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sarah_in_ca
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

Vaclav has had an extremely hard life, and his treatment of is sons is most likely a reflection of the treatment he experienced by his father.  My great grandfather came from the same part of Europe as Vaclav and he struggled much the same.  He didn't show affection to his children and worked them very hard, although he adored my great grandmother in his own way.  I see where he's coming from.

 

To Vaclav, owning land and purchasing more land was a form of security, a place to put down roots.  Horses are not only the tools to work the land and win money in local races, but also foster a sense of pride and ownership of a magnificent animal.

 

The shifting in time from chapter to chapter was well-chosen.  I found the changes explained things without long descriptions and the characters' looking back on events allowed many facets of the same story to emerge.

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TNmumof2
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

Karel has a dreamed up relationship to his mother. How would you describe his thoughts of her?

On p.34 when he is wondering if he ever rode with his mother, before he was born, took my breath away.  To know you did touch her, tangibly, even if it was before birth, but know you can't possibly remember it, was an unexpected insight.  These hard men have moments when their souls are so exposed that you think it will soften them.  In Karel's case, it seems to only make him bitter at the loss and complex in the way he views and treats women. 

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Immortal-Spirit
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

 


DarcyPDX wrote:

 

I think the brothers do have a strong relationship with each other.  It's not necessarily a healthy or loving one, but it is significant.  Hard to believe that children who have been literally harnessed to a plow so much that their spines are deformed wouldn't have strong ties to each other.  I think symbolically Machart underscores their connection by the cant of their heads - two left-leaning and two right-leaning so they form living parentheses around their shared experiences.

 

--Darcy


Well said.

 

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Goodword
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

1.  I tried at first to be sympathetic to Vaclav--I tried to find some moment of tenderness, and with each opportunity that presented itself, he only seemed more crude and cruel.  I considered him a product of the time and place, of the harshness of the life of an immigrant in the west at that time, and yet, he owns a lot of land, and doesn't seem to have suffered terribly, other than by losing his wife.  I tried to see him as a stock character in a western.  My experience in reading westerns is admittedly limited, but my impression is that there is always a hard, mean, terrible man as a key character.  That seems to be too simplistic an explanation.  While I have seen brief moments of near tenderness in the second portion of the reading, I am satisfied at this point that I may or may not find out why he was so bitter and cruel and merely accept that is who he is.  Perhaps the why is not so important to the book as the effect on his sons, particularly on Karel.

 

3.  The relationship between the brothers seems pretty normal to me.  But then, my brothers are always arguing, going months without speaking, then making amends.  The bantering and bickering among these brothers seems pretty realistic, given their relationship with their father.  Later, the jealousy among them becomes clearer to me.

 

6.  The shifts in time add to the telling of the story.  We understand the family a bit at a time, and each shift adds to the suspense of the story as well as explaining a piece of the puzzle, allowing the story to build.  Someone here said that the shifts allow us to experience each part of the story in the present--I liked that.  We leave a part of the story for another, unfinished part, and each section adds clarity. 

 

7.  I wonder how common it may have been for people to have substituted for animals for plowing--I'd heard reference to it before, and I'm certain it must have been done.  Of course, it was not necessary in this case.  I think the father was punishing his sons, perhaps for taking his wife from him. 

 

On page 130 Karel and Graciela discuss the horses:  "...But tell me, if horses are only ever used to pull a carriage, how are they anything but harness horses?"  Karel sees carriage horses as lower than those used for racing.  In his perspective, his father's horses are too fine for such lowly activity.  "...You can tell within an hour after they're foaled.  The second they can stand without a wobble.  There ain't but three kinds of horses, Miss.  Those made for the harness, those made to run, and those made so poorly that you know how lucky you are if you own one of the first two kinds."

 

Of course, it's a terrible irony that he doesn't seem to question his role as plow horse--could it be that he categorizes people the same way as he does horses?

 

 

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nicole21WA
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

As others have said, the time shift here is difficult.  I was really enjoying The Wake of Forgiveness up until that point.  As I read that first chapter that went back in time I kept having to remind myself that the things I'd just read about hadn't yet taken place.  Every time I had to do that, I was taken out of the story.  So from that point on I've had trouble getting back into it.

