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Cover of the historical fantasy novel The Red Wraith, by Nick Wisseman.

***Warning: huge, suspense-ruining spoilers ahead! If you'd rather read this book in its entirety, get it here.***

The story begins with CHASE, ISAURA, AMADI, and QUECXL climbing the sides of an earthen pyramid. TAY and NAYSIN wait at the top. When the climbers crest the summit in eerie unison, Isaura shoots Naysin through the stomach. He responds by paralyzing everyone but Tay, freezing them in place as his body crackles with lines of powers.


Then, in a desperate attempt to learn why he was meant to meet the climbers on the pyramid, he infiltrates their memories as he lies dying.

During this investigation, Naysin learns that Chase is an English settler who can channel fire through his dragonhead blunderbusses; Isaura is a Spanish dowser who can manipulate water; Amadi is an escaped African slave (from the nation of Dahemy) whose body heals at an accelerated rate; and Quecxl is a displaced Aztec who can heal others by simulating their injuries. Naysin also discovers more about Tay, his Zuni companion who can see a few seconds into the future. And he hears about his fearsome reputation as the “The Red Wraith,” a Native American monster who delights in using horrible magic to butcher white innocents.

Naysin can’t resist wallowing in his own past, though, and reliving what happened after he became the vessel for two ancient spirits: the cougar-men ENKI and ENMUL. They caused him to defile his tribe’s harvest ceremony when he was twelve, an offense that earned him immediate exile. Ever since, he’s agonized about what to do with his abilities, stronger by far than the climbers’. The cougar-men want him to become a god; various Native Americans (like Tay) want him to be their savior; he just wants to be left alone. Events keep forcing his hand, though, and he keeps failing to live up to expectations. He’s given up hope of doing something meaningful … But after Tay has a vision of him and the climbers on the earthen pyramid, he summons them to see if they can help him find his purpose.

Now, though, with the climbers frozen around him and a bullet in his gut, he still doesn’t have any answers. So in the last part of the book, Naysin plunges into the cougar-men’s memories, finds no further clarity, and ejects the spirits from his body, their prison of the last twenty years. It’s a mistake—his worst yet. But as the cougar-men reassume corporeal forms and begin a titanic clash, Naysin finally realizes how he can set everything right: by using the other casters’ powers to immunize all Native Americans against disease. He succeeds, but kills a tenth of them in the process.

To read a synopsis of Book 2: The Black Resurrection, click here.

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