Author: John Tristan
Length: Novel (280pgs)
Publisher: Carina Press (12th August 2013)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4 Hearts
Blurb: My name is Etan, and I am Adorned.
A living piece of art, I exist to please the divine rulers of Kered. With nowhere to turn after my father died, I tried my luck in the capital city. Little did I know how quickly I would be robbed, beaten and forced to sell myself into servitude. But I was lucky enough to gain the attention of Roberd Tallisk, an irascible but intriguing tattoo artist who offered to mark me with enchanted ink for the enjoyment of the nobles. I was given a chance to better my station in life, and I could not refuse.
But the divine rulers want not only the art but the body that bears it. In their company I can rise above the dregs of society and experience a life most only dream of, at the cost of suffering their every desire as a pawn in games of lavish intrigue. Their attention is flattering, but I find I’d rather have Tallisk’s.
Caught between factions, I learn that a revolution is brewing, one that could ruin Kered–and Roberd and myself along with it…
Review: Etan is a young man who is tossed out of his home after his father’s death, travelling to the Kered city is his only hope of survival. But things don’t go his way and he soon finds himself signing himself into servitude to survive, he is brought to the attention of Roberb Tallisk a master tattooist and jumps at the chance to become one of the Adorned. The Blooded are the only ones to ever see an Adorned’s tattoo’s, living art brought to life by enchanted ink, but they also want the body the ink is gracing. With the Blooded, living the high life is intoxicating but Etan begins to be drawn into a harsh reality with mumbling’s of revolution and the secret yearning he has for his master tattooist.
This is an amazing story that draws you into the life of a poor country boy as he makes his way in a world that has been war-torn and is trying to heal. Etan doesn’t really have much of a choice after he is kicked out of the only home he has ever had, even when he gets to the city his luck is abysmal when in a short amount of time he is beaten and robbed. Things begin to look up though when he is offered a helping hand and he makes the choice of selling himself into servitude for 5 years, he might work hard but he will be fed and have a bed. Luck falls his way again when he is offered the chance to become one of the Adorned, few are chosen but they live a life most would beg for. Being with Tallisk has him yearning for something more but his first duty is to his master’s patron.
You know, I could go on for ages describing this story and I still wouldn’t do it justice, so let me just say that we follow Etan’s life as he grows and discovers what he wants, we follow as he is settles in his own skin and finds what he really wants to do. We see as he falls in love and his devastation as revolution comes to the city. There are some amazing descriptions in this story of the tattoo’s and what makes them living art. We are drawn into a world of indulgence as the masses starve but the Blooded rule and none can gainsay them. The characters are all well-rounded and fully fleshed out, adding to this story and making it so much more intriguing. The harrowing scenes as the revolution takes hold and it isn’t just the Blooded who are punished. The love and joy that Etan finds with Tallisk is nearly cut short but miracles happen when you least expect it.
This is a very in-depth book showing us the journey of Etan as he develops from a naive young man to one who discovers his true path in life. Etan’s relationship with Tallisk doesn’t really show itself until near the end of the book, we know there is a connection between the two but it isn’t acted upon until near the end. The situation that Etan finds himself in between two factions, Blooded, and human, trying to please both while keeping himself neutral, is a difficult one and not easily negotiated. While Etan and Tallisk do get their happily ever after it isn’t an easy or painless journey.
I recommend this to those who love harsh fantasy, doing what has to be done, finding your own true worth, discovering love, and fighting to the very end for happiness.