Read The Adorned by John Tristan Online


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 taMy 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…...

Title : The Adorned
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781426895968
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 280 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Adorned Reviews

  • Julio Genao
    2019-02-11 21:15

    Wanted to cool off for a day before writing a review—but I am not feeling charitable, and what's wrong with this book tonight will still be wrong with it tomorrow.Essentially:The first 75 percent of this is great. The prose is wonderful, the pace measured, the story balanced, the plot engaging.Then the fucking wheels fall off the bus.The rest of this is spoilers; my irritation concerns things that will ruin the book for most prospective readers.(view spoiler)[I'm so angry, I am breaking with propriety and speaking directly to the author:Dude. You don't kill the villain off-page, set the MC on fire, and split up the 'ship for a year to make a clever pun on the polarity of beautiful adornment in slavery and horrible disfigurement in freedom.Dafuq is wrong with you, man?You're supposed to be telling a story.You wanna tell jokes? Go work for Coco. (hide spoiler)]WAITAMINUTE I'M NOT FINISHED(view spoiler)[Whoever edited this didn't do a good job.Oi! Editor—(Oh, yes. I am directly addressing you as well, like a bastard)—You should have said no.You should have said no three different times.But you didn't.Because you suck.Thus: a lovely story fell into the abyss on your watch.Your. Watch.And you missed two repetitions in the first third, you charlatan.*rude gesture* (hide spoiler)]First 75 percent: five stars.Last 25 percent: go fuck yourself.Average: bite me.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
    2019-01-31 18:19

    **Price drop to $0.99 at Amazon US, Kobo, and B&N! 6/29/14! ! 6/29/14! Don't miss it! Also makes a super cheap audiobook: $0.99 ebook + $2.99 audiobook with whispersync****4.5 stars**Wow, was this story gorgeous or what!? The writing here just blew me out of the water. My first book by this author and it certainly won't be my last.I sometimes have a difficult time getting into fantasy books. I often feel like these worlds are thrust upon me and I feel lost for the majority of the story. That was not the case here. I had no trouble following along, and I quickly became mesmerized by the story. I think that is a good word for it, "mesmerizing." Honestly, this story was completely fascinating and enchanting. I think the strengths of this book lie in the storytelling. The words were rich and full of character, and the journey of Etan really came to life. The concept of the "Adorned" was one that grabbed me immediately. Basically, these Adorned are tattooed, living canvases used in this fantasy world to amuse and delight the elite. Etan's journey to becoming an Adorned and his experiences being one were the highlight of this book. Etan's life-story took over my life yesterday- I was fascinated by every nuance, all thanks to John Tristan's incredible writing. My one issue with this book was the romance. It developed at a glacial pace and was so subtle that I almost missed it. When the romantic aspect of the book finally came to fruition, it wasn't as... fulfilling as I would have liked. The love didn't radiate from the pages, I'll say. I didn't quite get why these characters loved each other, other than circumstance. Tallisk is a tough nut to crack and I didn't feel as connected to him as I would have liked. Despite my issue with the romantic parts of this book, the phenomenal storytelling abilities of John Tristan made this book incredibly enjoyable and memorable. **Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

