Osidian, emperor elect, and Carnelian, son of ruling Lord Suth, have been kidnapped and sent to their deaths as slaves. They pass into the hands of tomb robbers then raiders while Carnelian tries to keep injured Osidian alive as they run from their enemies in the Guarded land. Osidian shows some of the talents of Lords of Osrakum and begins to establish a reputation as a warrior amongst the plainsmen who have captured them. Carnelian uses memories of his foster-mother to gain them acceptance within the tribe. Carnelian is content to live in exile, but Osidian plans to recover his birthright by forming an army from the plainsmen. He uses cunning and ruthlessness to pit warrior against warrior, tribe against tribe, until all are united under his command. Carnelian is sickened by his behaviour and the death he brings upon the tribe that accepted them, but has no choice but to follow in his wake as their enemies in the empire realise that they live.
This report prepared by David Pearce
Tor, Mar 2003, 27.95, 560 pp.
Masters Carnelian and the Emperor elect Osidian are lovers. However, the latter's enemies have slavers kidnap them. The duo is fortunate that the nomadic Ochre tribe rescue them on the dangerous Earthsky. Carnelian, who grew up outside the hedonistic capital of the Three Lands, Osrakum, adapts to the tribe's way of life and quickly becomes assimilated. On the other hand, Osidian is in a depression but also believes these wild wanderers are beneath him and fails to communicate with anyone except his lover.
As Osidian heals in mind and body, he becomes angry with those who betrayed him. He seeks vengeance and realizes this tribe is the first cannon fodder tool to succeed. Carnelian tries to talk him out of it as he enjoys his new lifestyle and just wants to live in peace. However, the charismatic Osidian begins rallying the impressionable young around his cause while Carnelian attempts to stop the rising tide.
As he did in his first book THE CHOSEN of the Stone Dance of the Chameleon trilogy, Ricardo Pinto paints an extremely complex world filled with deep social systems. The varying races and tribes seem so authentic and the Masters come across as the ruling upper caste. Though it helps to read the first novel because the audience will have a greater understanding of the predicament that the lead couple face at the start, fans of violent barbaric fantasy that hides nothing will appreciate the middle endeavor.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner