Author: Dusk Peterson
Reviewed by: Aggie
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: M/M Fantasy
ISBN 13: N/A
Summary: In the Queendom of Yclau lies an underground royal prison that embraces the worst of the past and the best of the future. The Eternal Dungeon is old-fashioned in its equipment and ahead of its time in its treatment of prisoners, seeking to put their best welfare above all else. Torture is part of the process of assisting the prisoners.
The High Seeker, Layle Smith, embodies this contradictory institution: a man of deadly impulses, the head torturer binds himself strictly by the dungeon’s code of conduct. His efforts to maintain this delicate balance are altered, though, by the introduction into his life of Elsdon Taylor, a vulnerable prisoner who is coming to terms with his own darkness.
Review: Deep down in the bowels of the queendom of Yclau lays a prison, the Eternal Dungeon where those who are condemned to die can find rebirth, or redemption, through the hands of torturers, those who either seek the prisoners confessions of the crimes they have been accused of committing, or to establish innocence. Most prisoners are executed and a small number are allowed back up into the ” light “, into Yclau society, free men or women.
Elsdon Taylor is sentenced to death for committing the unthinkable, but after a hearing through the Yclau courts he is turned over to Layle Smith’s custody for searching, a process in which professional torturers aim to extract the truth of the accused’s involvement in said crime. Layle Smith is the supreme High Seeker, i.e. main torturer, and must adhere to a strict code of ethics to make sure that while in the process of breaking a prisoner, the prisoner isn’t severely harmed. The “breaking” is conducted in the most humane way as possible, unlike in the Hidden Dungeons of the neighboring kingdom of Vovim, where the torturers have free range to beat and rape and kill their prisoners with little consequence.
If Rebirth sounds pretty heavy and bleak, it is. Definitely. But, and I say a big BUT, it is well worth spending the time and effort in reading. It is a grim tale about man’s effort to change and be forgiven, and clear his conscious for past wrongs he has committed. It is also about love, madness, soul searching, and learning to accept one’s past and move on. I am not going to give anything away. I am only going to say that both characters of Elsdon and Layle, have darkness within them and have done horrible things, but they are not despicable men. Even when Layle admits and confronts his past and his secrets I found it extremely hard to dislike him. Profound guilt weighs on him like a heavy, soaked blanket. Towards the end of the book, I was rooting for him but I understood what was happening to him. Pure agony. And rather sad also.
I praise the author for making my emotions bounce all over the place. One minute I was content watching where Elsdon and Layle’s relationship was going, the next I was so angry and shocked by the climatic turn of events and the brutal treatment and suffering of one of the characters; then finally, to relief and a somewhat cathartic feeling because everything ends on a semi-positive note. When an author does that, in my opinion, that means the person is a very good writer. Getting a reader emotionally invested in a story and lives of the characters is not easy, but Peterson makes it ridiculously easy.
I don’t know why Peterson wrote a book like this, but I am glad she (I am assuming the author is a woman….”Dusk” is an ambiguous name) did because it is one of the most unique books I have ever read. I really can’t describe it. The reader must decide for themselves. However, it isn’t for everyone. Although not very graphic, it does deal heavily with physical and sexual assault and the depravity of man against each other.