  • Monique ~ Sinfully
    2019-02-03 21:57

    This is not my normal type of book… yet I found it compelling reading, this is an excellent piece of fiction, the writing sublime and the prose just... So. Damn. Beautiful. I found the whole experience enchanting, I was transported into a fantasy world that is brought to life by the amazing words and characterisation of John Tristan. The narrator is Etan and this is his story and when we first meet him I felt all of his hopelessness and despair, his narration was perfunctory… void of emotion and feeling, formal and respectful, resigned to his fate as a penniless orphan after the creditors stripped his house bare and threw him out on the streets after the death of his father.Etan is a country boy, an illness in childhood leaving him small and frail, he is gentle in nature, a true innocent, and certainly not used to the oppression, filth and stench of the city… neither is he street wise, and before long he is beaten, robbed and left bleeding. Saved by Gren, the rickshaw driver of Maxen Udred a bond broker… he at last has a sliver of hope with which to cling to, that is If selling yourself as an indentured servant for five years is hope! Etan is educated and can read and write, a rare talent but not one that is needed in servitude, neither does he have the build for an apprenticeship… he is however beautiful and when Maxen takes him to Roberd Tallisk a tattoo-master he see’s the allure immediately and so Etan becomes a bondservant to Tallisk, an Adorned, a tattooed courtier and a canvas for the living piece of art displaying the intricate designs and talents of his master.My nerves had carried me for too long. I had lived on an edge, these past few weeks. I had stepped off that edge, now, landing on one side or the other, and marked my choice in a hasty scrawl of ink. That choice, I knew, would be recorded on me forever. Whatever happened here in Tallisk’s household would be indelibly inscribed upon my skinThe cordial acceptance and polite manner of Etan’s narration and his lack of emotion, rather than distance him from me made me yearn to hug him… I just wanted to see his face light up with a smile. Initially we see him silently allow those around him to take advantage, however I wanted him to get mad and wanted him to stand up for himself but he remains acquiescent… as time moves on and the story unfolds we do start to see some of that fire in his belly, that part of him that no longer wants to live in the shadows, but it is Etan's gentle soul and disposition that sets him apart as a character, he is a beautiful person inside and out and that touches the lives of those around him, as well as carving out a huge slice of my own heart!Suddenly, I found that my face was wet with tears. They dripped down my chin and into the water. I lifted my hand to my face, touching my wet cheek wonderingly. The tears had refused to come when my father had died, when I’d been turned out of the house I was born in. Now they rolled down my cheeks in slow torrents, and I could not quite tell what I was crying for.The introduction of Tallick had my heart starting to race in anticipation of more… he is a man of very few words and barely acknowledges Etan, there is an underlying current of sexual tension between them, very subtle as this book is not a sex fest and the what sex there is, is short and quickly described and I wasn’t feeling a whole lot of passion from it, but this is more about the romance which is a slow build and actually a small part of this book. Even though Etan is blind to the fact that Tallick likes him, I blame it on his innocence, we can clearly see Tallick’s inner turmoil, his battle with his stubborn pride and the hurt he feels at Etan’s displays and other services. Etan has no idea the affect he has on others, to him it is the art that adorns him that people are drawn to, he also see’s himself as worthless and doesn’t allow himself to touch on what is really in his heart. I get the impression as his mother died when he was young and growing up with his father, their love was based more on respect rather than affection.We only have Etan’s view of this world we are visiting and having lived his life in the country his knowledge of the wars that have ravaged the land and those fractions involved is limited and sketchy at best, the politics and battles are all fairy tales… So as he is thrown into this world of the blooded, sword nobles, counts, princesses, where beauty is a thing to behold and adored... and as he becomes enlightened, so are we. I was captivated watching this world unfold through the eyes of a nineteen year old boy and I liked that we are not bombarded with facts and lists of information but rather snippets to build a big enough picture to see it as Etan does and in my minds eye I saw it all, the decadence, opulence and grandeur of the Palaces and Manors, the jewels, colour and splendour of it all laid out beautifully by the descriptive prose of John Tristan and his writing is pure gold… but there is also another other side to this tale, and that world is filled with chaos, poverty, filth and the stench of the city inhabited by those fallen victim to the indulgences and disregard of the rich and powerful.The Adornment, which is really the heart of the book and what it revolves around, the story behind it, the fact it sustains Tallick and breaths life into his very soul and how it becomes a living piece of art... a spectacle and beauty created to be gazed upon and adored by those privileged was all just fascinating… I loved it! But beauty is only skin deep and that part of this book was where the emotion really came into play and what we see is raw, heart-breaking and ugly, yet still so very beautiful.For the most part this book is outstanding! and I really want to give it 5 stars but the one thing that let it down for me was I wanted more time between Etan and Tallick, more time to see their relationship develop, to really see, feel and hear the emotion between them, I was yearning and desperate for it… pftt, even the lack of sex didn’t bother me, I just wanted an extra couple of chapters where they explore what is in their hearts. Despite that I still loved this book and will definitely be reading more from Mr John Tristan, who’s writing alone should be worshiped!

  • Тамрико
    2019-02-18 18:14

    Possible spoilers.There isn't much going on for the the first 60 or so percent. Not much of m/m romance, not much sex (save for the tiniest scene of 3-4 paragraphs), not much angst, love, hate or any kind of feelings for that matter. It's mostly every day life of a tattoo master, his servants and his living art pieces, the outings, feasts, bit of politics mixed in. However, it was a fascinating tale, unusual, beautiful, exotic, almost hypnotizing. Until the last 20% kicked in. And that's where it turned truly ugly. Sure, that's real life for you. You have overindulging elite and poor, starving masses. Want to guess the ending?Somehow, this fascinating fairy-tale fantasy slash French revolution did not impress me. (view spoiler)[After the grandeur of the story, the painstaking details in description and the development of it, the ending feels (to me at least) almost as a brush off. "yep, they are damaged, but they are OK. move along now, there is nothing to see". (hide spoiler)]A star and a half off, but have no choice but to round it up to four, the book doesn't deserve 3 stars rounded down. UPDATE GR keeps knocking a star off for some reason down to three no matter how many times I correct it. I am going to take a hint and hope GR won't lower it to two next time.

