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The Sheltered City: A Fantasy Romance Novel

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Amon Vraja, last of the halfdead, tries to stay out of sight. His kind, twisted by the gift that grants them superhuman strength, are loathed and shunned. Under the enchanted leaves of the Last City, ruled by imperious elves whose love of beauty leaves little room for his ugliness, he's not much more than the ghost of a dragon-haunted past.

When the young, headstrong elf-lord Caedian takes an interest in Amon, however, Amon's days in the shadows may be over. Caedian needs Amon to find Caedian's missing twin, and a halfdead brothel guard can't just refuse an elf's desires. Throughout the search, Caedian and Amon rely on each other's strength and generosity, and Amon is struck by an impossible yearning for his elvish patron.

As they peel away layers of deceit and spiral closer to one another, they also near the horrifying truth of the elves' protection. And when they discover it, they'll face a step outside the shelter of the world's last city, or die where they stand.

90,000 words

231 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 2014

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About the author

John Tristan

7 books86 followers
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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Displaying 1 - 30 of 37 reviews
Profile Image for Rachel.
755 reviews115 followers
August 9, 2020
8/8/20 Currently on sale for 99c via Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B00K4M5DY...

4.5 Stars

Whoa! I am emotionally drained. This epic adventure took my emotions through the wringer. I have been gorging on sugary sweet, fluffy holiday romances and decided to enjoy a little palate cleanser with this fantasy story--and whoa I am wiped out.

Do not go into this story expecting a fun romp. This story takes the reader to some dark places; there are devastating mysteries and deaths of tertiary characters. One reviewer said that this story plays with "shades of grey" in describing the characters, and this is an apt description.

I loved the character Amon. In this fantasy land Amon is one of the "halfdead," identified by his grey skin, black veins, huge size, unusual strength, and ability to rapidly heal. Amon lives a life of quiet loneliness, and is treated like an outcast. Despite his size and strength, Amon is more of a gentle giant. He has a kind soul and is willing to help those in need. I rooted for Amon the entire story, even when I wasn't sure if his love interest deserved his devotion and affections.

Caedian, (his love interest) is Amon's polar opposite (and I ADORE opposites attract). Where Amon is dark, big and hulking, Caedian is pale, slender, and graceful. Where Amon is warmth and affection, Caedian is coolness and dispassion. There were moments when I despaired of Caedian ever being able to truly return Amon's affections, but I was always cheering them on.

The two men begin the epic adventure on extremely uneven footing, but as secrets are revealed, they find that their strengths and weaknesses are actually a perfect foil for one another.

The world building in this story is detailed and vivid. I was constantly imagining this story playing out as a movie. It is a bleak, desolate, dangerous world with elves, dragons, halfdead, humans, and more creatures uneasily coexisting.

These characters go through A LOT, and because of that, I was a little disappointed with the abrupt ending. I needed to know that the two MCs, who suffered greatly, would *finally* find some peace and happiness. It is hinted at, but after subjecting those two to that much adversity, I needed a little bit more of an HEA.

I read a fantastic review that does a much better job of describing this story. Check out Elizabetta's fantastic review if you want to read more about this epic fantasy tale.

Profile Image for Elena.
848 reviews93 followers
February 22, 2020
3.5 stars

I loved the worldbuilding and Amon, Caedian was less “real” to me and I never truly understood him. Even so, Amon and the worldbuilding might have been enough for me to round up, if it wasn’t for the ending. With so many questions left unanswered, it was more suited for a first book in a series than a standalone.
Profile Image for Leanne.
358 reviews35 followers
October 4, 2014
4.5 stars

The world-building was pretty awesome. But what I loved most was Amon; sweet, loyal, lonely...pretty much an outcast- an underdog hero if ever there was one. (Just the way I like 'em ;P )

So when he meets Caedian, the elf, there's so much to love about all the ways in which they contrast-- it reminded me of Kim Fielding's Brute in many ways.
Bittersweet, melancholy even, as poor Amon finds himself knee-deep in trouble he had no intention of ever looking for. The ending was satisfying but as other reviewers have mentioned, it did seem a bit abrupt. I would dearly love to know what happens to Amon and Cae as the story ends with them about to embark on a quest of epic, fantastical proportions. I don't often say this because I hate it when sequels or series are churned out just for the sake of it, but this story, and its beloved MC's, could do with a little extra time and a proper resolution.

