3 out of 4 stars
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A Gathering of Warriors by George Vigileos combines philosophy, spirituality, magical realism, and ancient beliefs into a powerful novel. Categorized as a religious and inspirational genre fiction novel, the book goes far beyond typical spirituality-themed works. The author focuses on beliefs from different ancient groups and religions to emphasize the themes of journeying toward peace and transcendence. The book moves from place to place, allowing many different settings, including North America, China, Egypt, and even the sea.
As I was reading, I was reminded of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. Each protagonist in A Gathering of Warriors is on a soul journey. There are a large number of characters introduced in the book, but the focus is on five main people. First, there is Sparrow Hawk. She is Native American, and we meet her as she is wandering in a place that she finds both new and vaguely familiar. She is at a large meeting with many others who seem to be experiencing the same things she is. She joins them in a medicine wheel to hear the tales of “Grandfather,” an elder in the group. In one of his stories, Grandfather introduces Xi He-Ping, a Chinese monk. When his monastery is attacked, he finds out how devastating war can be, and he decides to go on a quest to find himself and his peace.
Woven into the story are also Siminee and Seneca. Seneca is both a teacher and a student. He is a Snake Medicine Man--old, wise, and respected in his community. Siminee is Seneca’s student. She was a baby in a war-torn village, on the verge of losing her life, when she was rescued by a jaguar. Seneca ensures she is taken care of, and they later journey together in search of purity, wisdom, and truth.
The author utilizes powerful symbolism throughout the book. One of the symbols he relies on most heavily is the circle. The book itself comes full circle, beginning and ending in a medicine wheel. Each character’s path is filled with circles, from physical medicine wheels to more abstract thoughts that loop back onto themselves. Vigileos also imparts wisdom through his characters’ words, reminding both the characters in the book and the readers to pay attention to their hearts, be mindful of forgiving others, and have open minds.
The characters describe how there are “places within places, and layers upon layers of reality.” The author explores this concept through the book, constantly introducing new people, places, and things, but also relating them back to others that have already been presented. The reader has to pay detailed attention to the novel. There is a lot going on, there are many characters to follow, and the story moves quickly between scenes. I found myself having to go back and re-read passages to make sure I was keeping up. When I finished reading, I also went back and re-skimmed the entire book to help me put the whole story together. I could see this being a book that people would want to read multiple times because they would get something new out of it each time.
There are a few grammatical errors, but I did not find that they distracted me from the story. For example, there are occasional apostrophes left out of contractions (“its” instead of “it’s”), and some quotations have punctuation outside of the quotation marks. These minor errors are negligible in the full context of the book, but a detailed proofread would bring this book to the next level.
The descriptions in the book are widely varied. In the beginning, the author spends time describing scenery to a fault. The reader begins to feel overwhelmed and distracted from the main storyline. However, as the book moves on, the descriptions become more succinct, giving the reader enough information but not being burdensome.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I feel a deep connection with the characters as they journey to fill their hearts, minds, and souls. The book could benefit from another thorough edit, focusing on grammar and consistency. Overall, the story is compelling, and the messages presented throughout the book are moving and though-provoking. I would recommend this book to fans of mystical fiction, ancient spirituality, and fans of authors like Wayne Dyer and Ram Dass.
A Gathering of warriors
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