I’ll just jump right in. Part one can be found, here, if you wish. Again, the synopsis was written by the intimitable Kyla Sentes. I’ll pass the mic to her now…
In Feast of Dreams, we are greeted by the Three Sisters of fate who reveal that despite their best plans, the threads of fate have been broken, and by none other than our own Hunters of Fate: Morigan, Caenith, Mouse, Thackery, and Vortigern. We join the pack as they venture through the land of the Untamed, deeper into the protracted quagmire of a great war.
Morigan’s mind has become a virtual hive of visions. The bees of her dream-walking are beating out a nearly incessant rhythm of prophecies that are becoming ever more burdensome. Her waking dreams show her that she is, indeed, of immortal origin, and that the woman she called her mother, Mifanwae, did not give birth to her but rather was a willing pawn in destiny’s game. In many ways, Morigan has become a silent Cassiopeia, blessed with a second sight full of images she cannot, or dare not, share. With every passing day, she comes to realize that much of what she sees is unchangeable. She also peeks behind fate’s curtain to reveal more about the woman in Caenith’s past who once held his heart. Aghna, herself a wolf-changeling, had long ago ended her life when faced with a future of untold suffering. Morigan herself felt she had little to fear from a shadow of the past until she and her friends suddenly found themselves surrounded by an even greater legion—led by the long-departed Aghna.
Once again, it appears that death represents little more than a temporary transition for the lycanthropic being who now governs Briongrahd, the City of Fangs. She is no longer wrapped in the loving glow Caenith remembers from their last moments together but by a shroud of violence and hate. The changeling to whom Caenith had once devoted himself bears little resemblance to their glorious past, and he is forced to reconcile the woman he knew in life with the woman she became in death. Aghna has become the warmother of which Macha had warned, leading her species toward a battle against the Kings in which victory will represent the domination over other species in the realm. And much like Brutus allowed himself to be moved to slaughter his own kin, Aghna now appears possessed by a power that lives only to satisfy its carnal desires and lust for domination.
Unsurprisingly, there is little honor among those who are singularly focused on the advancement of their own—a kind of species-based nationalism—and Aghna betrays her former lover, killing Vortigern in the process. This is a death from which he will not return, and while the survivors escape, Mouse is scarred by the untimely loss of a father she had known only in his afterlife.
All the while, the undefinable, ethereal evil of the Black Queen continues to overshadow the land, reminding Geadhain’s inhabitants at every turn that in the battle of man versus the forces of the universe, they are always the underdogs. Yet the machinations of the Black Queen and her cabal are not the only threats to peace in the realm. With Magnus either missing or dead after the battle with his corrupted brother, the Iron Queen, Gloriatrix, intends to launch an offensive against Eod, using all the forces of her technomagikal arsenal.
Gloriatrix’s past has been so marred by loss that when her son, Sorren, suddenly disappears, she takes it as a signal that she is destined to live a life bereft of love, cementing her ire against anyone who would deny her the singular pleasure remaining to her: power. But Elissandra, who shares Morigan’s gift of insight, knows that Sorren’s disappearance was not of earthly origin. His essence has been given over to a power greater than anything Gloriatrix could imagine—that of Death itself. And while Gloriatrix is almost singularly focused on capturing Morigan and her fellow travelers, she is blinded to the dissent that is fomenting in the halls of Menos in her absence. The Iron Sages begin staging a revolt, targeting Elissandra and her one vulnerability: her children. The sorceress barely escapes with her life and fails to impress upon Gloriatrix the growing futility of waging war against Eod.
Queen Lila, Magnus’s wife, has left the kingdom with her husband’s hammer, Erithitek. She leaves in her stead her hands, Lowelia and Leonitis, who will serve the kingdom in her absence, both wrapped in a spell of illusion that tricks whoever looks upon them into seeing the appearances and voices of their departed queen and Magnus’s hammer. Believing Magnus to have perished at Brutus’s hands, Lila has taken it upon herself to acquire a tool of untold power: the arm of Taroch. Conjured out of the ashes of Magnus’s despair, the ancient relic, like every tool of magik in the realm, possesses power that is easily abused and will extort a steep price from its user.
Approaching madness, Lila gives barely a thought to her once-beloved Summerlands or to those she left to safeguard its borders. She is blinded by her loss and pain, and Erik—her silent admirer and stalwart protector—is the only thing keeping her physical and spiritual being safe, as she wrestles with a faltering morality that is dizzied by grief. Both she and Erithitek—who is increasingly struggling to keep silent his intense feelings for the queen—are unaware that Magnus, in fact, exists in a kind of purgatory. There, Brutus has opened a window into his mind through which Magnus can view his rampages, in the hopes that he might seduce his captive brother into joining him as a vessel for the Black Queen. And so visions of Magnus that push Lila to the brink of sanity represent more than simple nightmares from which Erithetek must awaken her.
All the while, Rowena and Galivad, Queen Lila’s Sword and the Master of Eod’s East Watch, respectively, have been watching Moreth of El—a trafficker of all things dark and depraved in Menos. Also under their purview is his new bride, Beatrice, a woman not unfamiliar to Galivad. Beatrice, with her angel-like appearance and glowing aura, is more akin to a viper in her actions, her need for self-gratification finding purchase in the indulgent devouring of bodies and souls—one of whom was Galivad’s mother. The couple are kindred spirits with Gloriatrix, both taking relish in exacting their own sick torments on those who have the terrible misfortune of crossing their path—and Lila’s envoys are exactly such misfortunates.
