Gideon Blake is definitely not your stereotypical soldier – he has a kind heart, sensitive stomach, and a haunted past. He was training to be a U.S. Army Ranger and while he had the ambition and expertise for that calling, his military career was cut short when he was gravely injured in a parachuting accident. At that point destiny intervened in his life, and his story followed a series of unexpected turns.
The story begins with Gideon being interrogated by secretive government officials, which gives the reader a front seat to his adventure that is both supernatural and yet filled with human frailty. Then, we flashback to the past and learn that Gideon recovered much too quickly from his nearly fatal accident. He begins to suspect that something is amiss, especially when he takes a closer look at the seamless metal band on his wrist. It’s pretty clearly not military issue.
While visiting his sister at her college dorm, he goes to a party and meets a beautiful, confident woman named Daryn who tells him they need to leave right away or he’ll get hurt by the Kindred, the ancient evil who lurks throughout the story and occasionally kicks Gideon’s ass both mentally and physically. Gideon is both impressed and intimidated by Daryn.
Having met Daryn, Gideon learns that he is now War, one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, and he has a fiery, rampaging horse that scares him to death (both because it’s fierce and as we later learn, he has no idea how to ride a horse). The first part of Gideon and Daryn’s mission is to bring together the three other horsemen. Each of the horsemen have a power, a magical weapon, and a mystical horse. Since the horsemen have all these mystic weapons and ghostly horses, one might expect that they would easily win the day, but they’re a part of the regular old world which also requires money and tends to be easily spooked by mystical horses. Faced with reality’s constraints, the good guys must be creative in achieving their mission and keeping the Kindred from causing the apocalypse.
This novel weaves together the triumphs and failures of the characters into a compelling story that showcases the redemption of normal people who learn that they can accomplish something amazing and overcome most (but not all) of their flaws. The pace of the story feels unique and more interesting thanks to it being told by Gideon with a mixture of flashbacks and glimpses at his current plight. I greatly appreciated that the characters had troubled pasts as that made their struggle to overcome their own insecurities and battle evil feel more real. In a similar manner, the love story between Daryn and Gideon is better because of the tension and compromises that they make, rather than being an easy story tale romance. Also, I immediately liked Daryn’s character and was thrilled to be reading a novel that has both a sensitive male character and a dominant, awesome female.
Overall, this is a compelling novel where there are unexpected twists around every corner that keeps you reading, even if the dialogue feels a bit stilted at times. It’s well worth reading to encounter the surprising and realistic ending that is the perfect capstone to this unusual battle between good and evil.