26 March, 2010

Review: The Exodus Gate by Stephen Zimmer

It took me some time to read and it took me also some time to find the proper words for the review of

The Exodus Gate (2009, 566 p.) [US][UK], Stephen Zimmer

One the one hand I stay in contact with Stephen Zimmer. He sent my a copy of The Exodus Gate and additional stuff. On the other hand these factors should not influence my own view. I tried to be honest and fair.
I felt I must write these words before the real review.

The Exodus Gate is the first book in the Rising Dawn Saga. What is the book about? Let me quote the back of the book because it gives you a fair view:
"Benedict Darwin, host of a popular late night radio show that deals with the paranormal, comes into possession of a virtual reality simulator that turns out to be something far greater and more powerful than he ever expected.
Supernatural powers from the Abyss and their human allies are working tirelessly to bring about a One World Government, bridging the boundaries of time and space to bring back the Nephilim, the offspring of Fallen Avatars and humans, who were destroyed in a Great Flood that occurred long ages ago.
On the verge of enslaving the entire world, the vast forces within the Abyss under their proud and defiant ruler Diabolos are more powerful than ever before, and they hunger to shake the foundations of Heaven itself. A Convergence of unprecedented proportions is underway, as meticulously designed plans from malevolent otherworldly powers, set into motion at the foundation of the world, begin to unfold.
In the face of this rising storm, other powers begin to come together to resist. A most unlikely group begins to form, including high school student Seth Engel and his friends, who witness pony-sized wolves during a hike in a forest where wolves have not been seen in decades, to Benedict, his niece Arianna, and even souls existing within the afterworld. The Exodus Gate sets in motion many new forces and unexpected allies that are not going to allow their world and those beyond to fall without a fight."

Rising Dawn Saga is Stephen's second series beside his The Fires of Eden series . Read my review of Crown of Vengeance. The setting of both series is totally different but there are some similarities in the structure of the story and the story telling. The story is told in seven sections. Each section is divided in several named chapters. Each chapter is told from a character's point of view. Like in Stephen Zimmer's Crown of Vengeance, The Exodus Gate shows interspersed chapters which are told by inhabitants from the different worlds and not only the "good" ones.

I read the first chapter - THE ABYSS - several times because I found it confusing. I sent a mail to Stephen and told him about my problem.
He replied " I intended to set a tone for the scale and supernatural elements of the book, before zeroing in on introducing a principle character, Benedict."
So don't get confused like I did. But Stephen hooked me with the next paragraph BENEDICT.
The imagination of a seven foot height wolf on two legs just face to face made my skin crawl.

I liked especially every use of the virtual reality simulator. But I lost a bit the contact the more the story turned to the real world.

And I must admit that there is one thing I really could not cope with: I call it the religious trace. There are so many religious references: names like Satariel, Gamaliel, Thaumiel,the Abyss as a symbol of hell, Benedict and Arianna look like pawns in the preparation of Armageddon, not to forget the Great Flood. And there are more.

Don't get me wrong. Stephen Zimmer delivers a sufficient foundation for the following books. His mix of ideas is unconventional. But for me there is too much religion in the book.
So we have one author with two series. And when I compare the
Rising Dawn Saga with The Fires of Eden series, then I must say that my heart beats for The Fires of Eden.

Nobody can love every book. I'm sorry Stephen but
The Exodus Gate is not my favorite kind of story.


Bona Fide's Book Oracle

What is Bona Fide's Book Oracle? To keep it short. It is a palaver about the reviewed book held by ediFanoB and his alter ego Bona Fide. And I am the keeper of the minutes. Now read my minutes..


Bona: "Hey Fide, last week urban steampunk romance. How would you categorize The Exodus Gate? Fide: "Hey Bona, you don't waste a second. Let's get down brass tacks! Let me enumerate: Adventure, history, science, fantasy and a trace of religion." Bona: "Not bad for a ninny-hammer like you. That means a scientific adventure?" Fide: "I'm a ninny-hammer. How should I know." Bona: "Hey, don't be in a snit. Lets come back to the trace of religion you mentioned. Any explanation for that?" Fide: "Well, for me the Abyss is a kind of hell. And Benedict and Arianna are pawns in the preparation of Armageddon." Bona: "That must not be bad." Fide: "Of course not. But you must like it. To be honest it is not exactly my taste." Bona: "You have a point here. One can't like/love any book." Fide: "Stephen put in a lot of efford to create a believable world." Bona: "He did a good job in this case. Fide: "But I can't cope with this resonant religious touch." Bona: "That's your opinion. I have had some connection with Benedict and Arianna. But I lost them somewhere in the middle of the book." Fide: "So what do we tell our readers?" Bona: "It is the groundtaking first book of an end of time - apocalypse - story." Fide: "With a lot of interesting creatures." Bona: "It seems we are more the Crown of Vengeance readers and lovers than The Fires of Eden followers." Fide: "Different books for different people. Stephen Zimmer is a versatile writer." Bona: "That's it for today." Fide: "Now it is your turn keeper of the minutes."

I'm the keeper of the minutes and this is my conclusion:
The Exodus Gate is a solid start of an end of time story mixed of adventure, history, science, fantasy and an obvious trace of religion. If you like this kind of mix then read it.


Stephen Zimmer, the author of The Exodus Gate, has been so kind as to send me a signed copy of The Exodus Gate.

UPDATE: In the meantime I received a comment via mail from Stephen Zimmer. He told me that he unterstood what I tried to say. And he asked me whether I will give the sequel a chance or not. The next book will contain a lot more action including a massive battle. Stephen, of course I will read the sequel under that condition. Of course I'm aware that the action doesn't replace the religious traces. But I hope that they are less obvious.

8 comments:

Seak (Bryce L.) said...

Well done, Michael. It's tough to give the occasional less than good review especially after you enjoyed Zimmer's other book. Handled quite nicely. :)

Yagiz [Between Two Books] said...

That's what I'm reading next so I'm not going to read your review but I'm saving it after I write mine. ;)

Brenda said...

This one sounds good, especially since I don't mind a lot of religion in my books.

ediFanoB said...

@Seak,

I think we should be honest and fair with the books we review. Even we stay in contact with the author.

Please read the UPDATE at the end of the review.

ediFanoB said...

@Yagiz,

to be honest, I also try to avoid reading reviews of books I'm currently reading.
Now I look forward to your review :)

ediFanoB said...

@Brenda,

I really hope that people still give the book a chance after reading my review. And if you don't mind the religion as you wrote then give it a try.

Please read the UPDATE at the end of the review.

mis(h)takes said...

I enjoyed the review very much. Honest and simple :]

I admit I hadn't heard of the book before seeing your post but it does interest me.

I don't mind a little religious traces sprinkled throughout a good story. It's when those traces take away from the plot and novel itself that things start to go downhill for me.

I think I'll still give this one a go because I'm too curious about it.

I also like the cover for some reason. I could do without the shadowy human figure in the middle though...

ediFanoB said...

@mis(htakes,

thanks for your comment. You understood exactly what I tried to say with my review. Because I didn't like these religious traces it doesn't mean that The Exodus Gate is a bad book.
When you give it a try please let me know your opinion.