“There is always a way.” Kelnaht, Taruif, and Ianys are meant to be together, but old promises and the decree of the elders prevent them from claiming each other openly at Solstice. Kelnaht can investigate murder and foul play, but he can’t see how he can keep both his lovers without breaking the rules. But if he believes in the guide’s words and trusts his faith in Ma’terra, they will find a way to clear the fog and puddles from their paths.
The Forester Kelnaht, a cloud elf, is a truth seeker caught between love and faith, when a murder reveals an illicit affair between two tree elves he desires more than he can admit. Kelnaht’s former lover Ianys once betrayed him, and the shunned forester Taruif is not allowed to talk to anyone but the guide, their spiritual pathfinder.
Lost and Found A stripling goes missing from the tribe, and heavy rainfall hides all traces of his whereabouts. With days creeping by without a lead, it’s hard to keep the tribe’s spirits up, more so when Kelnaht’s own future depends on the elders. Taruif has been shunned for almost twenty turns, but now that a possible forester’s apprentice is coming of age, the elders consider reducing his sentence. Taruif could be set free.
Full Circle When several children fall ill with more than a summer bug, truth seeker Kelnaht is assigned to investigate. What he finds is deadly and threatens the life of every underage child in the tribe, including Ianys’ daughter Atèn. Then a wounded traveller is found in the forest, left to die after a vicious attack.
Blaine D. Arden is an EPIC Award-winning author of Romantic Speculative Fiction and Suspense who sings her way through life in platform boots.
For most of her sheltered youth, Blaine read, daydreamed, and made up stories. As she grew up, she slowly transitioned from telling them to her favourite doll and acting them out with her Barbies, to putting pen to paper. Her motto is Our difference is our strength, and her stories are often set in worlds where gender fluidity and sexual diversity are accepted as is.
When not writing or reading, Blaine has singing lessons and hopes to be in a band someday.
Full Review: *I received a free ecopy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
First things first, this book is a collection of three different stories, all of which revolve around the same main characters, compiled together into a total of roughly 300 pages. Although each book is available separately, they are also available combined, and that's what this review is for. Now that that has been cleared up...
Wow, the world-building in this book was incredible! Until recently (at the time of this review), I was mostly a fan of urban and not that big on high fantasy, but had I not already been becoming a high fantasy fan, I think this book would've done it. The world was so intricate and detailed, and it was those details that truly made the book what it was. All the characters were elves and they all had different talents/jobs (e.g. the protag was a "truth seeker" which was similar to a detective/cop but with magic and a different legal system) as well as different types (e.g. the protag was also a cloud elf and had wings), they used different vocabulary (e.g. instead of 'teen' they used 'stripling'), they had different ways of doing things (e.g. a special ceremony each year for finding romantic partners), etc. Everything---the society structure, the clothing, the medicinal products, the magic, the character appearances---was taken into account and was all so vivid. And the way it was written, simple yet eloquent with the perfect style and word choices, worked so well. Even I, someone who hasn't had that much experience with these kinds of worlds, only struggled for about the first 6% and then managed to grasp the rest easily and just sink right in. But even in that first 6%, I was still enthralled already. And with each story, I only got more immersed as I learned more and more about how their world and society and culture worked. So I absolutely loved that aspect of the book.
I also found all the mysteries interesting. I was completely intrigued and invested in each one, and they all felt like they were solved and dealt with in a super realistic way, at least in terms of what was realistic in the world of the book. There were clues, searches, interrogations, etc. There was some magic used, but not in a way that felt like cheating.
The characters and relationship dynamics were good too. Honestly I was confused by the blurb, so I'm just going to explain it really quickly. Kelnaht used to be in a relationship with Ianys and is still in love with him, and he also harbors hidden desires for Taruif, but Taruif is not allowed to communicate with anyone because that's his punishment for something he did 20 turns (years?) ago. But then Kelnaht finds out that Ianys and Taruif are having a secret relationship. So poor Kelnaht had old wounds reopened and rubbed raw in the beginning, and I loved getting to see the tension and pain between him and Ianys. My only complaint is that the tension didn't last long at all because the three men settled into their menage rather quickly and easily and there was a case of instalove between Kelnaht and Taruif. However, even once they did all get together, they still had outside obstacles to overcome, like Taruif's punishment putting the other two at risk and a situation involving Ianys possibly losing custody of his daughter. And even though I tend to like seeing more conflict within relationships in books, I also like seeing healthy relationships and being able to say awwwwww sometimes, and their sweet, sexy, supportive relationship did tick off both those boxes.
