Sunday, June 14, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: The Exodus Gate by Stephen Zimmer

TITLE: The Exodus Gate, Book One of the Rising Dawn Saga
AUTHOR: Stephen Zimmer
PUBLISHER: Seventh Star Press, LLC, 2009
ISBN 978-0-615-26747-0 (566 pages)

The end of the world was coming, but almost no one believed it.

A fan of Benedict Darwin, host of a late night radio talk show, loans him what is supposed to be the prototype of a new virtual reality game. Darwin soon realizes this is unlike any game ever known when he steps into the device's elaborate harness and is instantly transported into a world where talking wolf-man hybrids called An-Ki are at war with the Nephilim and demons from the Abyss. The creatures he encounters, and the world they inhabit, are not mere computer constructs, images on wireframe. He can feel the ground beneath his feet, the wind on his face, and smell the odors of a different world.Excited, Darwin shows the game to his niece, Arianna, unwittingly making her a player in the drama that is about to unfold.

It rapidly becomes certain that the Gate was designed for more nefarious purposes than mere entertainment. The game is not a game at all, but a Gate through time and space, allowing Darwin to travel to before the Great Flood. His usage of the Gate attracts the attention of the High Avatar Calliel, who wishes to deliver the An-Ki from their watery doom into the modern world. Darwin learns that there are others, Fallen Avatars who have a similar goal in mind: to cheat Adonai of His Plan to rid the world of the evil that has overtaken it by sending themselves and their Nephilim offspring into the future.

Darwin and his niece are caught up in a growing conflict between the Fallen Avatars and the An-Ki. Unable to prevent the Gate's use by the Fallen, they work to stop the Nephilim, their Masters and minions from obliterating the An-Ki and taking back the power they lost at the Flood.

Stephen Zimmer has given us an epic tale that stretches across millennia and myth. He casts ordinary people in a most extraordinary situation and takes us along for a terrifying and sometimes horrifying ride. The unbridled evil of the Fallen Avatars is echoed in their children, while the An-Ki's noble struggle for survival is often heartbreaking. The hope offered by the presence of the High Avatar Calliel is the only thing that might carry the An-Ki through – if their internal discord can be contained.

The first book of the Rising Dawn Saga, The Exodus Gate is a promising beginning to what will probably be a thrilling trilogy in a style that is a cross between Clark Ashton Smith and C.S. Lewis for its usage of mythic and religious symbols in a fantastic mixture of the ancient and modern worlds.