Monday, January 16, 2017

Review: The Warrior's Seal by Ronie Kendig

The Warrior's Seal (The Tox Files #0.5)
By: Ronie Kendig
Publisher: Bethany House


Cole "Tox" Russell and his Special Forces team were sent to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram. But when the US Ambassador contacts them with the news that VIPs have gone missing in country, the team's mission takes a drastic turn. The VIPs in question are none other than the President and First Lady of the United States, who Cole's brother just happens to be running against in a hotly contested election campaign. When the team arrives at the site of the abduction, they discover that a deadly toxin has been unleashed on the villagers, a trail of destruction that follows the terrorists' use of an ancient artifact known as the Mace of Subjugation.

Archaeologist Tzivia Khalon knows all about the mace's bloody history, but she's more concerned with assisting her mentor in getting the artifact safely loaned to Syria for the swearing-in of the new president -- and safely returned to their university. When the weapon (and her mentor) go missing, Tzivia finds herself drawn into Tox's investigation as her antiquities expertise makes her a valuable asset as Tox's team faces a foe that believes in the legendary powers of the priceless artifact. Everything Tzivia and Tox thought they knew is called into question as the mace's influence ripples through their mission to save a president -- a mission rapidly spiralling out of control.

The Warrior's Seal is my first introduction to Ronie Kendig's writing (yes, finally!). I've long been familiar with her work as I've heard friends rave about her fast-paced novels, but my gigantic to-be-read pile always got in the way -- until her first release through one of my favorite publishing houses downloaded to my Kindle. I expected action and suspense, and on that score Kendig delivers in spades. But what I didn't expect was  the historical/supernatural twist with the introduction of the mace and its impact on current geo-political events. The thirteenth-century prologue starring Tox's Templar Knight predecessor felt forced -- while an interesting concept the Crusades-era action felt rushed and detached when compared to the meticulously constructed Special Forces operation play-by-plays to come.

While some may find the combination of heart-stopping action with a dash of the supernatural to strain credulity, I have high hopes that in a full-length novel the blending of these two disparate genres will come to feel even more seamless. This is a thoroughly entertaining introduction to Kendig's writing and one of the better series intro novellas that I've read, featuring well-developed characters, high-stakes action, and a series set up that calls to mind 24 in its heyday. I cannot wait to see how Kendig develops Tox and his team, and particularly how Tzivia's archaeological endeavors are woven into the narrative. This is an entertaining way to lose an hour or two,  and as the novella is free on most e-book platforms, the risk is little while the payoff of being introduced to one who promises to fast become a favorite suspense author is priceless.

About the book:

A Special Forces team is thrust into a war with the past to save the president after an artifact unleashes a deadly toxin.

Special Forces operative Cole "Tox" Russell and his team are tasked in a search-and-rescue--the U.S. president has been kidnapped during a goodwill tour. The mission nosedives when an ancient biblical artifact and a deadly toxin wipe out villages. Tox must stop the terrorists and the toxin to save the president.

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