So overall I truly enjoyed this book and was completely sucked in by the detailed elf society and the intriguing mysteries, and it made me happy to see the characters overcoming their obstacles and having such a sweet relationship!
Recommended For: Anyone who likes M/M/M relationships and who wants to be transported to an entirely different, detailed, intricate elven world.
I grew up reading fantasy books like Piers Anthony, Terry Brooks, and so many other wonderful fantasy authors and so I was thrilled when I got the opportunity to review a book that has two of my favorite genres combined—Fantasy and all male triads. This book was a joy to read, and since it is the complete series put together, I didn’t have to wait for the next book in the series to come out. And another plus in my book is that I didn’t have to wait until the book was half over to get to the first hot sex scene. I also loved the world that Blaine D. Arden has built for his elves. It sucked me in, and I found myself eagerly reading into the early morning to find out what was going to happen next. The characters were all loveable and unique, and yet they all fit together like puzzle pieces in an intricate puzzle. The author had me rooting for Kelnaht and his former lover, Ianys, and his current object of forbidden desire due to his being shunned, Taruif. Each of the stories has different tasks that the three main characters have to work through before they can get to their happily ever after at the end of the third book.
Kelnaht is a truth seeker and is kind of the private detective of their tribe. He’s also a cloud elf and has wings, so he can fly. One of his abilities as a truth seeker is being able to touch a person to find out what they are hiding and glean the truth. Which sounds cool but in reality, instead of watching what happened, Kalnaht actually experiences what happened as the person he is interrogating. He can also use his magical ability to track while communing with the earth. He also has an apprentice that he’s training to take over his position when he retires.
Ianys is a tree elf and a blacksmith. He was the childhood friend and lover of Kelnaht. However, Ianys wanted kids and so was seeing a female elf at the same time, and Kelnaht didn’t know about her until Ianys left to be her mate when she became pregnant, a stipulation from his baby’s momma since she didn’t want to share him or be in a triad. Kelnaht was heartbroken, but there wasn’t anything that he could do. Another of her stipulations was that Ianys had to promise that Kelnaht wouldn’t be able to raise her daughter if anything happened to her. So even when Ianys became available again later in life, they still couldn’t be together because of the promise. So Ianys found another tree elf to fall in love with although they had to keep their love hidden since the tree elf, Taruif is shunned and is serving a 40 moon sentence for killing his mate.
Taruif is a tree elf and forester. He takes care of the forest and keeps it healthy. He can also talk and feel what the plants are feeling. Because of his abilities, he is only shunned instead of banished when he kills his mate (it sounds like a horrible thing to do but it was what the mate wanted. You’ll just have to read it to understand what happened and why). He’s not allowed to talk to anybody but the guide, their spiritual pathfinder. He’s having a secret relationship with Ianys, but he’s also attracted to Kelnaht and has noticed Kelnaht’s attraction to him also.
When a sapling goes missing, Taruif and Ianys secret affair is brought to Kelnaht’s attention to prove that Taruif didn’t have anything to do with the saplings disappearance. And the three of them will be drawn together again to help find him. And as the guide keeps telling Kelnaht, “Your path is muddy, Kelnaht, but don’t think avoiding the puddles will make it easier to travel.” Kelnaht, Taruif, and Ianys are meant to be together, but old promises and elder elves are keeping them from openly claiming each other during the Solstice. But if he believes in the guide’s words and trusts his faith in Ma’terra, they will find a way to clear the fog and puddles from their paths.
I recommend this book to anybody that loves fantasy books about elves and triad relationships.
