Shayne Silvers

The One We Feed


I'm in the middle of the newest Shayne Silvers offering, Unchained, the first in the new Feathers and Fire series. In this book, we're introduced to Callie Penrose, a girl with a gift for magic and mayhem. As you know, I'm a fan of Nate Temple, Shayne Silvers' other series protagonist.  Nate shows up in this book as well, but Callie is the focus. Callie is complex, cool and compelling. She is a woman divided. She is being pulled in different directions. She must choose who she will be, which side will win. I can relate.  In the beginning of Unchained, Callie's mentor tells her the story of the two wolves. This is a favorite anecdote recounted in yoga classes all over the country. I've heard it a number of times. It goes like this:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

I love this story. I know these wolves. They are endlessly hungry, but not equally aggressive. The whining of the bad wolf is so much louder than the whimpers of the good wolf. And everyone knows about the squeaky wheel getting the grease. It's true. To the loudest goes the spoils. And I have my theories about why that evil lupine is so much more flamboyant than his beneficent brother. If the choice is free, then the right choice is the more difficult one to make, as I've written about before here.

It's harder to feed the good wolf. He eats the more expensive food and requires more costly care. The good wolf is high maintenance. The evil wolf is the easy houseguest. We can throw some sheets and towels his way and rest assured that he'll handle it. Until it's time to pay the piper. You know, when we've gained 30 pounds. Or smoked some poisonous weed. Or killed someone when we were driving under the influence. “But Officer, I only had a couple of cocktails...”

It's simple to make good choices. But it's not easy. In fact, it’s as hell. In Unchained, Callie has to make some choices about who she's going to be and for whom she's going to work. What will her life mean? Will she fight for justice or succumb to fear? These are fictional choices of a fictional character, but they reflect the truth that faces all of us. Who are we going to choose to be, based on our actions, our affiliations, our choices?

I don't know about you, but this shit is hard, especially when it's real. Will we be the enabler or the enforcer as parents? When no one is looking, will we leave a note on the windshield of the car we just side-swiped? Will we take that flirtation the next level while we rationalize that our spouse has already done the same or that it has no bearing on our marriage?

The examples are as endless as individuals who make these choices. It's hard. There's a war inside of us, just like the one raging in Callie Penrose. Which wolf will we feed?  Can we feed one and then the other in an endless see-saw of good versus evil? Can we, like the protagonist of QBVII, make up for our mistakes with good deeds?  Does the evil wolf, once indulged, slink off meekly into the sunset with his tail between his legs, never to be heard from again?  Or does he come back emboldened? What if he's a werewolf and not just a regular wolf?  Does that give him more power?

Who the fuck knows?  Not me. Maybe Callie. Or Nate Temple. Or Shayne Silvers. But definitely not me. I'm confused and fearful that I'm feeding the wrong wolf. I'm sure it won't get me where I want to be. But that just makes me like everyone else. Like Callie and Nate. Feeding the wolf who howls the loudest. Or maybe the wolf who's hungrier. The good wolf is always the one who's starving. Because the evil wolf is fat, dumb and deadly. 




If It's Not One Thing, It's Another


Life has gotten in the way. I'm quite behind on my reading and my writing. New job, kids home for the summer, new toys to play with and fix.... It's all good, but it's wreaking havoc with my schedule and my routine. I'm also sad. I hate to be interrupted when reading the next book in Shayne Silver's Nate Temple supernatural thriller series. But life didn't ask me before it kept me away from Beast Master, which is gearing up to be the most compelling book so far, and the message of the story resonates; if it's not one thing, it's another. I know I'm dating myself when I remember Rosanne Rosannadanna, the hilarious character created by the inimitable Gilda Radner on Saturday Night Live. Rosanne was known to go off on tangents and when questioned about the relevance of her comments to the topic at hand, she would state that, "It just goes to show you, if it's not one thing, it's another."  So true. For Gilda, who died too soon, for Nate Temple, whose troubles never seem to end (thankfully), and for the rest of us too.

