Book Review: A Triad in Three Acts, by Blaine D. Arden

Book Review: A Triad in Three Acts, by Blaine D. Arden

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Book Review: A Triad in Three Acts, by Blaine D. Arden

Book Info

Book Series
The Forester Trilogy 1-3, Complete
About the Author
Blaine D. Arden is a purple-haired, forty-something author of queer romance mixed with fantasy, mystery, and magic who sings her way through life in platform boots.

Born and raised in Zutphen, the Netherlands, Blaine spent many hours of her sheltered youth reading, day dreaming, making up stories and acting them out with her Barbies. After seeing the film “An Early Frost” as a teen in the mid-eighties, an idealistic Blaine wanted to do away with the negativity surrounding homosexuality and strove to show the world how beautiful love between men could be. Our difference is our strength, is Blaine’s motto, 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. Supporting Blaine in pursuing her dreams and all matters regarding household, sons, and cairn terrier, is her long-suffering husband for over twenty years.

Blaine is an EPIC Award winning author and has been published by Storm Moon Press, Less Than Three Press, and Wilde City Press. Her scifi romance “Aliens, Smith and Jones” received an Honourable Mention in the Best Gay Sci-Fi/Fantasy category of the Rainbow Awards 2012.

Blaine is fine with being called he/she/they, but prefers Mx Arden when addressed formally.
Publisher
Publication Date
August 15, 2016
Available Formats
mobi, epub
Pages
309
ISBN
978-9082296693
ASIN
B01JPCNVAO
"Your Path is muddy, Kelnaht, but don't think avoiding the puddles will make it easier to travel."
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.

The guide mentioned puddles, but I envisioned lakes, deep treacherous lakes, and I was drowning.
Then 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.

“I have great responsibilities, but my path ahead is as foggy and blurred as the path behind me.”
Later, 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.

"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.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Overall 
 
5.0  (1)
Overall 
 
5.0

Brilliantly Touching Fantasy Series

 Cover – Stunning!
 POV – 1st person
 Would I read it again – YES!
 Genre – LGBT, MMM, Fantasy, Elves, Mystery

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.

 ~

 Favourite Quote

 “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.

 ~

 Favourite Quote

 “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.

 ~

 Favourite Quote

 “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.”

~

Overall

 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!

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