After his wife died, Eyck has been living a solitary life as a blacksmith. He has plenty of work making swords for the war at the border, and although the work is physically demanding, it never occurs to Eyck to bring on extra help or an apprentice. The society Eyck lives in is built on a caste system, but when Eyck sees things go too far, he steps in and helps Wex.
Wex’s kind are slaves and it’s always been that way. He has no idea how to accept kindness from Eyck, as that has never been shown to him, and he flees Eyck’s home a free man. With the world still a cruel place even for a freed slave, Wex finds himself back at the home of the blacksmith, the one man to ever make him feel safe.
Eyck agrees to take Wex on as his apprentice and their relationship is slow to grow. With Wex’s muteness and secretive nature, Eyck always feels off balance. Eyck also feels off balance as he’s attracted to Wex all the way to his tail, and while Wex feels the same, he continuously runs from it as a home and a relationship are things he can’t even wrap his head around. But there are many things the men are not aware of and a revolution may be closer than they think.
It’s been a minute or two since Bey Deckard released a book and all I had to do was hear his name and I was ready to read. This is an intriguing story on many levels as the society here is not human and the characters are covered in fur and have tails. After that, however, they do have many human qualities and at times it can be easy to forget they are not human.
The story builds upon itself and is wrapped in many layers as Eyck and Wex grow their relationship. The society is built on a caste system and Wex has only ever known cruelty. He has never been able to be his own person and he has a lot of trauma. His voice was “taken” from him after repeated acts of violence and he feels lost and alone all of the time. Eyck has his work and some friends, but after his wife died, he has lived for his work. The men are drawn to each other from the start, but they both have many reasons for running from their feelings.
The relationship between the men and their world is a slow reveal in a tantalizing way. Neither man was looking for the other and now they have to navigate their feelings through a world that is hostile and on the verge of a revolution. Eyck is endlessly patient as Wex valiantly tries to figure out who he can become.
The ending—well, let’s give Bey Deckard a round of applause for his imagination, as just when I thought maybe I wouldn’t have enough information, Deckard pulls the whole story together in ways that only he can. There is some violence here and plenty of trauma that Wex has to overcome, but the author also weaves in a lovely undertone of the men finding the person they needed and the home they wanted when they truly thought they were fine on their own. And that is what will keep me coming back for more books from Bey Deckard.