Nate can't seem to come up for air before another mishap befalls him. In this excursion, he must wrangle the Beast Master who runs a supernatural fight club where contenders don't volunteer and often don't leave the arena alive. On top of that, Nate's fiancée is AWOL and his powers have been constrained. He's a one-armed paperhanger in a house with '70's decor in desperate need of an upgrade. No rest for the weary and he's not even getting weekends off. Life is hard for our hero. He's overworked and underpaid. This is a guy with plenty of resources and advantages at his disposal. And yet, not even Nate can catch a break. If he's in such dire straights, where does that leave the rest of us? Up Shit Creek without a paddle, jumping out of airplanes without a chute, and dealing with our mothers without Valium (okay, maybe that last one is my personal issue). Actually, it leaves us smack dab in the realm of reality—truth in fantasy strikes again.

While none of us is dealing with supernatural politics and battling various über villains, Nate's fate reflects our own. For all of us, if it's not one thing, it's another. The pipe bursts and the septic system overflows. Or our kid popped one of his brackets off his teeth and needs to get to the orthodontist, STAT. Or the dog is scooting her butt on the floor and needs her glands expressed. Or our co-worker was called away on a family emergency and twelve hour days won't even begin to cover the workload. The car died. The computer exploded with no back up, the fridge is on the fritz, and the air conditioner is out.  My best friend is in crisis at the same time Jehovah's Witnesses ring my doorbell and spy me through the glass so I can't hide.  Calgon, take me away. Or, if a bubble bath is not available, a stiff drink will do in a pinch. Sometimes, it feels like my head is swiveling 360° and that green pea soup is about to spew from my mouth. I warn my loved ones to stand back while I have a breakdown and bemoan my fate. And then I take a step back and try to get some perspective (with more or less success, depending on the day – and the time for a bubble bath… or a drink).

I'm freaking lucky to have family and friends, a job and a car, a computer, a fridge and an air conditioner.  I'm blessed to be a homeowner and a mother to boys and dogs alike. My life is full, full, full -- sometimes overly so, but then I tell myself to suck it up, Buttercup (like Nate, I often talk to myself. And I answer too!).

A full life sure as shit beats the alternative.  There is no life lived to capacity that isn't overflowing with stuff going sideways sometimes. Kids pop brackets, computers explode, cars die. It's the way of the world, the signs of a life well lived.

We could sit at home and eat frozen dinners and watch TV or play video games and if we can make the rent, well, we wouldn't have to worry about too many distractions in our small little world. But to that I say, fuck no. Give me the troubles with the joy, the pizza with the reflux and the democracy with the Donald. ‘You pays your money and you takes your chances.’ And sooner or later, the wheel of fortune spins again, and you're on top again… at least for a while.

But don't get too comfortable. Because remember, if it's not one thing, it's another. That's life. And if you don't believe me, just ask Nate Temple.


Using Our Power for Good


I'm still thinking about Shayne Silvers' Silver Tongue, one of the Nate Temple supernatural thriller series. The book explores some deep themes, as I wrote about last week, and I'm still exploring its depths. In this post, I'd like to discuss reliance on one aspect of our power—whether that be supernatural power or the more mundane like beauty, brains or brawn. It's an interesting issue, and a bad habit to which many of us succumb. As Nate Temple tells us, "When you know you can use your powers to get what you want, you can very easily find that you are using it for every single situation. You need to use your mind, values, morals. Your power isn't the be-all, end-all." From the mouths of fictional characters... easier said than done, Master Temple.  I was a physically unattractive child, all gangly limbs, sharp angles and a nose that earned me the lovely epithet, "Pinocchio."  My childhood was super fun. Not. Anyway, as an ugly duckling, it fell to me to observe the pretty girls, the petite beauties with upturned noses and perfect hair, who knew from an early age how to work their looks to achieve their goals. A bat of an eyelash here, big puppy dog eyes there, a flirtatious grin, a seductive glance. These girls knew exactly what they were doing to capitalize on their assets. I envied them so much it hurt.

