Like the author of The Quest, I’ve often wondered how the warriors of today would compare to their distant brethren in the past. We all know that people have grown in height and muscle mass since medieval times, but is that all it takes? What about the need and desperation that must have driven those men and women? Does that factor into their success? Pam Binder’s latest romance attempts to answer some of those questions.
Ana de Dannon needs a warrior. And she doesn’t want just any warrior. She wants Cuchulainn, a great Scottish warrior, to come and save her mother. Her mother, Rhiannon, is being held by Roderick, Ana’s step-brother. She will only be freed if Ana gives Roderick the sword she holds. The sword is reputed to have special abilities which it will confer on its bearer. The catch is that the sword must be freely given to one who is worthy, in order to bestow its abilities.
As with a lot of time travel books, the actual summoning goes awry. The warrior Ana gets is not Cuchulainn, great warrior chief of Scotland, but Kenneth MacKinnon, quarterback of the Seattle Warriors, from the year 2000. Kenneth (he goes by Mac, of course) gets hit hard on the football field, and wakes up in a medieval castle in Scotland. Ana’s not sure what she has conjured, but she tries to convince herself that Mac is the warrior she needs, even after she realizes that he is not Cuchulainn.
Though Ana is disappointed in the results of her spell, she decides to make the best of things. Mac is confused at first by his new surroundings, but settles into the life pretty easily. Though he had everything he needed in the twentieth century, he was somehow dissatisfied. Now he has a purpose that fills his need to help others. You might say he’s a bit codependent. Actually, Mac is told that the only way he’ll get to go back to his time is if he defeats Roderick. So, he decides he’ll give defeating good ol’ Roderick a chance.
There’s just one problem with this plan. Mac doesn’t know the first thing about handling a sword (who would?). He needs to be trained, and quickly, because the big tournament is only weeks away. Ana and her companion, Danu, decide to take Mac to Colin, a man who is a warrior and can train Mac. Now if he’s good enough to train Mac, why don’t they send him off to defeat Roderic? He’d certainly have more of a shot than a newly trained man, no matter how big that man is. But again, I guess that would make the whole plot pointless and Mac would never have been summoned to help Ana and they wouldn’t have a chance to fall in love.
They do fall in love of course, although it takes a while – everything takes a while in this book. The Quest suffers from poor pacing. There’s not a whole lot that happens in the first hundred pages, which is a quarter of the book. Nothing much happens when Ana and Mac are on the road to get to where Colin is so that Mac’s training can begin. I liked these two characters, but there’s little conversation between them during this section of the book, which is a shame because there’s ample opportunity for the two to get to know each other in a meaningful way. Instead, most of their dialogue is but a few sentences and ends very abruptly. They do have some good conversations later in the book, which makes those first one hundred pages seem unnecessary.
Furthermore, convenient things seem to happen because they are required by the plot, even though they aren’t always logical. Ana is attacked by one of her own men during their journey. Mac proves that he’s not just a warrior on the football field, but can protect his woman as well. There wasn’t much logic for this attack. This same man had been living at the keep where Ana was just as vulnerable. He could have attacked her at any time, but because we need to see that Mac has what it takes, we’re treated to the scene.
The author was smart in that she didn’t dwell on the “how” of the time travel. Ana says a spell, and Mac appears. No long explanations about how some amulet works, or the metaphysics of time, just poof, and there he is. That actually works for this book because it immediately puts you into the story (which then slows down, unfortunately) rather then have you trying to puzzle out the mechanics and the science of the time travel.
This is one of those books that I neither loved nor hated. It’s actually one of the hardest kind to review, because it didn’t arouse any strong feelings. Mac and Ana were pleasant and their relationship was nice. That’s it. Would I read something else by this author? Probably, but I’d check it out of the library.