5 Stars, Carole Cummings, Dreamspinner Press

Wolf’s-own Book Two: Weregild by Carole Cummings

Forfeit. Collateral Damage.

In a megalomaniac’s bid for supremacy, it was inevitable. It seems there’s a price to pay for everything in this world, and the currency is nothing less than a man’s very soul.

Fen Jacin-rei is the pawn through which other players wish to manipulate this game. He is the tool, the sacrifice player that will be used in a bid for ultimate power, used in an effort to find redemption, to destroy evil, to communicate with the past, to keep him tethered to the present, to prove to himself that he is worthy of being loved, to show him that he is neither perfect nor a failure, certainly not a perfect failure, but that he is simply human. That he is real.

Sometimes manipulating the game itself is the only way to sway the players, but the problem with continuing to change the rules and attempting to outmaneuver the man who often tries to be someone else, as well as the man who tries to be everything he was taught to be, for bad or for worse, is that one could never possibly anticipate and correct for all the variables of the game. And sometimes the price for that failure is your life.

The problem with persistent calculating is that there is then always room for miscalculation, and underestimating the enemy is ever a danger. Where there is coolly calculated evil, there should be the right and the fair and the just to balance the scales. Evil always seems to underestimate the power behind the need for justice, but how can there be Balance without it? And the greatest miscalculation in this sinister game may be to assume who is Jacin-rei’s heart. It is a supremely perilous risk to take, thinking you have all the answers, because even Jacin-rei doesn’t hold the piece that fits into that puzzle yet. But he is close. So close.

Fen Jacin-rei is the moth that will choose to fly away from the flame because his sacrifice, his forfeit, is to live. What happens when the moth changes course, quits flying toward the flame that portends its certain death and begins to redirect his own fate? When he believes in the nothing he’s been taught he is, he returns to Zero. “Unraveling. Shattering. Undone. Unmade.” The problem with Zero, however, is that as soon as it encounters even a small fraction of something, it can no longer be nothing. It immediately becomes more and is transformed into something new, even if he believes that that something is little more than a pretty lie. The Untouchable wants nothing more than to be touched in spite of how much he loathes himself for that need. Seems the unlovable also wants nothing more than to be loved in spite of how much he resents those who inspire that need in him.

But Fen is the conduit and it is through him that so much is possible and reality is precarious and it is a danger to attempt to predict the unpredictable. He must depend upon borrowed sanity because he has been burdened with a madness that is not his own; he needs the quiet that can be borrowed from the Null. For everything there must be balance and for everything there is a price, even if that price is your Self, paid in the form of submitting to the needs you hate and the relief that comes from the man you can’t trust.

The pain of grief overwhelms the ability to feel the pain of punishment and proves there is a difference between living and merely existing. Existence is the breeze, but living is the hurricane wind that sweeps you along in its wake and proves that you’ve experienced something that will continue to alter and influence you for all Time. It is up to Fen to decide how to escape the noose of his former reality and use it to capture some semblance of a life. He will live as a form of revenge against the betrayal that has dogged his steps. He will live for those he’s lost and for those who remain, until he learns how to live for himself.

Through the sandpaper eyelids that come from staying up into the wee hours, reading; through the irregular heartbeats, the increased blood pressure, the anxiety, the heartbreak and hope for what is yet to come, I flew and I fell and I joyfully survived this journey.

And now I wait to see what will become of them: Malick and Jacin, Joori, Morin, Samin and Shig. I will mourn their losses and cheer their successes until next time. I hope I’ll have recovered by then.

Buy Wolf’s-own Book Two: Weregild HERE.


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