Young Arjin is caught in the web of an ancient truce. Barely into his adulthood, he is given as tribute to the mysterious Najadira, part of a race of nigh-immortal horned warriors known as the Ansari. But Arjin is no innocent. Since his childhood, he has been trained for this day, groomed by the temple priests for a singular purpose: not to please the Ansari, but to murderYoung Arjin is caught in the web of an ancient truce. Barely into his adulthood, he is given as tribute to the mysterious Najadira, part of a race of nigh-immortal horned warriors known as the Ansari. But Arjin is no innocent. Since his childhood, he has been trained for this day, groomed by the temple priests for a singular purpose: not to please the Ansari, but to murder him and free his people from the terms of their agreement.Najadira, though, is old and jaded, and unsurprised by Arjin's true nature. Still, he chooses to keep Arjin near to him, finding that the young man's zeal quickens his old blood like few before him ever did. He allows Arjin access into his world, a world of beauty and wonder that had before now been denied. And as Arjin learns more about Najadira, he begins to question his teachings about the Ansari. Ultimately, he must choose between taking a life in the service of his beliefs or abandoning his duty and thereby condemning his soul to the decadence and sin surrounding him....
|Title||:||The Brush Whistler's Song|
|Number of Pages||:||55 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Brush Whistler's Song Reviews
Review posted at The Armchair Reader.Read Augusta Li's guest post about this story, "Where to Draw the Line in Dub-Con Fiction".Arlin has been raised for one purpose, a directive that he has accepted with zealous righteousness, to kill the last remaining Ansari in The Faithful's area. Many centuries ago, The Faithful pursued and almost eradicated the Ansari. Now, Najadira is the only left in the area, who lives amongst the edge of The Faithful by a truce. The Faithful send him a tribute every decade, and every century a special one. Arlin has known his destiny is to be the tribute to the monstrous creature his whole life -- raised to be a tempter and a warrior -- to get close enough to the Ansari male to kill him.His extremely strict life among The Faithful has taught him that all things Vice (anything that gives pleasure or is agains the directive of the Clergy) is monstrous and sullies the soul. The monstrous Ansari, both the race as a whole and Najadira himself, are the representation of Vice and therefore must be eradicated for the good of humanity. Arlin is confused when his time with Najadira is spent learning about the wonders of music, art, and beauty, and questions the morality of murder in the name of the Father and which life he is most suited to -- the easiest, or the most rewarding.Even though I've tagged this as dub-con, I'd like to point out that there was absolutely no discomfort on my part reading the sex scenes, nor would I have even though much of the dubious consent if it weren't for Augusta Li's guest post about the subject. That's a credit to her, because the post relates how she went about writing those scenes and the guidelines she made for herself. Part of the reason I found no problem with them was because I never felt as if either of the characters really wished they weren't taking part in the sex, and they both benefitted from the way the story and those scenes unfolded.The book is quite short for the amount of story we get. I think that a big part of that is because the characters are so well understood and the absence of outside influence allows the characters to devote time to their relationship and the issues that Arlin is exploring. He's been incredibly manipulated. We're shown his POV through third person close, so that we're removed enough to see that Arlin has been fashioned into the point of the spear of the temple priests of The Faithful when he can't see it himself, yet to understand just how stridently his view of the world has been shuttered. I felt for Arlin, who had to face the fact that he'd been taught the opposite of the truth about almost everything -- not only history, but of skewed morality, intent and faith. Even when faced with the ubiquitous truth, his ability to trust has been purposely altered which leads him to guilt and shame that once again encourages blind loyalty.The story is rather philosophical. Najadira's wisdom in the story is actually what I found most romantic, because it showed a respect and care for Arlin that he'd never received. I almost hate to say that I wished for more. While I won't deny that I was at times unbearably curious for details of the history of the world, Ansari people, and the effect the two together could have on world outside their seclusion, the story definitely excludes those things while remaining whole and achieving a successful resolution of the real story, the relationship. However, if the author ever did expand the story, or write another in this world, I would absolutely love to read it.I don't hesitate to recommend this story; it is smartly written and tackles weighty issues successfully in such a short time. I have always enjoyed this author's work in the past, but I think that the craft of this story says great things about the trajectory of her work. I look forward to reading much more of it in the future!
