Note from Hannah: What lies ahead is a 2,000 word long guest post that you should not be afraid of but put aside the time to read thoroughly because once you’ve read it, you will understand why Ave is a world you need to read about.

Welcome to Ave!

Some of you who have not yet read my work may be asking yourselves, what is Ave? That’s the right question to ask, because Ave is the topic of this very post!

Ave is the name of the world that serves as the primary setting for my Fires In Eden Series, and as the setting for all of the tales being released as eShorts in the Chronicles of Ave collection.

The word itself contains a meaning of importance in the context of my series. It is a salutation or greeting in Latin that has a regal connotation, one that in English is best translated as “hail”. The word could be used, and was used, to salute an Emperor during the Roman Empire. For my purposes, I use the Anglicized pronunciation, which sounds like “ah-vay”, rather than the Latin which would be more like “ah-way”. Yet my meaning is the same.

The world of Ave, in its pristine form at the dawn of time, is intended as a salute to life itself. It is a robust hail to existence out of non-existence; the joy of the eternal over the ugliness of oblivion. Of course, as readers of my work know, Ave did not remain in this state when an immensely powerful supernatural being named Jebaalos, the greatest of the Archons (a non-physical race of beings similar to angels), led a great rebellion seeking to master the course of creation. Yet the word remains in place for this world, despite the course of events that followed the breakout of the celestial war. Ultimately, and importantly, it carries a sense of promise and hope for this story.

I have been thinking about and imagining this world since the mid 1990’s, during which time the first stages of what eventually became Crown of Vengeance began to take form. I envisioned Ave from the beginning as a multi-faceted world. It would be a world that had lands populated with realms based upon some of my favorite medieval cultures, and I also saw it as a world that would be very well-rounded, in that it would not just have a small number of types of cultures, but rather a very extensive spectrum. I also wanted to have some fun with iconic elements of fantasy, and bring to life some cultures and creatures from my own imagination.

I think that this varied approach, of blending different components, comes across very strongly in Crown of Vengeance. In the novel, it is not long at all before you meet the Saxans, who derive from Western European traditions (specifically the Anglo-Saxons, and also the Carolingian Franks). The reader also encounters the Five Realms, who derive from the Iroquois tribes of North America. You also meet several of the races that have no particular historical influence, more fully original cultures, if you will, such as the Trogens (a big, burly race that have facial characteristics not unlike pit bulls. The Trogens have a warrior-centric culture and serve in the forces of a being called the Unifier, in return for help against a centuries old oppression), the Atagar (rat-like in appearance, short of stature, from a land called Yanith. The Atagar also serve in the Unifier’s forces), and the Gigans (huge creatures with boar-like visages, who also serve in the Unifier’s forces).

There are also some of the iconic fantasy races introduced too, whether in reference or encounter, such as dragons and Elves, but I have worked to put some twists and turns into what I do with them in the story. To put it mildly, the Elves are not the kind of elves that you find in Middle Earth, and my dragons come in a few very distinctively different versions.

I even took an iconic fantasy figure, the wizard, and turned them into a specific race of beings. The Wizards reflect the different societies across the surface of Ave, in that the Wizards from different territories derive inspirations from the mythology and legends of the cultures that the Ave ones are based upon. In Midragard you meet Wizards named Frey, Tyr, and Heimdall, to give you a little idea, at least if you are up on your Norse mythology!

I hope that gives you a general idea of the range I seek in the populations inhabiting Ave. The avid fantasy reader will find things new, uncommon, and familiar, the latter with some twists perhaps, as they explore Ave. I did not want to discard either end of the spectrum, and I believe strongly that my approach offers comfortable ways to connect as well as more than enough fresh components to spike the interest of the well-read fantasy reader.

Enough about Ave’s populations for the time being, as it is highly important for a world to have engaging places for the various races and cultures to inhabit. As all of the story ideas began to take form within my mind, the layout of Ave began to emerge. Yes, there is finally a map included in the first edition of Spirit of Fire, but the sketches for the outlines of Ave’s lands also go back to the 90’s, I had to have an idea of the geographical proximity and location of lands for the telling of the story.

The map in Spirit of Fire, without revealing any big spoilers, is not comprehensive in regards to Ave. There is much more to be revealed about Ave, and the map is going to grow with new installments of the series and new eShorts being released.

Ave has its share of mountain ranges, deserts, dense forests, plains, jungles and more, but I didn’t want to totally tip my cap about what lies ahead, so the available map is more focused on an outline of the lands themselves and their relation in distance to each other. Getting a solid idea of these lands and their locations certainly helped in fleshing out Ave’s history, including understanding what lands would have been effected by certain events, and which ones would have been more disconnected due to being more remote (or, in the case of the Shadowlands, the nature of the land itself).

These are not thinly sketched lands. All of them have been extensively imagined, even if that kind of depth has not come to play in the Fires in Eden series or the short stories. Each of the lands within Ave could easily be the setting for a novel or series themselves, and I had a great deal of fun envisioning each one of them.

So let’s have a little fun right now! Here are a few that even avid readers of the series are not well familiar with, at least yet. Yes, readers, I would like to give Hannah a few scoops/reveals for Once Upon a Time! At the same time, this peak into three lands of Ave will give some notions of what I was referring to earlier.

Here we go!

