A Triad in Three Acts: The Complete Forester Trilogy
A Triad in Three Acts by Blaine D. Arden is just what is says in the title. It is a high fantasy tale of how a loving triad is formed between three males over three novellas, or ‘acts’. The males in question are elves and live in a beautifully thought-out forest world. The main point of view is provided by Kelnaht, a cloud elf, which means he has wings. Kelnaht is also the tribe’s truth seeker, or detective.
As our main PoV comes from the elf truth seeker, each ‘act’ has a mystery or crime to be solved by Kelnaht and the members of the tribe’s village community. The true strength of these stories lies in the world building. The author has created a gentle world of equality, where not only genders and sexualities have equal status but so do the elves’ gifts and talents. Each trade is given equal status as all are needed for a community to survive.
The society has a rather lovely form of ‘marriage’ at Solstice when the community gathers round a fire and people are claimed by their lovers. It is the public claiming that cements the deal as it were, but they also repeat a rather lovely set of personalised verses between each other. This world has couples and triads; how they are combined is not an issue.
These stories are available separately but are interlinked by the progression of the three lovers – Kelnaht, the truth seeker, Taruif, the forester and Ianys, the b blacksmith. This edition has the trilogy complete in one volume.
Act One: The Forester
This story introduces both Kelnaht and world. As the truth seeker, he has to investigate the murder of a young elf and discovers an illicit love affair between two elves he desires more than any others, Taruif and Kel’s ex. Ianys
Act Two: Lost and Found
Kelnaht is busy again when a ‘stripling’ goes missing and a chance arises to release Taruif from his shunning, so Kel can claim him as his vowed. Heavy rain makes finding what happened to the stripling more difficult and the village/tribe’s mood is getting troublesome.
Act Three: Full Circle
Several children fall ill and when it is obvious this is more than the usual summer bug, Kelnaht is assigned by the elders to investigate what is causing the sickness, which only affects underage members of the tribe. Soon the investigation becomes more personal when the third member of Kelnaht’s triad, Ianys finds his own young daughter is ill. Still separated by a promise Ianys made to his dead vowed, Kelnaht and Taruif struggle to keep their feelings for him a secret whilst trying to discover what is happening to the children.
These books can all be read as standalones, as each one has a positive ending although the final HEA comes in Act Three. As I mentioned before, the world building is wonderful. It covers the law, spirituality, magic/trades, housing, clothing and general attitudes. The premise is so strong that it doesn’t seem like fantasy. Blaine D. Arden writes and treats fantasy as matter of fact, and the reader goes along with this feeling. I was going to write that there is nothing ‘fantastic’, which is why it is easy to accept, but we are talking about elves and magic and creating houses from living trees and flying! This is just a sign of how well she has written this forest world.
Unfortunately, whereas the world felt real to me, the romance didn’t. This is a trilogy that filled me with an intellectual admiration rather than an emotional or romantic one. There is a distinct lack of descriptive narration, few superlatives or metaphoric elaboration. This surprised me, as I have met the author and she is a larger than life, warm, vibrant person, and I suppose I expected some of this colour and vibrancy in the romance and sex scenes. The same matter of fact attitude that works so well regarding the world building meant that sadly, the romantic characters didn’t work for me.
That is not to say all the characters failed. I was quite in love with the Guide, the tribe’s spiritual guidance, and every time he appeared on the page my interest was further renewed. There is so much to appreciate here that even though the romance fell flat, I did enjoy this trilogy. I will also look out for, and buy any more titles that may appear in the Tales of the Forest universe.