  • Cole Riann
    2019-02-04 14:13

    Review posted at The Armchair Reader.I got this book for review on a whim, and I am so happy that I did because it completely took over my life yesterday. I started reading it in the early morning and I couldn't put it down -- I read all day. And to be honest I was a little worried after I requested it because I had previously read a book by John Tristan that I DNF'ed and I think it might have been his first book. I just couldn't get into the writing and I kinda liked it but also didn't. So I couldn't believe that I had none of the same issues with this book that I did with that earlier book. And if this author keeps writing books like this then I'll definitely stick around and keep reading!When his father dies with a multitude of debts, Etan is forced to sell his home and all his belongings and travel to the capital city of Kered to look for work. His only skills are his ability to read and write, and while those are rare abilities for a country boy, with no money to garner an apprenticeship, his only choice is manual labor, something he's unable to do because of a sickness as a child that stunted his growth. He's pale and petite, and saved by a man in a rickshaw when beaten in the street. The man offers to send him to a place to stay, where he learns after a few days is a home for indentured servants. His only option thereafter is to sign away his rights and work for this man in trade for a place to stay and food to eat.When the man sees Etan without bruises and washes he almost doesn't recognize him, but he has an even better idea of work for him. Etan is introduced to Roberd Tallisk, a tattoo artist whose patron is the head of the Council, run by the Blooded, the ruling class of Kered society who possess magic believed descended from the gods themselves. There, Etan's slave bond is bartered between the two men when Tallisk agrees to take Etan on as his new work of art, an Adorned. The Adorned have always mystified those of the lower classes. They're those of beauty who are tattooed by master tattoo artists with enchanted ink to become living works of art for the pleasure of the Blooded. Their art is not allowed to be seen by those who aren't Blooded or the artist. And no one else but the tattoo artists are allowed to wear ink. Etan's new life seems wonderful and exciting. He's protected now for life with gifts of riches from patrons and by the ink he wears on his skin. But there is also an aspect of being Adorned that he never expected. He soon learns the hard price to pay when he starts to mingle with the elite of Keren society and exactly what they expect from him. And he finds himself a pawn, a sort of Mata Hari in the political play between two warring factions for the future of the Keren society.There are two things that I love most about this story and they go behind the tattoo art (which is super cool) and a lot of the other little details that made this story come alive for me. First is the epic quality of the story. We really get to see Etan's life played out over a lot of major changes in his life that also herald major changes for the whole world. We meet Etan when he's young, still living at home with his father and before he's had to completely depend on himself and we get to see how he changes over time. I typically prefer characters who are alive, present and very decisive about their lives in fiction, especially in fantasy worlds. Etan is alive and present, certainly, but he's also like a piece of detritus in a massive current once he makes it to the city. He's buffered on all sides by those making choices for him. I can't see him acting any other way certainly, as someone who has very little choices, but he's also very internal and cautious. I didn't see those parts of his personality changing until much later because it was such a slow change, but Etan grows as the world changes around him and as he needs to take more of his own care for himself.The second thing I really loved was the cast of characters. We meet a multitude of secondary characters, most of whom are a good sort, and a faction of those who are good people who make some bad choices. As the world in the story changes, it reveals the best and worst of the characters and each of them are made to understand their regrets, in particular Isadel and Lord Haqan Loren. All of them, however, are well rounded characters that we get to know rather well. And this was done sometimes in a rather subtle fashion. The writing requires the reader to be present and active in piecing the world together and in drawing connections, and I can't tell you how often I find myself wishing for writing like that.You might not find this story to be perfect, or it might not impact you as much as it did me. Part of how you feel about it, in the end, will depend on what you like most in your romance books. The relationship between Etan and Tallisk is very slow to build and it takes almost the full length of the novel for the two to really come together. The bulk of the story is rather Etan's journey and finding himself, someone who still feels like a country boy, realizing that he's a good person with heart amid vultures who would pick at him until there's nothing left. He has to realize what he really wants out of life, if it is security or love and if those things are separate.I finished the book wanting more, sad that the story ended and hoping there was a way a sequel could be written, lol. I don't think that's really possible. But I know now that I'll definitely keep my eye on book by John Tristan and I hope that it isn't too long from now that I find another book that I get so lost in.

  • Natasha
    2019-02-15 16:57

    4.75 StarsSurprisingly spoiler FREE!Since there are a lot of great reviews out there for this book and I generally agree, I'll keep this short and sweet.What a beautiful, interesting world Tristan created.Obviously amazing writing from an author I've never heard of before.I don't think the blurb does this book justice. It's so much more. When you hear "tattooist" or "tattoo artist" you might immediately associate it with something lesser than what tattooists are in this book.I really appreciated that the book didn't have one 'super villain'. Some characters made bad decisions but I didn't think anyone was necessarily bad. The true villain in this book was society as a whole which is rather refreshing in the M/M genre.Some serious sexual tension between our MCs here. It was driving me nuts, in the best way possible.What a bittersweet ending. I'm left feeling happyish but with an overall sadness for their loss.I thought perhaps the book could've ended one chapter sooner.. exactly one chapter sooner. The book read incredibly well for me. I thought overall the pace was fantastic and I was never bored.Fantastic, unique read. Glad I took the time.

  • Shelley
    2019-01-20 19:02

    The first thing that comes to mind when I think back over this book is the word, admirable.I can’t begin to tell you how much I admire this book: the cover, the premise and the writing with its beautiful descriptive prose is by no means a facet to be disregarded.The Adorned comes alive when the author describes the artistry in movement, colour and design on a canvas of skin. I love the idea of a tattoo being living art all aided by the infusion of life’s blood …I can see it, the white crest of a wave crashing, the flicker of a snakes tongue, the opening of a rose …so vivid and awesome on the perfect skin of an Adorned. If this kind of fantastical artistry was around today I would be prepared to sell a little of my own soul for the gift of adornment.Now it is a complete mystery to me as to why I struggled with this novel. All I could do is the inarticulate hand waving thing and hopefully wait for something to trigger my understanding and say: ‘This, this is why I felt so disconnected’. I haven’t quite figured it out, but I have an idea.I think the problem is that I didn’t connect with Etan, our narrator. The story is told solely from Etan’s POV: he is young, inexperienced, a lovely creature, extremely naïve and his inherent goodness is his only flaw. I think Etan’s singular POV was insufficient not only in delivering a thorough understanding of his world and the dynamic forces of the individuals around him, but of sharing his own emotions. Even his relationship/feelings for Tallisk is unclear to me for a long while. I interpreted most of his reactions as fear, not lust or wanting or even love … and it takes a large portion of the book to get to that part.The story is slow moving, very slow. There is a lot of detail on the (to me) mundane aspects of the plot, and not enough detail on this post war world where animosity grows to the point of anarchy. It all comes as quite the surprise to be honest – but at that point I was still so unattached that I remained unaffected.I could say that it is a sweet love story and I wouldn’t be lying. I could say that it’s beautiful and I wouldn’t be lying either. I just …failed at grasping that very important element that makes a novel (as stunningly scripted as this) sing for me. Is it a, me-not-you rating? Maybe, but I don’t think so.I’ll recommend it for those who appreciate art and are in the mood for pretty prose and a slow sweet romance.

