I finally finished the third book in the ongoing series Fires in Eden by Stephen Zimmer and damn, I’m in mixed emotions. (In a good way)
I’ve said this before of the first two books that I’ve read in this series, and I’ll say it again, Stephen Zimmer belongs as a top tier Epic Fantasy writer. I’ve been reading fantasy my whole life, few stories build worlds that are very complex and yet you can grasp it all without having to consort with the Appendix. The world of Ave is dynamic in its inhabitants, from The Elder Dragons (the first creations that are essentially Immortals) to Wizards (actually a race more than profession) to the Trogans (big, muscular doglike warriors) to humans, little rat people, giant monstrosities, and an underground race with nearly stone hide. What is amazing, that even in the world of fantasy that has built so many creatures, Stephen manages to keep things fresh and sometimes leave you absorbed in the pages as he describes the new monstrosities that the Unifier (the main baddie) unleashes upon the only three kingdoms that didn’t bend a knee to his will.
You’d think that after three books, the good guys might catch a break, well, they kind of do at the very end of Spirit of Fire but really it’s a “Well at least they didn’t ALL die.” The story still swirls around the central line, The Unifier is a bad, bad dude. Most of the world is under his control as he uses his dark powers established in the earlier books as the chosen one of The Lord of Fire, who wants to bring about the Sundering and turn Ave into another pit of Hell, then bring down the gates of the All-Father, the symbol of good and light in the dark world. Though the Unifier twists and manipulates even those who think he is good to evil deeds. I love the inhabitants that get a POV in this story, Gunther, Mershad, and Dragol are still my favorites. Though, it seems the otherworlders, the 12 people who came from our world are proving more to be near useless. Though, when you think about it, if you all of a sudden found yourself in a Medieval world, with hundreds of exotic and dangerous monstrosities that could eat you up in a second, you’d probably find your worth to the natural people very low. We find out what role they have to play, I don’t want to spoil that for you, but I can’t help but feel like even though they are a big part of prophecy, it’s more like they’re just waiting to get pushed in the right direction. I’m wondering if Stephen is ever going to have the otherworlders dabble with trying to bring their advanced knowledge and use of our modern technologies to the world of Ave. Where I guess making boom sticks might be out of the question, I’d love it if the people started showing some more resourcefulness.
Spirit of Fire keeps building a truly unique story that fills my head with crazy dreams as I did some light reading before bed for the past few months. I only wish I could’ve found more time to have been able to read it faster. Stephen manages to build a world that is vivid and as you read the words unfolding before you, his ability to do what a writer should do best, paint a picture with words in your brain is unparalleled. I had a choice between reading this first or George RR Martins “A Dance with Dragons” I chose Spirit of Fire, and I’m not disappointed with my decision.