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Literature: The Stone Dance of the Chameleon
This drawing by the author became the genesis of the story.
Flesh, knit bone to bone
Your withered earth
Oh ancient Mother
Scorched tearless You await
The Sky Lord come to thunder
Rumbling His stormy belly
Withholding His urgent seed
Until He shall pierce You with His shafts
Quench the burning air
Rill and pool Your dusts
Fill Your wombs with spiralling jades
Until Your flesh swells up
In the midst of breaking waters
Clenching for release

Thrust forth the Green Child
Ten thousand times reborn
Squeeze Him into the air
Enjewelled by the morning
To take sweet nurture
At Your breasts
That He might dance again
And once more blow His scents
Beneath the skies.

The Song to the Earth

The Stone Dance of the Chameleon is a Low Fantasy trilogy by Ricardo Pinto. It is notable for being extremely dark and featuring no magic at all.

Cruel and oppressive, the Masters rule over the three lands; a race of tall, pale people who believe the blood of gods runs in their veins. Carnelian is a Master but, having grown up in exile, he has the unusual trait of mercy. When his father is called back to the capitol Osrakum to oversee the election of a new God Emperor, he finds himself plunged into a web of intrigue and deceit.

The Stone Dance of the Chameleon consists of the following books:

  1. The Chosen
  2. The Standing Dead
  3. The Third God

This trilogy provides examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: The Wise, arguably, and combined with a liberal dose of Body Horror. Somewhat unusual, in that they're an active political force. Still, having your eyes, tongue, nose, and eardrums cut out and being left with writing encoded on strings of beads and coded messages to a stunted, dwarfish interpreter as your only avenues of communication is pretty nightmarish.
  • Bi the Way: Sardian.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: The God Emperors practise this.
  • Body Horror: Loads and loads of it. The Masters' civilization is obsessed with ritual mutilation. Also, the followers of the Darkness Under the Trees. Brr.
  • Cain and Abel: Nephron and Molochite. The fact that whoever loses the election has to be executed might have something to do with that.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The dinosaurs are not referred to by their scientific names. (Some do appear to be made up, but not all.)
  • Child by Rape: Fern.
  • Conjoined Twins: Believed by the Masters to be representative of their dual gods.
  • Con Lang: Quya, the language of the Masters. Hear the author speak it here. There's also a system of glyphs to write it, and the title of each chapter is written in both English and Quya glyphs.
  • Crapsack World
  • Deadly Decadent Court: And how.
  • Death by Childbirth: Carnelian's mother.
  • Dinosaurs WITH FLAMETHROWERS Are Dragons
  • Domesticated Dinosaurs: Huimur (ceratopsids, small versions of which are used as pack animals and giant versions of which are outfitted with flame pipes and ridden to war) and aquar (theropods which are this world's equivalent to horses).
  • Doorstopper: The first volume clocks in at just over 700 pages. The next two are even longer.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: The writings of the Wise are occasionaly quoted.
  • Enslaved Elves: The sartlar, who are considered little more than animals and have been entirely enslaved, turn out to be none other than the legendary Quyans.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Prehistoric flora and fauna abound.
  • Evil Albino: The Masters.
  • Eye Scream: Blinding people is a routine punishment in this world.
  • Fantastic Racism: Sort of. The pale Masters believe themselves to be more than human and oppress the other, darker skinned people.
  • God Emperor: Born mortal, believed to ascend to godhood when he is crowned emperor.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Carnelian is fully repared to do this at the end of the story, but fortunately doesn't actually have to go through with it.
  • Horse of a Different Color: The aquar, some sort of theropod dinosaur.
  • Human Sacrifice: The Maruli's offering to the Darkness Under the Trees. Also, all brothers of a new God Emperor must be sacrificed during his apotheosis.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: What do you think is in the render?
  • Kill It with Fire: The Masters use the sartlar's fear of fire to keep them at bay.
  • Kissing Cousins: Fern and Sil, Carnelian and Osidian, although they turn out to be even more closely related.
  • Low Fantasy: So low, in fact, that there is no magic at all.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Carnelian is actually Osidian and Molochite's brother.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: An entire race of them.
  • Master Race: One of the purest examples in all fiction.
  • Mayincatec: The Masters have some shades of this (see the picture above), but then again there're also significant Roman and Southeast Asian influences.
  • Mighty Whitey: Deconstructed in the second book with Osidian amongst the Ochre.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Children of Masters and common people are called Muramaga. They're technically slightly higher in the hierarchy than common people, but it doesn't matter all that much.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Darkness Under the Trees. Legions. More subtly, Kor is the Quyan word for 'death'.
  • No Woman's Land: The Masters are rather sexist. Fertile women are generally not even allowed to leave the house.
  • Parental Incest: Often occurs within the imperial house. Yes, this story has every kind of family lovin'.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Carnelian for large parts of the story. And whenever he decides to take matters into his own hands, it ends in disaster.
  • Precursors: The Quyans.
  • Ptero Soarer: The briefly mentioned "sky saurians".
  • Queer Romance: Carnelian's romances with Osidian and later with Fern are a central part of the story.
  • Raptor Attack: The raveners appear to be this.
  • Religion of Evil: The Maruli's worship of "The Darkness Under the Trees". They appear to greatly fear it themselves.
  • Royal Blood
  • Royal Inbreeding
  • Situational Sexuality: This is implied to happen a lot in the society of the Masters. The Masters place a tremendously high value on blood purity, so much so that their women are not even allowed to leave their house, except when they get married off and are instead kept at their husband's house. As such, males often form very intense emotional and sexual relationships with each other.
  • Slave Collar: Members of the legions are forced to wear these. As they can't take these off themselves, the Masters have no trouble identifying deserters.
  • Slave Race: The sartlar.
  • Stock Dinosaurs:
  • Straight Gay: None of the gay characters are in any way stereotypical - probably owing to the fact that the author himself is gay.
  • Surprise Incest: Twice. Carnelian and Osidian are cousins. Oh no wait, they're actually brothers!
  • Tangled Family Tree: ALL Masters in the story are somehow related, which combined with their obsession with blood purity and resulting incestuous unions makes for some bewildering family trees.
  • Wham Line: "The sartlar are the Quyans."
  • World Building: A fantastically detailed, almost obsessive example, fleshed out even more on the author's website.
  • Written by the Winners: The Wise go to great lengths to make sure nobody knows the true story behind the fall of the Quyans and the rise of the Chosen.


The Stinky Cheese ManLiterature of the 1990sA Strange and Ancient Name
South of NowhereGay and Lesbian FictionStranger By The Lake
Steal the DragonFantasy LiteratureStories Of Nypre

alternative title(s): Stone Dance Of The Chameleon; The Stone Dance Of The Chameleon
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