 

At first I was sympathatic toward Karel as I figured it was probably difficult growing up not only with Vaclav as a father but with the constant reminders that his mother died giving birth to him, but then he turned out to be abusive to animals.  I was done with him after that.

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Darbys_Closet
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

Early in the discussion someone stated harsh words/feeling against the father ...... yet now that I have read further into the book, I have to agree the father is an ass.

I think the mother is made up for some hope or glimpse of normalcy....Knowing in his gut that this life of his is not "normal".

At times I find the hardships, not  those offered by the earth yet the hardships offered by their blood lines hard to stomach

Even though this book drives me crazy with it's bitterness from one soul to another, I can't help yet feel drawn to read more and more (good job!).....I guess I am always for the happy ending!

The descriptions are beautiful!  The author should write guide books as well!!

Until the next page.....

Darby

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mrsareads
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

Is there a relationship between the four brothers?

 

I have to say that I am somewhat surprised that the life these four boys had did not lead them to a closer bond and protectiveness of each other - but I suppose that might have to do with the total lack of any type of realtionship that their father showed them, other than their being literally 'work horses'.

 

What effect do the shifts in time between chapters have on your understanding of this family's story?

 

At first I had some trouble with this aspect of the story, but as I got into the characters more - I was able to understand better how the storylines went together and past influenced future.

At the end of this first section, Karel expresses some astonishment that Graciela's father would harness fine horses to pull a carriage, but seems to register no irony that his own father has crippled his brothers and himself by making them pull a plow. Do you have any understanding of this? 

 

I had not made this connection - but it is ironic. Pulling the plow was such a part of all four of the boys' lives that they most likely did not even register what was happening. I must say that I found this aspect of the book to be most disturbing and can't believe that it is based on a true incident.

 

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fordmg
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)


mrsareads wrote:

Is there a relationship between the four brothers?

 

I have to say that I am somewhat surprised that the life these four boys had did not lead them to a closer bond and protectiveness of each other - but I suppose that might have to do with the total lack of any type of realtionship that their father showed them, other than their being literally 'work horses'.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think that maybe the three older brothers blame Karel for their hard labor.

It was after the picture was ruined that Valclav stated that going forward life would not be easy.  He was taking out his frustrations on the boys, or he just didn't know how to communicate with them.  So I see how the older boys would just leave Karel behind.

MG

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Peppermill
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

 


fordmg wrote:

mrsareads wrote:

Is there a relationship between the four brothers?

 

I have to say that I am somewhat surprised that the life these four boys had did not lead them to a closer bond and protectiveness of each other - but I suppose that might have to do with the total lack of any type of realtionship that their father showed them, other than their being literally 'work horses'.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think that maybe the three older brothers blame Karel for their hard labor.

It was after the picture was ruined that Valclav stated that going forward life would not be easy.  He was taking out his frustrations on the boys, or he just didn't know how to communicate with them.  So I see how the older boys would just leave Karel behind.

MG


But Karel was only 2-4 at that point.  Certainly he couldn't pull a plow.  (I've been trying to figure out various boys' ages.  Stan was 5 when Karel was born in 1895.  Anyone found the clues for the Thom and Ed?  It looks to me as if by 1910 none of them were plowing anymore (Stan would have been 20, Karel 15, or close.)

 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Magnolia2
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

Vaclav is a man who may have had a soft spot in his heart at one time but not is nothing but hard and cruel.  He is cruel to all of his sons and others around him.  He has not a loving thought for anything on the earth.  Indeed, he seems to find enjoyment in his cruelty.  His attitude scars karel for life...as Karel grows up he becomes as self centered and cruel as his father.  At this point in the novel I have no sympathy for Vaclav.  I do not find anything in his character to like.

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fordmg
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)


Peppermill wrote:

 


fordmg wrote:

mrsareads wrote:

Is there a relationship between the four brothers?

