The Wolf Ageby James Enge
Wuruyaaria: city of werewolves, whose raiders range over the dying northlands, capturing human beings for slaves or meat. Wuruyaaria: where a lone immortal maker wages a secret war against the Strange Gods of the Coranians. Wuruyaaria: a democracy where some are more equal than others, and a faction of outcast werewolves is determined to change the balance of power in a long, bloody election year.
Their plans are laid; the challenges known; the risks accepted. But all schemes will shatter in the clash between two threats few had foreseen and none had fully understood: a monster from the north on a mission to poison the world, and a stranger from the south named Morlock Ambrosius.
PW starred review
"Enge's books are like a strange alloy of Raymond Chandler, Fritz Lieber, Larry Niven and some precious metal that is all Enge's own. They're thrilling, funny, and mysteriously moving. I see ten things on every page I wish I’d written. I could read him forever and never get bored."
Lev Grossman, New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians
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The Wolf Age
By James Enge
Prometheus BooksCopyright © 2010 James Enge
All right reserved.
Chapter OneCouncil of the Gods
Listen, Iacomes. This is what I see.
The Strange Gods were gathering by the Stone Tree, but Death and her sister Justice had not yet appeared. Justice, they knew, would not, but they expected Death to be there before them and War was angry.
"I swear by myself," War signified, indicating by a talic distortion that the oath was not sincere or binding, "Death is the strangest of the Strange Gods. She pervades the mortal world, but she can't manifest herself anywhere within a pact-sworn juncture of space-time!"
"I am here," Death signified.
Now that they noticed her presence among them, the Strange Gods realized she had been implicit in a fold of local space-time all along, and simply had not chosen to reveal her presence to them. The other gods signified nontrivial displeasure with her.
Death indicated indifference and readiness to begin the pact-sworn discussion.
The Strange Gods did not submit to a ruler. In their discussions, it was common for the weakest of them to preside. So Mercy manifested herself more intensely than she would normally have done, and reminded them of their mission to destroy the werewolf city Wuruyaaria and how it was currently imperiled.
"It is Ghosts-in-the-eyes," signified Wisdom. "They are a powerful maker and necromancer—a master of all the arts we hate. Our instrument will destroy the city"—Wisdom indicated a pattern in events they all understood—"but now unless we find a way to bring down the walls of Wuruyaaria more swiftly, our instrument may also destroy great swathes among our worshippers. This goes against our nature and cannot be accepted."
Other gods indicated agreement.
Death indicated chilly amusement: a laugh. "The werewolves will die," she signified. "Their city will die. Our worshippers will die. Our instrument will die. Everything that lives must die. When the last soul is severed, this world will collapse into its component elements and drift away in pieces, flotsam on the Sea of Worlds. All this will happen in time: let events take whatever course they will, this is their destination. If this goes against our nature, our nature is doomed."
Each of the other gods emanated anger that would have killed a material being. It was uncivil of Death to prate about these matters that were well known to every god. If Death felt any discomfort from their emanations, she didn't show it. Her next comment was more immediately helpful, though.
"I have a kind of solution to propose," Death signified. "I would have effected it already, but the consequences will affect our pact-sworn efforts to destroy Wuruyaaria."
Mercy signified a need for more details; other gods echoed her.
Death indicated a trivial detail in the pattern of events: the death of a man named Morlock.
The gods expressed indifference.
Death changed the detail's position in time-space.
The gods meditated on the new potential patterns of events, a flowering of dark futures springing from this one seed.
Most of the gods expressed surprise. Cruelty chuckled a bit, slowly shaking his heavy, many-toothed head.
Death again changed the detail's position in time-space. The manifold patterns of things-to-be changed even more radically.
"How can this be?" signified War. "Men and women die every day and their deaths do not matter." Mercy signified some restlessness at this, but the Strange Gods were used to ignoring the endless quarrel between War and Mercy.
"The progress of our plan in the as-things-are moves very slowly," Death signified. "There is a tension of powers: our instrument; the pact binding our powers in this nexus of events; that damned sorcerer, Ghosts-in-the-Eyes; the natural forces we do not control; and so on. If we disrupt that tension, unbalanced powers will unleash events like a torrent."
