well as the cover art. Along with The Exodus Gate and Crown of Vengeance, Matthew has now done more than 40 full page illustrations and three covers in his association
with Stephen’s literary works. “Stephen’s narratives cover the gamut of deep introspectiveness to epic, world-changing events. To have that range, and to be to able to go in and out of those possibilities, makes it an adventure for me to see what emerges from the empty canvas,” said Matthew.

One of the most active fantasy authors in productivity and appearances, Stephen will be visiting numerous conventions and bookstores throughout 2010 in support of The Storm Guardians and his other literary works and
film projects.

The Hypericon visit from June 4-6th in Nashville kicks off the support of The Storm Guardians, along with a June 7th appearance at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Memphis, TN. “I am really honored to be launching the new
book at Hypericon, which has always been a wonderful event, with many special friends, readers, and amazing guests, like this year’s guest of honor, a living literary legend, Ramsey Campbell. I’m very thankful to Fred Grimm for this opportunity. I can’t wait to find out what readers think of The Storm Guardians, as I believe it shows how I build upon my foundations in a series. Expect loads of action, and many surprises!” Stephen said.

A special collector’s edition hardcover, limited to 75 copies, is now being offered with a full package of collectibles, with trade paperback,
hardcover, Kindle, and eBook editions to follow.

Updates and additional information can be obtained at the official site for Seventh Star Press, at www.seventhstarpress.com, or at the author’s site at www.stephenzimmer.com

Hypericon’s official website can be found at: www.hypericononline.com

Contact: C.C. James
Public Relations, Seventh Star Press
ccjames@seventhstarpress.com
Seventh Star Press Mailing Address:
3801 Dylan Place Suite 116, #7
Lexington, Ky. 40514-1062

Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher of speculative fiction located in Lexington Kentucky.

To sweeten this post, I’ve got some of Matthew Perry’s artwork for you to enjoy!

Awesome stuff, right? 🙂 Keep an eye out for more – I’ll be posting the rest of the artwork that Stephen sent me leading up to HyperiCon. 🙂

Be EPIC!

P.S. Apologies once again for the formatting – still a problem, as you can see.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2010 in Angry Robot

 

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M.D. Thalmann

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