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Publisher: STAZR (2020)
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STAZR The World of Z: The Dawn of Athir, is the opening of a grand quest into the origin of this world, the history it has suppressed, and most important of all, a journey to open the legendary gates that will lead its people back out into the wider galaxy. Or at least that’s what the powers that be in the city of Trebarad believe when they uncover a prophecy about a “Chozen One” who can open the gate at the heart of the town.

The story begins with the finding of that Chosen One, the scholar Radatat Lael, living in self-imposed isolation far from the city – or anywhere else. Lael seems to be unique among the people of this world. He was born on Arisam and did not merely arrive, adult and ignorant, from the other side of the world. What also makes him unique is he actually had and remembers his childhood. This perspective will give him the insight required to open the mysterious and mystical “gates.”

Lael’s isolation has also given him a sense of wonder about the world that he has explored in books but never seen, as well as a bit of an overinflated sense of his own intelligence and consequence.

On his journey to Treebarad, he experiences wonders and dangers that he’s dreamed about, only to face decisions that mirror his visionary dreams. Disturbing visionary dreams – and far more dangerous.

This story is only the beginning of Radatat Lael’s story. As this opening volume in the series ends, Lael and his companions are on the cusp of moving out into the greater universe – but only after learning that much of what they believed about their world is not entirely true.

Lael’s story is a mix of science fiction and fantasy. Lael’s dreams of the STAZR Maiden, his visions that come true, the prophecy that sets the story in motion, and the saarum that gives the “Greats” of this world power – all read as fantasy. Lael’s journey itself reads like mythmaking and legend – although the legend being created is about himself and told from his first-person perspective. And Lael is just a bit full of himself much of the time.

But this is just the beginning of the STAZR world. Author, Dr. Anay Ayarovu a former Russian national is starting something new, building something rather admirable. She’s inviting all who feel they don’t belong (because, as she says, they are meant to create new ways of being) to contribute art in all forms to add to the expansive universe called Stazr. The book is just the foundation from which gaming, television series, and movies may spring. Authors of all skill levels are also invited to submit their short stories about the STAZR universe for consideration to be included in the series.

STAZR The World of Z: The Dawn of Athir as a whole is a bit of a tease. In Lael’s journey and the people and beings he meets, the reader gets the sense of a fascinating world just waiting to be discovered. Readers should know that this first installment is a chewy read. It takes patience and opens the gates of creativity and development within the reader. In short, the STAZR universe has the very real potential of becoming something far greater than what we see at this moment in time. There is a long list of questions about the fundamentals of this world as the story draws to a close, and given the author’s mission, this perhaps is a very good thing.

A new way of storytelling opens the doors for those with vision and drive to dive in. And what a brilliant way of going about it! Artists and authors alike will want to dig into this universe and explore the possibilities.