Profile Image for Elizabetta.
1,224 reviews34 followers
July 7, 2014

3.5 stars

When I enter a book by this author, I know it’s going to be rich in world building and plot. And there is no disappointment in that respect. Once again, we’re given a fantasy world where the setting is as much a star as the people who inhabit it.

This sheltered city, The Last City, is ruled by elves, beautiful, cold, distant, who live among the limbs of ‘The Tree’ (this setting reminds me of the author’s other fantasy, ‘The Glass Forest,’ with its tree-dwelling people.). Under it’s enormous, protective canopy-dome of leaves and vines, and with some help from ‘elf magic,’ the ancient tree acts as a barrier, a protective bubble, for its inhabitants against the caustic outside world. That exterior, full of poisonous air, rain, and sun, nurtures the dragons that roam freely there. The dragons and drakelings mean death to most of the inhabitants under the dome. So, this is as much a story about these fierce leather-winged creatures and how they’ve shaped this world.

The other citizens of the dome live on the surface, under the immense canopy. For many, living on the perimeter-edge of the dome is hard-scrabble, always colored by the distant red glow of the sun, and always, in reverence, even fear, of the elves. Amon, is called ‘halfdead.’ A kind of anti-hero— introverted, lumbering and brutish, black veined and tongued, with skin the color of ash— he is the polar opposite in looks and manner from the elves (maybe a grayish Hulk?). Yet, he is also treated with caution and a kind of awe by his human neighbors. He is the last of his kind, one in a long line of dragon hunters. Raised out of his element, he works constantly to cage his natural instincts, to live in peace in a world that barely accepts him. Amon lives meagerly, a shadow existence, really… until one evening when a mysterious man appears at the bar/brothel where Amon works as a bouncer.

Caedian is the most beautiful creature Amon has ever seen. He is the epitome of the elves: white-haired, slender, strong and graceful (I’m thinking, Legolas). And he wants something from Amon— Caedian’s twin brother has mysteriously gone missing. Elves just don’t mingle much with the lesser folk, so we suppose it’s Amon’s quiet strength that causes Caedian to turn to him. And perhaps it’s Caedian’s exotic pull that sets Amon to agree to leave all he’s known behind in the search. Their quest takes them on a long adventure full of peril and dragons.

The romantic aspect of the story started very cooly for me. Neither Amon nor Caedian are immediately compelling as possible romantic partners. But as their adventure unfolds, they grow into a kind of mutual respect and then fondness. Again, it is the world-building and plot that are at the fore in this story; the romance is very adult in its ‘there are more important things to tend to’ kind of feel.

I knew this would be a well-written story to keep me turning pages. While the development of the romance was satisfying, and Amon’s commitment to Caedian pulled at my heart, my biggest disappointment was at the ending which came rather abruptly. There is a resolution to their quest but it seems a kind of half-way ending for the romance. Still, this author’s special brand of fantasy is captivating and I can only hope for more of Amon and Caedian’s story to come. If you love dragons (not the sweet, sparkly kind), you’ll want to give this a try.

For this and other great reviews, author interviews, and general fabulousness, visit Love Bytes:

Profile Image for Kelly.
274 reviews181 followers
April 14, 2021
Once again, John Tristan has created a unique and compelling world. The deeper into ‘The Sheltered City’ I got, the more I wanted to know. Why where they living inside what seemed to be a large dome sheltered by an enormous living tree? Where the dragons outside real or allegorical? What is the halfdeath and what about those elves?

