Special Forces - Mercenaries Part II

Special Forces - Mercenaries Part II - Aleksandr Voinov, Vashtan, Marquesate “What a fucked up love-affair of violence we are”

In terms of angst I actually found Mercenaries II a much easier read than what came before. Now don’t get me wrong. Dan and Vadim still manage to hurt each other in many different ways but throughout whatever ordeal they encounter in this cycle you don’t get the overwhelming sense that all is lost like has happened previously. Finally they have stopped running from each other and even though they still have no idea how to communicate they stick around. Dan and Vadim’s biggest downfall seems to be their inability to talk to each other. I guess that’s not really surprising, they are after all two wilful and extremely stubborn Ex-Special Forces soldiers. They might love each other deeply but neither one seems willing to share their pain or their fears.

Mercenaries II for me was about revelations and learning. We begin to really see the men behind the warriors. Seeing them with family and friends. Seeing them learning how the world outside all they have ever known really works and seeing them deal with forces outside of war that could potentially destroy them.

As with ‘Mercenaries I’ Vadim’s mind is not what it should be. Vadim without a shadow of a doubt needs help but he is absolutely terrified to get it. In turn we begin to see his outlook on things become very warped. Be it with his views on dealing with the events taking place in the Balkans, how he interprets ‘helping an old friend’, his involvement with Hooch or how he sees his feelings about Dan. It becomes more and more clear that Vadim is in trouble.

“What if he was back in Moscow? Everything else was just a dream. Just an illusion. One of the many dreams. A hallucination?”

"I don’t want to be needed. I want to be loved, for fuck sake”

As seems to be the norm with these men working out the major problems they have tends to go hand in hand with mortal danger.

“If I’m too slow, you got a second map in your kit.”
Vadim shuddered, jaw muscles tightening.
“Say that again and I break your body.”

And in this case the major problems get worked out while on the ground in a War that I think most people still don’t fully understand. As with the War in Afghanistan where they both met I was very young when the events in the Balkans unfolded, that being said I still remember the pictures on the news from this time. It wasn’t until years later though that I understood the true horror that unfolded there and the fact that genocide was taking place while the people in a position to help did little to nothing. One of the reasons I know I will continue to love these books is that they have given me an insight to wars that were either forgotten or ignored. The situation that Dan and Vadim found themselves in was a unique and ingenious way of showing what was happening there at the time, like the description of the noises coming from the camps or the glimpses of the camps themselves, the siege of a town and the look in the eyes of its inhabitants. The chapters set in Balkans not only gave us some important events in Dan and Vadim’s relationship but also offered an account of the horrors that occurred in this War.

“A sad truth of human nature is that it is hard to care for people when they are abstractions, hard to care when it is not you or somebody close to you. Unless the world community can stop finding ways to dither in the face of this monstrous threat to humanity those words Never Again will persist in being one of the most abused phrases in the English language and one of the greatest lies of our time.”

Paul Rusesabagina

This is an over analysis warning.
The most important and interesting aspect of this book for me was the resounding theme of pain that seemed to be woven into it. It really feels like it is everywhere. The emotional pain that Vadim and Dan put each other through, the physical pain that Dan suffers in silence with and the mental pain that Vadim suffers after his torture. And then there was a pain that I found more difficult to understand. Now as some people might be aware I have developed quite the crush on a certain American Delta. Hooch grabbed my attention from the very second he appeared on page. Hooch needs pain. He craves it. Vadim is very similar, he talks about "being drunk on pain” with Dan. For both of them pain seems to be away of escape.

I have suffered from chronic pain (due to some missing bits and bobs at the end of my spine) since I was 12. Every day I wake up with it, go to school/college/work with it, live life and then go home and go to sleep with it. Now I have been incredibly lucky in that for the last 7 years most days that pain is more of a low level hum in the background but there are still days that are less low level hum and more screaming banshee but in the grand scheme of things it is manageable and for that I am grateful.

I would absolutely never judge a person for the things that they need to do to feel good, as long as those things involve consenting adults all is fine by me. But I have found it hard to wrap my head around the fact that people crave pain. I read books that involve BDSM and I have enjoyed the majority of them but I just could never really understand the relationship the people who needed it had with pain. For me it has always been a very unwelcome interloper. So why invite it? Is the pain that they feel somehow different? Is it more welcome because it will go away therefore the results are different? I understand that the need for it is mostly mental, but what positive benefits to the mind can there be when all I have ever known are negative ones? I have given this thought and the only answer I was ever able to come up with was that in the end we are all different and everyone needs and craves something different. So therefore I thought I was just very different from Vadim and Hooch and people like them. Like other end of the spectrum different. Until that is I read this line:

“If pain makes you feel alive, it also means you’re not invincible.”

Why did that give me pause? Because the times in my life where I have hitched a ride on the floaty cloud of ‘the good stuff’ have probably been the scariest times of my life. I have lived this way for so long that on the occasions that I have not felt any pain I was convinced that I was dying. I’m pretty sure that I take one thing from that sentence and people like Hooch and Vadim take another and I’m sure that my views of pain reassuring me that I am alive are also very different from theirs. But it has made me realise that we are not at such different ends of the spectrum after all. I guess pain is just more subjective than I have always thought and I think for the first time I have a better understanding of the need for it. I won’t be joining any BDSM clubs but I’m glad that I have developed a slightly better understanding of it. Well to my mind anyway.

An ‘Open Relationship’ rant:
One of the things I do not understand in these books is the ‘open relationship’ element. I don’t understand it but I have kept an open mind as long as it worked for Dan and Vadim. I understand it less at the end of this book. My views are that Dan seems to think it is fine for him because he can separate love and sex but seems to be oblivious to the fact that he is actually rather unique in his views. Vadim is so fragile, I can’t for the life of me figure out how Dan ever thought that he would not develop feelings for someone who needs the same things he does. It also bothers me that his jealousy seems to be more important than Vadim’s.

There is nothing to be done of course but it has annoyed me and I needed to vent. Also Jean seems like a perfectly nice fellow but I am the most afraid of the possible impact that he could have on their relationship.

Saying that though the sex has all been very hot and well we have Hooch so reading about all of the various encounters was no great hardship.

In case it is not clear from my updates and other reviews, I am loving this series. Even though it is ripping me to shreds and messing with my head the journey so far has been astounding. This cycle is probably the worst edited so far but I know that it's a work in progress and even though at times it does take away from it in the end it really doesn't feel like it matters that much.