All quotes are from BEASTS OF THE FROZEN SUN by Jill Criswell.

1. Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.

2. Reyker would have pitied them if there had been any room left for pity in his decaying heart.

3. Inside him, the black river stirred—sloshing, boiling, churning. A river of blood and fire, the darkest part of his soul.

4. After all this time, you continue to cling to your shattered honor. It makes you weak.

5. It was no small thing to touch a man’s soul. To trace the essence of his being, know him as no one.

6. Each soul I’d touched was different. They could be dark or light, warm or cold, sharp-edged or smooth. They contained colors and shapes that didn’t exist in our world. Some hummed, sang, or screamed. Some smelled of metal, others tasted like salt. Often I saw scattered images of things the person loved, hated, or feared.

7. No matter what a soul was like, I sensed its burdens. The weight of guilt was distinct.

8. How can I understand the consequences of my actions if I do not see them through to the end?

9. Condemning a man is very different than watching him die.

10. I looked back at the sea. Here, in this beloved place, I could let myself imagine a third option for my life. Not to be tied to a husband or a temple, but to explore the world. To cross the oceans spread out before me. To trek across hills of red sand, summit mountains made of blue ice, speak exotic languages, treat with mysterious tribes from other lands. This was the life my heart yearned for. A life I could never have because girls were considered too fragile to be explorers, and a chieftain’s granddaughter was too valuable to set free.

11. My dreams of adventure were useless, selfish. I should care more about what I could do for the people of my clan and my island. I owed it to my mother to make my life mean something, to make myself worthy of the sacrifice she had made for me.

12. Let me use my gift for healing instead of hurting, for helping instead of damning.

13. Men could lie. Souls could not.

14. His soul was darkness and light, I jagged and smooth, smoldering fire and crackling ice. It screamed and whispered. It was every shape, every color. Laden with guilt, buoyant with innocence. It was all things, all at once, and I was lost in it.

15. With him, for the first time, the soul I touched had felt what I felt. It left me shaken.

16. Listen with your heart. The truth will open within you like a blossom to the sun.

17. How much of what I’d been taught to believe was built upon lies?

18. Truth is not what matters, only perception. Whom do you side with? Love or power? Strength or innocence? Which qualities are most admirable? Which qualities do you desire most in your warriors, your chieftains, your gods? You must decide for yourself.

19. To read a soul is to see the true nature of another being, to observe the beauty and cruelty that exist alongside each other within every one of us.

20. The choice is yours. Even those touched by gods chart their own paths.

21. Darkness claimed your beast and sharpened him into weapon for wickedness. He was lost long before you found him. The only way for him to be redeemed is by reaching whatever light remains within his soul. Who better to lead him to it than a soul-reader?

22. Never is not so long as you think, and nothing is worth far more than you’ll admit.

23. It must have been hard to live as he did, caught between light and darkness, his soul at war with itself.

24. You cling to me out of fondness and loyalty, but all the while, you’ve been waiting for someone whose secrets and dreams you don’t know as well as your own.

25. I felt as if a piece of myself had come loose, rattling inside me. As if I’d lost things I’d not realized were mine.

26. The darkness of the forest, the darkness of his soul, ceased to touch him. This was his purpose: to protect those he cared for, kin or no.

27. The small sprig of this world that had once been mine narrowed to a splinter.

28. Together we’ll discover the meaning of your dreams, and defend ourselves against whatever may come.

29. Only a jealous heart would notice the way you look at the invader.

30. Most men look at you and see just another pretty girl. Some of us see past that. We see the fire in your soul. It speaks to us.

31. I found you, I saved you, and that makes you mine. Because my soul is tied to yours, for reasons beyond my comprehension. Because without you, my life is as icy and dim as this dungeon.

32. Ours was not a patient world—there wasn’t time to learn each other gradually, to give part of ourselves until we were sure of things.

33. There could be no half-measures for us. Not when we risked so much just by caring for each other.

34. We must fight our world. We let nothing come between us.

35. Some stories refuse to remain untold.

36. Some things, some people, were worth risking everything for.

37. Our kiss was enduring. A single moment unfolded into many, with the two of us suspended inside each one. We lived lifetimes in the span of heartbeats, ours and the characters we’d embodied, brought to life by each other’s lips. I wanted to make my home here, nestled against him. I never wanted to let go.

38. Fate is not kind to those who tempt it.

39. You are my sword. And I will not be disarmed.

40. I opened my mind and entered his soul. It was too quiet, too still. A yawning emptiness. The black river inside him ebbed, as if returning to sea. The shiny baubles of his memories flowed with it, draining, disappearing.

41. His only solace was being closer to home.

42. Every man has an instinct for wickedness—a desire to take whatever he wants, to crush all who defy him. Good men can suppress it, but once it’s free, there’s no shoving it back in its cage.

43. A good man would never stop fighting.

44. Death was its own entity, its own animal; a god could command it, but it was the teeth of Death itself that sank into your soul and wrenched you from this world. I felt it near me, slavering with anticipation.

45. Time slowed down even as my life sped by me, all the things I’d lost, all the things I’d left behind, snapping around me like broken threads.

see you soon

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