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The Adorned

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  524 ratings  ·  131 reviews
My name is Etan, and I am Adorned.

A living piece of art, I exist to please the divine rulers of Kered. With nowhere to turn after my father died, I tried my luck in the capital city. Little did I know how quickly I would be robbed, beaten and forced to sell myself into servitude. But I was lucky enough to gain the attention of Roberd Tallisk, an irascible but intriguing ta
ebook, 280 pages
Published August 12th 2013 by Carina Press
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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  524 ratings  ·  131 reviews

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Julio Genao
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Julio by: Vanessa North
Wanted to cool off for a day before writing a review—but I am not feeling charitable, and what's wrong with this book tonight will still be wrong with it tomorrow.



The first 75 percent of this is great. The prose is wonderful, the pace measured, the story balanced, the plot engaging.

Then the fucking wheels fall off the bus.

The rest of this is spoilers; my irritation concerns things that will ruin the book for most prospective readers.

(view spoiler)
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
**Price drop to $0.99 at Amazon US, Kobo, and B&N! 6/29/14! ! 6/29/14! Don't miss it! Also makes a super cheap audiobook: $0.99 ebook + $2.99 audiobook with whispersync**

**4.5 stars**

Wow, was this story gorgeous or what!? The writing here just blew me out of the water. My first book by this author and it certainly won't be my last.

I sometimes have a difficult time getting into fantasy books. I often feel like these worlds are thrust upon me and I feel lost for the majority of the story. That was
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt
This is not my normal type of book… yet I found it compelling reading, this is an excellent piece of fiction, the writing sublime and the prose just... So. Damn. Beautiful. I found the whole experience enchanting, I was transported into a fantasy world that is brought to life by the amazing words and characterisation of John Tristan.


The narrator is Etan and this is his story and when we first meet him I felt all of his hopelessness and despair, his narration was perfunctory… void of emotion
Possible spoilers.

There isn't much going on for the the first 60 or so percent. Not much of m/m romance, not much sex (save for the tiniest scene of 3-4 paragraphs), not much angst, love, hate or any kind of feelings for that matter. It's mostly every day life of a tattoo master, his servants and his living art pieces, the outings, feasts, bit of politics mixed in.

However, it was a fascinating tale, unusual, beautiful, exotic, almost hypnotizing. Until the last 20% kicked in. And that's where i
Cole Riann
Review posted at The Armchair Reader.

I got this book for review on a whim, and I am so happy that I did because it completely took over my life yesterday. I started reading it in the early morning and I couldn't put it down -- I read all day. And to be honest I was a little worried after I requested it because I had previously read a book by John Tristan that I DNF'ed and I think it might have been his first book. I just couldn't get into the writing and I kinda liked it but also didn't. So I co
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
***4.5 Stars***
Well, if that wasn’t one hell of an emotional rollercoaster ride narrated by the one and only Shannon Gunn!

I went into this without even reading the blurb. All I knew was that Shannon Gunn was the narrator and that my friend, Michaelle, loved this book.

Talk about slow, slow, slow, slow burn. So slow you’re not quite sure there is anything smoldering. Yes, this took a long time to set up, but like any long con, the bigger and more solid the play, the bigger the pay out. That also
4.75 Stars
Surprisingly spoiler FREE!

Since there are a lot of great reviews out there for this book and I generally agree, I'll keep this short and sweet.
What a beautiful, interesting world Tristan created.
Obviously amazing writing from an author I've never heard of before.
I don't think the blurb does this book justice. It's so much more. When you hear "tattooist" or "tattoo artist" you might immediately associate it with something lesser than what tattooists are in this book.
I really appreciated
The first thing that comes to mind when I think back over this book is the word, admirable.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I admire this book: the cover, the premise and the writing with its beautiful descriptive prose is by no means a facet to be disregarded.

The Adorned comes alive when the author describes the artistry in movement, colour and design on a canvas of skin. I love the idea of a tattoo being living art all aided by the infusion of life’s blood …I can see it, the white crest of
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: mm, kindle-archive, arc
I received this story as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was an interesting, and well written story. So many of the ideas that formed the world and it’s people seemed complex and well drawn, but I felt like I was dropped into the middle of the story without any sort of idea of what was going on. It felt like book 3 or 4 of a series. The author kept referring to people, and places like I should know who they are and how they related to each other and to the story as a
Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
A beautiful story. I like how we learned about this world gradually, given information only as we need it. The introduction of the Adorned, the Sword and the Blood was subtly done, without an encyclopedia entry. With the characters, though, this type of gradual reveal took too long for me. I got tired of trying to interpret the small hints we were given of their thoughts and feelings. It would have been nice for things to be a bit more clear sooner than they were.