But I noticed something else as the green-eyed monster was devouring me from the inside out. I noticed that because I wasn't so pretty, and therefore somewhat invisible to boys and many adults as well, I was forced to rely on other assets. I didn't have beauty, but I was smart. My intelligence garnered me all sorts of accolades, leading to achievement and success. I slowly realized that if I had to choose, I was much more content with brains over beauty, because I could use my mind to get what I wanted. And I did.  

Athletes rely on their bodies to go where they otherwise couldn't (I'm watching my sons' friends earn admittance to colleges well beyond their intellectual capacity as a result of their skill on a lacrosse field). These boys and girls and men and women are learning that their physicality is the golden ticket and they work it. I totally get it.

But each of us—beauty, brains and brawn—can be more unbalanced than Donald Trump talking about the mayor of London. Speaking from my own experience, I'm usually convinced that everything is “figure-out-able,” as Marie Forleo claims. I can attack any problem with my big brain and it will bow down to my intellectual superiority. Well, maybe not so much. I've gotten into serious trouble by using only the top twelve inches of my body. I forget about my heart, my values, my morals, as Nate Temple warns. This can be a problem and lead to ridiculous and dangerous outcomes.

I can think myself into justifying anything. I'm very persuasive, especially in the confines of my own head: just one more cookie; that street looks kosher; I don't need to study anymore for that exam; just this once. We've all been there, done that, some with better results than others. The biggest problem with only having a hammer, be that beauty, brains or brawn, is that everything looks like a nail. Even if it's a fragile flower. Over reliance on one characteristic or attribute leads to laziness and mediocrity, if not worse.

It also leads to our building up one set of muscles at the expense of all the rest. Imagine what we'd look like if we only did biceps curls at the gym. Or we only did squats. Eventually, we would look weird or even grotesque. Here, like so many other places, balance is the special sauce on the Big Mac of our lives. Without it, we taste like shit.

For me, I had to make the perilous eighteen inch drop from my head to my heart, allowing more than the facts to influence my actions. I also learned rather late, unfortunately, that even a big brain is housed in a decaying body, and if I only paid attention to developing my intellect, the flesh that housed it was going to go the way of all of it.

For those who rely on their looks, well, I'll just mention Cher, Ellen Barkin, Melanie Griffith and Barry Manilow and let you draw your own conclusions. That shit don't last, people, and having your eyes close when you sit down is not attractive. Just say no.

Ditto for the athletes trying to maintain their youth and its attendant strength and endurance. Also ephemeral. And if that is all you have, then you need to plan well. I always feel bad for athletes who claw their way out of poverty with their athleticism, only to burn brightly for a short time with no plan for a future that doesn't include multi-million dollar contracts. Very sad, because like everything else in life, this too shall pass.

And maybe that is the point. Every dog has its day, and all of us have attributes with planned obsolescence. Therefore, it's important to cultivate the characteristics that last, like values and morals. That Nate Temple dude knows from whence he speaks. We should listen. And read. And think. And exercise. And take pride in our appearance even if we're not as beautiful as Venus and Adonis. We should cast our net widely and use all that we have, staying balanced in our approach to life and in pursuit of our goals. It's the way to use our power for good. 