  • MLE
    2019-02-04 20:21

    I received this story as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.This was an interesting, and well written story. So many of the ideas that formed the world and it’s people seemed complex and well drawn, but I felt like I was dropped into the middle of the story without any sort of idea of what was going on. It felt like book 3 or 4 of a series. The author kept referring to people, and places like I should know who they are and how they related to each other and to the story as a whole. I felt lost, and confused, and that was a shame because I wanted to be more involved, and I wanted to know what was going on. I don’t mind a bit of mystery, but there was too much I didn’t know in this story, and it frustrated me. I don’t see any indication that this is part of a larger world, but if I am wrong about this (and I’d love to be wrong about this) I’d like to know.

  • Sunny
    2019-02-11 21:11

    A beautiful story. I like how we learned about this world gradually, given information only as we need it. The introduction of the Adorned, the Sword and the Blood was subtly done, without an encyclopedia entry. With the characters, though, this type of gradual reveal took too long for me. I got tired of trying to interpret the small hints we were given of their thoughts and feelings. It would have been nice for things to be a bit more clear sooner than they were.The story is told from Etan's POV, but I didn't get a good sense of him in the first half of the story. With his motivations mostly hidden from me, I didn't connect with him as much as I would have liked. When Etan agreed to (view spoiler)[give up his virginity to the count (hide spoiler)] without hesitation, I wanted to know what he thought or how he felt about it. We get a little insight later on, but at that moment, I was in the dark. I did get a better sense of Tallisk's feelings, but even those are kept hidden for the most part. I missed experiencing the characters' emotions and I wanted more romance. I also thought keeping most of the tattoo sessions off page was a lost opportunity to show something develop between Etan and Tallisk. By the second half of the story, though, we get to know them better and my enjoyment rose sharply. Their yearning for each other became more clear, but it was a restrained, almost hesitant desire. (Except when they had sex...not restrained then.) Outside of the bedroom, though, you won't find intense UST here. When they finally admit their love for each other, it was sweet, but almost anticlimactic. I never got a sense of why they were attracted to each other, just that they were. Later on, when tragedy struck, I was glad for the emotional distance otherwise I would have been a sobbing mess instead of just misty eyed.Overall, a beautiful love story, slowly told but never boring. Frustrating at times, but never boring.Side notes:The pervy part of me missed reading graphic sex scenes. The scene where Etan (view spoiler)[loses his virginity, (hide spoiler)] while oddly intriguing, was just a bit creepy. And we really only get one on page sex scene between Etan and Tallisk. Also, any concern for oddly named boy parts can be laid to rest, they were only alluded to, never directly mentioned. :(ETC: punctuation

  • Elizabetta
    2019-01-24 14:52

    I’ve been looking forward to reading another fantasy work by this author after having read and enjoyed his Forest of Glass some time ago. I remember that work for its richly descriptive writing and world building and “The Adorned,” doesn’t disappoint. The story is laid down like a carefully crafted painting as brush stroke by brush stroke, this other world is revealed. Vivid and haunting, more than anything, it is the storytelling that sets it apart.“When we do our work well, no one sees our bodies as bared flesh. We are moving art.”The Adorned are youths chosen for their flawless, physical beauty. They are blank canvases for master tattoo artists, known for their exquisite and highly sought after designs. Those lucky enough to become indentured to these masters can also enter into a patronage by members of the ruling class, the Blooded. This mysterious clan, set apart and rumored to have descended from the gods, has an insatiable appreciation for beauty, and their pursuit of decadent pleasure and debauchery can make the reputation of an Adorned. An Adorned is contracted by these wealthy patrons for display-- as well as other carnal services-- as their body art progresses. There is a mysterious something else that sets their tattoos apart and distinguishes them as ‘adorned’ but the story must be read to discover what that is. This is an outrageously rarified world these tattooed youths move in. And it’s risky stuff, considering the troubled times where many in the populace eke out meager subsistence and often go hungry-- in fact, the story has a feeling of the last days of Marie Antoinette’s French court.Nineteen-year-old Etan Dairan has nothing left in the world. His father has suddenly died and left debts that have eaten up Etan’s legacy. He has been softly reared and well educated but his options are limited and he finds himself on the street. Luckily for Etan, he comes to the notice of Roberd guild-Meret Tallisk, perhaps the finest tattoo-master in the country. Etan, becomes Etan writ-Tallisk, and over the course of a five-year indenture, turns his body over to the artist’s incredible designs… to become Adorned.“I was like a midnight garden, my Adornments almost glowing green… here and there a barely-opening blossom in blue…”Etan earns his keep by display contracts for the Blooded and in particular, Count Helsin Karan, a primary patron. “There were men in the fine clothes of the Blooded and their companions, and with them were the Adorned, flashes of moving color in the dark crowd… the men laughed, loosened by wine, and their hands were freer with the Adorned than they would have been with ladies… I felt suddenly like a minnow in a pond of sharks, their toothy grins all turned on me… I saw the Count at last, and he—the sleekest, swiftest shark in the pond—saw me.”Even though Etan can also be contracted for sex there is very little of it in the story. The story’s sensuality mostly exists in the writing and in the description of this world and the unfolding interaction between Etan, Tallisk and Count Karan. It would seem that Etan is set up for life; he will be well cared for and be able to make a very lucrative living after his service to Tallisk is completed. But these are troubled times and Etan finds himself pulled between loyalty to Master Tallisk and the machinations of the Blooded.The story moves sedately, carefully building the relationships and tension. There is intrigue, political scheming, and violence. And there is romance. Etan’s journey from penniless orphan to courtier and beyond is captivating. This was a treat to read, itself a work of art, and is highly recommended.For this review and much more:

