Broken Warrior

Title: Broken Warrior (The Weavers Circle Book One)

Publishers/Authors: Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott

Pages: 330pp

Price: $14.99 (paperback) / $4.99 (ebook)

Clay Green is on the run. A perpetual wanderer, reluctant to settle down anywhere with anyone, he is now in mortal danger. Seemingly human creatures who smell of rotting meat are trying to kill him — and he has no idea why. Eventually, he finds his way to southern Georgia and a decaying old plantation house, where three women claiming to be Goddesses tell him that the fate of the world rests in his hands. Clay is one of the Weavers, an ancient group of six men reborn over and over as they struggle to close a dimensional rift and stop the demonic beings intent on draining the Earth of all life in a desperate bid to save their own world. Clay is the first to reach the Weavers’ sanctuary. When the others arrive — if they arrive — will the Weavers finally be able to close the rift once and for all? Or will they die again … and again … and again ….

Broken Warrior popped up on a list of recommendations. Intrigued by the description, I downloaded a sample, then decided to purchase the entire book.

First, the good points. I really like Clay, and Baer and Grey, the two other Weavers who appear in Broken Warrior. They all work well together, and it’s obvious they have a very long history, even if they can’t remember their previous incarnations. I also really like Dane, who turns out to be the one man who can make Clay settle down: he’s sensible, deeply empathetic, and willing to take another chance on love despite being hurt so badly by the murders of his wife and son. I even liked the chemistry between the three Goddesses, Jo, Flo, and Willie, and the Weavers.

The talents manifested by the Weavers are also interesting. (Hint: their names align with their abilities.) Clay is the Earth Weaver, able to communicate with plants and soil. Baer is the Animal Weaver, who can not only communicate with animals, but also shapeshift. And Grey is the Soul Weaver, a telepath who can see the soul connections between people and who helps the other Weavers tame their powers.

Now for the not so good points. The dialogue in Broken Warrior is oddly clunky in places. The characters will go from speaking like twenty-first century middle-class American men to suddenly speaking in a formal, awkward pattern; Dane, in particular, does this, which makes no sense since he is not reincarnated and is not unconsciously drawing on old memories. It made for some very strange conversations.

The book is also slow. Months pass over the course of the first volume. Nothing will happen for pages and pages and pages except for slightly stilted dialogue. Then the men will leave the safety of the plantation — despite being repeatedly warned by the Goddesses not to do so — they’ll be attacked by the demonic pestilence, there will be a fight, and they’ll flee back to the plantation to lick their wounds and wonder what to do.

Nor did I find the explanation as to why the Goddesses needed the Weavers particularly insightful. Each Goddess possesses power in two areas: Earth and Fire (Flo), Animal and Soul (Jo), and Air and Water (Willie). But they apparently need to pass each of these abilities to one (mortal) man, who can then focus them in a way that the Goddesses cannot to close the rift. Hunh? And what happens to the Goddesses when they impart those talents to the Weavers? Do they then lose that ability completely until the men die or are killed? And how can they not know the location of the rift? Clay was very easily able to locate a nest of pestilents just by feeling the agony of the Earth. And how can they not know where and when the Weavers are reborn, forcing the men to go on a dangerous trek while being pursued by pestilents the whole way? If the extra-dimensional demons can locate the Weavers so easily, surely the Goddesses who tweaked their souls to make them into Weavers should be able to do the same.

And then there is the matter of the Goddesses themselves. While I enjoyed the interactions between the three “aunts,” and between the Weavers and the Goddesses, I was also deeply frustrated. The Goddesses were rarely around, disappeared for long periods of time with no explanation, and related as little information to the Weavers as they could get away with. The result was that I felt like important pieces of backstory were missing. I understand that the authors were trying to create a mystery which would intrigue readers and keep them coming back to the series, but it just left me annoyed.

And then there was this exchange between Jo and Clay:

“My sisters and I are goddesses. Energy from this world — ”

“Wait! You think you’re a goddess? Like Aphrodite?”

She scowled like he was the crazy one. “You know, this goes much faster without you questioning everything I say,” she grumbled. She paused and took a deep breath before starting again. “We’re not made-up goddesses humans created. We’re the real deal.”

Speaking as a polytheist, ouch. I’d like to see a paranormal romance author deny the existence of Yahweh, Jesus, or Allah without repercussions. Once again, this is exactly why Pagans need to write our own stories.

Overall, Broken Warrior was an unfortunate disappointment. Interesting characters and fun magical talents were marred by awkward dialogue, slow pacing, dumb decisions driven by the need to introduce a few action sequences, and a jab at the beliefs of the very people who were most likely to pick up the book in the first place. Instead, I recommend the works of Jordan L. Hawk (particularly the Whybourne and Griffin series), KJ Charles (see A Charm of Magpies), A Destiny of Dragons and Wolfsong by TJ Klune, and The Last Sun by KD Edwards.

[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. A complete list of her published poems and short stories can be found there.]