Amon was born with the halfdeath, an affliction that gives him the gift of strength and supernormal healing at the cost of half his life. His skin is ash grey and traced with prominent black veins. He is a large man, a giant, and often possessed by rages. He is well suited to his job as bouncer in a whorehouse, until he assaults an elf, believing the elf had been hurting one of the boys downstairs.

Elves are the ruling class. They live in the Tree. Their word is law and to harm one carries a sentence that can only be determined by the elves. Probably death. Caedian is not a typical elf, however. He is young and naïve. In fact, humans seem to be as mysterious to him as the elves are to humans. Amon, with his grey skin and great strength, even more so. Caedian quickly forgives Amon the broken nose and then hires him to help in the search for his brother.

The search takes Amon to the Rim, the outer edge of the Last City. There, he encounters snippets of a legend he was born to, the dragonhunters. These men and women looked like him, grey, large, possessed of strength and fits of rage. Amon knew he was born of a dragonhunter and was raised by another. What he does not know is why he is the last and why he had never been called to serve, despite being trained. The Order has disappeared.

The event of finding Caedian’s brother is a catalyst of a sort. The truth of the Last City is revealed, in part, and the truth of Amon’s heritage. Facing death, both men chose exile and leave the shelter of the city. The world outside the city lives up to the harsh legends. The air is toxic and the dragons are real. Ill-suited to the environment, Caedian quickly falls ill and Amon devises a way to save him. From there, they stumble across an enclave of dragonhunters who finish telling the story of truth, about their poisoned blood, the elves and the city.

But where Amon was not suited for life within the Last City, Caedian is not suited for life outside the dome, even changed as he becomes. Ultimately, the two men face a series of choices, between themselves, what makes them feel happy and complete, and what they feel is right.

I really enjoyed ‘The Sheltered City’. John Tristan has a wonderful imagination. His worlds always come to life easily and I’m always sad to step away at the conclusion of the book. Despite the scope of adventure, the romantic elements in ‘The Sheltered City’ are more immediate than in his previous book, ‘The Adorned’. The love story feels more central. But what both novels have in common is well-conceived fantasy world that could support more than one tale. Gender and sexuality hold less importance than skin colour and race, a dynamic that I find refreshing. It’s the history of the worlds that has me wanting to read more, however. By the end of ‘The Sheltered City’, it becomes obvious that events are part of a larger cycle. That’s the story I want next. I want to know where the dragons came from and I wouldn’t mind reading about Amon and Caedian eradicating the threat once and for all.

Written for SFCrowsnest.
Profile Image for ttg.
446 reviews157 followers
Want to read
July 9, 2014
Must...not...buy...until...August. MUST BE STRONG for No Buy Books July! Must...stay...strong...
Profile Image for Borderstar.
912 reviews17 followers
April 6, 2016
3.75 stars
06/04/2016: Updated to add more thorough review after finding my kindle notes!

I should be honest and say that I started this back in October last year and somehow managed to put it down at around 90% and then just didn't pick it back up again until this week...so unfortunately I cannot remember all the detail for an in-depth review.

Overall this was a bit of a mixed one for me - there was definitely a lot to like, but there were also a few niggles that kept me from really loving it as much as I could have.

In general though, it was an enjoyable fantasy read that captured my attention from the start - I liked the premise and the characters were interesting and likeable. It was a really intriguing world and also something a little different to the norm - there were a lot of details that I loved here. The writing is really great too – I just fell right into it and found there was just something about John Tristan’s writing that suited me perfectly from the beginning.

I immediately loved Amon's character - he had a kind of quiet strength, despite what life had dealt him. There was something about him that seemed more mature than a lot of characters I read in m/m even though he wasn’t that old, so it was refreshing. And I loved the writing for the majority of the story - it really drew me in and made me feel for the characters. There was no info-dumping at the beginning to introduce us to everything either - instead there was a slow reveal of the facts about the world - this is my favourite kind of fantasy, where you are not given much to go on and you work it out along the way. And then when we meet Caedian, I wasn't really too sure about him at first. In fact unfortunately I never really felt like I knew him enough - maybe because of the POV always being from Amon? But I think that this meant I couldn’t ever really fully connect with him, and therefore I couldn’t LOVE him. Although there's this subtle humour & banter between them which I enjoyed.

