“…when you really love something, then it loves you back, in whatever way it has to love.” – John Knowles, A Separate Peace
And sometimes the same applies to someone, and that alone has to be good enough because to expect anything more is asking too much of the one you love. To want anything less devalues the gift of that love. To beg for it because you so badly need it in order to feel alive, leaves room to doubt that it’s real. To be able to recognize it, not the words but the actions that signify it, gives it legitimacy. To be able to accept love in whatever form it’s offered because it’s the only way that person is capable of offering it, gives it strength. Simply because a man’s soul can’t afford the price of the words to express it doesn’t diminish the emotion. Sometimes actions and the motivations behind them are thoroughly eloquent all on their own.
For Fen, Jacin, Jacin-rei; the Incendiary, the Catalyst, the Untouchable who wanted…no, that’s wrong…who needed nothing more than to be touched (because a need is an imperative); the unlovable who is loved in spite of how much he feels unworthy of it; the man who has been taught, across lifetimes, that love can only mean betrayal; for that man, existence is a curse. For him, love is pain. His sacrifice is to live; his punishment is to be denied that which he craves to his very core; his affliction is to need and to be needed but to be unable to receive and to give freely; each death is nothing more than a path to rebirth to begin the cycle of torment over and over again, and each lifetime becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, doomed to repeat itself because that torment robs him of his sanity.
“My kind were not meant for the love of another, but that could not stop me from wanting it, so I watched for it very carefully.”
But watching for it is very different from recognizing it, and recognizing it is very different from accepting it, because in a world where every boon must be balanced by a forfeit, how can one man possibly be both the gift and the sacrifice? So you doom yourself to repeat the same mistakes indefinitely, you convince yourself that if you try harder to be perfect, you’ll be loved perfectly. But the person you love doesn’t love you, he only wants to possess you. He wants your soul because to own it, to twist and brutalize it until it lays shriveled and dying in the darkest shadows of your very being means you have no value but to the one who wants to use you. It means you’ve given away everything of yourself and of your Self, and you become nothing but a tool to be manipulated by whomever can make you believe the worst possible lies about who you are and why you even exist.
Until, that is, you find the someone whose arms become the someplace you feel safe. Until you find the purpose of your life is to live your life purposefully. Until you discover the truth behind the lie that has been your existence. Until you find someone who wants to lay claim to you, not because he wants to use you or enslave you but because he wants to protect you and offer you the freedom to choose your own path. Until you unlearn all you’ve been taught and stop fighting against the one who can save you. Only then can you be redeemed.
And only then do you discover there is more than one way to save a soul, but no one ever said the soul that’s saved must be your own in order for you to find salvation. No one ever said the heart’s blood you protect must be your own heart’s blood. Sometimes the soul you save is the one you’re entrusted with, and the only way you have to love is to guard that soul with your life. You keep it safe because that’s how you love. And that has to be enough because it’s all of yourself you have to give.
It is redemption. It is a story of oppression. It is the magic and the mythology of mortals and immortals. It is the mythos of the Six, who usurped the One to become the gods of the world. It is the story of the One who returns to seek vengeance and to regain control of the world that rejected him. It is the story of the children of the gods who carry out the gods’ orders and ensure the balance between the mortals and the immortals. It is the story of an immortal who must discover who he’s meant to be so he can guide the inception to his conclusion so he can begin anew, to fulfill a legacy of becoming the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the god-maker and –slayer, the world-changer and –destroyer, to become more than the Incendiary has ever been before. It is the story of a man who was created to be a tool of Fate, Fate’s Fool, who was betrayed by his lover-god and died a thousand small deaths as penance for defying that god who’d claimed to love his Incendiary but proved with savage equanimity that his love came with conditions.
Wolf’s-own is the saga of three brothers who love in whatever way they have to love—one loves a brother who no longer is, or maybe never was; one loves without provision, even if his actions and words say otherwise; and one has no idea how to love, because to love means to lose. To love means to need. To need means to suffer.
Incendiary is the final chapter in an epic tale that spans the journey of two heroes. It is the end of the beginning, the beginning of the end, the full-circle story of the gods’ and their playthings and the malevolence and manipulation of immortals who would pervert the old magic in a bid to take over the world.
Wolf’s-own is an experience; that’s all there is to say. It is a journey for the reader, the story of a man who was ordered to steal the heart’s blood of an immortal but ended up only stealing his heart instead, and gaining a soul to protect in return for all that he’d lost of his own. There is the Balance.
I loved this series, from inception to conclusion, connected with it in a way I don’t connect with many books, and this is the only way I have to show it.
Buy Incendiary HERE.
2 thoughts on “Incendiary (Wolf’s-own #4) by Carole Cummings”
Oh man, Lisa, I love your reviews. You always leave me speechless. I know wew’ve talked about this before, but I still have a hard time getting over the insight, the things you see that I never thought anyone would pick up, and yet you’re there. And you write things like this. And you make me teary.
I want to hug you and try not to sniffle on your shoulder for a while.
I’ve just plain run out of words to describe what this series meant to me, Carole. I don’t believe I’ve ever read another author whose work has resonated with me the way yours does, and I mean both this and the Aisling series. You make me work and force me to focus and pay attention to every detail, big or small, because I know that somewhere along the way I’m going to connect it to something, even if it’s only something in my own head, that will make me say, ah, yes, I get it now. I love that more than I can say because it means that I’m participating in a small way in what you’ve worked so hard to build.
You poke at my wee little brain just like Morin kept poking at the fish in the bowl. :-D
I wish you were going to GayRomLit so I could hug you in person.