The worst thing they have done to you, who are my mother’s people, was not to destroy your government, take your food and children, deny your traditions, or outlaw your greatest powers. The worst thing they have done is to replace your version of honor with theirs. They are making you, the Shaftali people, into Carolins. So when you read this book, read it not as a history of the enemy, but as a history of your own future: what will happen to Shaftal when the Carolins are extinct, but live on in you and your children. Rather than defeat the enemies, you must change them—or else, someday, their story will be your story.
The storyteller’s fingertip touched the red symbol stamped on one corner. “This glyph means fate, or chance. The Laughing Man’s actions are so unexpected, and their effect is so profound, that his victims think it is a bitter joke. He destroys everything—even trust and hope. But there is one power that can counteract his.” She took out another card: a circle of people, arm in arm. “Fellowship,” she said.
Flippant and sorrowful by turns, he read his books of history frantically, looking for a fact or story that would trigger his insight and give him the broad vision that might explain their actions to themselves. So seers always spend their lives, seeking a perfect understanding that inevitably eludes them; some finally falling into madness, while others realize at last that their purpose lies not in the unachievable goal, but in the seeking of it.
A person who lacked a family was assumed to be at fault, and so most vagabonds made some effort to counteract this social disapproval by concocting ornate tales of family tragedy or betrayal that made them look like victims or heroes. However, Garland did not know enough about Shaftali families to be able to conduct such an elaborate pretense, so he always declared that his past was too painful to talk about. For nearly five years, that approach had kept people from prying, but it also had kept them from even considering offering Garland a permanent home. He was lucky to have this temporary position…