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The Brush Whistler's Song

Augusta Li

Out of Print

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.

Arjin looked down at his bare feet, toenails painted crimson and adorned with impossibly tiny, clear gems. He stood on the border between the world he'd known for almost nineteen years and an ancient, alien realm that had been all but obliterated millennia ago. He knew he waited at the edge of destiny, and longed to take the last few steps to meet it. Instead, he remained still, with his head bowed and his hands folded in front of his belly, as he'd been instructed.

The layers of gauzy silk over Arjin's face lent a hazy, scarlet cast to his odd surroundings, as if he watched the proceedings through a shifting, red mist. He shuddered despite the heat of the fabric piled over him. He wanted to avert his eyes, but curiosity, that irresistible Vice, defeated piety. Staring through the translucent, shimmering cloth, Arjin watched men he'd grown up beside unloading sacks of grain, barrels of fruit, dried meat, bolts of fabric, clayware, and metal utensils onto the smooth floor of geometric gold and cobalt tiles. Gifts, in tribute, like himself.

He wriggled his toes, girdled in gold bands. The metal bars in his nipples and navel itched, still healing, and he distracted himself by casting his gaze around the vast foyer. Refreshing, blue-gray shade draped the room, starkly different from the searing sunlight outside. Arjin felt a wave of nausea and panic ripple from the pit of his stomach up his back. Forbidden things surrounded him: statues of nude men and women, lurid paintings, gratuitous arrangements of flowers, their petals lush and damp despite the dry heat, and mirrors. Mirrors adorned almost every wall, multiplying the sinful sights, volleying them back and forth into infinity. Despite his best efforts to resist, these illicit visions engaged Arjin's eyes and mind; he'd never imagined anything like them and couldn't look away.

5 - Gabbi at Top 2 Bottom Reviews
"The Brush Whistler's Song has a lot of intrigue, passion and content. I was immediately swept up into these characters' lives.... 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."

5 - Jenre at Well Read
"I was immediately drawn into this story by the character of Arjin.... 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."

5 - Sean at World of Diversity Fiction
"I had this book on my kindle for a while too and I didn’t know why it took me forever to pick it up and read! It was that good. Yes, there were a couple of dub-con scenes, but it made sense. It was necessary. Highly recommended to fantasy fan and if you wasn’t familiar with Augusta Li, then I think this book would be a good book to start with. Just look at that book cover, how could that resist you from buying! "

4 - Emily at The Romance Reviews
"This is an interesting story about discovering oneself and getting second chances.... The characters are their own worst and sole enemies, which is an unusual twist.... 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."

3 - Laylah Hunter on Goodreads
"Li's prose is clean and vivid, with rich descriptions of the alien hedonism that Arjin struggles to come to terms with... 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. "


22,000 words
55 pages

Release Date

Book Type






Cover Art

Nathie Block


M/M, fantasy, dubious consent