Wisdom emanated concern, a need to wait. They did wait as he juggled futures in various shapes, pondering the uncertain effects of varying causal chains. "I cannot chart the path of this torrent," he signified finally to Death and to his peers. "It may benefit our pact-sworn intention or harm it."
"We must guide the torrent," signified War with obvious eagerness.
"We can't," Wisdom signified bluntly. "If we break our sworn intention we will be adrift in the torrent, effecting local changes within it but unable to determine its course. Each change will create new and interacting series of causation. There is certainty in our pact of sworn intention. In this other there is only chaos."
The Strange Gods, as one, made a symbol of protection against the name of this alien god. It had shocked them, as Wisdom intended, lending an unusual force to his signs.
"Certainty only of failure," Cruelty signified. "I was against the proposed instrument from the beginning. It is clear now that I was right and others were wrong. Why should the pact be sacred? Only our wills are sacred, or we are not gods."
"The pact is our will," signified Loyalty. "It is our will united to act as the Strange Gods. To break that is to blaspheme against ourselves." He continued for some time and stopped only when he visualized that the assembly was against him.
Everything he signified was true, but they would not accept failure. On the other hand, Wisdom had frightened them with his tomorrow-juggling and his metaphorical torrents.
"I propose a compromise," signified Stupidity. "Death alone will be freed from the pact-oath. The rest of us will abide by it. That should reduce the chaos in events." The Strange Gods impatiently made again the symbol of protection against the name of Chaos. Stupidity's use of Wisdom's trope emanated contempt and mockery, as was his intent. The gods were annoyed with Stupidity, but he did succeed in making them think less of Wisdom. Suddenly, Wisdom's fears seemed less wise, more fearful.
"That hardly matters," Wisdom signified warningly, but the gods were not prepared to listen. They wanted to do something, and this compromise allowed them the illusion of keeping to their plan even as they adopted a new one.
The compromise, in the end, was assented to by all the Strange Gods (except Justice), and Death alone was released from the pact.
"I go," signified Death, and ceased to manifest herself.
The rest of the Strange Gods stood conferring worriedly under the Stone Tree until the sun rose in the west and they fled like ghosts to hide with the darkness underground.
Excerpted from The Wolf Age by James Enge Copyright © 2010 by James Enge. Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
James Enge lives with his children in northwest Ohio, where he teaches classics at a medium-sized public university. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic, in the magazine Black Gate, and elsewhere. His previous novels are Blood of Ambrose, which was listed on Locus magazine’s Recommended Reading for 2009, and This Crooked Way. Visit James Enge at www.jamesenge.com.
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By nature an extreme pessimist who in spite of his adept skills knows he cannot live up to the legend of his father except when he is intoxicated. Enchanter Morlock Ambrosius wonders what else could go wrong as nothing seems to be going his way. In the werewolf city-state of Wuruyaaria, he figures he hit rock bottom when he is confined in a prison inside Vargulleion, a werewolf fortress. Morlock soon learns he has not bottomed out when he is forced to kill another inmate who attacked him. His new cell mate is Rokhlenu the werewolf, whose life he once saved. They become friends watching each other's back in the dangerous dungeons. However, Morlock also struggles with his sanity as the glass spike pounded into his head blocks his Sight leading to out of control paranoid rages. Working together, the pair escapes, but being on the outside in a city boiling over with angry werewolves divided in strife during an election year proves more dangerous than lock up. Making last summer's Tea Party look like tea partiers, The Wolf Age is an excellent political fantasy as James Enge paints balloting skewered by the sword and claw; making Wuruyaaria seem worse than 1850s Bleeding Kansas and that of 2008 violent Kenya. The taut story line is character driven by the honor of blood werewolf voters as democracy proves deadly. With morose Morlock as the guide (see Blood of Ambrose and This Crooked Way), readers will appreciate the dark, grim and gloomy portrayal of democracy. Harriet Klausner
I am a big fan of the Morlock books, and this novel just made me love the series all the more. Morlock becomes a prisoner of werewolves, befriends a werewolf he has befriended before and sets out on a rousting adventure of escapes and wars. There are gods trying to get rid of the werewolves, and there is a fantastic werewolf society. Definitely a Must Read.