Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dream of Legends - Stephen Zimmer


About the Book

Dream of legends, and soar across the world of Ave…

For Janus and the other exiles from a modern world, finding themselves in the fantastical lands of Ave was just the beginning.  The assault upon the Kingdom of Saxany and the tribes of the Five Realms ignites, as the eyes of The Unifier turn southward, across the seas towards faraway Midragard.  A desperate, dangerous time looms, when all will be swept up in the tides of war rippling out from Avanor.

Yet in the heart of the maelstrom, several lights begin to shine through the darkness.  Some are on a path of discovery, to uncover the power that lies within, while others will brave perilous journeys, to seek out the things said to exist only in the faded mists of myth and legend.  In the face of monstrous adversaries, massive armies,  and even horrific entities summoned from infernal depths, courage and honor become the sword and shield in the hands of those who choose to resist.


746 pages (paperback)
Published: December 8, 2010
Publishing Company: Seventh Star Press
Author’s website

Thanks to Stephen Zimmer and Seventh Star Press for sending me a copy of this book to review.

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Poor Stephen Zimmer.

I don’t say this because he is poor, or bad in some way. I say this because the poor guy has had to wait for this review for months. Even today he’s had to wait. My goal was to have this review written and posted by 3pm. Here I am, starting on it at 5:20. It’s not his fault. I had my last ultrasound today to rule out a fatal disease the baby was high risk for. The ultrasound came back perfect and I’ve been basking in the glow all day. Even before that he’s had to wait. He sent me Dream of Legends in December, right after my cancer surgery when I was starting all my hormone therapy and I just couldn’t wrap my head around reading a book. Then, when I was feeling better I found out that (surprise) I was pregnant. Again, didn’t feel like reading a book while I came to terms with that development. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve felt like reading again and I have piles of books to catch up on.

Poor Stephen Zimmer. He waited through all of it as patiently as a human being can wait. Not only that, but he was so nice about my situation and understanding about the wait I was imposing on him and his wonderful book.

I say all of this because I feel he deserves some recognition for being the most patient man on the face of the planet. I also say it because it always helps me to know that the author of a book I am reading is approachable. I can ask him questions, discuss things with him and he never seems to mind (or he might just be really good at covering up his annoyance). That’s not a review of the book, but a review of the author that I felt potential readers should be aware of. He’s approachable, and that makes reading his work more interactive and fun. I feel like I’m reading a book a real person wrote, rather than a faceless name.

Now, onto the book review.

Dream of Legends is the second book in the Fires in Eden series, and it picks up right where the first book, Crown of Vengeance ends. Thus, those interested in this book should read Crown of Vengeance first. Due to the fact that this is the second book in a series I’m going to try my absolute hardest to write this review without giving away any plot spoilers at all. Thus, if I seem vague on some points, it’s because I don’t want to give anything away for potential readers.

Dream of Legends is quite a doorstopper, weighing in at just over 700 pages in length, each page packed with well-written details that can, at times, weigh down the plot a bit and make things hard to keep track of. This isn’t an easy reading book. It’s a book that demands the reader’s full attention to fully absorb. It’s also so filled with rich and well thought out details that readers can read it several times and learn something new each time. While I do tend to enjoy books filled with details and rich histories, I can see how the sheer volume of detail can make some readers rather frustrated at times.

Dream of Legends, like its predecessor, is highly character driven. The story is told by multiple points of view. This allows the reader to understand and sympathize with many different perspectives while insuring that the plot is highly character driven. However, it should be noted that there is quite a large cast playing in this book and, at times, it can get slightly confusing, though not to a degree that will hamper overall enjoyment of the plot. This form of writing also allows Zimmer to highly develop his characters and nicely round them out so many of them seem less like characters and more like real, living people.

This eases me into my next point. Zimmer does a wonderful job through the multiple points of view to display reasons behind actions on several sides of the conflict at hand. Thus, the line between the good guys and the bad guys is somewhat blurred as readers will, at times, find themselves sympathizing with both sides of the conflict. This also allows Zimmer to take a simple good vs. evil plot and add some depth, color and refreshing thought to things. Despite this, there still were some characters that I still couldn’t quite believe for various reasons. For example, one character is almost too patient to be believable. However, these small details are easy to overlook.

Dream of Legends, as I mentioned, is quite a long book, which does require dedication to read, but its well worth it. The plot is, quite simply, epic in scope and the vast amount of details Zimmer pours into this book (especially toward the middle section) really help support the epic setting for this series. Yet, the plot never seems to lag. After a somewhat slow-ish start, things pick up and move at a fast clip, never quite letting up until Zimmer reaches a very nice ending that will leave readers hanging on for book three.

Zimmer’s writing is fluid, and many of the small hiccups I noticed in Crown of Vengeance have been ironed out.  With a book this sprawling, character driven and filled with details, that fluid writing style he has grasped onto is very important. It helps make Dream of Legends an easier, less jarring ride through the author’s creation.

All in all, this series is developing nicely. The plot was intriguing and moved at a nice pace. The writing was fluid and easy to become absorbed in. Dream of Legends is highly character driven, which, to my mind, helped strengthen the book. Zimmer did a nice job at highlighting and, to some extent, humanizing both sides of this conflict. If the book can get a bit confusing with the large cast, and the details can, at times, bog the plot down, it’s easy to overlook. Dream of Legends is a solid installment to the Fires in Eden series and left me hanging on to read book three.

4/5 stars

Seventh Star Press news:

If you have an eReader, and have not checked out any Seventh Star Press books, or want e-versions, Seventh Star Press has a great sale going on.  Try Seventh Star Press for Two Dollars.  This sale has Crown of Vengeance and The Exodus Gate for $1.99, and Dream of Legends and The Storm Guardians are just a dollar more (all by Stephen Zimmer).  A YA fantasy by Jackie Gamber, Redheart, and a heroic fantasy novel called Thrall, by Steven Shrewsbury, are also part of this sale.  Check it all out here

Books I have reviewed are linked to throughout the text. My review of Crown of Vengeance also includes an author's interview.

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