All people are naturally inquisitive. Since childhood, we try to discover the world above us and around us, and marvel when we find answers to any of our questions concerning how the cosmos work. So, in a fantasy book, we can appreciate how the writer’s imagination flows in order to create characters, plots, and scenarios that are impossible in our reality. Fantasy introduces readers to adventures starring world-conquering villains, interstellar alliances, and selfless heroes—which are proxies for our inner-selves—they are our wishes and fears for our reality represented in stories. Some readers equate fantasy with hobbits and magic wardrobes, but fantasy stories go far beyond those elements.
There are so many fantasy books available on different topics. Some of them are about magic, others are about science fiction, and still others are about mythology, and so on. One of the best new fantasy books which includes all of these elements and more is “World Shaken: Guardians of the Zodiac I,” written by J.J. Excelsior. This book tells us the story of how twelve multicultural zodiac guardians have never worked as a team, but when an unexpected and seemingly insurmountable danger threatens the galaxy, they unite to fight this threat, or risk sacrificing their worlds. Readers are immediately immersed in the twelve guardians’ stories: each unique, colorful, and necessary for the larger story. Also, each guardian represents an astrological sign, which adds to the fun of the book. Ultimately, a diverse and strong group of guardians use their individual fantastical talents to tackle extreme, dire and impossible situations on their home planets.
Why This is the Best Book:
This is one of the best books to read. Although it’s a fantasy book with fictional characters, we find the guardians’ teamwork, courage, beliefs, and lives are crafted by the author in such a meticulous and masterful way that this book reads both like a fantasy novel and a self-help book—like a self-help fantasy; a completely new genre generated by Excelsior. It contains so many positive life lessons. It gives a unique look at how ingenuity, intellect, empathy, and other ordinary powers (disguised as mythical powers) can be harnessed to create a better present and future for all. Readers can see how the guardians prioritize and analyze complex problems—perhaps drawing parallels to their own work, communities, and lives—and become inspired by the guardians’ unrelenting commitment to their people, planets, and missions. All of this is set in the glittering milky way galaxy, amongst the stars.
Why People Will Read This Book:
The fantasy setting gives us a vehicle to explore the universe and to contemplate the galaxy, without leaving planet Earth. In this book we see the twelve zodiac guardians work to protect their planets’ citizens from environmental catastrophes, wars, diseases, and social situations on the likes of Pluto, Mercury, and Mars—and some new planets too—cooked up in Excelsior’s own imagination. Through “World Shaken” we can explore the Universe with the guardians, solve interesting problems, visit interesting places, and explore our many of the questions about the cosmos.
“World Shaken: Guardians of the Zodiac I” is one of the best fantasy books for adults because Author, J.J. Excelsior, shows us the ways that twelve different leaders with different abilities come together to save not just one world—but many worlds. At is most basic level it shows us how well-achieved teamwork can lead to success.
Best Elements, Plot Sequence & Character Collections:
In World Shaken: Guardians of the Zodiac I, although Excelsior’s characters are far from the ordinary, they still exceed our expectations. They are characters that must use their unique cosmic powers to save entire worlds. But they are not perfect characters. They are real ones with disabilities and limitations that will engage the reader, and make the reader invested in all of them. Readers get to witness how Excelsior’s characters command respect and embody their power despite limitations they may face. Here is a short description of the twelve guardians:
- Xenobia (Pisces Sign): Xenobia is the Pisces guardian of the Milky Way galaxy. Empathy is one of her qualities which makes her a responsible and caring leader who nurtures her mortals. However, she can be emotional. Her easy, light-hearted humor makes her easy to talk to. She rules the deep-sea planet of Neptune.
- Azare (Virgo Sign): Azare is the Virgo guardian and tends to see the dark side of things. It makes her rational but also pessimistic. She even hides her body with a cloak although she has an effortlessly pleasant figure. Azare lives on the cool blue planet of Mercury which she shares with Tormod, the Gemini guardian.