 

I have to say that I am somewhat surprised that the life these four boys had did not lead them to a closer bond and protectiveness of each other - but I suppose that might have to do with the total lack of any type of realtionship that their father showed them, other than their being literally 'work horses'.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think that maybe the three older brothers blame Karel for their hard labor.

It was after the picture was ruined that Valclav stated that going forward life would not be easy.  He was taking out his frustrations on the boys, or he just didn't know how to communicate with them.  So I see how the older boys would just leave Karel behind.

MG


But Karel was only 2-4 at that point.  Certainly he couldn't pull a plow.  (I've been trying to figure out various boys' ages.  Stan was 5 when Karel was born in 1895.  Anyone found the clues for the Thom and Ed?  It looks to me as if by 1910 none of them were plowing anymore (Stan would have been 20, Karel 15, or close.)

 


The boys were all plowing until the three older ones married.

MG

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AnnahE
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

Such a dark book so far.  I wonder what is in Vaclav's past that has made him so afraid to show a softer side.  I think that when his wife died, many of his softer feelings died with her. He was hurt so deeply that he didn't want that to happen again.  Farm animals are treated as property (no feelings involved) and he harnessed his sons and treated them like farm animals so he wouldn't be emotionally involved with them.  Everyone in town seems to have such hatred for others.  Why is that? 

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HannibalCat
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)


Peppermill wrote:

 


JuneC wrote:

What kind of a man is Vaclav?   Are you able to feel any sympathy for his character in the novel so far?

 

Frankly Vaclav is the reason I almost stopped reading the book altogether.  A despicable character at best, he evoked the deepest feelings of hatred within me.  When it is revealed that he died I was thrilled to be rid of him!  Alas, this was short lived when I realized the book traveled back and forth in time.  

I do not, can not, feel any sympathy for a self-involved loathsome character.  

 

I applaud Mr Machart's excellent writing style and skill which, in spite of Mr Skala, kept me turning the pages.  

 



 

June -- can you say some more about having such intense emotions about a character in a book?

 

I ask that because I find it rather hard to understand about a characters in a book of fiction.  I think I must read differently, perhaps with more detachment, than many.  Usually I am interested in learning what the story says about what makes some human being say and do the things he does, but I largely disengage myself from personal involvement.

 

I don't know why that is true for me.  Perhaps because I have read so much so widely for so many years that I have encountered quite a few characters across the spectrum of human behavior.  Perhaps because I have been trained so heavily to avoid judgment of people unless necessary for some task or responsibility.  Perhaps because, in conjunction with that training, I seek a sense of empathy, even if the character's actions could be characterized as totally depraved and deserving of the most severe punishments we inflict as human communities -- which I am also in agreement he or she may deservedly receive in accordance with justice and the laws and mores of the community.

 

Pepper


I find emotions in a book can depend upon my state of mind while reading. This book has touched me dramatically. I loathe Vaclav. I find no sympathy for him and my heart is cold.
In June of 2010 I lost my grandson to cancer, and expect to lose my sister within the next couple of months to pancreatic cancer. I have no room in my heart for a man who mistreats his sons so badly.
I am quite convinced that I would find this book less emotional if I, myself, were not so vulnerable at this particular time in my life. Your discussion, Pepper and June C, made me look more closely at exactly why I loathe Vaclav so deeply.  I, too, almost put the book down, but the writing is beautiful. I also hope to get a better look at the boys to see if this harsh life caused them to become harsh themselves. That is the question I want answered. I hope we all find what we are looking for. I have a feeling we will. This writer is exceptional and I look forward to reading the rest of the book.
At another time I might not be so emotionally involved in this story, but books generally do bring out some emotions within me. That's part of why I read.
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floreader
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

The shifts in time were a bit difficult for me to navigate.  I had to go back and reread a few passages at times to properly place the time period.

Vaclav is a horrible, exceptionally cruel man who had no empathy for others.  Everything he did was for his own gain, with no thought to others.  At this point in the book, he has no redeeming qualities and I feel no sympathy for him.

