Saturday, November 7, 2015

Blog Tour & #Giveaway ~ Heart of a Lion (Dark Sun Dawn, Book 1) by Stephen Zimmer @sgzimmer

Welcome to Stephen Zimmer's Heart of a Lion Virtual Tour


Oh, Stephen has done it now.....His Sweet Sixteen list of fantasy movies has me wanting to skip doing homework and pop movies in instead!!!  I've seen all but one of the movies (The Chronicles of Narnia - but I've read the books!) but it's been awhile.  I own half of them.....I see a fantasy movie weekend in my future!

Sapphyria's Book Reviews asked for a Top Ten, so I decided to go the extra mile and I give to you Stephen’s Sweet Sixteen! 

Before we get started, I must state that I focused on the more strictly fantasy type of movies, which rules out some favorite science fiction movies. An argument can be made for Star Wars being included in a fantasy list, but I left it in the science fiction category. No spaceships for the films on this list, LOL (Okay, maybe one. You'll have to read to find out which). Magic, wizards, swords, ancient worlds, and more abound in these great flicks.

Here's the list, in no particular order, other than the number one slot, which belongs to:

The Lord of the Rings

A stunning adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkiens classic trilogy. I remember seeing Fellowship of the Ring for the first time in the theater and how blown away I was at how Peter Jackson's film mirrored the way I had seen these characters in my own mind. This is a true triumph in every sense of the words, filled with great performances, gorgeous imagery and and thrilling action. 


A movie that was groundbreaking, in many ways, in its use of CGI, especially for the 2-headed dragon that shows up at a castle. It has some great action but also has a good dose of humor. Val Kilmer's character is greatly entertaining too, not quite the Conan-esque warrior image you might expect of one reputed to be a “great warrior”! And the pair of tiny fellows, also a hoot! 

The Chronicles of Narnia

As with Lord of the Rings, I was amazed at how wonderfully these films capture the book essences. I wish they had done well enough to encourage the making of all seven, but I'm glad they made Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is my favorite of the books. Aslan is majestic and powerful, and the spirit of the books is there for sure. These are movies with a very positive vibe about them. 

Time Bandits

An immensely fun movie, following a child and a band of dwarves traipsing across time and space. The Fortress of Ultimate Darkness was pretty ominous to me as a kid watching this one. I loved the time travel to different eras dimension to this one, with everything from ancient Greece to the Napoleonic Wars to Robin Hood included. A great adventure film with a cosmic backdrop! 

The Beastmaster

I loved The Beastmaster growing up, with all of the lovable animals like the ferrets Kodo and Podo. I admit having great enjoyment as a lad watching Tanya Roberts onscreen as well! The movie had some pretty intense, darker elements, such as the eagle-men with their ability to dissolve people within their wings. As a kid, that rattled me quite a bit! I almost felt sorry for the Jun Horde! 

The Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal was an amazing movie that featured the magic of Jim Henson puppetry. The evil Skeksis and their crab-like Garthim warriors, the Mystics (probably the slowest moving creatures in all of fantasy movie history, LOL), and the Gelflings make for an inventive, dark-edged movie that had some impressive animatronics for the time. 

Conan the Barbarian

Conan the Barbarian was very inspirational to me as a kid. James Earl Jones was incredible as the shape-shifting, magic-using villain, and Arnold was a force to be reckoned with on screen. This is a great, fantastical, sword-and-sorcery movie with a pretty impressive snake cult! 

300: Rise of An Empire and 300

The visual style of these movies is special and unique, like seeing a fusion of graphic novel and movie (which is kinda what the point was!). Gerard Butler is one of my favorite actors, and Eva Green is my favorite actress, and the cast is very strong in these movies. Fantastical, dark-edged interpretations of the ancient wars of the Greeks and Persians. Amazing movies And did I mention that Eva Green is awesome? haha


A great dragon movie that had some pretty frightening sequences, such as the sacrificial scene of the young maiden. Some tremendous stop-motion animation and one of the best dragon designs I've ever seen in movies. I especially love the underground scenes, with moments such as when the dragon rises up from within the burning lake. 


This movie tugged powerfully at my heart strings, with the two lovers cursed to live a life where one took an animal form while the other took a human form, changing at night and dawn and just being able to catch a glimpse of each other in their human forms at the same time during the transition. I've always liked Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick have great performances. It also has a wonderful, beautiful ending. 


Another amazing movie featuring some incredible puppetry work from Jim Henson's crew, but also some pretty incredible acting performances. David Bowie is captivating as the Goblin King and the movie has a great fairy tale kind of air about it all throughout. 


Fantasia, with its fusion of music and animated imagery, is a feast of the fantastical, from the dark sequences like “Night on Bald Mountain” to those of light such as “Ave Maria”, to the fun ones like “The Sorcerer's Apprentice” with things going haywire for a wizard version of Mickey Mouse, this is a very diverse film that spotlights some truly powerful musical compositions. 


There can be only one! And the original Highlander with Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, and Clancy Brown is the one! Great storyline with compelling characters and a fantastic villain. There is a melancholic edge to it, though, as we do see what price Christopher Lambert's character has had to pay in being immortal and finding love with a mortal woman. 


Okay, TECHNICALLY the bad guys do arrive in a spaceship that looks like a giant mountain, but this is most certainly a fantasy film in every other respect. I liked how it used a rarer style of weapon with the “Glaive”, the five-bladed throwing weapon that was used against the Beast. James Horner composed the score and the cast included an early Liam Neeson appearance, so it was not without some big names too. 

Army of Darkness

Evil Dead and Evil Dead II were horror film, but Army of Darkness took a sharp turn into a dark fantasy area. The army of undead, demons, and a besieged castle in a medieval atmosphere make for a great setting. Bruce Campbell thrives in this one, fusing some great humor into the mix as a time-traveling hero. This is a very fun movie to watch again and again. 


A Ridley Scott film with a great devil played by Tim Curry, this one features a really strong performance by a young Tom Cruise. It is a heroic love story with some dark imagery, and unicorns as well. As with LadyHawke, it has a very gratifying conclusion. 


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. 

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.

Author Links: 

Schedule and Activities: 

11/2 Beauty In Ruins Guest Post
11/2 MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape Interview 
11/2 Kentucky Geek Girl Guest Post 
11/2 SwillBlog Review 
11/2 Kylie Jude Blog Top Ten List 
11/3 Kylie Jude Blog Interview 
11/4 Book in the Bag Interview 
11/4 Azure Dwarf Review 
11/4/ Novel-Ties Guest Post 
11/4 Sheila's Blog Guest Post 
11/4 The Star Chamber Show Podcast (Show is live at 9pm EST) 
11/6 WebbWeaver Reviews Guest Post 
11/7 Sapphyria's Book Reviews Top Ten's List 
11/8 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post 
11/8 Anasazi Dreams Review 

Enter the Giveaway:

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Sheila Deeth said...

Time bandits. Dark crystal. Labyrinth. ..ah, you are reminding me of old favorites. Great list

Sapphyria said...

I love this list of movies!! :)

Brooke Bumgardner said...

OH, some of my favorites are in this list. Great post! Thanks for sharing.

sgzimmer said...

Thank you Sapphyria! :) I really appreciated the chance to make this list!

Sheila and Brooke: Thank you both for reading it and glad you liked the list. All of these are near and dear to my heart, and making this list makes me want to go on a movie binge now! LOL

Sapphyria said...

You're very welcome Stephen! This list brings back memories of watching most of these movies with my sister.