A Good Man


I'm back to the supernatural world of Nate Temple, and glad to be here with Silver Tongue, the fourth book in Shayne Silvers’ series.  The growing complexity of the series is gratifying and this book tackles some of the most complex issues of all: early in the novel someone asks Nate, "What does being a good man mean to you?"  Nate replies, "It's becoming more unclear as the years go by."  This is deep truth—truth in fantasy. As all outstanding fantasy does, Silver Tongue reflects reality, together with a big dose of analytical exploration. What does it mean to be a good man or a good woman? The question brought me up short. Most of us think ourselves to be "good" people, at least deep down. I doubt my readers are comprised of murderers and rapists, kidnappers or professional thieves. So, we can take that kind of black and white definition off the table (this is not to say that those who commit serious crimes cannot be redeemed, but that is a topic for another post). Less clear is whether our essential goodness is irreparably stained by the more mundane transgressions: white lies; cheating in its various incarnations; and less than grand thefts—of the physical and intellectual variety. Most of us are not wholly innocent of such crimes, but do transgressions like these exclude us from the panoply of goodness? I don’t believe so – and if that is the case, then what constitutes goodness in humanity? And what bars us from its ranks? I'm with Nate in believing that the definition of goodness is becoming less clear as the years pass. When I was younger, being ‘good’ meant working hard, being loyal, practicing kindness and behaving generously. All of those attributes are certainly "good," of course. The issues arise when one of those objectives conflicts with one or more of the others. What does it mean to be good when the legitimate demands of work preclude being kind or generous? We can't give away what we haven't got, and work-life balance is highly skewed for so many of us on the hamster wheel of life. What does being a good person mean to us when we have to choose between spending time with our kids or our friends? Our spouse or our parents? Our family or our community? If we're trying to be good, if that is a value for us, where are the guideposts that tell us which sacrifices are the right ones (our soul for a loved one's life, for example), or which choices are good, better and best? I think, as Nate implies, that as we get older and have some life experience under our belts, what it means to be good changes; as we age, things grow more complicated. And while love songs and sitcoms may lead us to the conclusion that good choices have neon signs to identify them, often the choice that would support our claims to goodness can only be found in the rearview mirror. In the moment, when we make the daily choices that constitute our lives and label us as "good" or "bad," there is much less clarity. Fear, frustration, disappointment and impatience can begin to cloud our judgment about what is good. When we can no longer call ourselves young, we may feel that we've been there, done that, and already given away the t-shirt, along with other remnants of a past no longer relevant to the future. When we think we know the situation or circumstances, or our fear projects onto the future events based on the past, we may make less than good choices. If we close down communication with someone we love because we've been hurt previously and that baggage informs our current relationship, that cannot be a choice for good, although we believe it to be so. If we dismiss a friend in need because they've been where they are before and we're all out of fucks to give, we may make bad choices in the name of doing ourselves good.

The question of goodness is complicated. And I believe it is relative. Yes, there are probably some absolute truths out there, but a major milestone marking the passage of years is that we come to realize that we have no way of seeing the big picture in many instances, and we are in no position to judge. Not even ourselves. Although most of us do. And there is very little mercy to be found in the depths of our own minds, particularly when we have turned our attention to our own actions.

So where do we stand on the question of what it means to be a good person? Well, intentions are important, although not definitive. Outcomes are relevant, although not categorical. A sincere effort to do the best we can with the information we have, trying first to do no harm and second to do some good is probably a decent place to start, but it might not be where we end up. In the final analysis, I recommend reading Silver Tongue and meeting me in the comments section for a longer discussion. I'm good with that.


Follow the Leader


I'm almost finished with Grimm, the next book in Shayne Silvers’ Nate Temple Supernatural Thriller series. It's exciting. A lot of bad things happen to our protagonist, billionaire wizard Nate Temple. How he gets out of these messes is still to be revealed and I was hard pressed to put the book down and write this blog. But deadlines are deadlines and here we are. Today I'd like to explore the concept of leadership, what it means, what it requires and its various manifestations. And like Joseph Campbell's hero, when the call comes, many refuse at first. But destiny rarely takes "no" for an answer, and eventually, we answer the call or get kicked to the curb. Nate is a reluctant hero, but when it becomes obvious that he cannot avoid his fate, he steps up to become the leader we hoped he would be at the start of the series. You know I love protagonists who evolve in meaningful ways, who grow up despite desires to the contrary, and who end up ‘adulting’ with the best of them. Nate is such a character. He rises to the occasion to protect his friends and loved ones with little thought or care about the cost to himself.