 

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libralady
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (pappy)


Rachel-K wrote:

An interesting point! Hard labor is often expected of children in very hard times. 

 

Vaclav was about the richest man in the county, yet he put the yoke on his boys rather than get farm animals for the labor.

 

Is it sheer cruelty for the pleasure of it, or is it cheapness? Was there ever a time when the way he drove the boys was actually out of necessity? Or does that even matter in terms of understanding this character?


 

I don't think Vaclav yoked his sons to a plow and worked them like horses out of cruelty. Although, I can not think of another word to describe it.   I think he did it as a way to control them and to ensure obedience.  I don't think, in his mind, he saw this as being cruel. He had no love in his heart for them and his treatment of them proved this.  Using his sons rather than horses was not done out of cheapness or necessity.  It was done because Vaclav Skala saw them as no better than animals.  The only use he had for them was to work his fields. 

 

"Sow today what you want to reap tomorrow"
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crazylilcuban
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

What kind of a man is Vaclav? He sees himself as a man who is "bitter and hard" but had been softened only by being close to Klara during their marriage. Are you able to feel any sympathy for his character in the novel so far?

 

I think Vaclav is a tough character to feel sympathy for because so much of the novel you see his relationships with his sons, and none of them are really very good.  He is tough on them, and especially the picture of him driving his sons through the fields is hard to stomach and makes it difficult to sympathize with him.  In his case, I think the first scenes that we see when Karel is born and his mother dies are important because they do show the more human aspect of Vaclav as a character. I think without that, he would be very one-sided and unlikable, but that scene and the snippets where he talks about Klara's dishes and picture and how important they are to him really do make it seem like his characterization of himself is true -- that Klara softened him, and that he became a different man.  I felt some sympathy for him because I got the impression that he didn't necessarily want to be so harsh with his sons but that he simply didn't know any other way to be with them, since the person who was able to bring out his better side was no longer there with him.

 

Do we see Vaclav and Karel show tenderness, pride, or respect in their relationship to land and horses that they don't seem to expect at all in the human relationships within their family?

 

I definitely think Vaclav and Karel show tenderness, pride, and respect in their relationship to land and horses that we don't see as much of in their human relationships.  Karel's connection to horses and the way it shapes him is an especially good example of this.  I also think though that this informs Vaclav & Karel's relationship with each other, which I think is part of why their relationship is different from the one Vaclav has with his other sons; though they're all subjected to his rough treament, Karel's abilities and instincts with horses mean that there exists this different relationship with his father than that of his brothers.  Not necessarily a much better one, just a different one.

 

Is there a relationship between the four brothers?

 

I think that there is, but I think there is a definite distinction between the older three and Karel.  While it's in no way his fault, his birth defines the moment when his father becomes a different person.  He also has a different relationship with his father that his brothers do not share because of the horses and racing, and thus this pushes the other three much closer together to each other than they are to him.  But we definitely see that, especially when they were younger, there was a mentality where they had to stick together and take care of each other.

 

Karel has a dreamed up relationship to his mother. How would you describe his thoughts of her?

 

I think he idealizes his relationships to his mother.  Because she is not around in his life, she's looked at through rose-colored glasses.  I think his hopes of how their relationship would have been serve to counterbalance the issues with his relationship with his father and later his brothers.

 

What effect do the shifts in time between chapters have on your understanding of this family's story?

 

I love the shifts in time between Vaclav's story and Karel as a boy to Karel as an adult and his own more fleshed-out story.  I think the back and forth gives the story a fuller level of detail that makes each part more understandable.  As you learn about what happened with Karel as a boy, it makes his actions in the sections immediately before and after (as an adult) more understandable and deepens the context within which we try to understand his story.

 

At the end of this first section, Karel expresses some astonishment that Graciela's father would harness fine horses to pull a carriage, but seems to register no irony that his own father has crippled his brothers and himself by making them pull a plow. Do you have any understanding of this? 

