Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ariah (Ariah, #1)” as Want to Read:
Ariah (Ariah, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Ariah #1)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  329 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Ariah's magical training has been interrupted. Forced to rely on a mentor, Dirva, who is not who he claims to be, and a teacher who is foreign and powerful, Ariah is drawn into a culture wholly different from the elven one that raised him.

As his friendship with Dirva's brother blossoms into a surprising romance, and he slowly learns how to control the dangerous magic in hi
Multiple Formats, 1st Edition, 334 pages
Published May 28th 2015 by Zharmae
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ariah, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
B.R. Sanders It's prose; currently no plans to re-release as a graphic novel.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  329 ratings  ·  87 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Ariah (Ariah, #1)
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, lgbt, kindle
This was really a two and a half stars book for me. It had potential and that kept me reading, but there were a few places where it almost became a DNF. The main reason is really that the editing was sloppy in terms of character consistency and worldbuilding, and that kept jarring me out of the story.

A secondary reason is that I never really liked Ariah; he felt very much like a plot puppet that had things happen to him and he just went along for the ride. (view spoiler)
☙ nemo ❧
Feb 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
and the dubious honour of being the first book to be DNF'd in 2019 goes to..... this one! i just really wasn't vibin' with the retrospective writing style or the characters, and after reading a couple of reviews it seems that the things i'm not liking only get worse so... onto the dreaded DNF shelf you go
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Ariah, for me, is a book about empathy, acceptance and love.
I have never encountered such variety of intimate relationships and gender diversity in a novel before. For that alone I think this was one of the most interesting books I’ve read this year and I devoured it greedily, wanting to know more, impatient to find out where the author will take me, who Ariah (and I) will meet next and how that will influence his life and the lives of those he loved and cared about.

Ariah’s journey, his charac
Kari Rhiannon (Moon Magister Reviews)
“When you’re very young and you’re different, you begin to believe that no one has ever been as different as you and that no one has ever felt that difference as keenly as you.”

When I sit down to write I review I usually make a list of likes and dislikes. It should tell you something about how much I like this book that the list, in its entirety looked like this:

“Likes: everything about this book

-Genuinely, everything”

The book begins with Ariah, a young elf, journeying far from his familial hom
Fenriz Angelo
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Many recommended me this book, and although I read some reviews I really didn't know what i was going into until i started the book.

Ariah is a coming of age story settled in a high fantasy world so diverse and enthralling it just sucks you in. We see how our protagonist, Ariah, struggles with his magic and tries to learn how to live with it, also we feel his alienation in a place he doesn't belong to and feel his need of companionship, acceptance and love.

His journey at times is calm at others
Dec 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't really gel for me

The world of Ariah never really came alive for me, nor did the characters solidify. I think there were a few reasons.

First, this book does not really have a plot. It follows Ariah as he wanders through life, but serves mostly as a vehicle for the author to explore various cultures, languages, and sexualities. It starts in a fairly standard fantasy setting and then explores cultural values that include polyamory and same sex relationships. The last 25% takes place mostly
Pam Faste aka Peejakers
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody
Recommended to Pam by: Ed
So, finally here’s my review of this! I'm honestly embarrassed it's taken so long; this book deserves much better. I read it late January to early February 2016 and found it just . . . extraordinary, on so many levels. I had a zillion thoughts & feelings about it, but as often happens with things that affect me deeply or that I feel are important (and this is both), I was overwhelmed & struggled to articulate my experience of the book.

So I set my review aside for a while. Actually, I did that m
Amanda Smith
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantasy novels are so often driven by the conflict, the action-packed quest as a means to adventure—and these stories provide reliably gripping reading. Certainly Ariah contains the seeds of quest and the Us vs. Them type of conflict between an imperial force and a downtrodden people, but these elements are background, not the central focus. Instead, as the title implies, this is a story driven by characters, and the quest is one of self-discovery. As an elf living in the Qin empire, Ariah is pa ...more
RoAnna Sylver
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews, gems
"My mind is indecisive, wretchedly so, but my heart is not so patient."

* * *

Oh my goodness.


I've spent like ten minutes just staring at the screen and mentally breathing into a paper bag because words kind of don't... begin? (A quirk of my Definitely Not Typical brain = the more important something is to me, or the more intense an emotion I experience, the harder it is for me to express it in words. That's what is happening here, so forgive any strange phrasing. *Ariah's words rid me of mine.*
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of high fantasy and uniqueness
Recommended to Mel by: Ed, Liz
ETA: Check out this INTERVIEW with B R Sanders on Just Love Romance...

Sometimes a book just sucks you in and when you resurface from the depths of its pages, from a stunning and vivid inner world, you feel so full and can’t imagine how to start talking about it.