When I was younger, influenced by a patriarchal society and a mother for whom mature males were the apotheosis of authority figures, I thought all legitimate leaders were old white men. As my horizons expanded, my ideas of leadership morphed to include men and women of all ages and races. Leaders, I came to believe, were serious folks who were appropriately somber when seeking any sort of following. 

I was wrong about leaders and many other notions I've entertained over the years. With respect to leadership, I've learned that there are many styles and approaches, some serious and others more light hearted. And while places like the military and business schools claim that leadership can be taught, I've never found that to be true. I believe leaders are born, not made. And while not all leaders will find opportunities to exploit their talents, there are many in positions of leadership who can fake it all they want, but they will never make it.

Leadership is something you have or you don't. Nate Temple has it. The ability to inspire others to follow him, willingly and enthusiastically. Those who follow know instinctively that their leader will put the cause or the mission, whatever it is—for good or ill—ahead of his or her own needs and desires. A real leader thinks of him or herself as a servant, not a master. Even in the Master Temple's case. In this book, he lives up to his title in the most ironic sense of the word.

And therein lies the rub. Many bad leaders believe that they have been elevated because they are better than those who serve them. Nothing could be further from the truth. A real leader never asks anyone to do something they would not do willingly. A real leader distributes scarce supplies to others instead of keeping them. A real leader fights at the front of their troops, not from the rear. Real leaders are willing to sacrifice themselves for those they lead, both literally and figuratively.

Leadership is sometimes about explicit charisma, but not always. Many leaders are physically gifted as well, with height or beauty or just an aura of power. But this is not always the case, as with spiritual leaders, who are often self-effacing, or unlikely leaders, such as those who rise out of adversity during oppression or war, like Nelson Mandela.

I think there are many of us who fancy ourselves leaders. Perhaps I should only speak for myself here, because I know I think of myself as a leader of men (and women), if only on a small scale. And maybe that is a distinction as well:  leaders both large and limited. I don't see myself as president or as a military general, but I know that I am more likely to be at the head of the pack than at the back. Moreover, I don't follow so well, which places me firmly in the category of chief, not Indian. 

But wouldn't most of us rather ride in the front of the roller coaster?  Or maybe I'm just projecting my own desires on the rest of humanity and assuming everyone is just like me—I am painfully aware that this is far from true. Because the cold reality is that the vast majority of humans live to follow. They follow charlatans and false prophets as easily and often as true leaders because they would rather not have to think for themselves or engage in the often messy business of figuring it out as they go along. Most of humanity takes the road more traveled, by definition. 

Not that I'm judgmental or anything. Of course I am. I am more than willing to follow a worthy leader, but I don't have much respect for those who fall for facile answers and appeals to fear (a certain president comes to mind). I have no empathy for sheep. Or those who feel victimized by their own lack of fortitude. But I digress. We were talking about leaders, real and imagined. I prefer the real kind. Even when they are fictional, as in the case of Nate Temple. Once again, I'm finding truth in fantasy in all the best places. 


The Hole in the Donut


I just finished Blood Debts, the second novel in the Nate Temple Supernatural Thriller series by Shayne Silvers. Our hero, Nate Temple, billionaire wizard, has fallen on hard times and spends a majority of the book getting his ass kicked. Over and over. But, like the Energizer Bunny, Nate just keeps going and going. If nothing else, his persistence is admirable, and he reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Nelson Mandela that exhorts us to judge not by how many times we fall down, but how many times we get back up. But I digress. Today's rumination involves losing that which defines us and finding out who we are minus our external trappings. Nate loses both his money and his magic in Blood Debts. It was a bad few days for him. He’s left to contemplate who he is without his wealth and his supernatural power. It's an interesting question. In all of the various Twelve Step programs, addicts are encouraged to take a personal moral inventory and then ask their Higher Power to remove their defects of character. There is more than one step involved, and it's an ongoing process, but the relevant aspect here is the acknowledgement in Alcoholics Anonymous, for example, that some people—having given up their character defects—feel like they have abandoned their essential selves. Recovering alcoholics around the world fear becoming the "hole in the donut," giving up so much of what defines them that there is no longer a there there. For the record, Bill Wilson, the founding father of AA, assured his fellow alcoholics that no such eventuality would come to pass from letting go of character defects. But…

