Tarrant wields the fae with aplomb and finesse.
Gerald Tarrant

You cannot begin to comprehend my motivations.

From: The Coldfire trilogy: Black Sun Rising, When True Night Falls, and Crown of Shadows (author: C.S. Friedman, artist: Michael Whelan)

A man obsessed may spend a lifetime seeking his goals. Every waking moment could be spent trying to arrange matters in just the right way. Eventually, either the plans come to fruition or the man perishes, his life's energies eroded away over time. But what if you could have more time? Time to teach and learn so many ideas, time to savor so many pleasures, time enough to accomplish ten lifetimes' worth of goals. If it was offered, would you accept? What might a person be willing to sacrifice for such a gift? What price is too high? One man knows, for he has made the sacrifice and paid the price.

Gerald Tarrant: philosopher, poet, priest, scientist, artist, lover, husband, father, monster, murderer, destroyer, and savior? For over 900 years, this powerful being, once known as the merely human Neocount of Merentha, has remained apart from the human settlers of the planet Erna. Venturing out only rarely from his meticulously crafted biological citadel, the Forest, Tarrant watches the evolution of humankind as they adapt to the changeling world they have adopted. A synthesis of opposites, Tarrant naturally manipulates the planetary force known as fae while seeking a way to rid the planet of fae, making it more like the ancestral homeworld, Earth.

His other life's ambition is to successfully unify the humans of Erna under a common will and purpose in the name of a God-less Church. He once was hailed as Prophet and Founder for his efforts to build that church, but in return he was twice-excommunicated. One betrayal was for his magic-wielding nature, something out of his control, while the other was for his actions seeking absolute power on Erna. Although his body craves darkness and fear, surprisingly he does his best and most lasting work in the pursuit of creating or preserving life. As a perfect blend of life and death, Tarrant, at once saviour and destroyer, is yin and yang in a single harmonious entity.

Despite surpassing power and intellect, Tarrant has his flaws as a character. As a sort of vampire, Tarrant lusts after the blood and raw emotional terror of his victims. Yet as the story progresses, he shows mercy and compassion towards those who must suffer to feed him, to the point of near-starvation. Moreover, as in a "buddy" detective story, he and warrior-priest Damien Vryce, initially reluctant partners, grow so close through their adventures that they finally can barely exist without each other. There is no actual physical relationship, but the sacrifice and emotional longing on both ends surpasses that of many literary hetero couples.

The tale of Tarrant is an ever-shifting pattern of sacrifice, going beyond any normal limits into fascinating metaphysical and pseudo-psychological territory. The subtle differences between power over oneself and power over others are uncommonly well-handled here. Also carried off well is the exploration of the various identities and facades we create and use in life. The symbiotic relationship between Vryce and Tarrant mirrors that of nature and fae on Erna and individuals and community on our own familiar planet.

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