  • Angela Bee Bee
    2019-02-13 22:04

    The first 75% of this is just beautiful, safe, subtle....nothing. Secondary characters fill the pages. But the imagery is beautiful, soothing and pleasant. A false sense of security develops inside the reader. The last quarter becomes incredibly tragic and maudlin.And still beautiful, poetic.I loved it but felt unsatiated at the same time. So long I had lived on the edges between things. I was rich and poor, canvas and artist, lover and whore. I had built a home there on those boundaries

  • Ije the Devourer of Books
    2019-01-25 20:22

    The Adorned is sheer excellence!!This is a beautiful story of a strange and magical tradition in a strange and beautiful land. Etan a young man becomes an orphan when his father dies. Threatened with poverty, Etan's life changes when he goes to the city to claim some money owed to him. Through some unfortunate events and twists of fate, Etan eventually becomes an Adorned. One of the few chosen ones whose skin is adorned with tattoos which become animated when drawn with the blood of the ruling class - the Blooded.Not only does Etan become adorned with strange and partly live tattoos, he gets to display these tattoos at rich and decadent feasts thrown by the Blooded. In this world of adornment and display Etan gets drawn into intrigue and circumstances he doesn't always understand. As we follow the story we are shown how Etan comes to understand his new life, new traditions and the different people who surround him from the Lords of the ruling class to the servants in his own home. We also get to see how Etan finds a deep and enduring love.The story is written so beautifully with excellent and well paced world building, beautiful poetic language, a fascinating cast of characters and a deep richness which overflows from the telling of this strange land with it's diverse cultures, politics and intrigue. It is an amazing story with an unfolding but unsuspecting love right at its heart. It is the kind of story that needs to be read several times in order to catch the different directions and the various nuances. This is the second story I have read from this author and each one has been really good with originality, beauty and a kind of richness that leaves you with a deep sense of satisfaction.

  • Mtsnow13
    2019-02-05 18:21

    Remember...i have not READ this, but listened only [disclaimer] Well, I think I will identify this as a 3.5 with the narration being a 5 and the story being a 3.. I would have liked to see more of a creative epilogue, as thinking back on it, the story deflated at the end. There was such a beautiful build up throughout the story that the last chapter had a rushed feeling... I think my review is affected more by the narrator, as it could be considered a slow read, but the world building and details about the tattoo master's role in society touched close to my heart as an artist and someone who has drawn tattoos for my fellow Marines back in the day. Not much sex, and the angst was tear jerking for me in the last few chapters, but Shannon Gunn's narration added so much depth to me. A very lovely story to listen to.(view spoiler)[Some may question the way the story ended, but I think, because I was so emotionally invested in Etan finding Robert, that I took it as an HEA where they basically had a role reversal of sorts as to who was taking care of who.. It did make me sad that the author seemed to 'destroy' how they both self-identified themselves, but in the process, like the illustration on the cover, it was like Etan ended up arising from the ashes as a phoenix (like the tattoo illustration on the cover model's back) and we, as the reader, knew he was more than what cirmcumstances made him.I also think that they had their HEA because they were 'setting up house' (so to speak) together and hanging up a sign over 'their' business, and it did put Robert in the role of having to become the teacher dependent upon Etan rather than the master that Etan had to depend on previously. I guess in a wierd way, it made them equals for different reasons in my eyes.It could be just that I was so tired when it completed last night that I felt immense releif that they had found each other, and I always want to think its an HEA. *grins*(hide spoiler)]I would definitely recommend this story, but more so the audiobook, as you don't see the editing issues, and the narrator adds to the beautiful language, and if you purchase the kindle edition, you can get it at Audible for a steal...NOTE: After reading Julio's review and having argued with Mamm over some of the points...well, gotta downgrade it at least a star, and I agree, it was a crappy ending for an..up to the last 1/4, a possibly beautiful story... almost like working o a great climax, edging, almost there.... then pffft... mom and dad walk in and ruin the moment...missed it. Hopefully these reviews will be taken by the author as how NOT to end a story...

