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Steve Ramirez
The Great Migration
After a hundred years of peace on the remote continent of the Kingdom, evidence of the mysterious beings known as the s’orne has been discovered. Having just completed an eight-month wilderness tour, Bellona Stanick is ignorant of the threat as she arrives at the nation's capital to attend the city's weeklong summer festival. Along with three other members of her tour group, Bellona hopes to enjoy the week's festivities while exploring her newfound feelings for her guide, Luta, a member of the ancient, enigmatic Zuni tribe. As the festival begins, news of a s'orne incursion and contagion event across the country reaches the capital. As the Kingdom's defenses mobilize to protect its Citizens, fate brings Bellona to a new realization about the s'orne and their connection to the Zuni lands. Knowing an invasion of the capital is inevitable, she must choose between protecting the city and its Citizens, or Luta and his homeland.
In this ambitious fantasy, the relative peace of the Kingdom is disrupted by a sudden invasion of the contagious scourge known as the s’orne, rampaging monsters that appear out of nowhere to infect populations with their hunger, capable of devastating entire cities. Even as the first incursion overwhelms the city of Guerdon, threatening the life of young Prince Lemual, King Cortez prepares to defend his capital, the Crystal City. Meanwhile, socialite Bellona Stanick, recently returned from a tour of the danger-filled nature preserve Thunder Valley, explores her newfound relationship with disgraced tour guide Luta, freshly exiled from his Zuni tribe. When they discover the shocking secret behind the s’orne, they must survive long enough to make their knowledge matter, but it may be too late.

This adventure begins at the conclusion of Bellona’s arduous tour of Thunder Valley, a choice that creates the impression of coming in at the end of another story and having missed out on the development of the slow-burning romantic situation between her and Luta, an episode with little relation to the s’orne-centric drama that follows. That shifting focus carries through the rest of the narrative, as Ramirez introduces numerous characters—both primary and supporting—only for many to meet their end in the rampage of the s’orne, leading much of this story to feel like false starts and dead ends.

There’s a lot of potential to this story, injecting zombie apocalypse tropes into an epic fantasy setting and creating a life-or-death situation where no one is safe. Colorful characters, such as the foul-mouthed, rebellious Princess Dorinda liven things up. The story’s scope is epic, and the world building is impressive and detailed, though it’s often revealed through exposition rather than action or character, as when Bellona learns the true history of the s’orne in a lecture-like manner. This tale of survival against overwhelming odds, where no character’s safety is guaranteed, is ideal for fantasy fans as invested in imagined worlds as characters.

Takeaway: An audacious apocalyptic fantasy with a serious body count.

Great for fans of: Robert R. McCammon’s Swan Song, A.G. Riddle’s The Atlantis World.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: B