First, we will take a look at a great land mass that contains Kiruva. With a multitude of rivers and sprawling, rolling steppes, the land of Kiruva is bordered to the north east by the Trogen lands, the north-central by the lands of the Gigan clans, and the northwest by the Mountain Troll (VERY big fellows, who serve no one) territory, all of the north being a mountainous terrain for the most part. To the east are lands containing nomadic warrior tribes. The Kiruvans are led by a Grand Prince, and divided up into territories run by others of the Grand Prince’s family. The Kiruvans are heavily inspired by the medieval Rus, the first Russian state that was catalyzed by Viking warrior-traders. Kiruva’s history is intertwined with Midragard, the Trogens, Gigans, Mountain Trolls, and even farther beyond, such as Theonia (a Byzantine-style Empire), Saljuka (a very powerful realm based on medieval Turks), and other territories. It has associated Wizards, and though it has not had much of a presence in the series so far, figures within it may well have an important part to play in the series. As you might guess, we are only nicking the surface here, in terms of what has been developed for Kiruva and its role within the series.

Second, let’s talk about Yanith for a few moments, as it appears on the new map and is mentioned in the series. Yanith is also a large land mass. It is separated by ocean waters from Kiruva to the eastern side, and Garia to the western side. Yanith is the land where the rat-like beings called the Atagar come from. It contains forests comprised of immense trees that would exceed our own Redwoods in the USA in both girth and height. The Atagar are not the only beings inhabiting this land, just the one that the readers know about right now. The Atagar, who are able to operate standing on two legs or using all four limbs, have adapted to this setting with really fascinating villages that are networks of rope and plank bridges between dwellings and other structures worked into the trees themselves, hundreds of feet above the forest floor, which is an exceedingly dangerous place to be. They train and raise Licanthers, brawny saber-toothed cats, to serve them like Roman’s would use war dogs. They have their own enemies in their own lands, and they have their own reasons for serving the Unifier. The motivation is much different than that driving the Trogens, and it will be brought to light at a future time.

I’ll talk about one more. The Shadowlands are mentioned in the Fires in Eden series many times, and readers get their first exploration of this territory in the Chronicles of Ave story titled “Land of Shadow.” This is where the Khalan hordes (stooped, long-limbed creatures, very suited for a desert environment), the bull-like Burujin, and other very thoroughly developed populations dwell. Ahriman, one of the most powerful of Wizards who sits on the Unifier’s High Council, has his stronghold deep within a storm-lashed, rocky, mountainous area covering the north of the Shadowlands, where things of unspeakable natures dwell in the deep gorges. The Shadowlands are extremely dangerous, riddled with horrific creatures, some of which are not entirely of the natural world, and readers are going to encounter a great deal in the future of the Fires in Eden series and other short stories in the Chronicles of Ave as these lands come more and more into play.

Three distinctively different lands. Three heavily developed lands. They have barely come into the scene at the moment, and they are far from the only ones looming! At the least, I hope that these brief illustrations of some of the lands of Ave give you some idea of the way that Ave works between its inventive elements, historically based elements, and its iconic elements. I also hope that it gives you a hint of how extensive this world is, and for those that have already read the books and short stories, how much lies ahead.

As a world, I also wanted to distinguish Ave from Earth in some fundamental ways. This led me to deciding to have the sky color be a different shade of blue, and to have a pair of moons in orbit around it. The pair of moons factors into the story line, so there is a definite purpose for dual moons, but that is all I can say at the moment! You’ll know what I mean when you get to the end of the series.

I could write extensively about Ave, but I don’t want to totally take over Hannah’s site as she has been most generous in hosting me here. I simply hope this gives you a little insight into what inspired Ave, what it is like, and how much has not yet been delved into. My understanding of this world grows with every passing day, and the future is sure to bring even more revelations to me about the things contained within this world.

So welcome to Ave! I invite all of you who have not experienced its wonders yet to explore a richly layered and exciting world! Come along and join me on the adventures in the Fires in Eden Series, the Chronicles of Ave, and perhaps other projects yet to appear on the horizon that are set within this wondrous world!

About the Author

Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker, whose literary works include the epic urban fantasy series The Rising Dawn Saga, as well as the epic medieval fantasy Fires in Eden Series.

The Exodus Gate, Book One of the Rising Dawn Saga, was Stephen’s debut novel. It was released in the spring of 2009, with The Storm Guardians following in 2010, and The Seventh Throne in August of 2011.

Crown of Vengeance, Book One of the Fires in Eden Series, was released in the fall of 2009, with Book Two, Dream of Legends, following in December of 2010. Crown of Vengeance received a 2010 Pluto Award for Best Novel in Small Press.

Stephen’s short fiction includes the Harvey and Solomon steampunk stories included in the Dreams of Steam and Dreams of Steam II: Bolts and Brass anthologies from Kerlak Publishing.

As a filmmaker, Stephen’s film credits include the supernatural thriller feature Shadows Light, the horror short film The Sirens, and the recent Swordbearer, a medieval fantasy short film based upon the H. David Blalock novel Ascendant.

Further information on Stephen Zimmer can be found at his website, Facebook and on Twitter.

You can find his Fires of Eden series on Amazon at: Crown of Vengeance (UK/US), Dream of Legends (UK/US), and Spirit of Fire (UK/US).