The story is told from Etan's PO

I’ve been looking forward to reading another fantasy work by this author after having read and enjoyed his Forest of Glass some time ago. I remember that work for its richly descriptive writing and world building and “The Adorned,” doesn’t disappoint. The story is laid down like a carefully crafted painting as brush stroke by brush stroke, this other world is revealed. Vivid and haunting, more than anything, it is the storytelling that sets it apart.

“When we do our work well, no one sees
Angela Bee Bee
Oct 02, 2013 rated it liked it
The first 75% of this is just beautiful, safe, subtle....nothing. Secondary characters fill the pages.
But the imagery is beautiful, soothing and pleasant. A false sense of security develops inside the reader.
The last quarter becomes incredibly tragic and maudlin.
And still beautiful, poetic.
I loved it but felt unsatiated at the same time.

So long I had lived on the edges between things. I was rich and poor, canvas and artist, lover and whore. I had built a home there on those boundaries
Remember...i have not READ this, but listened only [disclaimer]

Well, I think I will identify this as a 3.5 with the narration being a 5 and the story being a 3.. I would have liked to see more of a creative epilogue, as thinking back on it, the story deflated at the end. There was such a beautiful build up throughout the story that the last chapter had a rushed feeling...

I think my review is affected more by the narrator, as it could be considered a slow read, but the world building and detail
Sep 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Trix by: Nemesis
What an intense reading. Deserving of 4.5 stars. I admit that some of its charm came from the parallel I drew to "Memoirs of a Geisha". But even without that, the story had a particular pull, that kept me focused and within the story from first page till the last.

(view spoiler)
Vivian ♪(┌・。・)┌
I read this book a while back, and even now -- or perhaps it's because it is 'now'-- I struggle to write a review and give a rating.

Time hasn't made it easier to collect my thoughts, but nor did having the fresh, raw feelings seeping out and around me like an open, gaping wound. Fascinating. Yet I noted this with a sense of detachment.

The Adorned is a beautiful book. Delicate, with stunning, swirling details rendered so skilfully-- a mirror of the tattoos which featured so prominently and symb
Ije the Devourer of Books
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Adorned is sheer excellence!!

This is a beautiful story of a strange and magical tradition in a strange and beautiful land.

Etan a young man becomes an orphan when his father dies. Threatened with poverty, Etan's life changes when he goes to the city to claim some money owed to him. Through some unfortunate events and twists of fate, Etan eventually becomes an Adorned. One of the few chosen ones whose skin is adorned with tattoos which become animated when drawn with the blood of the ruling c
Danyele Johnson
I loved it. It was great, bloody amazing. The writing was lovely. The plot fantastic. The world building one of the best.

And then the ending. The mother fucking ending.

And this is all I want to do to the author:


That ending was completely unnecessary. And for what? So the book can be more epic? It was already a beautiful tale destined to be on my favorites shelf and now and I am deeply unsettled and beginning to regret my purchase. I went from wanting to share this with everyone to only wanti
Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
A sweet m/m fantasy romance. This is a well written novel with interesting characters but I would have liked it darker. The romance is slow to develop and the sex scenes lack detail and erotica.

Impoverished 19 year old Etan is bonded to Master Roberd Tallisk who will tattoo his body to make him one of 'The Adorned.' The latter are displayed for the enjoyment of the 'Blooded', a vampire like elite.

'(Arderi's) eyes half closed there, looking inward. "Take a care with him. Don't make my mistake, i
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'll keep this short because I want to go and read some of Tristan's other stuff: That was lovely. Very well written and completely compelling. I don't think there's much of a plot to speak of, more just a series of events. But it's so evocative and lush that I didn't really notice. Best fantasy M/M that I've read in a long time.
❧A Bookish Berkeley Girl❧

Etan & Tallisk ~

In their love, there are tragic events and it’s depressing.