  • Trix
    2019-02-07 15:13

    What an intense reading. Deserving of 4.5 stars. I admit that some of its charm came from the parallel I drew to "Memoirs of a Geisha". But even without that, the story had a particular pull, that kept me focused and within the story from first page till the last.(view spoiler)[Etan was a young boy, thrown out into the world innocent and naive. By luck he ends up being a living canvas for an ink master. There is the veiled jealousy of a painted sister, vying for attention at displays. There is the imposed life style, of having to put your feelings second to pleasing your patron. There is the sudden change in social hierarchy plunging the two MCs into despair and altering their lives forever. I couldn't help comparing them to the story line in "Memoirs of a Geisha". But that is where the similarity ends. Etan is a young adult, unaware of the world around but slowly learning how to navigate the intricate political weaving of social etiquette. While fascinated by the glamour of the world he must beautify, his true passion falls on the man marking his skin and bringing life to the inked designs. And Etan's relationship with Isadel was this odd mix between camaraderie and competition.Once I had finished the story, I couldn't say the characters' destiny was a surprise as even mighty men fall. And after the leisurely life they had, a bout of hardship was to be expected. It seemed natural that fate (or the author) would test their resolve and the depth of their feelings. There were two outcomes for this and I, for one, was glad to see them fare out changed but still with a hope of happiness despite all odds. But more than the average plot, it was Etan who drew me into the story, with his quiet presence, innocent allure, pure mind and steel resolve. I sensed his despair and uncertainty upon reaching the unfamiliar Grey City, felt small tremors at his first display, dizzied as he discovered and accepted the expanse of feelings he had for Roberd. And last but not least, I was enchanted with the magical inking process and the fanciful images coming to life on the Adorned. (hide spoiler)]If you let yourself be captured by the mastery of the story line, the fanciful world and amazing characters then you are sure to love this book.

  • Vivian ♪(┌・。・)┌
    2019-02-01 18:59

    I read this book a while back, and even now -- or perhaps it's because it is 'now'-- I struggle to write a review and give a rating. Time hasn't made it easier to collect my thoughts, but nor did having the fresh, raw feelings seeping out and around me like an open, gaping wound. Fascinating. Yet I noted this with a sense of detachment. The Adorned is a beautiful book. Delicate, with stunning, swirling details rendered so skilfully-- a mirror of the tattoos which featured so prominently and symbolically within the novel. The details of tattooing, the details of each and every character and the details of the setting-- all so fascinating and executed with the elegance of mesmerising prose. As wonderful and enchanting as everything was though, there was this connection that was missing. A sense of detachment which caused my experience to feel more like a silent black and white film. And -- to continue with the poor metaphor -- it carried a similar somber atmosphere to it. For me, anyway; god knows my interpretation is always on the wacky side. This whole book felt like an artwork which I appreciate, praised and admired but always from 3 metres away in a bloody gallery with jackass guards staring me down. Anyway, my rambling about abstract feelings needs to stop. The characters were real and interesting and some needed to be clobbered on the head and quartered, but I suppose that's a sign of good characterisation (I would prefer to have never known them though). The romance felt a bit vague honestly, but still very tangible and sweet and unlike more erotica romances. There was very little erotica in this, which, surprisingly, I agree with since it wouldn't really fit the atmosphere anyway. Tristan successfully provoked emotion and fondness in me despite the detachment I felt, and the ending was particularly strong in that respect.Overall, I very much adored this wonderful book, though it hasn't quite made the strongest impression I think it had the potential to.

  • Danyele Johnson
    2019-02-16 17:19

    I loved it. It was great, bloody amazing. The writing was lovely. The plot fantastic. The world building one of the best. And then the ending. The mother fucking ending.And this is all I want to do to the author: That ending was completely unnecessary. And for what? So the book can be more epic? It was already a beautiful tale destined to be on my favorites shelf and now and I am deeply unsettled and beginning to regret my purchase. I went from wanting to share this with everyone to only wanting to recommend it to authors to demonstrate how to completely turn your readers off from your story. Ugh. It was so good,whyyy?John Tristan WHYYY???

  • Dreamer
    2019-02-11 16:54

    A sweet m/m fantasy romance. This is a well written novel with interesting characters but I would have liked it darker. The romance is slow to develop and the sex scenes lack detail and erotica.Impoverished 19 year old Etan is bonded to Master Roberd Tallisk who will tattoo his body to make him one of 'The Adorned.' The latter are displayed for the enjoyment of the 'Blooded', a vampire like elite. '(Arderi's) eyes half closed there, looking inward. "Take a care with him. Don't make my mistake, if it's not too late.""Your mistake?" I winced at my own voice; I sounded hoarse and strangled."He can make you feel the loveliest creature in the world, but he'll crush you given half a chance. Like a boy catching butterflies."'

  • M
    2019-02-20 16:13

    I'll keep this short because I want to go and read some of Tristan's other stuff: That was lovely. Very well written and completely compelling. I don't think there's much of a plot to speak of, more just a series of events. But it's so evocative and lush that I didn't really notice. Best fantasy M/M that I've read in a long time.

