A guest post by Stephen Zimmer to commemorate the opening day of 48 date Spirit of Fire blog tour
This is the first day of the Spirit of Fire blog tour, and I thought it would be a good idea to make this first guest posting somewhat of an introduction to the new book and series. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to be on Fantasy Book Review, which was among the first group of review sites to take a look at my debut novel, The Exodus Gate, when it was released back in 2009.
Quite a lot has happened since that point, not the least of which has been the growth of both of my series. One, the Rising Dawn Saga, which began with The Exodus Gate, has seen three titles released, while the other is the focal point of this blog tour, as the third title in the Fires in Eden series is about to hit the streets.
As my regular readers know, I have a very definite approach to a series, with my first books being very foundational in nature, and the subsequent titles building upon that foundation with a cohesive progression of my story threads. I believe this has a strong effect on how each title comes across, as I do not set things up, and then walk away from them. I believe in giving the readers payoffs, and big payoffs at that, with the things they have invested in the story.
Spirit of Fire is a book that really illustrates that dynamic, as many things set in place during Crown of Vengeance, the first title, and Dream of Legends, the second, are realized in spectacular fashion during this installment. It is a very action-heavy title, as the lands of Saxany and the Five Realms are both immersed in the cauldron of war.
The ensemble that have come into Ave from our own world find themselves being taken in new directions, as the group is spread even wider apart. A little more is revealed about why they are deemed so important to the Unifier. In the process, the reader will get to explore Avalos, the city that serves as the seat of the Unifier, and the lands of Midragard far to the south of Ave.
As with all of my other titles, Matthew Perry created a wonderful set of illustrations to go with the new cover art. As an author, it is a lot of fun to see how an award-winning artist interprets various scenes and characters from a book. It is especially interesting to see how some of the interpretations evolve.
Matt did a Trogen brandishing a longblade on the back of a Harrak steed as one of the pieces for Crown of Vengeance, and sketched an Arcamon upon its infernal steed for the limited edition version of Dream of Legends. In the Spirit of Fire set, we get to see a great rendition of the Trogen warrior Dragol, and also get another view of an Arcamon, in a piece that includes Matt’s first rendition of Mershad Shahab. It was a lot of fun for me to compare the two Trogen pieces and the two Arcamon pieces, as you can see Matt gaining a stronger sense of these two creatures in the more recent depictions.
The new book also features something that has been requested of me by many readers; a map. I did not put a map of all of Ave into this title, as I want the reader to discover the new lands for themselves in the future, but I did include nearly all of the territory relevant to the story threads in Spirit of Fire. About the only area mentioned several times in the books but not depicted on the map is the Shadowlands, but readers can see the layout and shape of places such as Midragard, Saxany, Gael, the Five Realms, Avanor, Ehrengard, Eberias, the Sunlands, Saljuka, the Fahtamid lands, and more. Matt really made the map look nice from the very rudimentary sketch I handed him with the outlines of the lands.
There is also an appendix in the new book to serve as a quick reference with some of the creatures, characters, and other elements in the series. I intend to expand upon this appendix quite a lot in the future, including putting a version of it online.
With the appendix, map, and artwork, I think the readers have been provided with some great additional material to enhance their enjoyment of the new title.
I had another wonderful experience working with my editor for this series, Karen M. Leet, who I affectionately call “The Literary Commando”. She’s very meticulous, and fills notebooks for her own use when she analyzes the manuscript. Her insights and suggestions were fantastic, and the book was made stronger because of her involvement. She has a love for fantasy and has been thorough in her analysis of my series, and as a writer it is very reassuring to have an editor who gives it so much focus.
At the end of the day, though, it is the readers who will determine the merits of a new book and its place in the series. Knowing what the readers have enjoyed in the first two installments, I am confident that they will really enjoy Spirit of Fire, but the jury is out as the book release arrives. We’ll have to see what happens, but no matter what, my readers know that I give them every last ounce of effort I have to bring these books to them.