I've said many times that Rayden Valkyrie has become the character that enjoy the most when it comes to my writing. With my roots in fantasy, there is no question that the world she travels and explores holds great appeal to me, as do the plots that she is a part of.
Above all, though, the things that she offers the world of today comprise the majority of reasons as to why she has become so near and dear to me.
An inspirational character is timeless. It doesn't matter if they are in an ancient world setting, such as the one Rayden Valkyrie lives in, a modern one, or some distant futuristic one in a galaxy far away. It is through inspirational characters that light can come into the world from the page, especially during trying times.
Looking at Rayden and the world of today, I can see a number of ways in which she can have a positive impact.
The essence of Rayden is self-esteem and self-confidence. She believes in herself and knows both her strengths and weaknesses. She is confident without becoming arrogant, and this confidence encourages those she assists and gives pause to enemies confronting her. In a world where so many struggle with issues of self-esteem and confidence, Rayden calls to everyone to believe in themselves, and stand tall each and every day. Through her character, she gives encouragement to develop that inner strength that comes from self-esteem and self-confidence, and that is something I see a great need for in the world of today.
Self-determination is another key component of Rayden's inspirational ability. When she decides on a course of action, she sets out to accomplish her aims without second-guessing or wavering. She does not allow others to control her or tell her what she should be. She follows her heart, something a lot of people are dissuaded from and discouraged from doing in our world.
Rayden also exudes a high level of discipline. She trains hard, and regularly, to keep up her fighting skills and advance them. She keeps a focus on the things that must be done, and adheres to them with a steadfast approach.
She is not one to procrastinate or do something halfway. Her discipline and ability to take the small steps every day that build up to make major steps possible separates her from most of the crowd, but it also serves as a good model of what it takes to be successful in any kind of pursuit. In that way, she speaks powerfully to the world of today.
Rayden is also an independent thinker. In a world where there is a tendency or drive to categorize people, and fit them into neat boxes and apply labels to them, Rayden is a character that shuns categorization and labeling. Her moral code can find genuine connection with people of all types and backgrounds.
This core is something not driven by politics, religion, or any sort of ideology, but truly on an individual level, guided by what she finds to be right or wrong. It is in this area of true independent thought that she stands as a major threat to the characters in her world that seek to control others.
In a similar way, she calls to the people of our world to think for themselves, question everything, make use of reason, and scrutinize situations on a case by case basis. A person that becomes that sort of individual is not one that can be labeled or grouped, and these kinds of individuals are perhaps the greatest obstacle to the would-be puppet masters of the world.
Rayden respects differences and the many varied things found among other people and cultures, but not to the point where she gives a pass to things that she sees as true evils. If she encounters a wickedness, she will confront it and does not care one bit what others might say or whether her action will be popular. This kind of honor code is not something that needs validation from others, and it is a harder road to travel, but develops the kind of people who will not stand by in the face of tyranny, abuses, and other evils that plague the lives of people worldwide.
As a character, Rayden has a lot to offer the people of today. Through her actions, she serves as a powerful example of what an individual can be for others. In a world that so many are finding increasingly rudderless and uncertain, she can be a beacon in the darkness, and this is why I have grown to have such a passion for her character and story.
About the Author
Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.
Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.
About the Book
by Stephen Zimmer
A deadly menace stalks the shadows of the lands to the north, stirring the winds of war. Farther south, the power of the Teveren Empire spreads with every passing day, empowered by dark sorcery. Formidable legions bent on conquest are on the march, slavery and subjugation following in their wake.
Within the rising maelstrom, Rayden Valkyrie has returned to the Gessa, to stand with the tribe that once took her into their care as a child. No amount of jewels or coin can sway her, nor can the great power of her adversaries intimidate her.
With a sword blade in her right hand and axe in her left, Rayden confronts foes both supernatural and of flesh and blood. Horrific revelations and tremendous risks loom; some that will see Rayden's survival in the gravest of peril.
Even if Rayden and the Gessa survive the trials plaguing their lands, the thunder of an even darker storm booms across the far horizon.
Thunder Horizon is the second book in the Dark Sun Dawn Trilogy.
Heart of a Lion
by Stephen Zimmer
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 the first book in the Dark Sun Dawn Trilogy.