The "audible version " is PHENOMENAL! And, saved the book for me, because I could listen to this narrator quote a grocery list. An, extra star was added for him.
Jul 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
The world-building here was complex and lovely. I got a real sense of this place without being buried in meaningless details. The concepts introduced by the author made sense. I liked the characters very much, and found even the secondary characters well-fleshed. The writing itself was beautiful--adept use of sensory information and language without becoming overblown.

My one complaint is with the pacing. Most of the novel moves at a slow pace, which is fine. It never felt ponderous. But then sud
Ulysses Dietz
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am always interested in m/m fiction that goes beyond the parameters of standard expectations. I am especially interested in men who write this - I suspect a growing minority in the genre. John Tristan is a real find for me. (I suppose his name is another pseudonym, something that taints my love for this entire weirdly closeted world, sigh.)

"The Adorned" is a magical,captivating book (IF you like this sort of thing - and I do, very much - if they're well-crafted and graced with compelling chara
A very slow burn and not much plot to speak of, but a wonderfully textured and fascinating world seen through the eyes of a young slave boy, Etan. Twelve and a half hours of immersive, richly detailed storytelling read/performed by Shannon Gunn, a narrator who is fast becoming a favourite of mine = total bliss.
Wonderful characterisation, especially sweet Etan, who starts the story a pretty and somewhat naive slave boy, only useful for rent as an 'adorned' human canvas (and occasional whore) but
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
The blurb said tattoo master so I had to read it. Rating as I read the book:

1/3: interesting story, 4 stars
2/3: umm, kinda slow going. Don't know where this is going, 3 stars
3/3: wow really? But the finish is a little bittersweet even though the MCs get their HEA, reluctant 5 stars

In all, nice 4 star read for me.
Vanessa North
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Woooow. So i bought this book at lunch time...and lost the next seven hours under its spell. Completely riveting, gorgeous story-telling wrapped up in the most delicious prose. Elegant, lovely, poignant prose.

Mr. Tristan will be an auto-buy from here on out.

I came to this through my usual Audible window shopping i.e. listening to samples, adding to my wish list, and coming back to them later. This was a super pleasant surprise on a couple of fronts.

John Tristan is a NTM author and I loved his elegant and smooth writing. In many aspects his fantasy/AU world brought to mind GoT with the fanciful spelling of names, the old & new Gods, and a ruling class that's a little more than human. It's a super slow burn, but utterly fulfilling romance be
Jennifer Lavoie
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing

I am left speechless and breathless at the end of this book, and find myself mourning that there is not more of this world for me to dive into. A five star rating system is not enough, and I feel that this book deserves its own category.

Normally I would wait to write a review until some time had passed, but at 1:30 in the morning I just can't wait. I need to share how wonderful this book is. For the last twenty-four hours I have lived in Kered with Etan and Tallisk, and now that the book is
Betti Gefecht
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This gave me the first book hangover in quite a while. I'm not talking about oh-too-bad-it's-over-yet. I'm talking serious, bad I-don't-wanna-see-anyone-today book hangover.
Also, I have a Faves directory on my well-filled Kindle, and the number of books in there is still under 10. I don't add books there lightly. But this one went straight in. It is that good.
The story has just the right amount of everything I love... maybe my taste is not very mainstream in some aspects, as in, if a book is to
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Another winner - enchanting, rich and beautiful

This fantasy novel has a well thought-out plot, a cast of individual, interesting characters and wonderful, wonderful world-building (showing, not telling).

It was told in first person POV through the eyes of young Etan, innocent and alone in the world, he falls upon hard times as his father dies and leaves him with nothing. No education, no means, no home.

Etan moves into the city and because of his beauty he becomes an "Adorned". Etan doesn't kn
Skye Blue ☆*~゚ლ(´ڡ`ლ)~*☆
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
I don't know how to rate this.
I don't know what to say.

From the beginning, as the story was being set up, I was hooked.

The story was very captivating. Not what I was expecting.
I was was a little slow paced though, and I wanted to get to the action.

As the story unfolded, I was still glued to it, and never lost interest...but I was getting frustrated. The romance portion was not moving at all.

Finally, we get the couple...

But as soon as we do...shit hits the fan!

Thank goodness there wa
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I'm John, and I write gay romance, usually with a SF/F twist.

As for reading, I will read pretty much everything you put in front of me, but I will always have a special love for all genre fiction. I'm of the firm belief no story can't be improved by an elf, dragon and/or spaceship or two!

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