Something that disappointed me a little – the sex scenes. I was expecting them to be tender and hot, but I felt they were a bit…lacking. They didn’t make me FEEL. I think perhaps it was that there was a lack of detail maybe? I mean I can deal with fade to black if I have to, but this wasn’t that. The sex scenes were on page but the descriptions didn’t feel particularly erotic, or emotional, or anything really. In fact, because of the vague description, I was left slightly confused. And it took me out of the story trying to work out what part was where and what actually happened?! If I’m reading an on-page sex scene, I want description so I can understand and visualise what’s happening and so I know what the characters are feeling. This did that to an extent, but it fell a bit short to the point it was noticeable for me.

I think maybe the reason it was so noticeable is that the writing throughout the rest of the book was really very good, so the expectation was high and these scenes fell short.
[Note: I found this note in my kindle notes for this book quite a while after starting the book, so I can't actually remember this detail now - would need to go back and re-read to make sure it wasn't just me not being in the right mood!]

The last third of the book or so then didn't work as well for me and unfortunately I lost interest a little at this point. I also couldn't help but feel that although the world-building was great, there was still so much more to reveal - so many things we didn't know, even at the end. The pace of the story seemed pretty good, keeping me interested through most of it but then the final parts of the story seemed a bit rushed/glossed over, with a kind of abrupt, open-ended and not particularly satisfying (to me) ending. I think if the build up to the end was a little more fleshed out or if we knew this was Book #1 in a series, this wouldn't have bothered me nearly as much.

However, saying that, I loved John Tristan’s writing through most of this, so I will definitely be checking out other works by this author.
Profile Image for Vanessa North.
Author 42 books514 followers
July 7, 2014
Really, really good.

Excellent worldbuilding, incredible sense of setting, and characters you could really root for. Also, dragons!

I did feel the last ten percent was a little rushed, more action than denouement, however, this is a book which will stick with me for awhile.

Recommended, especially to fans of fantasy.
Profile Image for Wax.
1,295 reviews21 followers
September 19, 2017
I love fantasy, especially the world-building involved in the story. So this book seemed to be tailor made for me. Add in an underdog hero, and dragons, and I'm there.

Amon is an anomaly in his world. He is the only living halfdead, descended from the dragonhunters. Dragonhunters have all died out now, but before that happened, many were given a gift and a curse. They were changed from being human to halfdead, given extraordinary healing and strength at the cost of half a life. Amon lives in a city set within desolation. Outside a sphere created by elves, the world is harsh and death is certain. Not only are the sun's rays difficult to bear, but dragons roam, and they are not the friendly kind of dragons. He works as a bouncer in a brothel for a lack of a better job, and that is where he meets Caedian. Caedian is an elf, the ruling class. He is looking for his brother and thinks that Amon might be able to help him. This chance meeting sets into play a fantasy adventure that includes deception, sorrow, and learning more about the world outside the city.

I loved the story and read it almost in one sitting. However, I felt that the last quarter of the story didn't hold my focus as much as the beginning did. I was also upset with one of Amon's actions that pretty much changes everything. And I have to be honest that the cover didn't make sense to me until starting to read. Until then, I thought it was a dragon egg.
Profile Image for Terri Jones.
2,209 reviews34 followers
September 2, 2020

I have been a sf/f fan for decades. I'm a recent fan of m/m romance, particularly sf/f/paranormal. This is, hands-down, the most unique world and story I've ever read. Elves as you have never known them. Humans backed into corners, many unaware of it. Dragons as scary as they are mysterious. A broken world. Not as dead as the Last City was led to believe. Many versions of love, many faces of danger. This story generates more questions than it answers, but the answers we find alongside Amon are enough, eventually. Just enough, nothing to spare.