***I would like to thank the author for the privilege and opportunity of reading this ARC. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***
Book – A Triad in Three Acts (The Complete Forester Trilogy) Author – Blaine D. Arden Star rating - ★★★★★ No. of Pages – 309 Cover – Stunning! POV – 1st person Would I read it again – YES! Genre – LGBT, MMM, Fantasy, Elves, Mystery
** COPY RECEIVED THROUGH NETGALLEY ** Reviewed for Divine Magazine
A Triad in Three Acts lives up to its name. Told in three acts: The Forester, Lost and Found, and Full Circle: the short stories compile into one cohesive novel that tells the story of Kelnaht, the truth seeker, Ianys, the smith, and Taruif, the forester.
I'll be reviewing each act separately, then offering an overall review for the entire book.
Act 1: The Forester Length: 2-21%
In Act 1, we're introduced to Kelnaht as he investigates the death of a cloud elf, Cyine. We started right in the thick of things, learning who Kelnaht was and what his purpose was, within the elf people. We were also gradually and seamlessly introduced to the new world in a way that avoided info-dumps and staged conversations that conveniently gave away what we, the readers, needed to know.
From page 1, I was intrigued by Kelnaht as a character, but also about the world and the way that he and Brem worked together so flawlessly. The Guide added even more intrigue, until we finally learned about the shunned forester, Taruif and Kelnaht's ex-boyfriend, Ianys. There was a whole lot of intrigue going on, some suspicion and uncertainty, but I was never pulled out of the story or out of Kelnaht's world.
The fact that this fantasy story was combined with a murder mystery just made my book-loving heart squee with delight. Those are two of my favourite things and having them together made it perfect. I especially loved the way that Kelnaht and Brem used familiar (to the reader) investigative tools to find the murderer, as well as those that were magical and fantasy-esque, combining the world of what we know with the unknown world of what we were exploring in the story.
“Despite my continuous attempts to free my mind from him, he had claimed a place in my heart that should have never been his, could never be his. He was forbidden. He was shunned.”
Act 2: Lost and Found Length: 21-56%
Wow! I thought Act 1 was good, but this one was just so beautiful.
The chemistry between Taruif, Ianys and Kelnaht is part of that beauty. The way they work together, so seamlessly, and with real affection is one thing. But the fact that they have a fully equal stake in their relationship is what makes it so great; to see that they can be together as all three, or just two together, without anyone getting jealous or being left out, while all having the same level of love and affection for each other.
The mystery of a missing stripling was intriguing and involved, without being complicated or over-the-top. It had the perfect balance of realism, natural progression from one event to the other and mystery. Again, Kelnaht and Brem used familiar and new techniques to track the missing boy, while allowing us enough familiarity to keep us aware of what was happening and why. The added bonus of having so many suspects and no clear motive until well into this Act just made it all the better.
Similarly, the relationship progressed seamlessly and organically, allowing us to further explore the main characters of the story, without abandoning the importance of the mystery.
“We did nothing but step into puddle after puddle, waiting for the one that would be out of our depth. It was more and more difficult to hold on to hope, and yet all I needed to survive another day was to gaze into Taruif's eyes and have Ianys' arms around me. If this was drowning, it wasn't so bad.”
Act 3: Full Circle Length: 56-97%
It seems fitting that after three Acts of superb storytelling, world-building and characterisation that I should finish the book crying. From the serious nature of the mystery, to the after-effects and consequences, to the final Epilogue that was so bittersweet, there was a lot to capture my attention.
The story of the children of their tribe falling sick, so quickly, was both intriguing and sad, because I was able to feel the same helplessness that Kelnaht did, every time he found a lead that went nowhere or another child took ill and they had no answers. When the final revelation came, it was once again so seamlessly drawn into the plot of the overall series that it made complete sense and wasn't one of those solutions that came out of nowhere.
The struggle Ianys faced, between his promise and his daughter, was just horrible to experience. It tore me to pieces to see how it affected all three of them, but also how helpless they all were to find a solution. With Ianys fears for his daughter, the distance made sense but was also clearly detrimental to his mental state, while Kelnaht and Taruif were unable to do anything to help him or even offer the support that should have rightfully been theirs to offer.
There is a lot more I could say, but I don't want to give away any spoilers and I feel that going any deeper into the plot would do that. So I'll leave it at this → I love Kelnaht, Taruif and Ianys equally, I love the guide and Uruf, and the way that I fell so easily into a story that rewarded my interest with laughter, smiles, tears and a welcome to a home I never knew I wanted.