What about letting go of the trappings of money and status and power? Or, if one doesn't have much of those, our roles as employees, spouses, parents, friends, etc.? Or maybe our identification with certain traits or characteristics, like intelligence or humor or non-conformity?

I'm struggling mightily with all of this myself right now, and reading about it in the pages of an excellent fantasy novel makes me happy. I adore finding deep truth in fantasy, while exploring depth psychology between the pages of a supernatural thriller turns all sorts of conventions on their heads—in keeping with my delight in, and my identity with, non-conformity.

Nate grapples with the question of who he is as a regular Joe, with no wealth or magic to make him what he thought he was. Turns out—minor spoiler alert—that deep down, underneath it all, Nate is a pretty badass dude—of the righteous variety. And that without the trappings of money and power he discovers what he's made of, and he's good with what he finds, more or less.

Over the past six months or so, as I've transitioned out of one career and failed to reignite a previous one, I've wondered who I am without my work to define me. I've tried on other identities, most importantly that of "writer," but I'm failing pretty miserably with that one too, which has been perplexing, not to mention humbling and demoralizing. Writing fiction is HARD, and I'm increasingly appreciative of the skill and the craft that goes into good books like Mr. Silvers' Temple Chronicles. And I'm also seeing what I'm made of, evaluating my mettle and finding it wanting. I don't write every day, as every single resource I've ever consulted tells me to do, and I can't crack the code on plotting and outlining so that I can write something slightly more sophisticated than an episode of Gilligan's Island.

I've analyzed the plots and story arcs of some of my favorite works and I'm constantly amazed at how these authors set their hooks and close the loops, sometimes many, many books later in a series. And sometimes within the same book. And the part I was anticipating with the most joy?  The world building where I get to be queen and decide which supernatural powers each kind of being has and the rules for teleporting and mind reading, etc.? That part?  Well, it turns out that part is hard as shit.

But I crave sophisticated plots and arcane references—like Nate finding the TARDIS and riding with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. It's so cool. I want to be cool too. But I've digressed fairly far afield from my main premise: If we can't be who we think we are, as defined by external trappings or roles, then who the hell are we?  Are we the hole in the donut, or does Bill Wilson have something to teach everyone, not just the addicts among us?

And what if we're not the hole in the donut?  What if instead of a whole bunch of nothing, the something that we are turns out to be uninspiring? What if we're not unique or special or badass like Nate? What if we are just another Bozo on the bus, getting through our days, living lives of quiet desperation? 

Sometimes, I wonder who I'd be without this incessant, burning, excruciating drive inside me that always wants more and better. Maybe that is the character defect or external trapping that I need to jettison to ensure my personal happiness and general contentment. But no, I think I'd rather be like Nate Temple, and go down fighting all the way, even if I don't think it's going to end well for me. Because in the end, for me, like Nate (my fictional brother from another mother), I'd rather be dead than complacent, and I'd rather be driven to excellence (even if I fail spectacularly along the way), than content with mediocrity. 

We all make choices in life. And those choices determine our particular variety of donut. And hey, even if it turns out we are the hole in the donut, those little suckers taste pretty good, so maybe all is not lost. In the meantime, I'm going to work on getting up. Again.