This fantasy novella looks at the issue of race, religion, bigotry, hatred, tolerance and love, and is taken from the view of Arjin. From a young age he has been trained as an assassin with one kill in mind, that of Najadira, the last Ansari. An uneasy truce has been around for centuries after a war in which the ultra religious humans sought to exterminate the Ansari. As part of the truce Naja is sent gifts and Arjin is part of the package. When he arrives at Naja's palace, he discovers that all is not as he was led to believe by the temple priests, and his simple faith is tested by what he sees of Naja.I was immediately drawn into this story by the character of Arjin. He's proud and strong of character, filled with the conviction that what he is doing is right and dreaming of the glory that will come once he performs his task. He's also painfully naive and idealistic in that his faith is that of an unquestioning child and he has been sheltered all his life by the temple. His shock at the explicit, and yet exquisite paintings and sculpture and his horror at discovering his price for being the gift of Naja seemed realistic for a man who has known nothing but puritanical teachings. His gradual acceptance of the art, leading to an appreciation of it as a beautiful object, is one way the author shows us how Arjin begins a painful self-discovery. However, it is in his confused feelings for Naja that most of the character growth is revealed. Although his wavering was at times frustrating, the way his mind darted about searching for meaning in the strange feelings he was experiencing followed by reverting back to the strict religious teachings of his youth, showed us a man who was torn between past and present and I sympathised with him a great deal.Much of the sex in the story could be viewed as dubious consent. Arjin both craves the sensory experiences with Naja and also hates them, appalled that he is taking part in something so condemned by the temple priests. However, the fire of personality spills over into the bedroom and he cannot help being captivated by what is happening to him, only despising himself later for his weakness. For me, there was only one point in the book where Naja overstepped the line during sex and that proves to be a point of catalyst for Arjin, so I forgave him his actions. However, those readers who are uncomfortable with dub-con, may not find this book to their taste.My main concern with the story is that Naja isn't as fully explored as I would have liked. In some ways I can understand this because the focus really is on Arjin and his development as a character. We do get some brief glimpses of Naja and his life in the boredom he feels after living alone so long, or the sorrow he feels over the death of his kin and the delight he now takes in the feisty Arjin, but I couldn't help but get the impression that Naja was a fascinating creature and that there was so much more to him than shown.That concern wasn't enough to spoil my enjoyment of this story which takes as its base a struggle between love and hate, between joy of life and cold religious emptiness. Arjinn proved to be a fascinating character and it's worth reading this story for him alone and I was caught up in the struggles he faces to do what he thinks is right as compared to what actually is right. I also enjoyed much of the imagery and the writing is engaging and interesting. I'd highly recommend this story to anyone who likes fantasy and doesn't mind a bit of dubious consent in the bedroom.
OverallWow. That's about all I can say. In a relatively short span Li creates a world, fills it with color, and brings the two main characters to life. My only complaint is that I want more!ReviewI think what immediately caught my eye with this story is the gorgeous descriptions Li uses in detailing Arjin's new home. Everything is bright and colorful and very nearly jumps off the page. After reading an excerpt, I very much wanted to delve into the decadent writing. And it's absolutely worth it. Not only is the writing a wonderful practice of the art, but the story and characters hold up in comparison.Arjin is a man on a mission and despite Najadira knowing what that mission is, the two bond. Najadira is fighting against Arjin's entire past, while Arjin struggles between what he knows and what he feels. In some ways this reminds me of Every Good Thing by M. Jules Aedin, although much shorter. Arjin's inner conflict is what propels the story and gives plot to these two living together, and the reader will delight in seeing Arjin be swayed by Najadira and then repulsed.This tale explores self-discovery and coming of age, in addition to several religious and cultural concepts, and in doing so can push some sensitive subjects, although I felt everything was handled respectfully. There were some convenient plot elements in this regard, but they weren't off-putting.If I could say one negative (aside from wanting to see more of these two, although their story is quite complete), it's that I felt a giant question was left hanging in the air in regards to Najadira's immortality and Arjin's mortality. The fact that this was never addressed soured (a little) the wonderful conclusion this story draws. In general I found this to be a delightful story that is quickly devoured and leaves a lingering splash of color across the palate.Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog.
