The Chronicles of Ara: Creation by Joel Eisenberg and Stephen Hillard

The Chronicles of Ara: Creation

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

The Chronicles of Ara is an eight-volume epic fantasy written by Joel Eisenberg and Stephen Hillard. The Chronicles of Ara: Creation contains the first two books of the series, and it is a companion piece to Hillard’s Mirkwood, A Novel About J.R.R. Tolkien, which Hillard had to go to court in a battle against the estate of J.R.R. It deals with facts and events in Tolkien’s life, in a fictionalized form.

Ara was a character in Mirkwood, and she is greatly expanded upon in The Chronicles of Ara. The Chronicles of Ara: Creation also has Tolkien as one of its major characters, along with many others, like Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell, who Carroll was inspired by when he wrote Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, in Book Two.

The first two books of The Chronicles of Ara, compiled in The Chronicles of Ara: Creation, are a page-turning, mind-expanding journey into the realms of the imagination and deep questions like what is it that inspires art and authors. For instance, one of the things that inspired the young J.R.R. Tolkien were tales he was told by his mother about there being dragons in a nearby forest.

The concept of the goddess, Ara, was inspired in the mind of author Hillard by a question that one of his daughters had about Tolkien’s books, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. She asked her father why there were not any heroic female characters in Tolkien’s novels. At the time, Hillard, thinking on his feet, said to her that “Professor Tolkien just didn’t get around to them yet.”

Though neither of Hillard’s daughters seemed like they bought his explanation, he writes that they asked him to tell them a story about Ara. He did just that, calling her “a halfling lass, a hobbitess if you will.”

A bit later, Hillard writes: “She would change the world by the most powerful of tools: inspiration.” He wrote about Ara in Mirkwood, then decided to expand upon the character with co-author, Eisenberg.

In The Chronicles of Ara: Creation, Ara is a very powerful goddess, who can take human form. She has been lied to by all of the other gods and goddesses, and she does not, at first, realize her true power and potential.

One way that she is different from her sisters is that, unlike them, she is “cursed.’ She will become mortal, the co-authors write, “over the course of eons. For her sisters, “time and space are one,” but for Ara, she has to endlessly wait, because she can only see to the Infinity Pass.” What, exactly, the Infinity Pass is, will not be explained until later in the book.

With Mirkwood, Hillard wrote about a time of dragons and dragon wars, before humans walked the Earth. In The Chronicles of Ara: Creation, times and setting shift, from the era of Tolkien’s boyhood to years after he has passed away, the time when author, Thomas McFee, has the idea of writing about Tolkien but in a fictionalized manner. The authors write that “McFee lauded Tolkien, but he did not believe him to be beyond reproach.”

McFee even names his daughter, Samantha, after one of Tolkien’s most beloved characters, Sam Gamgee. After his daughter has grown up, McFee does not particularly like it that she has fallen in love with an Iraq war veteran, Daniel Baxter, as he wants to still protect her and be the main influence in her life.

In The Chronicles of Ara: Creation, back in Tolkien’s era, when he has retired, he is asked about the genuineness and validity of a supposedly “lost” book that has been one of the greatest influences on his writing, namely Beowulf. This seemingly innocuous validation by Tolkien leads to a violent backlash. Many of history’s most important and influential works and authors, it is discovered, have contained warnings about the goddess and muse, Ara. Her intention is to bring about a return to “dragon-scorched earth,” a time chronicled as “The Pre-Genesis Era.”

The goddess/muse, Ara, has secretly served as the inspiration for mankind’s greatest works of literature. Some would call Ara a “corrupted muse.” Eisenberg and Hillard write about her influence over the eras in their epic fantasy, The Chronicles of Ara: Creation. While Ara has inspired countless works of literature and art, it seems that one of her main aims has little to do with humanity, as it is to bring about the return of the age of dragons, a return to a time when they ruled supreme, like in Mirkwood. For fans of fantasy on a grand and epic scale, The Chronicles of Ara: Creation is a Must Read.

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