Crown of Vengeance by Stephen Zimmer (Fires in Eden: Book 1)

‘Crown of Vengeance’ is the first in the ‘Fires In Eden’ series and begins on an ordinary night in an ordinary Midwestern town in America. Here we meet Janus, Erika, Mershad, Lee, Ryan and many others. These are all ordinary people from different walks of life, students and workers who all share the same disillusionment with their current circumstances and their lives in general. One evening they are all out in various parts of town when they become engulfed in a strange mist. When the mist dissipates they all find themselves looking up into the bright skies of a new, incredible world.

This new world is Ave. Some of the new arrivals find themselves in the lands of the Saxan Kingdom, others in the lands of Onan, one of the tribes of the Five Realms confederation. War is fast approaching as the armies of the powerful and ambitious Unifier strive to wipe out all opposition and thus bringing everyone under one rule. An invasion force is massing and it is not long before a war begins that will be fought on land, sea, in the air and even in places non-physical in nature.

Zimmer has brought us an epic, sweeping fantasy that takes the reader from the modern contemporary world and into a diverse and intriguing new one. I thoroughly enjoyed reading on as the group attempt to adapt to their strange new environment, overcoming fear and uncertainty and coming to terms with their unusual and unique predicament. It really is a case of the old maxim of being careful of what you wish for!

Zimmer displays not only a strong grasp of creating well-developed believable characters but also a superb imagination as his group of people encounter many exotic creatures from Eden. They also meet the mysterious Wanderer who I am sure will pop up again later in the series. All the characters have demons to face and to conquer like Janus who is on a spiritual as much as a physical journey as he is still coping with the loss of his father.

‘Crown of Vengeance’ covers the usual themes of friendship, cooperation, survival, good versus evil but it also deals very well with deeper issues of sovereignty and self- determination. This can be read as your standard fantasy novel but there are much bigger things going on under the surface. I was engrossed as I read about the different people in the new world and their struggle to hold onto their individual identities and cultures in the face of a tyrannical force attempting to subjugate them.

The underdog versus a ruling elite is something that we can all relate to no matter what world you are from and there are plenty of parallels with our own history and culture to keep the reader on their toes. This reads like a modern day C.S. Lewis and Zimmer manages to pull it all off with great aplomb. I cannot wait to read the next in the series.

Published 2009 by Seventh Star Press, ISBN 9780982565612

9/10 This reads like a modern day C.S. Lewis and Zimmer manages to pull it all off with great aplomb.

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