Very elementary, lacking in depth of sentiment or theme. Everyone's beautiful, morality is black-and-white, and the "subversion" still exists in prescribed shades of grey. Everything is conveniently, shallowly, and unrealistically cordoned off into neat little boxes.
3.5 starsWhat would you do if everything you believed was called into question? What if you found out you were wrong?Young Arjin is caught in the web of an ancient truce. Barely into his adulthood, he is given as tribute to the mysterious Najadira, part of a race of nigh-immortal horned warriors known as the Ansari. But Arjin is no innocent. Since his childhood, he has been trained for this day, groomed by the temple priests for a singular purpose: not to please the Ansari, but to murder him and free his people from the terms of their agreement.Najadira, though, is old and jaded, and unsurprised by Arjin's true nature. Still, he chooses to keep Arjin near to him, finding that the young man's zeal quickens his old blood like few before him ever did. He allows Arjin access into his world, a world of beauty and wonder that had before now been denied. And as Arjin learns more about Najadira, he begins to question his teachings about the Ansari. Ultimately, he must choose between taking a life in the service of his beliefs or abandoning his duty and thereby condemning his soul to the decadence and sin surrounding him.This is an interesting story about discovering oneself and getting second chances. The entire story revolves around only Arjin and Najadira, as there are no secondary characters to speak of. This book's plot is very interesting. Usually, in most books, the big problem(s) that the characters have to overcome in order to get their happy ever after are big, external, out of the heroes' control that they must fight against. Well in this book, it's a bit different. Arjin has to overcome the false beliefs instilled in him while Najadira has to overcome his ennui. The characters are their own worst and sole enemies, which is an unusual twist. Most books have a hint of that, but that was all this book was about. Now that may not sound very exciting, but Ms. Li does a wonderful job of portraying their inner struggles, particularly Arjin's. I felt connected to the characters and eagerly reading to try and learn more about both of them.Arjin first comes off as a righteous warrior, but then he turns into a bit of a brat. A confused, young, tad naïve brat, but still a brat. He was raised with strict morals, yet the very things he was trained to do go against his faith. There were parts of the story where I just wanted to smack some sense in him and tell him to let his stubbornness go. Najadira is a bit of a mystery. He doesn't entirely make sense for most of the book, until you discover all the reasons he let Arjin stay and why he is who he is now. I just wanted to cry for him, cuddle him, and let him know everything would be okay.The world in this book is very fascinating. There is a clear divide between the humans and the Ansari. The main human religion, the group that trained Arjin, believes that pleasure and anything related to it are immoral, including homosexuality. Meanwhile, the Ansari celebrate all things pleasure related. These differences are very extreme, yet Ms. Li doesn't make them seem too fantastical or unbelievable. In my mind, I saw the human's world as being like the Dark Ages while the Ansari's world was reminiscent of the decadence of the Renaissance at its peak. They are almost exact opposites, which makes the clash of wills and minds between Arjin and Najadira even more interesting.Now, the only problem I had with this book was also with the plot. It seemed to drag on at times and while I like the idea of the book being solely about the two characters coming to terms with themselves and one another, there were parts of the story I was tempted to skip, that gave me a "been there, done that" feeling. I think if the story had been shorter or had some more external forces in play, it would have been more exciting and wouldn't have dragged along as much.All in all, I greatly enjoyed this book. It was a very unusual read and Ms. Li is a wonderful writer. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking to try something new.*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