Well, I know this high fantasy deserves the highest rating and it’s made it’s way on my favourite shelf – the fourth book this year that I chose to put there. But otherwise, I’m left a little disoriented
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm not even sure what to say about this book. I loved it, I devoured it in a few days, I couldn't stop thinking about it whenever I wasn't reading it. It's a story about magic and powers and learning to use it without getting lost in it, but in a very passive, contemplative, introspective way that I had never really encountered in a fantasy setting until now. The books is a long, in depth character study about empathy, the good and the bad that it can do to an empath, about building boundaries, ...more
Adrian Fridge
A fantasy novel written in the style of a literary novel, exploring everything from fluid sexuality to polyamory to gender identity.

In terms of expectations, don't expect a traditional romance arc. Ariah falls in love with several people in the course of the story, and whatever sex that happens on page is sparse and not the point. This is more about Ariah growing up and coming to terms with who he is, regardless of what society expects him to be.

I can relate to Ariah being an empath and getting
Sadie Forsythe
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was a little wary picking this book up. Several people I know have read and raved about it. I think I'm a little more critical of such books, for fear I'll get swept away with the fervor and just unthinkingly agree with the masses. But even being extra vigilant of my own feelings about the novel, I can say with certainty that I absolutely loved it.

It was not an immediate love. It took a while to settle in. The book is separated into sections in a way I find disruptive to reading. It presented
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sff, lgbtq, queer, my-e-things
This is an amazing, thought-provoking queer fantasy bildungsroman. I loved reading this. It has a few issues, but I love it for what is and what it's about. It's about people and love and home and acceptance and being different and figuring out what matters in life. It's super queer and it embraces queerness in an amazing way. It's well-written, engaging, thoughtful, and so moving. It's a book that leaves a strong impression. This is definitely one of my favourite books I've read this year and I ...more
Took me a little to get into, but once I did, I couldn't stop reading. Very interesting fantasy centered on relationships, both sexual and not, romantic and not, and how they change and grow and move over the years, all set in an intricate world where elves, though long-lived are more or less an oppressed people. Polyam. Queer. Variety of genders.
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Holy cow! I seriously appreciate talent, even more if such talent is put at the service of the general spreading of queer ideas in an absolutely non preachy way. Preachers are irritating, even when they preach values I approve of.

B.R. Sanders has talent in spades. That’s why I read Ariah in two days, and I went to bed at 6 a.m. to finish it, reading all night. When I woke up I ordered also the paperback ;-).

The book is a kind of coming of age story for Ariah, an elf living in the Qin empire, wh
Sep 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 21st-century apparently everyone else, I ended up here via Foz's review and, while I take some issues with her characterization of the book (it is more like Goblin Emperor than Ancillary Justice, but they still strike me as very different books indeed and recommending this to people who liked those is not a sure bet), I'm glad I came over.
Sanders is doing something fascinating here with the bildungsroman in fantasy. More often, books in fantasy with elements of the bildungsroman are basically the s
Claudie Arseneault
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, lgbt
ARIAH's blurb does not even begin to encompass the captivating experience this novel is, and I mean that in the best way possible. BR Sander's writing is gorgeous, lyrical in a sort of underspoken way I can only admire. And although there is magic and an shitty empire, ARIAH is not an action fantasy story. It is very much character driven, with a marvelous literary undercurrent. ARIAH touches on how our closed ones impact our sense of selves, how cultures can clash without one being right and th ...more
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
So I just read this review of Ariah, and the introduction says everything way better than I ever could:

"Some books are so completely an experience within themselves, so wholly another world — a world that takes up residence beneath your skin, like an inverse tattoo, indelible and sacred — that it’s impossible to fully describe their impact. For me, B.R. Sanders’ Ariah is such a book. I can tell you I cried three times while reading it, twice in a gasping way where I physically shook; and they we
Bee Mills
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
I wouldn't recommend this book to just anyone.

This is the kind of book that you cup your hands around as though it was a fragile, beautiful butterfly. This is the kind of book that means such a lot to the right person that the thought of having to talk about it to someone who doesn't get it is too exhausting to contemplate.

I could go on and on about what a magical, beautiful experience reading this book was for me (I'm sitting in my office on four hours' sleep because I couldn't face the idea of
S.L. Eaves
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this book! The reader follows Ariah's journey as he harnesses and explores his own abilities while also struggling to overcome cultural and social barriers. He's torn between wanting acceptance within his community and his desire to express who he is and find happiness. Despite being a fantasy novel, it's highly relatable in the sense that the characters are well developed and experience very "real world" conflicts. It's a very astute and discerning approach to tackling complex so ...more
Karen Wellsbury
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book aims high, and succeeds on many levels.
It addresses issues of race, gender, sexuality and relationships via Ariah's journey which is both physical and emotional. It's both epic and small, and though I had issues with some of the pacing, and certain parts of the story felt forced overall for me it was a beautifully written, humane and brave book.

