The Chosen (Stone Dance Of The Chameleon)

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9780553505818: The Chosen (Stone Dance Of The Chameleon)
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Young Carnelian has spent his entire life alone with his father, who years ago rejected the savage cruelty of the Masters of Osrakum and was sent into exile. But now a ship has come flying through the winter gales to shatter his quiet world. Three Masters disembark, and as they remove their masks of gold, Carnelian is awed by the light that seems to radiate from their skin. In formal conclave they beg Carnelian's father to return with them to Osrakum to oversee the election of a new God Emperor.

And so Carnelian begins to fulfill his destiny. Along his perilous journey to the Osrakum, he is forced to learn bitter lessons in bloodshed, power, intrigue, love, and treachery--and sets in motion the concluding events in a story four thousand years old.

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Review:

Ricardo Pinto's first novel opens a fantasy sequence titled "The Stone Dance of the Chameleon," exploring a complex and hierarchical empire with a vaguely Asian flavor. Young hero Carnelian journeys from his aristocratic father's remote, wintry house of exile to the heart of power--moving stage by stage from carefree family life to an imperial court dominated by unchangeable rituals that make the regimentation of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast seem like an anarchic free-for-all. This obsessiveness is reflected in ornate masks and formal clothing, growing more bizarrely exotic as travelers approach the center of the Guarded Land, and culminating in massive "robes" of precious woven metals built up on scaffolding, plus shoes that are virtually stilts. Masks are socially necessary because any commoner who sees the face of a Master (the immensely tall ruling class) must be blinded--as Carnelian learns to his horror after briefly forgetting to cover up. Far worse mutilations are commonplace. But even amid the poisoned splendors, suffocating protocols, and treachery of court life, there are tiny opportunities to break loose: our hero discovers illicit knowledge and a forbidden lover. Then, after the new God Emperor's election, there's disaster leading to a sudden cliffhanger ending. Full of rich imagery, haunting horror, and the slow-motion quality of dreams, this is a series to watch. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk

From Publishers Weekly:

The launch novel to debut author Pinto's epic fantasy trilogy begins with a fairly conventional tale about the coming of age of Carnelian Suth, a young aristocrat. Suth, who's been in exile (with his father) from his native land, returns to the Imperial capital of Osrakum when his father is called back to act as regent during a succession crisis. From there, Pinto, who's Portuguese but lives in Scotland, draws a luscious picture of a viciously hierarchical and decadent society and tells a complicated story involving a dowager empress, a set of twins, homosexuality, emperors, putsches and two lovers imprisoned in giant jars and left to await their execution. The novel takes readers on an extremely literate and detailed journey distinguished by Pinto's outstanding imagination, extensive research and excellent world-building. The book is full of memorable conceits--resident aristocrats always wear masks and body paint, for example, and court servants, deprived of every sense except touch, keep their records on strings of beads--but Pinto frequently seems to get so lost in his ornate world that he forgets he's telling a story. Still, an exceptionally fine 300-page novel lurks within the decorative flourishes of this 500-page-plus book. Agent, Victoria Hobbs. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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