  • ¸. • * ° *❧Gwendolyn❧°**★•°**★
    2019-02-07 18:57

    Etan & Tallisk ~In their love, there are tragic events, but I found even as there story looks a lot like a tragedy in the's a beautiful tragedy.A Mind Boggling Tragedy & A Solid 4 StarsSo, why mind boggling....well...This book, turned my mind into an abyss...This was such a beautiful book, albeit slow at times...nevertheless beautiful...and then comes the climax followed by the finale...and...truly turned placed my mind into an abyss....and, after about 75% was a tragedy. A Shakespearian tragedy of sorts?Not what I was in the mood for...but, still 4 star worthy.Why?Well.....there is a quote in this book that sum's it up for me."There's two things you can do when the word comes apart: make it worse, or make it better. To many try to make it worse. It's up to us to right the balance"Beautiful huh...*wipes eye's* The balance could not be righted in my second read.....It is what it is. A tragedy.Because, what happen to the hero.... I could not forgive...(view spoiler)[ falling into fire! And losing ALMOST EVERYTHING (hide spoiler)]That part of the tragedy I could have done without....But, the "audible version " is PHENOMENAL! And, saved the book for me, because I could listen to this narrator quote a grocery list. An, extra star was added for him. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Leanne
    2019-02-19 19:21

    A very slow burn and not much plot to speak of, but a wonderfully textured and fascinating world seen through the eyes of a young slave boy, Etan. Twelve and a half hours of immersive, richly detailed storytelling read/performed by Shannon Gunn, a narrator who is fast becoming a favourite of mine = total bliss. Wonderful characterisation, especially sweet Etan, who starts the story a pretty and somewhat naive slave boy, only useful for rent as an 'adorned' human canvas (and occasional whore) but ends it a changed man.John Tristan is an author to watch. Shannon Gunn needs to picked up by more MM authors.ETA- The Amazon Whispersync reduced price offer (buy the ebook on Amazon and get the Audible for cheap)is still available - $2,99 for a twelve hour audio book read by aquality narrator is a bloody good deal.

  • Mercedes
    2019-02-08 21:22

    The blurb said tattoo master so I had to read it. Rating as I read the book:1/3: interesting story, 4 stars 2/3: umm, kinda slow going. Don't know where this is going, 3 stars3/3: wow really? But the finish is a little bittersweet even though the MCs get their HEA, reluctant 5 starsIn all, nice 4 star read for me.

  • Vanessa North
    2019-02-06 14:13

    Woooow. So i bought this book at lunch time...and lost the next seven hours under its spell. Completely riveting, gorgeous story-telling wrapped up in the most delicious prose. Elegant, lovely, poignant prose. Mr. Tristan will be an auto-buy from here on out.

  • Ulysses Dietz
    2019-01-25 22:22

    I am always interested in m/m fiction that goes beyond the parameters of standard expectations. I am especially interested in men who write this - I suspect a growing minority in the genre. John Tristan is a real find for me. (I suppose his name is another pseudonym, something that taints my love for this entire weirdly closeted world, sigh.)"The Adorned" is a magical,captivating book (IF you like this sort of thing - and I do, very much - if they're well-crafted and graced with compelling characters). It has the narrative richness of Dickens (I've read all of it), with the same sort of richly-painted characters and carefully paced emotional foundation. It is, however, the fantasy aspect of this book - the placing of the story in an almost-recognizable world in some vague pre-modern past - that shifts the entire experience of reading the text. Tristan creates a world obliquely - as if you're supposed to know what this is all about, but (of course) don't. For some readers this is annoying, but for others, myself included, it offers the feeling that you have stumbled onto some newly-discovered culture and are exploring it for the first time. What I loved most was the core premise of the novel, the presentation of the concept of "the Adorned:" beautiful young men and women who, over the course of several years, are completely covered with tattoos of such beauty and power that they become living works of art who are hired at great cost by aristocrats to adorn their soirees and celebrations. I kept thinking of "Memoirs of a Geisha" as I read this - the exotic world of pre-WWII Kyoto being no stranger than the fictional city of Peretim in the country of Kered. Etan Dairan and Roberd Tallisk - poor indentured orphan and celebrated maestro tattooist - form the emotional crux upon which the entire story pivots. Through Etan's eyes, we learn about the double-edged aristocracy of Peretim, the Blooded (who seem to be some sort of quasi-immortal, possibly mildly vampiric nobility) and the Sword-nobles - the military men who protect and fight for them in return for noble status. We see the world directly from Etan's perspective, but also reflected in the wide-ranging cast of fascinating characters who become his guideposts as he learns to live within the social customs of his new world. This book, to me, reflects where the entire m/m genre needs to go if it is to survive as anything other than emotional junk food. It is intelligent, well written (with some consistent and irritating grammatical mistakes), and captivating. It transports the reader into a world and makes one feel as if something new has been learned. I look forward to reading more of Tristan's work, and wish him a long and successful career.