Long review to follow on the blog Here
May 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cerebral, sex
I've been lucky enough to read this book in full, and it's going to touch its audience very deeply. We've been needing smart, sexy fantasy like this. Sanders writes compelling personal struggles in a detailed, fantastic setting. The themes of queerness, family, and belonging will speak to a lot of people. I can't wait for more people to get their hands on this so that I can talk to them about how great it is!
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were parts of this book that I really loved, like worth of 5 stars. The discussions around sexuality and relationships, romantic or platonic; the themes of knowing one's self and discovering new people and ways of life, tolerance, self improvement, empathy, family... but some other parts were more on a 3/5 scale and some didn't sat right with me. It's a book containing a lot and I am glad I read it, I loved the exploration of all the different kind of elves and their place around each othe ...more
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Meaning of Belonging

Ariah, at 30 years of age and just barely an adult, leaves home and parents to study with a mentor and learn his gifts. His life with Dirva, his mentor, is interrupted when Dirva receives bad news from his hometown, and invites Ariah to travel with him. What follows is several lifetimes worth of living in which Ariah must unlearn his upbringing and decide how to live in places where he truly does not belong, all while battling questions about sexuality, gender, love, and
When I finished the book I rated it 4.5 stars. Mostly because along the way it felt too much emotionally to bear. Sometimes it felt like I am a psychologist at a session with a patient. There was also one particular a bit sad sub-plot that stroked too close to home and made me depressed. But as the time went and I thought back about the book and the characters I decided to upgrade my rating to full 5 stars. Because at the bottom line it was good story with vibrant imaginative world building; whi ...more
Ariah is an elf that struggles with his identity and his magic. He is also navigating a world where his kind is secons-class at best, and slave-fodder at worst.

I'd call this fantasy of manners because A) there's no plot and B)story is mostly told through relationships Ariah has to others, due to his magic. This became a bit repetitive after 300 pages or so, and the need to cram everything in a book took made it a bit shallow to me. Wonder of exploring becomes a chore if you have to percieve the
J.A. Ironside
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is very much an 'ideas' fantasy and deep character exploration via the medium of fantasy, so if you go into it expecting typical sword and sorcery or epic or any other fantasy sub species, then you're probably going to experience a disconnect.

I really enjoyed it. The voice is beautiful. The world building is exquisite. The characterization is very carefully drawn and developed. It is not a light read. It is not fantasy for entertainment alone's sake but it is an unusual and brilliantly wel
Boundless Book Reviews
3.5 Stars

Ariah, titled by the name of the main character, is the tale of a man and his unique life. Ariah is an elf in a very different world from any I’ve ever read about. Written in the first person point of view, Ariah takes us on the journey of his many life experiences, or perhaps I should say the many lives as he experiences them. This is also a “coming to adulthood” type of story which mixes well with his journey and all the interesting characters he meets along the way.

Ariah is an elf wi
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received this book from the publisher for my honest review.

This book follows Ariah as he discovers and accepts who he is as a person, what his magic is capable of, and that love can evolve as he grows. Not everything has to be the way he was raised to believe is right and wrong. The world in which Ariah is set was well described. I could envision each area Ariah traveled and lived in. The people inhabiting the different lands each had their own unique attributes that allowed them to survive or
« previous 1 3 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Combine editions request 3 18 Sep 03, 2016 05:43PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Minor Mage
  • Witchmark (The Kingston Cycle, #1)
  • The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps (The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, #1)
  • The Hanged Man (The Tarot Sequence, #2)
  • Docile
  • In the Vanishers’ Palace
  • Stormsong (The Kingston Cycle, #2)
  • The Devourers
  • Point of Hopes (Astreiant, #1)
  • Still Waters
  • The Fever King (Feverwake, #1)
  • Swordspoint (Riverside, #1)
  • The Fire's Stone
  • Finna
  • An Act of Detection
  • Clockwork Boys (Clocktaur War, #1)
  • A Taste of Honey (The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, #2)
  • Band Sinister
See similar books…
B R Sanders is a white, genderqueer writer who lives and works in Denver, CO, with their family and two cats. Outside of writing, B has worked as a research psychologist, a labor organizer and a K-12 public education data specialist.

Other names I've published under (the whole B R thing gets tricky--sometimes periods get added, sometimes not, etc):


Other books in the series

Ariah (3 books)
  • A Matter of Circumstance (Ariah, #1.25)
  • In The Company of Strangers (Ariah, #1.5)

Related Articles

This June, as we observe LGBTQ Pride—the annual celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning communities—we wa...
177 likes · 70 comments
“But there was nothing in the world that could turn me away from him. He could have murdered babies and laughed gleefully while he did it, and I would still have killed myself trying to impress him.” 5 likes
“I have remembered things you said long before I ever met you.” 2 likes
More quotes…