I am impressed.
Profile Image for Serena.. Sery-ously?.
1,093 reviews179 followers
July 9, 2020
Pensavo di morire di noia, ma sono sopravvissuta pure 'sto giro 😂

(credo di essere io il problema perché di Tristan ho letto e amato tutti gli altri romanzi.. Però ecco, se doveste approcciarvi all'autore, non è il romanzo con cui consiglierei di iniziare!)
Profile Image for Ije the Devourer of Books.
1,736 reviews54 followers
September 21, 2014
Another great story from John Tristan.

This author knows how to tell a good story. He weaves romance into top quality fantasy or science fiction and he does so in a way that is unique and creative. I never find obvious tropes in his stories or characters borrowed from other books. You won't find his characters in other books either because they belong to John Tristan.

So this was another great fantasy mm story with elves, magic, dragons and a magical tree which shelters and gives life to a city of people and elves. But all is not what it seems in this city and there is darkness amongst the life giving light of the tree. There is a darkness within this sheltered city which Amon and Caedian stumble across in their quest to find Caedians brother.

Amon is a very unlikely hero. He is a giant. A child of one of the dead dragon hunters and has inherited a disease from his mother. He is half-dead because the protection that all dragon hunters have flowing through their veins is death to those children born to them.

Caedian is an elf and beautiful and privileged but he wants to find his missing twin brother and in his hunt he meets Amon and enlists his help. As the two unlikely heros hunt for the missing brother they encounter conspiracies and hidden secrets which open them to violence, betrayal, hope and courage.

I enjoyed this. I thought it had a bit of a slow start and the story didn't really kick in for me until about half way through so I thought the first part could have been shorter. I also think the ending was too abrupt. I need to know what happens next and where they went. But sometimes with a story I think the reader just has to go with the flow and let go of our own notions about how a story should be and follow the path the author has set for us.

I loved the setting for this story and the city which is sheltered by a tree, hidden from the vicious and dangerous dragons that have nearly destroyed this world. I love the heros. Amon and Caedian are not just opposite, they are totallly different from each other but as they embark on their quest they developed a shared life and a love for each other one that totally changes them both mentally and physically.

There is nothing predictable about the story which is what makes it so refreshing to read. All in all this was a deeply satisfying story. Once again the author has delivered something that is unique, adventurous but also beautiful.
Profile Image for Carol March.
Author 25 books20 followers
October 12, 2014
I had read and loved Tristan’s The Adorned, so I started The Sheltered City with high expectations. I was not disappointed. This is a love story set in a fantasy world with many unique characteristics. In addition to the mystery at the heart of the book, and the moving love affair between two disparate characters, learning about this fascinating world was much of the fun.

Amon, the last of the half-dead, is an unlikely hero with his hulking body and grey skin, without family or friends, who ekes out a tenuous living as a bouncer in a brothel. He lives in the Last City, protected by the canopy of an enormous tree that is tended by the elf-lords who rule the city, the only safe place in a world fallen to vicious dragons.

When we meet Amon, he has no aspirations beyond survival, but all that changes when he encounters Caedian, a beautiful elf-lord searching for his missing twin brother. Caedian hires Amon to help him search the taverns and pleasure houses of the Rim, the outermost concentric circle of the Last City, and to Amon’s amazement, Caedian finds him desirable. As they search for the missing brother, Amon finds himself roaming the City to escape from unknown assailants and see how the Elf-lords live in the upper reaches of the Tree. As the relationship between Amon and Caedian grows, their quest takes them into the Dragonlands where they find that what they were told about the land beyond the Tree was not entirely true.

