Warrior Ascended, Book 1: Sons of the Zodiac
Signet, March 2010
Millennia ago, the Goddess of Justice created a race of fierce Warriors, each imbued with a special power of the Zodiac, charged with protecting humanity from the darkest of evils.
Charming, proud, and impulsive, Leo Warrior Brody Talbot is fighting what may be his final battle. Enyo, the Goddess of War, plans to fulfill an ancient prophecy to destroy humanity by harnessing the dark power of the Summoning Stones of Egypt -- and there’s only one person who knows enough about the stones to help Brody diminish their strength.
Since her father’s murder, museum curator Ava Harrison has continued his research of Egypt’s ancient treasures. She’s just landed the exhibit of a century, displaying the Summoning Stones at New York’s Natural History Museum. Used to working alone, Ava is suspicious of the arrogant archeologist who’s been brought in to ensure the stones safekeeping–but his presence ignites an unexpected blaze of attraction.
Never in all his centuries has Brody met a woman who enthralls him like Ava. But, bound to protect her, he struggles to deny his passion as they are drawn into a dark and dangerous final reckoning between good and evil.
When I read the cover blurb for this book, I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to get. There have been a bunch of immortal warrior series put out lately and they all contain similar (if not identical) elements:
Immortal warriors/brotherhood tasked with saving mankind from evil – check
A god and/or goddess created the warriors and endowed them with their powers - check
The majority of the brotherhood lives in a frat house/mega-mansion together – check
The warriors have another entity inside of each of them which rules their personalities and gives them their powers, be it animal, demon or astrological – check
The guys have a tattoo on their bodies marking them as warriors -- check
Mousy scientist/librarian/museum curator heroine hiding a Victoria’s Secret body beneath baggy clothes – check
The anit-social heroine has dormant supernatural powers that come to the surface after meeting the hero - check
Obviously, others have done similar immortal warrior/brotherhood series like this one. Probably starting with Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series, we also have Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld, JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, and Pamela Palmer’s Feral Warriors to name a few. Fox’s challenge here was to take what’s been done before and make it fresh. Let’s see how she did…
The author deviated from the standard plot device of the internal entity giving his human body extra power and/or traits and instead made each warrior’s sign a creature unto itself. It’s alive within them and manifests itself physically, coming out of the warrior’s body to fight beside him during battle. Brody is the Leo warrior so whenever the bad guys show up, his lion magically appears and helps save the day (and freak out any bystanders including the heroine). That was pretty cool.
The author also didn’t fall into the trap of once the heroine meets the hero, he whisks her away to the warrior McMansion and locks her in his bedroom “to keep her safe” and then she spends the rest of the book patiently waiting for him to return each night for a rousing bout of mind-blowing sex. While Ava is not the strongest of heroines I’ve ever come across, at least she was somewhat active in her own fate.
Way too much introspection and backstory, often at inappropriate times. Wait, let’s stop in the middle of an intense chase scene to contemplate how hot the hero is for 3 paragraphs. Or in the middle of a fight scene, Brody pauses to recall how and when he got his lion tattoo and his powers.
Scene transitions were often jarring. The author seldom gives the reader cues as to where we are or how much time has passed.
I was worried that Fox, like some of the other authors who’ve done similar type series, would go the way of giving her heroes the names of their animal/sign complete with a funky spelling, such as Rham or Skorpeo. Thank heavens she didn’t do that. But I still have issues with the names she gave her characters. Brody is supposed to be 10,000 years old. I could buy it if Brody was short for something like Brodius or Broda, but Brody the Meek? Really? He was born in the Iron Age for crying out loud. I seriously doubt Brody was in the top 10 baby names for boys back when people were still living a tribal/clan-like existence. Same goes for the other brothers’ names whose books will soon follow in the series: Quinn, Grey, Aidan, Gage, Drake, etc. The names are way too modern for men born thousands of years ago. At least Kane’s name is Biblical.
The ‘IT’ Factor:
Fox’s ‘IT’ Factor is that she has a built in audience for lovers of immortal warrior/brotherhood type stories and she’s put a slightly different twist on it by going the zodiac route instead of with vampires, demons or shapeshifters. If you can’t get enough of immortal warriors defending mankind and finding their soulmates, you’ll enjoy this author.