 

I definitely thought this moment of irony at the end of the first section was interesting.  To me, it showed that Karel (and his brothers, though I think they were more angry and thus perhaps understood better) really had a skewed view of the worth of his life and that of his brothers.  Clearly by his comment, he does not necessarily see that the lives of himself and his brothers should hold at least as much value as that of a fine horse.  They have been set lower on the scale of importance, and it does not strike him that not only is this not right, but that this should speak volumes of what kind of person his father is and the relationship he has with his sons.

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lilk
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

Here's my take on the early chapters.

 

What kind of a man is Vaclav? He sees himself as a man who is "bitter and hard" but had been softened only by being close to Klara during their marriage. Are you able to feel any sympathy for his character in the novel so far?

Vaclav seems to be more interested in using his young sons to win land from anyone that will par take in a horse race with high stakes, he even has a banker with the proper papers to sign before the race starts.  He feels his horses are  to be used to win land and his four sons are to be used to plow the land in place of using work horses.


Do we see Vaclav and Karel show tenderness, pride, or respect in their relationship to land and horses that they don't seem to expect at all in the human relationships within their family?

Absolutely, it's ll about the land for Vaclav, as much as he can get.  For Karel, he has great pride in whisky, the horse he rides in the race to win land.


Is there a relationship between the four brothers?

It appears that their relationship is not close.  The three older boys see only that they will marry the three mexican girls and have lots of land and wealth.  Karel and his father seem to be together a lot and the father seems to teach Karel more about the horses that the other brothers.


Karel has a dreamed up relationship to his mother. How would you describe his thoughts of her?

Karel is very adoring of the mother he never knew and dreams of what it would be like to have been with her and he longs to be held and cared for by her.


What effect do the shifts in time between chapters have on your understanding of this family's story?

It brings the feel of how things were done in the late 1800's and how things changed as the years progress and how times change for everyone.


At the end of this first section, Karel expresses some astonishment that Graciela's father would harness fine horses to pull a carriage, but seems to register no irony that his own father has crippled his brothers and himself by making them pull a plow. Do you have any understanding of this?

Karel has been brought up to understand that horses are not for working and pulling carriages or plows, they have not known anything else while growing up.

The writing gives a great feel of actually being in the late 1800's.  The author does very well to make you feel like you're right there in the midst of all that is happening.  I'm eager to continue on to the next segment of the book.

 

lilk

 

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BooksToTheCeiling
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

This is an interesting passage. I reread the page that led up to it to try to bring more meaning to it. It felt sad to me when he asked about her mother, wanting to know about a mother. He spends so much time imagining life with a mother he never knew.I think she understood what he really wanted better than he did. I think you are right, he was trying to find a commalility between them that wasn't there.

 

I am loving the prose, this story is beautifuly written, his words painting pictures. "The wind gusts and propels the rain horizontally out of the west. The owl angles her coverts to the wind and gains loft, vectoring out and up toward the hardwood tops before her in the distance while below, weighted by the wet wool of his coat, Father Carew flails ineffectually, ensnared between the two barbed and topmost wires of the fence." One is free, wonderfully so while the other is trapped not only in the fence but in his own feelings.

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skrupp
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

it is hard to feel any sympathy for a man that will harm his children in the way he did by harnessing them to the plow.  that isn't the work for growing boys especially when he has the horseflesh to do the work, or could get the right type of horseflesh to do the work.  yes boys need to work and learn to work, but that is just plain abuse in my book.

 

Karel is just a poor screwed up emotional mess.  He certainly takes pride in his lands and his animals.  I think he tries to love his family, but he struggles to do that because he didn't have a very good role model in family love.

 

the relationship between the brothers is sometimes blood only.  I think the oldest, Stan, tried to keep the brothers together when they were younger, but I feel that there was a lot of hurt feelings that finally came out after the race.

 

Karel wants someone to love and so he has made a relationship with his mother.  I think he sees her as someone that is kind and loving (which has probably come from things his brothers have said and things that others have said to him).

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AIRKNITTER
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

It pleased me to read the boys tenderness towards their own children. Maybe the cycle of violence was finally broken. I would enjoy reading the "prequel" to Wake as well as a next generation story.

Aine

Children are the living message we send to a time we will not see.