“His whispered words of love filled but half my heart. Something was missing, and I was afraid I might never get it back. We might never get it back. Taruif might not be shedding tears, but the possessive way in which he held me, and the way his heart pounded, were telling enough. He was as scared as I was.”
The world building was incredible. Right from page 1 of Act 1, there was no doubt that this was a close community, a family and that they would all do whatever it took to take care of each other. The characters explorations of their world gave us a view of how their world worked and what it looked like. We never had to doubt or be disorientated within the world, because it was so simply and plainly put across to us.
I loved that there were different kinds of elves, that they had different abilities and talents, as well as different motivations and tasks within their community. It meant that there was always a little something different on the horizon.
The attention to detail was astoundingly brilliant. I didn't even realise it, until later, just how much I'd learned about the characters and the world and the way the community worked, until I stopped to write my review of Act 1 and it hit me. It was so subtly done, so seamless with the telling of the story and the way we were led through the story by the characters and never left to feel detached from it. Normally, 1st person is my least favourite POV, but it really worked here, to draw the reader into the story.
I love that, although all the stories are effectively about the progression of the relationship between Taruif, Ianys and Kelnaht, 70% of the actual plot is not about the relationship. It's a real plot, with a real mystery and a whole host of characters that have nothing to do with the relationship. Each Act had a fully put together, fully individual story that had a complete ending with only a hint of a cliffhanger. They could easily be read individually, but I love that they're all put together, as well.
To top it off, the whole thing comes packaged in stunning covers, an easy-to-read and easy on the eye presentation, along with beautiful scene dividers. Never underestimate the benefit of a great presentation!
From that review: "I read The Forester, the first book in The Tales of the Forest series by Blaine D. Arden when it first came out and promptly fell in love. Drawn to the story by the lush, incredible cover by Simone' and then by the tale of fae, a thwarted love and a triad, other elements in these tales drew me in and made me a complete adoring following of the series. The second book, Lost and Found: Forester Triad Act Two (Tales of the Forest, #2), just cemented that place in my mind and heart. Now I got the final book in the trilogy and in a complete volume. What a joy for me and those who have never read the series. So what were those elements you ask?..."
As the lead character is a truth seeker elf, a sort of detective with added skills, the plot revolves around his investigation of cases. As this is a trilogy of short stories, each ‘act’ follows him on a different case. At the same time his personal relationships allow for examination of the culture within which he lives. This mechanism works well and allows for good character development of the key individuals. Whilst this is true of the central characters the secondary individuals are less well developed. This has the effect of diluting the impact of the cases under investigation in favour of the personal relationships. It is the development of the relationship between the central characters that holds the acts together, but it is clear that this is a collection of stories rather than a single book. The books get longer as they progress through the series, sadly this does not make the plot any richer. The final act is more complex than those that precede it and builds on those that have gone before. It has good flow and draws together loose ends building on tension developed through events. Had this been the basis of the whole book then it would have been a success. Unfortunately, by that point the lack of definition meant that there was less connection with the characters.
The central group consists of a triad of characters each with their own issues. This allows for internal tensions to be offset by the surrounding story. Similarly, the internal bond is inherently subject to different permutations that provide variety and richness to the chemistry. That said, the short story format stifles the development of this and would have been better as a traditional novel format. The progressive lengthening of the acts does allow for more time for examination of the relationship but this is largely focused on tensions that, like plot elements, are handled at a distance. The representation of sex is an example that is frequently introduced but superficially presented.
The individual stories have reasonably good pace and hold the reader’s attention throughout. They are the sort of stories that provide just enough tension to keep you reading but does allow for the book to be picked up and put down without the need for extensive backtracking.
Each of the acts has its own natural ending but allows for the sequel. Similarly the start of each act revises the state of play. The end of the book ties up loose ends and provides hope for a better future. A bit too predictable.
A solid mixture of romance, fantasy and crime/mystery, although none of the ingredients particularly shines. The crime/mystery plots tends towards the dull and depressing. The romance is pretty shallow since very little relationship development occurs on page (mostly sex/advance due to external influence, not gradually growing intimacy or characters getting to know each other). The fantasy element is not very original. Gained some points due to finishing strong (Act III was the best one).
