The Exodus Gate by Stephen Zimmer

Rating 7.9/10
Recommend for lovers of thoughtful fantasy.

Benedict Darwin, host of a popular late night radio show that deals with the paranormal, comes into possession of a virtual reality simulator that turns out to be something far greater and more powerful then he ever expected.

Supernatural powers from the Abyss and their human allies are working tirelessly to bring about a One World Government, bridging the boundaries of time and space to bring back the Nephilim, the offspring of Fallen Avatars and humans, who were destroyed in a Great Flood that occurred long ages ago.

On the verge of enslaving the entire world, the vast forces within the Abyss under their proud and defiant ruler Diabolos, the Shining One, are more powerful than ever before, and they hunger to shake the foundations of Heaven itself.

A convergence of unprecedented proportions is underway, as meticulously designed plans from malevolent otherworldly powers, set into motion at the foundation of the world, begin to unfold.

In the face of this rising storm, other powers begin to come together to resist. A most unlikely group begins to form, including high school student Seth Engel and his friends, who witness pony-sized wolves during a hike in a forest where wolves have not been seen in decades, to Benedict, his niece Arianna, and even souls existing within the afterworld. The Exodus Gate sets in motion many new forces and unexpected allies that are not going to allow their world and those beyond to fall without a fight.

The Exodus Gate is Denver-born author Stephen Zimmer's first full length novel. It is an ambitious tale of parallel worlds and not-so-virtual realities, heavenly bodies and sentient wolves, all the while featuring a narrative inspired by a diverse miscellany of lore and legend. Published by Seventh Star Press, it is the first book of the Rising Dawn Saga.

The Exodus Gate is an enjoyable book to read, it is also a big read. Despite being just over 550 pages in length, it requires dedicated time and effort but this outlay will be amply rewarded by a debut novel that has been constructed with great imagination and care, a novel that has the appearance of a real labour of love.

In a market that is flooded with Tolkien and Rowling pastiche it is refreshing to see an author attempting something different. Although Zimmer has, of course, called upon many existing sources and influences to help construct the story, there is much to be found that is original. Loosely classed as urban/contemporary fantasy, faith and belief are the overriding themes, allowing The Exodus Gate to also fall into the Christian fantasy genre. It is usual with Christian fantasy to find an author adopting a purely dogmatic approach which showcases their beliefs and which also encourages, with sledgehammer like subtlety, the reader to share these views. Despite having Christian elements within, Zimmer’s work cannot be classed as Christian fantasy due to the healthy inclusion of Islamic, Arabian, Jewish and Roman Catholic into the mix. And more importantly Zimmer has not adopted the dogmatic approach – he encourages you to think, and never at any time tells the reader what to think. 

When asked if The Exodus Gate could be classed as Christian fantasy, Zimmer replied:
“As far as The Exodus Gate and Rising Dawn Saga goes, my publisher does not market it as "Christian Fantasy" as far as categorizing it, and I definitely want it to be accessible to a mainstream audience. I love David Gemmell, and his response was always that things are there in his writing for those with the "eyes to see them". My work is such that it can be read purely as a fantstical tale, and it can also be read with an eye to some theological themes.  It is not intended to be preachy in any sense, in terms of beating readers over the head like the Left Behind books.  It does have some things that might be considered "inspirational" to those that are open to it.  In this story, the Nephilim and a cosmic war between Diabolos and Adonai create a framework that is clearly going to draw in some spiritual elements from Jewish and Christian heritages. There are references to Djinn (Islamic and pre-Islamic Arabian Lore), the formation of mythological gods like Enki and Erishkegal into the characters of Avatars.  The splitting of Diabolos as a Lucifer-like character, with Sammael as The Adversary, is definitely non-canonical (not to mention the usage of a purgatory-like realm, which is more strictly Roman Catholic in terms of the theology). That being said, there are several elements within the storyline and series that are spiritual in nature. Topics are dealt with more in an essence sort of way rather than strict, dogmatic interpretations.  I am an author who is a Christian, as opposed to being a Christian author.”

The Exodus Gate is a sometimes tough but ultimately gratifying read, a book that Fantasy Book Review recommends for lovers of thoughtful-fantasy. It is also a book with an ending that is near-prophetic, written as it was before the world’s economic meltdown.
Floresiensis 8.0/10

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This urban fantasy novel is the first entry in the Rising Dawn Saga and sees the host of a popular late night radio show Benedict Darwin coming into possession of a virtual reality simulator that turns out to be something far greater than he ever expected.

‘Supernatural powers from the depths of the Abyss and their human allies are working tirelessly to bring about a One World Government. They are also labouring to bridge the boundaries between time and space to bring back the Nephilim, the monstrous offspring of Fallen Avatars and humans that were destroyed in a Great Flood that occurred long ages ago.’

This interesting and compelling novel charts the opening skirmishes in a long running struggle that will literally see hell unleashed on earth (well an alternate parallel one anyway). Very dense and at times challenging I am glad I persevered with this 566 page ‘End of Days’ novel as it rewarded me with fantastical realms and creatures as well as convincing central characters like Benedict, Arianna and Seth. These are likeable, ordinary people thrust into extraordinary events.

Here the USA is the UCAS, China is Mandaria and Russia is Muscovy. Not very subtle but at least it’s easy to follow! This alternate world is much more Orwellian than our own with its constant surveillance of its citizens, the Guardian Act (instead of the Patriot Act?), ID cards and the shadowy Citizen Safety Department.

Like our world this one is suffering from recession and with the exodus gate now open it will soon be joined with the An-ki a werewolf like people who are being hunted to near extinction by the demon Erkorenen (The Night Hunters).

One of the bad guys is the attractive but stone-cold and ruthless Dagian Underwood, she is the CEO of Babylon Technologies, a company with its fingers in many pies. So the focus is not just on corrupt governments and monsters but also that other favourite of the early twenty first century: the corporations.

There is a lot to digest, but remember this is not a stand-alone novel, rather this entry is setting things up for a proposed epic series. Zimmer has a fantastic imagination and this is complimented in the striking artwork from Matthew Perry. It may not be to everyone’s tastes but for my money this is a bold and more importantly original slice (or should that be wedge?) of urban fantasy literature.
Daniel Cann 7.7/10
www.danielcann.com

This The Exodus Gate book review was written by and Daniel Cann

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