- Gia (Aquarius Sign): Gia is the Aquarius guardian of the Milky Way galaxy. She understands the universe better than the others but Gia can have a selfish nature. She rules the planet of Uranus. On a planet of deserts, she inexplicably manages to smell of a saline ocean breeze all the time.
- Nefsunsi (Libra Sign): Nefsuni is the Libra guardian. She is diplomatic and statesmanlike; she is the best winner of hearts and minds in the galaxy but has the capacity to indulge in moral ambiguousness. The Libra guardian is completely likable and has a curious relationship with Atalanta, the Taurus guardian, with whom she shares the planet of Venus.
- Atalanta (Taurus Sign): Atalanta is the Taurus guardian. She is stable and level-headed; however, she can be too committed to the status quo at times. It can take overwhelming circumstances to push her into necessary changes.
- Magnocer (Scorpio Sign): Magnocer is the Scorpio guardian. He is dependable and supportive when it comes to taking care of his planet Pluto. He would incinerate anything that threatens the peace of his Scorpio people. Magnocer is at once self-righteous, principled and deeply untrusting.
- Santrista (Aries Sign): Santrista is the Aries guardian. She cares for the mortals on the planet Mars. Santrista is prone to bleed sarcasm in the midst of serious situations. She is the bravest of all the guardians.
- Tormod (Gemini Sign): Tormod is the Gemini guardian; valiant, compassionate and a little wicked, he is a co-guardian with Azare on the planet Mercury. Although charming and approachable, Tarmod can sometimes be manipulative, changeable and shallow.
- Serenity (Cancer Sign): Serenity is the Cancer guardian. She can maintain a grudge indefinitely, even unknowingly. However, she has the best intuition of all the guardians and is open to change. She rules the Moon. She is sister to Mika, the Leo guardian.
- Mika (Leo Sign): Mika is the Leo guardian; powerful, aggressive and courageous. He does what he believes is right and just—even when it is actually neither. Mika is the guardian with the best natural leadership qualities in the galaxy. His domain is the Sun.
- Advilian (Sagittarius Sign): Advilian is the highest Sagittarius; spirited, lean, and cognitive. This guardian has the highest technical intellect of the guardians, which makes this otherwise warm and comedic guardian, seem aloof and unrelatable. He rules the swirling planet of Jupiter.
- The Child of Saturn (Capricorn Sign): The Child of Saturn is the Capricorn guardian; suspicious, composed, and genuine. He can be fatalistic, secretive, and morally flexible. Saturn is self-assured without being egomaniacal. He rules the ringed planet of Saturn.
In a beautifully written and illustrated story, J.J. Excelsior gives us lessons on leadership that remind us of the important things in difficult times. Each of the guardians is forced to make difficult decisions in order to save their people, no matter the sacrifice and this way she teaches us about the importance of leadership under pressure. The writer shows us sacrifices like taking responsibility for errors caused by a misjudgment by leadership, or stepping down from the role entirely if it is what is best for the team; giving us the perfect opportunity to reflect on our current journey and any sacrifices on our own horizon.
How This Fantasy Book Will Help Adults
While the fantasy genre has obvious differentiation from everyday life, there are some lessons that transcend the fantasy to reality: Children are born with the full spectrum of human emotions—wild, exciting, passionate, vigorous, totally irrational and ready to go; but they are also inexperienced and longing to explore their feelings. When they grow up, a change comes in their thoughts, they think of a world where they are the heroes and their main responsibility is to keep the world safe from danger. “World Shaken: Guardians of the Zodiac I” is the perfect combination of this. Despite many obstacles, we see how guardians protect their world. Children and adult readers, alike, experience the sacrifice, teamwork, leadership, and the fear associated with the need to make the “right” decision, through each character.
Perspective helps the guardians re-center themselves, focus on the end goals, and approach the problem of world-saving. J.J. Excelsior posits that two heads—or maybe even twelve—are better than one. Her less that knowledge helps us grow and be better versions of ourselves, is as old as mankind’s dream to understand the stars.