Heart of a Lion by Stephen Zimmer feels like the book Mr. Zimmer had always been working towards. In this epic fantasy, the horror/fantasy author pulls out all the stops and truly exhibits his talents. Strange beasts, epic battles, action, adventure, and rich characters, this book delivers them all.
First, there is Rayden Valkyrie who is introduced kicking ass and never seems to stop. She is the epitome of a badass, cool weapons, warrior skills, and a strict moral code. She is a true heroine who fights for those who need her help and metes out swift, harsh justice to her foes and those who prey on the weak. She reminds one of the shield maidens from Vikings but she has no community. A drifter in a strange new setting. Almost immediately, I was attached to her and wanted her to succeed. There are some great descriptions that show her intensity and experience as a warrior while still keeping her past a mystery.
The setting seems like the fantasy world a reader would love to get lost in. I hope that future books have a map because I want to explore it as much as possible. This harsh environ proves a challenge for the warrior and a source of conflict. I can't wait to go back. Stephen Zimmer is an expert at creating rich, vivid fantasy worlds full of interesting inhabitants.
The experience of creating beasts of mythic proportion comes through in several intense scenes. Looking back at the end of the book, I was shocked at what an adventure this was and there were plenty of moments where I thought even Rayden wouldn't make it out. There is nothing held back as far as challenges in this world.
The villains are fitting for such a cool hero. Dark magic and an entire army confront her and there are some sick individuals traipsing through this land and this leads to some epic confrontations. If you like battle scenes, read this book!
I am a huge fan of the Rising Dawn Sage by Zimmer but have to admit this is his best book yet. Check it out immediately. There was an awesome event I got to attend when this epic first came out.
Book Synopsis for Heart of a Lion: Rayden Valkyrie. She walks alone, serving no king, emperor, or master. Forged in the fires of tragedy, she has no place she truly calls home. A deadly warrior wielding both blade and axe, Rayden is the bane of the wicked and corrupt. To many others, she is the most loyal and dedicated of friends, an ally who is unyielding in the most dangerous of circumstances. The people of the far southern lands she has just aided claim that she has the heart of a lion. For Rayden, a long journey to the lands of the far northern tribes who adopted her as a child beckons, with an ocean lying in between. Her path will lead her once more into the center of a maelstrom, one involving a rising empire that is said to be making use of the darkest kinds of sorcery to grow its power. Making new friends and discoveries amid tremendous peril, Rayden makes her way to the north. Monstrous beasts, supernatural powers, and the bloody specter of war have been a part of her world for a long time and this journey will be no different. Rayden chooses the battles that she will fight, whether she takes up the cause of one individual or an entire people. Both friends and enemies alike will swiftly learn that the people of the far southern lands spoke truly. Rayden Valkyrie has the heart of a lion. Heart of a Lion is Book One of the Dark Sun Dawn Trilogy.
Amazon Links for Heart of a Lion
Barnes and Noble Link for Heart of a Lion
About the author: Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based in Lexington Kentucky. His work includes the cross-genre Rising Dawn Saga, the epic fantasy Fires in Eden series, the sword and sorcery Dark Sun Sawn Trilogy, featuring Rayden Valkyrie, the Harvey and Solomon Steampunk tales and the Hellscapes and Chronicles of Ave short story collections.
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