Book Reviews

The Ballad of the Burning Year by Augusta Li at Silver Publishing

Genre Fantasy / Historical Setting / Action/Adventure / Brothercest / Gay Romance
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 25-September-2012

Book Blurb

Brothers Kei-Go and Ju-Go barely escaped the destruction of their homeland by a savage race of invaders, only to find themselves stranded on an isolated island. For Kei, the island is a paradise, safe from the horrors of slavery and war. But Ju craves only vengeance and the liberation of their people.

Kei and Ju gradually formulate a plan to free their kinsmen, and while implementing it, they'll make unlikely allies and cross lines they never thought they would, all for the good of their people.

Will they sacrifice their ideals in the name of vengeance? Are they willing to give up their forbidden love, and any chance of happiness, for the greater good?


CONTENT ADVISORY: This title contains incest and scenes of rape or near rape.


Book Review

This book pitches the need for vengeance, as impersonated by Ju, against the right to happiness, which is what Kei believes in. The fundamental battle of one against the other is what drives this story and tests the brothers' love for each other. This book does come with a warning, and I believe that is justified. The theme of brothers loving each other more than siblings normally do, and the level of violence involved in the enslaving of their race, as well as their ultimate battle for freedom, is not something that will be to everyone's liking. That said, I found the detailed world building and the way both brothers end up dealing with their conflict to be fascinating, well done, and utterly spellbinding.


Kei is very much in love with his brother, and while he hates what was done to their people, he sees no way to fight their enemies and win. Living on a remote island and having Ju to himself is a situation he can more than live with. It hurts him deeply that Ju is so focused on revenge, and when they get the opportunity to fight back and Ju jumps on it, Kei is devastated. He knows they will have to hide what they are to each other if they go back and try to find the remainder of their people to organize and uprising. But he also knows that he will always support Ju, making sure he is happy is more important than anything else. Kei Is even prepared to risk the use of forbidden magic to get there.


Ju is bitter, angry, and the only thing that keeps him going is the hope for revenge. Yes, he loves Kei, but we never find out exactly what he thinks and feels, since the story is told entirely from Kei's point of view. So, like Kei, we are left to guessing what motivates Ju, and his actions are all we can base this on. Ju is instrumental in making things happen, and what follows is a battle of enormous proportions.


If you like high fantasy and colorful worlds that come to life before your inner eye as you read, if you enjoy reading about deeply conflicted characters and a love that is taboo, and if you want to forget reality for a while and follow these two men into a world that is closer to our own in the way people think and act than maybe you'd like to admit, then this is a book you shouldn’t miss.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Silver Publishing for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 436 pages/95835 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 18-August-2012
Buy Link