The plot was well-paced, the world engrossing, and the main characters complex. Caedian was sweet, vulnerable, and strong, and Amon, the man who thought he would never love or be loved, grew into a true hero. The issue of sexual preference was not a plot point, which I loved. We need more stories of worlds where whom the characters love is not the point, but rather how they love and what they do. Tristan provides that and more in this gripping tale.
Profile Image for Antonella.
1,401 reviews
December 10, 2017
Well written, original, realistic in the depiction of a world closed to the outside Dragonlands. Even though I liked Amon and Caedian, I didn't understand what the elf Caedan saw in the half-dead Amon, and this doesn't become clear in the book. The ending lacked a proper resolution IMO. By the way I would be willing to see what's happening next, but I'm reading this in 2017, it was written in 2013 and there is no trace of a sequel around...
Profile Image for Kiara.
68 reviews8 followers
February 2, 2015
This is a kind of post apocalyptic fantasy, where the usual good guys and bad guys are not what you would expect. John plays magistrally with "shades of grey" about his compelling protagonists. The world-building is very well done.
Profile Image for Vero.
1,440 reviews9 followers
April 28, 2016
Interesting world building. It had an interesting back-story and two very unique characters.
A good read.
131 reviews
December 3, 2017
I found the ending to be unsatisfying. A very "the story continues" ending that doesn't give enough resolution. It was probably a 3-4 star book for me until the meh ending. It feels like it wants a sequel though I think a trilogy would have been a decent option as well.
Profile Image for Mike.
125 reviews11 followers
November 1, 2014
4 stars

I picked this book up after reading (and liking) another by John Tristan - The Adorned. A few pages into it, though, I had a sinking feeling I'd be disappointed. The main character is Amon, a halfdead. The last halfdead in the city, actually. He's not your usual hero. With his bulky stature, gray skin, gray sclera, and black veins, his rapid aging, and his barely controlled rage simmering under the surface, I had a mental image of Herman Munster playing in the back of my head. (Herman Munster was really supposed to be green, I think, but with the shows in B&W...) As the only halfdead in a city full of elves and humans, I wasn't sure how I was supposed to identify with him over everyone else.

I should have just trusted Tristan.

That other book of his that I read particularly impressed me with the setting, and I was hoping that this book would be similarly rich. It was. Amon lives in the Last City, protected from the poisonous landscape and the raging dragons that destroyed the rest of the world, by a gargantuan tree cultivated by the elven lords that rule. Indeed, to leave the city is death. The dragonslayers who had waged war against the outside succumbed to the ravages of the toxic wilderness years before, and Amon is alone. He lives and works in the seedy, shadowy Rim, the district just inside the edge of the tree's influence, and because of his appearance, or his rages, or maybe just his differentness, Amon has no one.

This book isn't perfect, but the world isn't one of its problems. It's imaginative. It' s colorful. It's textured. It's pretty magnificent, actually.

The characters were quite good as well. Despite my concerns in the first chapter, I did find myself relating to Amon and forgetting about his differences. I quite liked Caedian, the elf lord who commands Amon's assistance with the personal mystery that drives the plot. Rather than writing archetypal secondary characters, they had just the right amount of nuance to blur the lines between obvious good guy and obvious bad guy.

Overall, the plot was well done as well. I had one problem with the plot – which is why this is a four-star book rather than a five – but although I thought there were things that could have been improved, I don't want to leave the impression that the story was a bad one.

My only real problem with the story was the pacing: the book is too short. It's not a position I'm used to being in; usually I find myself wishing that authors would tighten things up and rein in their need to give us every last detail. I wouldn't say the author skipped anything vital to the story, exactly, but this would have been a pretty spectacular duology. I wish the Tristan had expanded the plot and let us experience his rich world even more deeply. We could have learned more of the history, gotten to know some of the side characters, and connected even more deeply with Amon and Caedian.

Actually, OK, I guess I have two issues with the book. A bigger story would have allowed a slower burn on the romance, which was...abrupt. Even though I can come up with logical, believable explanations for how the characters felt toward each other, it still seemed like it happened too quickly. Too suddenly. Part of that has to do with the gaps in the timeline; this is a short book, so we didn't have time to hear about every last spark of chemistry. But still, it seemed like we jumped from a fragile wary trust to take-off-your-pants. It was a bit jarring.

(But: Tristan makes up for it a bit by creating a world where sexual orientation is a complete non-issue. Stories like that are so rare – partly, I'm sure, because in real life it's such a looming difference, and partly because it makes for an obvious storyline – and they feel like such a relief. It's nice to read a book where the problems are prioritized correctly.)