Also caught in their web is one working for an invisible authority, guided by forces unknown in the corporeal world. Alastair, a man who had once granted Mouse her freedom from indentured service, appears to have a mission that extends well beyond that of underground trader of goods in Menos. His intrigue with Maggie, the owner of the Silk Purse tavern, leads him to pull her into his plots as well—the goals of which seem to shift along with his loyalties. While Alastair is another of Geadhain’s citizens for whom dying simply represents a bump on the road toward his next death, there is little question that he takes no pleasure in seeing Maggie tortured at the hands of their captors.
As the pack’s journey continues, Caenith comes to see that Aghna’s treachery is but the first of many shocking truths he must absorb. Deep in a cave, the pup that grew into a great Wolf is reunited with his mother. There in the darkness, the great Mother Wolf divulges a secret about his father’s identity that eclipses all the Wolf thought to be true about the world and his place in it. Brought face-to-face with the woman/beast who bore him, he learns that his father is none other than Brutus, the creature who would see the world’s destruction as a vessel of the Black Queen.
But while the immortals are faced with challenges of an otherworldly nature, most inhabitants of Geadhain cannot shake their mortal coil. Amid Menos’s murk, there are civilian casualties of a war they are simply trying to survive. A simple observer, Aadore does not see herself as a party to the jingoist frenzy into which Menos is being whipped. She seeks only to reunite with her brother, Sean, a man who has been ravaged by not only time but life’s savagery. At the moment of their strained homecoming, the city is rocked by explosions, and rising up from the detritus, these new players reveal themselves as the sole survivors.
Another unwitting player in fate’s grand theater, young Beauregard has a past that remains a mystery. But in the present, he and his father, Devlin, have been entrusted with knowledge that may secure the future of Geadhain’s most precious and beautiful region: Sorsetta. They leave the Summerlands—a land now scarred by Brutus’s fury—to act as messengers of the war that is bearing down on Sorsetta’s peaceful land. But more than that, they bring with them a tool of magik that offers one of the few glimpses of hope for defense. As Brutus appears to them, he is cloaked in the shadow of Magnus’s trapped spirit. Knowing that his son is strong enough to survive the hardships that await him, Devlin sacrifices himself so that Beauregard might wield their weapon: a wonderstone—a shard of condensed, ancient magik. Doing so releases Magnus from his purgatory, banishes Brutus, and propels Beauregard forward from peaceful poet to warrior of fate.
Meanwhile, as our travelers venture through the Pitch Dark groves of Alabion, they are met with three sisters of another kind. The three red witches whose taste for blood would see a meal made of each them can sense Morigan’s ascendant power. They foretell that hers will not be a path paved by peaceful light but with crimson. They also sense within Mouse a growing resentment for a fate that would drive her further into darkness.
The immutable nature of that which is preordained becomes ever more apparent as the Hunters of Fate finally meet with the sisters whose shaping of destinies makes them both friend and foe to all they meet. There, Morigan’s true calling as a Daughter of Fate is confirmed, born of Elemech and sister to Eean and Ealasyd. But the sisters also reveal that the darkness overtaking Geadhain is more terrible than the anthropomorphized version of the Black Queen could have led them to believe; she is The Great Dreamer, Zionae, whose roots run deeper than anything in their world. She is devouring Geadhain, and even immortals cannot halt her frenzy. Their only hope is to return to the cradle where life began to find a trace of Zionae’s fall from grace that might reveal a weakness. Despite the incredible losses they have incurred during their campaign to find the Sisters, Morigan and Caenith know that their destiny is to take up this mantle.
Recognizing that he, too, bears a burden for Geadhain’s fate, weary Thackery strikes a bargain for time. As an old man nearing the end of his days, Thackery declined across the miles, an effect made even more glaring in the company of immortals and beings who are seemingly beyond death. Each night as the travelers rested, he was enveloped by a vigil of companions wary that each breath might be the one that ushered in the end. But to add time to one life, it must be taken from another’s. And as a now youthful Thackery emerges from negotiations with the sisters, the origins of his newfound years are unknown.
Mouse—seemingly unable to deny the dark roots that were nurtured during her life in Menos—also readily accepts a deal, albeit from the three red witches, that would see her avenge her father. She is so blinded by her grief that she fails to realize that even for the purest of hearts, it is all too easy to be led astray when the desire to exact revenge rears its head. There is always a price to pay for such caprices, whether in this realm or another, and early indications are that Mouse may pay dearly for acting as the messenger for a spirit of retribution.
Even knowing that much of what lies ahead is unchangeable, the Three Sisters pull at wefts and warps here and there, keeping the fabric of fate intact, but all the while subtly changing its pattern. They cannot help themselves from crafting deals designed to test the travelers’ characters and push the limits of their virtues. Nor can they remain untangled from the affairs of beasts and men, even when their own existence may depend upon it. Even as sisters of fate, they make these bargains, largely unaware of the impacts they might have on the final tapestry for the future. But then again, these are not concerns for beings who are reborn as easily as a snake sloughs off its skin.
The only certainty that remains is that the Green Mother is angry, and what she wills, she wills…
P.S. Next week, I should have something very special to unveil. Stay tuned! xo