A strange and mystical prophecy was found in the city of Treebarad. On a piece of parchment, old long-forgotten events come back to life, the memory of which was intentionally erased. A mysterious prophecy now gives hope to the twisted ruling race that the power they seek lies behind an ancient gate. On the reverse side of the oracle are coordinates to the location of the Chosen One.
Lael is an introverted and naive writer who grew up with a book in one hand and a quill in the other. All his life, he has lived in a peaceful solitude, reading and writing his short stories and dreaming big of one day becoming a prestigious author. To his surprise and delight he must now become savior of the Star people and take the journey to find answers that do not exist in books.
Lael’s digressive journey is far from the usual high fantasy fare. For all its comic incidents and occasional dangers, his story focuses on Ayarovu’s worldbuilding—the many invented nouns are helpfully footnoted—and her protagonist's discovery of his place in that world. Accompanied by a chatty not-quite-pig called a “shwine,” Lael traverses the Worthless Lands, marveling at every strange encounter or feature of Ayarovu’s fantastical landscape: a reeking bird woman, the dancing rituals of one of Stazr’s “middling species.” The greater purpose of Lael’s quest, to reopen lost gates between worlds, is not revealed until deep in the book. For more answers, readers are invited to investigate the author’s multimedia tie-ins online.
Ayarovu’s eagerness to share her love of her world’s languages and cultures comes at the cost of narrative momentum. Readers eager only for adventure may find the trek arduous, especially when Lael narrates his dreams, recounts tall tales, or engages in philosophical inquiry about the nature of freedom. Those interested in a meandering journey through the imaginative wilds will relish Ayarovu’s immersive storytelling.
Takeaway: This ambitious fantasy travelogue will reward readers who favor thoughtful inventiveness over high-tension adventure.
Great for fans of Sofia Samatar, Mervyn Peake.
Design and typography: B+
Marketing copy: B
Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
STAZR The World of Z is the first book in The Dawn of Athir series by Dr. Anay Ayarovu, and it is an epic fantasy that features Lael, the unusual protagonist who finds himself caught up in a mystery that is about to blow his mind. Lael is an aspiring author. In fact, he has written some short stories and is now contemplating his next big book, a novel that he thinks will become a masterpiece. But how he finds himself at the center of a prophecy is what makes things even more exciting. He lives in a world where class distinction is very strong and where the ruling class takes advantage of those they lord over. Someone has stumbled upon a prophecy from beyond the Roum. The message contains the coordinates of Lael’s residence, which is how he gets embroiled in unraveling the prophecy.
This novel is filled with humor. The narrative voice in the first person captures the sentiments and worldview of Lael in an absorbing manner. When readers encounter the protagonist, they get the impression of someone who is full of himself, confident, and even vain in his knowledge, but from the moment that the shwine messenger delivers a message to him, his world is turned upside-down. He has to put his feet on the ground and shun the delights of reveling in books to avoid the crude realities of life. The adventure is wonderful and the story suspenseful. The reader will want to know what happens to Lael’s world and if the strong and privileged class can use him to acquire a power that has been hidden for ages. It is his transformation and growth that intrigued me. STAZR The World of Z is transporting, featuring well-developed and interesting characters, and is a world that has its unique rules and language.