Overall: a lush exercise in decadence, likely to delight fans of dubcon and/or yaoi fantasy manga.The author bio at the end of this novella lists yaoi manga scripts among Augusta Li's publishing credits, and it's easy to see that aesthetic at work in The Brush Whistler's Song -- with its lithe bodies, long flowing hair, and abundance of jewelry, it's easy to imagine the story drawn in the style of Crimson Spell or Petshop of Horrors. The character types likewise fit the pattern, with brash, untempered Arjin given as a potentially fatal "gift" to mysterious, ancient immortal Naja, who introduces his new plaything to a host of sensual pleasures -- not only sexual ones -- over the youth's persistent religious objections. If you are rolling your eyes at this setup, this isn't the book for you; if on the other hand you're now tempted, you will probably find this an enjoyable take on the theme. Li's prose is clean and vivid, with rich descriptions of the alien hedonism that Arjin struggles to come to terms with.A particular note on the dubcon: the setup for this story is a classic dubious consent/forced seduction scenario; the major conflict is Naja's attempts to convince Arjin to accept pleasure vs. Arjin's attempts to hold fast to his religious stoicism and his resolve to assassinate the "immoral" and "demonic" Naja. Most of the story uses the persuasion/crumbling resistance theme, and Arjin does repeatedly affirm that he plans to stay (for the sake of his mission) even though Naja would be willing to let him go. However there is one scene that broke this pattern in a way that I found off-putting -- (view spoiler)[when Naja insists that it's time for them to have anal sex, Arjin's resistance is much more intense. He says "no" repeatedly, and also "If you do this, I won't forgive you." Naja responds by reaching into Arjin's mind to silence the part of him that still holds to his religious faith -- and instantly that dissolves all of Arjin's resistance. Arjin's memories return to him after the sex is over, which leads to Arjin feeling "violated and sick with shame" and he says explicitly that "Doing that to my mind was worse than taking my body." ...And yet in the next chapter his resolve crumples and he decides he cherishes and wants to remain with Naja after all. I found the return to romance after this incident really uncomfortable; Naja's unwillingness to respect Arjin's limits is an abuse of power that the narrative treats as only a passing misunderstanding. I could have been happy with either a climactic sex scene that didn't veer so hard into mental and physical rape territory OR a less romanticized ending that made it clear how much of Arjin's sense of self has been eroded for him to decide to stay with the man who violated him like that. But taking the middle path leaves me feeling uncomfortably complicit in the romanticization of abuse. (hide spoiler)]The spoiler above left me feeling too unsettled to go higher than three stars for this one; I think it probably would have been four if that scene had been handled in a way that I felt more comfortable with.Disclaimer: Storm Moon Press provided me with a free copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.
Augusta Li is one of those authors who writes stories that I keep an eye out for. Her descriptive storytelling ability is so smooth and almost lyrical; it immediately sweeps this reader into the imaginative worlds she creates and into the lives of her sexy and unique characters.Ever since he can remember, Arjin has been trained to kill one of the remaining members of the Ansari. Raised by monks, Arjin has been programmed to not question their beliefs, and since they think the Ansari is an evil race, Arjin faithfully believes them and does what he’s told to do. He is prepared and given as a ‘gift’ to one of the last Ansari, Naja, and even though Arjin knows he must give into the Ansari’s will, he has every intention of earning Naja’s trust so Arjin can do as he’s been trained to do. Kill him.But to Arjin’s dismay, things don’t always go as planned. Even though he knows he’s supposed to hate Naja, he doesn’t. The problem is Naja doesn’t act as evil as Arjin thought he would be. Instead, Naja welcomes him into his life, offers his knowledge and as well as the freedom for Arjin to be himself. Soon, Arjin knows he’s starting to fall for the beautiful Naja, and starts questioning everything he’s been told and believed in the past. Will Arjin be able to see the truth and realize that his love for Naja is truly a gift, or will his past beliefs keep him from having that once in a lifetime love?For a short story, The Brush Whistler’s Song has a lot of intrigue, passion and content. It’s so well-written it doesn’t read like a short novel. I was immediately swept up into these characters lives and before I knew it, the story ended. Ms. Li has a knack of really getting into the heart and soul of her characters. They