Each chapter within Dreams and Shadows commences with a quotation from the Wisdom of Ashael. The same will be true of Book 2 in the Aylosian Chronicles, Woven Peril, and as the story progresses the words of other legendary people, including Dathmiel and Esteriel, will also appear.
Wisdom literature is common in many cultures across many ages. My aim with writing these was both to add another dimension to the story, giving the reader something meaningful to ponder, and also to foreshadow in some way an aspect of the chapter.
I've received great feedback from people about this wisdom literature, so thought I would create a page dedicated to them. They're not all included here – there are twenty four chapters and an equal number of quotes in Dreams and Shadows, plus another thirty in Woven Peril – but I'll add more over time.
The most difficult lesson a woman must learn is that for succour to be given, her suffering must first be revealed.
Does power corrupt, or are the corrupted drawn to power?
Even those who reach the world’s seats of influence may not be able to tell. For the lies they must tell themselves as they seek the acceptance of their subjects hides the truth from even their own souls.
It is easier to be a true friend than to know one. For how can you know whether one who smiles and takes your arm seeks foremost your welfare, or whether he has some other motive? You must know his hopes and dreams. You must know his ambitions and desires. A man may confuse a smile for friendship when its real meaning is that of oppression, or a cry for anger when it is a plea for help. No, friendship is not a simple thing to know.
But to be a friend is no more than a choice. That is why we must each give friendship more often than we are certain to see it, for it is the only way that friendship will increase in the world.
There may come into a man’s life a time when his travails take him beyond despair, into a world past feeling where the numbness of his soul seeks oblivion. It is at these times that his courage requires him only to take one step after another, or if even that is too much one breath after another.
In the most trying of times such a step or breath may show valour greater than that of the most fearless warrior. And surely the rewards that await are worthy of the same.
For when the anguish finally departs, as surely it will, the soul that endured will be stronger than the brightest steel, and his power to shape the world around him for good will know no bounds.
As a man takes his first steps on a path never before walked he may be filled with excitement to learn of the trail’s destination, or with fear of what lies hidden along his journey’s route. These feelings may dictate whether he runs or crawls on his way, fear or excitement bidding his pace. Either choice, however, will leave the man missing the most valuable lesson his travels have to offer – that of the wonder of new understanding; for each new journey will offer such in abundance if only the time is taken to contemplate the path’s experience.
In truth, all new trails will be strewn with both horrors and joys in different degrees. The content of each journey is less important than the manner in which we make our way. For paths newly travelled, when sufficiently pondered, will lead ultimately to a greater peace, as the heightened understanding of our place in the universe gives anchor to the soul.
Uncertainty in life is not a problem to be overcome. Nor should a man wish to avoid it, even were that possible.
No. Uncertainty is one of the keys of our existence in this world. For it is as a man traverses life’s many uncertainties that he is forced to make choices. And it is in those choices that the truth of his soul is revealed.
Few walk knowingly on evil roads. For such paths are strewn with colour and laughter that call enticingly, deceiving even the cautious.
It is only when despair’s pit has ultimately grasped a soul irreversibly within its hold that the man or woman finally understands that the allures that brought them there were mere illusions, carefully placed to hide the misery that awaited their journey’s end.
That which men call courage is oft little more than a foolish sense of invulnerability. At other times it is the pursuit of glory that drives one to dare the impossible. Or perhaps a man’s hero is one who seeks escape from the tedium of daily life, or even from facing the battles with his inner self. Thus, what man calls courage might in truth be cowardice.
No. The courageous man will fear; for acting in spite of our fears is a part of true courage. He will seek no glory; for the courageous know their acts may be unknown, ignored or even denounced by men, great and small. And he understands the demons within himself will not depart by his choosing to run from them; for in reality they are no more than another fear.
One with true courage holds in his heart things of greater import than fear. He values integrity more than the esteem of men. He places the welfare of the vulnerable above that of his own. And thus, he will find eternity’s scales forever balanced in his favour.
Birth may be feared for the treacherous path it treads. It may be railed against for the pain it causes. Or it may be praised for what it brings forth.
Often it will be feared, and railed against, and praised, all at once, as the miracle of new life reaches for its fresh destiny.
The wise will seek to calm their fears and still their railings, though treacherous paths and pain are certain. Thus may they commence each of life’s many rebirths with praise rather than despair. For me, that has made all the difference.
I have known many who have believed that beasts are neither good nor evil; that they only do that which nature demands from their birth.
For some, perhaps that is true, but it is not for all, for beasts also choose to whom they will list. Some are drawn to those who wield darkness, and willingly – eagerly even – serve their vile purposes. While others seek to uphold goodness and purity in the world.
And as beasts are drawn to those who share their desires, so too people are drawn to beasts who will be pleased to serve their ends. Thus a man’s heart may be known by the beasts with whom he willingly shares his presence.