  • Jennifer Lavoie
    2019-01-23 19:11

    Wow.I am left speechless and breathless at the end of this book, and find myself mourning that there is not more of this world for me to dive into. A five star rating system is not enough, and I feel that this book deserves its own category.Normally I would wait to write a review until some time had passed, but at 1:30 in the morning I just can't wait. I need to share how wonderful this book is. For the last twenty-four hours I have lived in Kered with Etan and Tallisk, and now that the book is over and I have left it, I feel like I have lost dear friends.The book is long, but it is a carefully crafted journey that takes readers from the initial plight of Etan being turned out of his former home, his flight to the city, and how he ends up becoming one of the Adorned - a beautiful, living piece of art. His body becomes the canvas of Roberd Tallisk, a master tattooist whose art comes to life with the blood of the Blooded. Readers will follow Etan's rise in fame as one of the popular Adorned, and see how he is used by the elite members of society for beauty, entertainment, pleasure, and more.His growing love for Roberd is carefully nuanced throughout the novel, as are the feelings of Roberd for Etan. Told through Etan's perspective, we see glimpses of it in his actions, but it can only be suspected. And though the protagonists are both men, their love is beautiful. Those who normally shy away from gay romances (or m/m, whichever you prefer) would be missing out on a superbly crafted tale. That said, if you prefer a...spicier gay romance, you won't find that here. The scenes are subdued and fitting with the rest of the book.There are moments of discord for the protagonists, though. The city is swept up with chaos, riots break out, and your heart will break. I felt like this story built me up into a wonderful cocoon of beauty and then sharply cut me out and cut me open. I admit I cried.The ending is bittersweet, but a perfect ending is not always possible, even in fiction, even if we want it. And I think if the ending had been perfect, then all the trials Etan and Roberd went through would have cheapened the story.This is a well-crafted novel. I am not only deeply saddened that it is over, but I regret that - since it is an e-book with a company that does not offer print - I will not be able to add this fine piece to my collection on my shelves. I will be revisiting this world often, and I look forward to more from John Tristan.

  • Betti Gefecht
    2019-02-11 21:19

    This gave me the first book hangover in quite a while. I'm not talking about oh-too-bad-it's-over-yet. I'm talking serious, bad I-don't-wanna-see-anyone-today book hangover. Also, I have a Faves directory on my well-filled Kindle, and the number of books in there is still under 10. I don't add books there lightly. But this one went straight in. It is that good.The story has just the right amount of everything I love... maybe my taste is not very mainstream in some aspects, as in, if a book is too straight too much of a certain genre, I'm often kinda under-impressed.I like fantasy, but orks and princesses bore me to death. I like realism, but I don't want to feel like reading a documentary. How can I make it clear that this book is incredibly well-balanced in every way without coming across as undecided? The book, that is, not me. Or maybe also me, LOL.Anyway, it is. Well-balanced and very, very catching. It is a fantasy story with just the right amount of reality feeling. It is a M/M love story that unfolds reasonably slow. Instead of countless, repetitive sex scenes from chapter one, it has very few, and they happen late. But when they happen, I felt them where I want to feel shit, if you know what I mean. The author writes unhurried and thankfully spares you endless explanations, but lets the story unfold in a way so readers can figure things out by themselves when the time is right, and not a moment earlier. I was intrigued from the beginning to the end. And now… book hangover. Because it even has a good end. It's quite obvious there won't be a sequel. The story of Roberd Tallisk and his Adorned, Etan writ-Tallisk seems to be told. But a girl can dream, right?

  • Tami (synchro from BL)
    2019-02-07 21:18

    Another winner - enchanting, rich and beautiful This fantasy novel has a well thought-out plot, a cast of individual, interesting characters and wonderful, wonderful world-building (showing, not telling).It was told in first person POV through the eyes of young Etan, innocent and alone in the world, he falls upon hard times as his father dies and leaves him with nothing. No education, no means, no home.Etan moves into the city and because of his beauty he becomes an "Adorned". Etan doesn't know his beauty and he is a very careful young man. His inexperience is not absence of intelligence or understanding, he watches and learns, but still keeps a core of integrity and believe that I find utterly charming.As a backdrop to Etan's story there is turmoil and war in the realm - Etan is not more than a pet, a plaything to the mighty, but he sees and understands a lot. And when the dissatisfaction of the masses lead to revolution, he and his master are amidst it.I loved the fantastic, original world the author created and I loved what he did with his characters. It had a love story that was so subtly done, that it was nearly off the screen, but with some high and sharp feelings.A recommended read.

  • Skye Blue ☆*~゚ლ(´ڡ`ლ)~*☆
    2019-02-11 22:08

    I don't know how to rate this.I don't know what to say.From the beginning, as the story was being set up, I was hooked.The story was very captivating. Not what I was expecting.I was was a little slow paced though, and I wanted to get to the action.As the story unfolded, I was still glued to it, and never lost interest...but I was getting frustrated. The romance portion was not moving at all.Finally, we get the couple...But as soon as we do...shit hits the fan!Thank goodness there was a HEA.

  • Kim
    2019-01-21 17:04

    The world-building here was complex and lovely. I got a real sense of this place without being buried in meaningless details. The concepts introduced by the author made sense. I liked the characters very much, and found even the secondary characters well-fleshed. The writing itself was beautiful--adept use of sensory information and language without becoming overblown.My one complaint is with the pacing. Most of the novel moves at a slow pace, which is fine. It never felt ponderous. But then suddenly a whole bunch of really important things happen very fast--some of them off-page. This was disconcerting. I got the impression the author was getting tired of the story and wanted to move things along and be done with it. Apart from that imbalance, however, I found the book a joy to read.

  • Paul
    2019-02-05 16:07

    4.5 STARSThis is a very depressing, dark fantasy but in saying that it's also an excellent book. It might be very bleak in nature but the story is also magical, no matter how grim it gets at times. There are brief glimpses of happiness but overall it's quite harsh. This did not stop me from throughly enjoying it from start to end.

  • Shanna Matheo
    2019-02-04 21:02

    Beautiful, quiet, haunting, different and sweet. I loved this so much. I already know I will think of this book often and maybe even re-read it from time to time.