Rating: 4.5 stars
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Lost and Found is the second book in Blaine D. Arden’s Forester trilogy. The story reunites us with our three heroes, elves Kelnaht, Ianys, and Taruif, about a year after the events of the first book. The three men are in love and committed to one another, but continue to face stumbling blocks to their relationship. First, Taruif is still shunned for his role in his former lover’s death, which means that no one is allowed to speak to him at all. Although it appears the Elders are considering reducing his sentence to time served, in the meantime any relationship between him and his lovers is illegal and must happen in secret.
Second, Ianys made a promise to his deceased lover and mother of his child that he would not allow Kelnaht a role in raising their daughter. His lover was jealous of Ianys’ former relationship with Kelnaht and exacting the oath means that the two men can not be together publicly either for fear of Ianys losing his child. As a result of all these complications, the three men are in love and committed to one another in private, but forced to sneak around and hide their relationship publicly.
In addition to the relationship of this triad, the story focuses on another investigation led by Kelhaht, this time into the disappearance of a young elf. Ustion fought with his father and then stormed off into the forest and hasn’t been seen for days. With the cold weather, the elves are worried for his safety. As a Truth Seeker, one who investigates crimes and also analyzes evidence through magical means, Kelnaht is leading the investigation into Ustion’s disappearance. As time passes, their hopes for the young man’s safe return begin to grow more dim, especially as there starts to be evidence of foul play. As Kelnaht follows the clues, he finds that Ustion might not be the only one in danger. Now he must figure out who is behind the kidnapping before it is too late for Ustion and someone that Kelnaht loves.
I don’t read a lot of fantasy but something about this series really works for me. I think it is the way Arden manages to blend so many genres in an unusual way. We have the menage and the fantasy, and overlaid on top is a really great mystery and investigation plot. It is not a typical combination, but it works so well here. The investigation is my favorite part of this story and it has the right amount of mystery and suspense blended together with the powers of Kelnaht as a Truth Seeker. I enjoyed following along as they examined clues and pieced together the mystery of what happened to Ustion. It is clever and suspenseful and ties together really well with larger elements of the story.
I also enjoyed the continuing relationship between Kelnaht, Ianys, and Taruif. While the first book connected these men together, here we see them trying to make their relationship work. Privately things are wonderful, but there are huge roadblocks in front of their relationship. Truly no two of them are able to be together, let alone all three. And though the book does deal with Taruif’s shunning, the issues with Ianys and his oath to not let Kelnaht raise his daughter seems to have no potential resolution in sight. It is heartbreaking to see these men struggle, but we are also rewarded by the great relationship they do manage to have together. I found them very sweet together, each doting on the others and taking care of each other. I am really looking forward to the final book to see how this all plays out.
The last thing I want to point out is I think Arden does a really nice job with the world building here. One thing I sometimes struggle with in fantasy is keeping up with all the details about the imagined world. But Arden not only gives us a really creative world with lots of richness and depth, but she also brings us into it so easily and I had no trouble keeping up with the different elements of their elven society.
So I really enjoyed this one and found the mystery end of things particularly enjoyable. I am really looking forward to seeing how this trilogy wraps up and how things workout for our heroes.
P.S. While this book is the second in the trilogy, I actually think enough is explained here about the events of the first book that you could jump in here if you wanted to.