Quibbles aside, I really did like this book. It was entertaining and both the imagination and the language were beautifully applied. If you like fantasies or if you like stories about guys who smooch on other guys, I recommend it.
Profile Image for Nikyta.
1,411 reviews255 followers
August 8, 2014
This review can be found at The Blogger Girls review site.

4.5 stars

Amon is the last of the halfdead, a human that resembles a barely living corpse with prominent black veins and created to withstand the poisonous air outside the Tree that shelters the Last City. Unfortunately, being a halfdead means he’s treated like the plague, destined to live a short but lonely life. But when Caedian, an elf-lord, comes to the brothel where Amon works, everything changes. Caedian wants to hire Amon to help find his missing brother. In the course of their search, they uncover a startlingly dangerous secret that threats their lives, forcing them to flee into the very world that is supposed to be uninhabitable.

Wow, this book was a MONSTER. I will admit that there is a lot to the book that can’t be described. It’s one of those stories that I firmly believe you need to read to fully understand it and really comprehend what awesomeness lies between the pages. I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again, as a fantasy lover, I crave books that have a lot of depth to their world. I want to know everything that happens in gruesome detail. This book gave me that wish and really got into the mechanics of everything that made up this world without giving a ton of boringly unnecessary details. From the elves to the humans to the halfdeads, I felt like I really got to experience all of it. All that detail into the world really made me a happy reader LOL. There’s also the fact that the journey Caedian and Amon go on is both frightening and heart-breaking. To save Caedian, Amon has to do something that changes Caedian’s life forever and that drives a wedge between them that had me scared they couldn’t mend.

As for characters, I absolutely adored Amon. He was a sad but genuine character who followed his heart and not his head. He knew helping Caedian would change his life but he still did it because of his feelings for Caedian, even before he even realized what those feelings were. At the same time, Caedian broke my heart over and over. He’s confused and, at times, emotionally dead. He goes through a lot including being betrayed and losing his twin brother in one of the worst ways possible. He needs to avenge his twin to really get closure but he struggles with that revenge and being with Amon. Unfortunately, or fortunately, that revenge wins out and really puts not only Caedian but Amon in even more danger than usual to fulfill that need.

While the story is rich in detail with an intriguing storyline, its biggest downfall is the ending. After everything that happens (and for how long the book was), I expected a conclusion to the story in ALL aspects of it. Instead, it ends rather abruptly with resolution to Caedian and Amon’s revenge but the romance between Caedian and Amon is very open-ended to the point I’m left with so many questions. Where will they go next? What will happen to the Tree? Will Caedian and Amon be able to survive to where ever they are going? Will Caedian ever tell Amon he loves him out loud?? I sincerely think this story could have benefited a lot from an epilogue to at least let the reader know that Caedian and Amon won’t be wandering the world until they die, especially with everything they’ve been through.

Overall, I still really loved this book. It has an intriguing and invigorating world with so much depth to it. I was in heaven learning about the different settings and how vastly different they were and really enjoyed that this book was filled with deceit, betrayal, love and revenge. I loved the characters just as much as the world because of their stubborn and cruel natures. If you’re a lover of fantasy like me and love your epic stories, definitely give this one a try because it has a nice mix of a dangerous adventure and a soft romance.
98 reviews12 followers
November 25, 2014
I am so glad to have read this one. John Tristan is a wonderful writer. He has such amazing imagination. The fantasy world he has created here is original and well conceived. Humans, elves, dragons struggling to live together in this strange, bleak and dangerous world which seems to be without hope. The City which could be the last city, sheltered by a gigantic living tree protecting its inhabitants from the dragons and the uninhabitable external environment, humans living on the ground and the elves, the ordained rulers, high up in the trees. Such a unique and compelling world. What is the connection among these three so different beings? The more I read, the more I was captivated and the more I wanted to know. The setting, the world building, the plot are just so rich and fascinating. The melancholy tone which permeates the story is just fitting.

