Star Jumpers: The Lion Roars by Zoe Baxter #BookReview #BlogTour

Four Teens: One Quest: A World of Magic and Adventure
It was no ordinary zipwire flight. Thrust into the magical world of Hadrixia, flame-haired Zara Bulmer and her three teenage companions must thwart the Dark Ruler of Hadrixia in their quest to locate the Stone of Exerith. The fate of the Empire depends on their success...and safe return to Star Camp.
On their journey, the foursome must tangle with vicious creatures like the horn-headed Warnoks and the venomous web-tailed Tarquids. Will they succumb to the persuasive chants of the fire-loving Brozigs or be mauled to death by the tree-swinging Harnts?
The friends join forces with Hadrixian teenager, Quinn, and encounter the kindness of Semyon, an aged wizard potionmaker. 
Will Zara fulfil the destiny bestowed upon her before the sun sets on the last day of July? Or will the Portwall to the Outside remain sealed, imprisoning the four intrepid teenagers in Hadrixia, consigning them to a future of chaos, destruction, or even death?
There’s only one way to find out: 
Welcome to the perilous world of Hadrixia…

It's my pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for the first book in the Star Jumpers series - The Lion Roars - by Zoe Baxter today. Many thanks to the author and Rachel Gilbey from Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me and for sending me a copy of the ebook.
Star Jumpers: The Lion Roars is a high fantasy novel in which four teenagers are suddenly thrust from their residential activity centre in Northumbria - Star Camp - into a dangerous and magical new world. Each has been hand-picked for the mission by Max and Rufus, the former emperor of Hadrixia and his eldest son, now in exile on the Outside and too old to breach the magical seal in order to cross the Portwall to return home.
Zara, Oscar, Fergus and Aimie are a mismatched group who have to come to terms with their own shortcomings and recognise their unique strengths as they learn they must work together to survive in this strange new world.  Zara is chosen as the leader which causes some animosity among the group at first but as the book progresses it becomes clear that each of them will have an important role to play if Hadrixia is to be saved. Though the four are teenagers, I felt this book would appeal to middle grade fiction readers, although it's worth pointing out that there are a few tense scenes with some violence and death which may be upsetting for younger or more sensitive readers. There is plenty here to enjoy for those looking for an action-filled fantasy novel however, and it is always pleasing to read a book for younger people in which the girls and boys alike are brave and resourceful.
The quest narrative of the novel sees them journey through the land in search of The Stone of Exerith. The four are joined by Max's teenage son, Quinn and on their travels they meet an array of friends and foe. Hadrixia has been torn apart by war and I was struck several times by the thought that the book could well be described as eco-fantasy. The oppressive new Emperor Zophicus is an evil and ruthless leader who has ordered the plundering of resources to feed his armies. As a result, the cultivators of the food don't have enough to feed their own families or to sell, cattle are slaughtered before they are mature and the indiscriminate use of noxious fertilisers has polluted the environment meaning lakes are poisoned and forests are stripped like fodder. The dark forces of Zophicus' battalions aren't the only problems the teenagers must face though; there are mystical creatures who presents all sorts of danger along the way too. These beasts are vividly described and I thought it was a clever touch to have many of them as recognisable - though much fiercer - counterparts to real-life animals.
This is the first  of the Star Jumpers stories and it does feel like the beginning of a series, there are hints throughout that this will just be the first quest for the four teens. As such it means that though there is a conclusion of sorts to the book, there is no true sense of resolution and readers will be left wanting more! I really enjoyed the book despite not being in the age range it is written for. I wasn't sure before reading it if it would be suitable for my ten year old daughter but now think she would love it and so have recommended it to her. The Lion Roars is an exciting swords and sorcery adventure story with accomplished character development and intriguing world building; I look to seeing what obstacles await the Star Jumpers in their next venture into Hadrixia.

Star Jumpers Book One: The Lion Roars can be purchased here. Don't miss the other stops on the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Zoe Baxter is the author of the Star Jumpers series, a fast-paced urban fantasy adventure set in the Dark Sky Park of Northumbria. An avid scribbler, she lives in a world filled with vicious and venomous creatures breathing down her neck, and has even been known to take the odd zip wire flight in the name of research.
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