The blurb was confusing but I decided to give this book the benefit of the doubt because some authors just aren’t great at writing blurbs. Sadly, this is still a DNF for me. There’s an over abundance of commas and it makes the book very hard to read.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A fantasy featuring elves, bringing us three mysteries in need of solving, as well as the touching and hot story of three men finding a way to share their love and lives despite the odds being stacked against them; what’s not to love? Especially when all of that comes in the form of a well written, perfectly balanced, not overly angsty, but very gripping, sexy, and touching tale.
While the three separate stories in this trilogy all bring their own mystery for Kelnath to solve, the overriding arc is the tale of how he, Taruif, and Lanys eventually end up being able to live and love openly despite all the obstacles in their way. When the story starts Taruif has been shunned by his community and lives in public isolation, with Kelnath longing for him from afar. Lanys used to be Kelnath’s lover until trust was betrayed. Now all the three men want is to claim each other and live out their lives together, as a triad, but between Taruif’s shunning and the promise Lanys made to his now deceased wife, such a union appears impossible.
I was impressed with the world building in this book, it felt spot-on. We learn about elves—both of the flying and the non-flying variety—and the society they live in, without ever having to work our way through an information-dump. We get the facts as we need them, always in the context of the story and woven into the narrative. And the picture painted is one of a world I slowly fell in love with. Not because it appeared to be a perfect world, but because it felt like a place where people wanted to do what was best for all rather than just look after selfish interests.
The same is true for the characters; we get to know them better as the stories unfold and it is clear that while all three of them have good hearts and the best intentions, none of them are perfect. Which of course only serves to make it very easy to relate to them and to get lost in their tale. Since the story is told from Kelnath’s perspective we end up knowing him better than the other two. And while I completely get why the story was told in this way I am kinda sorry I didn’t get to spend at least some time in the head of the other two. I would have loved a better insight into Taruif’s state of mind while he was shunned, or into Lanys’s, no doubt very confused, feelings when his daughter falls ill.
I was sorry when I reached the end of the third story. Not because the story felt unfinished or because the ending didn’t satisfy, quite the opposite in fact. I’d gotten very comfortable in the company of these elves and could happily have spent more time with them. But, it seems to me there’s scope for more stories set in this universe, and I for one hope those tales will be told too. In the meantime all that remains for me to say is that if you enjoy fantasies you really ought to pick up your own copy of this book.
A wonderful mix of fantasy, magic and mystery with characters to fall in love with.
Three books in one, The Forester Trilogy includes the tales The Forester, Lost and Found and Full Circle. I'm glad I got to read them all at once, because each flowed into the other and made a much more satisfying read.
Kelnaht is a the truth seeker of his tribe, much like a modern day detective or investigator, but has natural magical talents that help him get to the truth of the matter. Whether it is murder, missing children or mysterious illnesses, Kelnaht is the elf who deals with these things.
Kelnaht is still in love with his previous partner, Ianys and is shocked and dismayed when he discovers the elf is now in a relationship with the forester, Taruif, an elf who has been shunned for decades. No one may utter his name and no one may speak to him except for the Guide, the elves' spiritual leader and advisor. Kelnaht is torn between keeping their secret and wanting to be included in it, for he has long desired Taruif from afar.
Invited to join their relationship as a triad, Kelnaht accepts, but due to the elders' restrictions, they cannot openly be together due to the shunning. Can the three men find happiness or is their love doomed to failure before it has a chance to grow?
The entire book is told through Kelnaht's point of view, which make sense with him being a truth-seeker, but I would have liked to get a glimpse into Taruif's and Ianys' minds too, even if only for a brief while.
Part magical adventure, part mystery, part love story, the book has a good balance between plot and romance. The prose is as lush as the forest surrounding the elves and sweeps you away on a fantastical adventure.