The Face of Power


I just finished the first book in another new series and life is good. Obsidian Son is the first offering in the Nate Temple supernatural thriller series by Shayne Silvers (I'd call it urban fantasy, but he's the author, so we'll go with his designation). I'm already a fan and can't wait to see what happens to Nate, billionaire wizard, over the course of the series. And because I'm late to this particular author's party, there are six books and novellas to read. Awesome. Obsidian Son has all the elements that make paranormal fantasy meaningful for me—a cool hero, interesting secondary characters, a plot that moves and, of course, dragons; you've got to have dragons to be among the greats. It also has deep philosophical themes underlying the entertainment, which puts the cherry on the sundae for me and makes this series more than just an afternoon's amusement. There are a couple of complex concepts to explore in the series so far, and the one that hooked me first was about power. The wanting, the having, the need for more and the Spider-Man Mandate—that with great power comes great responsibility, about which I've written before. Not to mention the other side of that coin, the Animal Farm conundrum telling us that power corrupts and that absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. And its corollary that the lust for power is equally if not more corrosive to a previously good character.

In the world of Nate Temple, power comes in a variety of packages. Nate is a wizard who can manipulate physical energy to arrange reality the way he wants it, more or less. He's also the sole heir to a family company worth many billions of dollars (and really, once you add that many zeros to your bank balance, do the numbers at the front of those zeros really matter?). So, he's got power in the real world and power in the supernatural world. And, most interestingly, all of that power is increasing, with consequences unknown.

Nate is aware of the potentially corrupting influence of power and he fights against it, so far successfully. And while Nate can be immature (which seems to be de rigueur for young wizards), he's basically a good guy trying to do the right thing when the right thing isn't always easy to see. Or do. He’s what we all aspire to.

Not so with Nate's best friend, Peter. Spoiler alert here: if you don't want to know what happens, read no further. But if you don’t mind.... Peter is a Muggle among supernatural entities (called a "Regular" in this series). He is the third in a childhood triumvirate that also includes Nate and Gunnar, a werewolf. Peter has long been the odd man out in this trio, with neither magical nor transformational ability of the howling variety, even though he is one of the rare humans who has been initiated into knowledge of a world beyond the mundane. A realm where supposedly mythological creatures and people with supernatural powers actually exist. He's had a lifetime to watch his closest friends participate in an extraordinary arena from which he’s always excluded. And while Nate and Gunnar were always generous with Peter, unbeknownst to them, Peter was nurturing a deep resentment that would eventually sprout thorns vicious enough to irreparably damage the fabric of their friendship once and for all.

It seems the drive to power can be just as destructive as the wielding of it. Power corrupts when we forget the purpose of power, which should be, but isn't always, to help others and to make the world a better place. Period. That is the only appropriate use of power. I'm not saying it's not OK to enjoy the use or possession of said gift. It is OK, just as it's OK to enjoy a meal whose primary purpose is to nourish. It's cool if the fuel tastes delicious while also being nutritious. And it's fine to enjoy the trappings of power and wealth as long we come out on the side of the angels in the end. 

Similarly, there is nothing wrong, per se, with the pursuit of power. I take no issue with those who seek it, particularly with the express goal of doing good, such as elected and appointed officials, military officers, CEOs and pre-school teachers (I haven't met anyone more powerful than the Superman or Wonder Woman who can successfully corral fifteen screaming four-year-olds and get them to sit quietly and listen to a story). Many of us who had troubled childhoods seek control and nothing says control more than power. It's not the desire or the object of the desire that is inherently evil. Just the means we use to achieve power and the choices we make once we get there. 

Obsidian Son offers a portrait of the two faces of power—one that struggles to enhance life through the exercise of power and one that doesn't give a shit about anyone or anything as long as their lust is satisfied. It's quite the dichotomy and Shayne Silvers delivers a morally nutritious meal that tastes as good as it feels. The good guys rule and the bad guys drool. Or something like that. And along the way we have an opportunity to ponder the practice of power, its pursuit and purpose.  I'll have to add supernatural thrillers to my list of places to find truth in fantasy.  It's a powerful pleasure.