The story is told from Amon's viewpoint. Amon is very likable and the type of hero I love to root for. Hated and feared by his peers Amon is your underdog. He was born with the halfdeath which made him look like a gigantic brute but also gave him special powers but at the cost of half his normal life. He strives to control the rage within him caused by dragon blood because at heart he is just a simple man with a gentle soul. Unwittingly he was plunged into dangers because he could not say no to one elf who had him from the day they met. Caedian is the elf, beautiful, strong yet vulnerable and sweet. Caedian lacks the arrogance typical of his kinsmen, his love for his twin brother moving and my heart just went out to Caedian when he learnt of the betrayal. Amon and Caedian are like your beauty and the beast and I love their chemistry together. A little bit of the instant thing in the beginning but the emotions when they were in exile was so well expressed, Amon's devotion to Caedian especially touching.

The 1st part of the plot is driven by Caedian's search for his missing twin brother. His brother's discovery and the shocking betrayal is the catalyst for the deeper part of the plot where much more is revealed. And now for the ending, which I am still pondering over because it was not predictable and yet fitting to the melancholic tone of the story. But I love these two characters and an epilogue on their fate a few years into the future would have been wonderful. But this is just a reader's whim and I just have to appreciate how it ended for our heroes. This is one amazing and unique fantasy. There is nothing predictable about the plot at all which makes it such a great read. So glad to have another writer to look forward to.
June 22, 2015
I really liked the story and I liked both Amon and Caedian. They were well fleshed out and had very distinctive personalities so they were easy to keep separate. The story had a good flow and some good twists even if the one about Seoras was pretty clichéd.

What I didn't like was the very open end. It's almost a dead world and they act like they had all the options in the universe, they just needed to decide what to do next. Not my favourite kind of ending. The second thing was ubiquitous use of long and unnecessary obscured, even convoluted words. (Choice of words is totally intentional.) I'm pretty fluent in English but I had no idea what so ever what most of them meant. And had no patience to check my dictionary every time one of them came up. Really diminished my enjoyment of the story as every new word made me that much more irritated about the word and the story.
28 reviews2 followers
January 15, 2016
Good and bad

I really liked this book a lot. It took me a little to get into it because of the setting and characters. I had to get a visual in my mind. Once I did I was off on a real adventure. I didn't want to put it down. The visual I had in my head had to be accurate because the details were awesome. So vivid. My only problem was the ending. I wanted just a little more. It seemed like a cliff hanger to me.
Profile Image for Heidi Dover.
1,525 reviews6 followers
March 2, 2016
Writing, worldbuilding, characters, plot, details, romance, angst, conflict, all excellent.Such a detailed and intriguing world to get lost in, characters I got invested in and rooted for them to sort their shit out and get their HEA. Wish I had a little more insight and detail about what drew/attracted Caedian to Amon, but I wanted to believe so I did without much effort. Very enjoyable read. And dragons!
Profile Image for Manlove.
371 reviews1 follower
March 3, 2015
Apparently I didn't get enough post-apocalyptic reading earlier this year because here I am, once again watching a society trying to make it through a bit of a "rough patch." Heh, only this time around it was with elves and dragons. And some m/m action as well. Yep. A better combination than I would have thought possible.
Profile Image for Linh.
189 reviews88 followers
July 18, 2014
Fantasy nam/nam. Truyện cực kỳ hay luôn. Mới đầu thấy bìa không đẹp nên cũng ngại đọc, ai dè lại hợp gu vô cùng. Worldbuilding ổn, cách viết ổn, nhân vật quá ổn. Diễn biến tình cảm tốt, có sức thuyết phục. Hai bạn trẻ dễ thương vô cùng luôn!
Profile Image for Riayl.
1,088 reviews38 followers
July 15, 2014
Loved this. The characters, the world, everything was very vivid, very easy to picture in my head. I'd love to read more of these characters and more of this world.

And...I will only admit to crying once.
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