The love scenes, while well written, jarred me out of the story in places when the author used modern day expressions or slang. It didn't seem to fit with the fantasy/faerie tale feel of the rest of the book. Having an elf in a fantasy world use the expression 'jack off' just didn't seem to fit. But maybe that's just me :)
I've not read that many books with a poly or triad relationship, but it seemed to work well here and it was common in the elvish culture in the book. I loved the fact that Kelnaht was a cloud elf because he had wings and could fly, while Taruif was a tree elf and knew more of earth magics. Ianys was a blacksmith and each character had their own different skills and personalities which suited each. There is little jealousy in their relationship, all three know they are wanted
If you like fantasy tales with elves, magic and a love story that sweeps you in, this could be the book for you.
I really liked this book, but it took me a while to get into the story. The characters were generally very likeable, although I don't believe I ever truly warmed up to the blacksmith. He just didn't work for me, but the others did. The world was very interesting, and I enjoyed the plot and the obstacles thrown in their way. Nice little bite of fantasy, and very well written. Quite enjoyed it.
The mix of fantasy, magic and mystery is nice and well mixed so far.
Kelnaht is a truth seeker elf. When a female elf of their tribe is found dead he's sent to investigate the murder. During his investigation he has to interact with Ianys, his ex-boyfriend, and Taruif, a shunned elf who he has had a thing for for ages. Ianys and Taruif are together, secretly, and Kelnaht is torn between jealousy and lust for both men.
There's also Kelnaht's apprentice, some old wise guide elf and the elders. While they've already found a suspect for the murder the whole thing remains a mystery so far.
I am not very invested in the characters or the mystery surrounding the dead woman.
The story is being told by Kelnaht, single POV. Kelnaht is alright. He's very subdued though. Polite. Afraid of being found out (his lusting for the shunned elf...)
When Ianys comes to speak with Kelnaht about the murder investigation, Kelnaht is still jealous and mad at him which for some reason then leads to them making out and having sex. There is no conversation, no actual talking. They just take what they want. Without any mention of Taruif.
Even if they used to be together years ago, having them now declare their love for one another again without even mentioning Ianys new "partner" felt a lot like cheating.
Not to mention that I didn't like how Ianys left Kelnaht for a woman he got pregnant while they were a couple all those years ago. He'd lied and cheated AND left him. And he promised his dead wife then that he would not let Kelnaht come near their child. Kind of ridiculous if you ask me. So, sue me if I don't believe that Ianys really loves Kelnaht. And he apparently didn't give shit about Taruif. So, yeah, I'm not really a big fan of any of them :(
The next day Ianys and Taruif invite Kelnaht to join their bed (we are at around 17%) - I realized that this book doesn't do much for me, no matter how much I want to like it :(
The guys's interactions aren't exciting. They hardly speak; just go for it. It's all very robotic and emotionless (in my eyes).
Kelnaht is a truth-seeker, basically a detective with the magical ability to reach inside a person and see their memories. Ianys is his ex-partner, a blacksmith who left Kelnaht in order to be with his vowed wife and start a family. Taruif is a shunned Forester, a man who can manipulate plants but because of a tragedy, he has been sentenced to live alone and only speak with the village guide. These three find an unlikely love in each other, but their love affair is illicit. Ianys stands to lose his daughter and Kelnaht his status and job if they are found out. So begins a tale of love and secret meetings, woven with a helping of mysteries and murders for Kelnaht to solve.
I loved this book so much that it gave me a book hangover for a full week afterwards. I just wanted to go on and on living in the world of The Forester. Blaine D. Arden has a built a fantasy village so rich and detailed I could see it in my mind's eye perfectly--and more importantly, I would love to live there. The village is not only accepting of poly relationships and same-sex unions, but has completely normalized them. It's refreshing to read a book so freed from the constraints of our world. The romance between Kelnaht, Ianys and Taruif left me with such a warm fuzzy feeling, but this book is not mere fluff. Kelnaht has a real responsibility to keep his village safe from dangers inside and out, and his cases help bring a real plot to the book besides the "forbidden love" drama. Each book has its own case unfold, while the triad figure out each new turn in their relationship. Everything was perfectly balanced to keep me glued to the page and I couldn't put it down.
Had a hard time setting my reader down the series is so well written that the story line never stops or gets confusing. To be honest I fell in love with the book from the beginning to the end. The author show how to weave many stores lines together so perfectly and not loose the reader and not to many authors has this ability. Highly recommend this series