are not perfect heroes. They must go through a lot of soul searching and personal growth before they can make a life together. I loved watching Arjin’s character start to question what he’s been programmed to think and truly start recognizing the truth before him.The publisher warns that this book has some dubious consent content between the heroes. I’ve read MANY books and several of them have been tagged as dub con, but in all honesty I didn’t feel uncomfortable with any of the sexual content between Arjin and Naja. It’s true that Arjin is confused, but Naja is very caring and doesn’t do anything to Arjin that he doesn’t want. I personally thought the sex scenes were quite seductive and lovely, but this is only my opinion and if you have any reservations about it, I would encourage you to read more reviews on the book or even ask the author about it, and make a decision that you feel comfortable making.My only gripe about this book is…I wish it had been longer. I loved these two heroes and thoroughly enjoyed watching them fall in love with each other. Ms. Li has gained another die hard reader and she’s officially become one of my ‘must buy’ authors. Highly Recommended!
4 HeartsFirst published at MM Good Book Reviewshttp://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.co...Arjin is being given as a tribute to one of the Ansari, Najadira, as part of a treaty signed hundreds of years before. Arjin has had all the training that the Clergy of the Faithful thought he’d need… to put an end to the Treaty once and for all, and to destroy the creature of decadence and sin. Najadira knows full well what the Faithful’s plans are, but Arjin intrigues him like none before him has. Najadira begins to wear Arjin down and begins to make him question his faith and all he has been taught. But, can Arjin put aside the years of conditioning and teachings to let Najadira live.This is a great short story of the views of decadence and sin, right and wrong, questioned beliefs and giving into what you truly desire. Arjin has been brought up to have only one focus; to kill the Ansari who lives in decadence and vice. He has been trained from an early age to be a tool of the Faithful. But, when he is finally within his goal, the Ansari is not what he has been led to believe. Najadira has seen the many tricks that the Faithful have tried and he knows that the beautiful young man sent to him now is another one. But, this man is different; he thinks for himself and questions, but breaking through the conditioning of the Faithful is difficult to do.I loved this book for its fantasy aspects that allows for people to question what they have been taught without being dragged into the real world conflicts. the way that Arjin had questioned the Faithful even before he arrived at Najadira’s and how Najadira could show just by being himself that not everything that Arjin had been taught was quite true. That looking in a mirror or listening to music isn’t a vice. The way that Arjin likes what happens with Najadira, but feels shame because of the teachings; I also liked how it showed that even the self-righteous would ignore their own teachings to get what they want.Arjin is an interesting character, trying to be obedient, but struggling with the strictures placed on him, having his own longings, but feeling shame for having them… the dubious consent is more consent than dubious because Najadira truly does give Arjin what he really wants, but because of the shame and his teachings Arjin can’t ask for it and doesn’t want to admit that he wants it. Najadira is a great character, as he is just normal, enjoying what life offers but also still mourning the loss of his people. Arjin offers him a distraction that excites him. Yes, Najadira is very longed lived and has horns and a bit of magic, but really you can’t hold that against him.I recommend this to those who love fantasy, questioning beliefs, finding your own discovery of the truth, some hot sex, great characters and a new beginning for Najadira and Anjin.
3.5 HeartsA lovely story that focuses on the damage and poisoning religion brings to one's mind and soul, the harm of the blind beliefs and unquestioning faith, and the struggles of an inquiring mind. All this wrapped in a wonderful package of a fantasy tale and sensual scenes that woe your imagination.I liked it a lot, though the end did leave me wanting for more. It felt quite a bit melancholic for me.
3 Stars.Positively cliche. But an interesting story nevertheless. I oh so wish it was a full novel instead of just a short story, I think it had the opportunity to be something great.