[[caption-width-right:350: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 LowFantasy 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 GodEmperor, he finds himself plunged into a web of intrigue and deceit.

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

# ''The Chosen''
# ''The Standing Dead''
# ''The Third God''

!!This trilogy provides examples of:

* AndIMustScream: The Wise, arguably, and combined with a liberal dose of BodyHorror. 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.
* BiTheWay: Sardian. Later on, there's also, [[spoiler:Fern]].
* BrotherSisterIncest: The God Emperors practise this (among ''other'' forms of incest) to keep their House's blood pure.
* BodyHorror: Loads and loads of it. The Masters' civilization is obsessed with ritual mutilation. [[spoiler:Also, the followers of the Darkness Under the Trees. ''Brr''.]]
* CainAndAbel: Nephron and Molochite. The fact that whoever loses the election has to be executed might have something to do with that.
** [[spoiler:Osidian ultimately ends up as the Cain to Molochite's Abel in the third book, after their armies meet in battle and Molochite is burned to death inside the Iron House.]]
** [[spoiler:And earlier in the same book, Molochite is also revealed to be the one who murdered their sister Flama Ykoria some years prior.]]
* CallARabbitASmeerp: The dinosaurs are not referred to by their scientific names. (Some do appear to be made up, but not all.)
* ChildByRape: Fern.
* ConjoinedTwins: Believed by the Masters to be representative of their dual gods.
* ConLang: Quya, the language of the Masters. [[http://www.ricardopinto.com/work/stone_dance/topics/song_to_the_earth/index.php 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.
* ContrivedCoincidence: In the second book, [[spoiler:Carnelian and Osidian just happen to be found by Plainsmen from the exact same tribe Ebeny (Carnelian's foster mother) was born into (and whose language he had been taught in childhood). [[note]]It is even mentioned that Plainsmen languages vary widely even between neighbouring tribes, which makes the whole situation really quite unlikely.[[/note]]]]
* CrapsackWorld
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: ''And how''.
* DeathByChildbirth: Carnelian's mother.
* [[DinosaursAreDragons Dinosaurs]] [-[[DinosaursAreDragons WITH FLAMETHROWERS]]-] [[DinosaursAreDragons Are Dragons]]
* DomesticatedDinosaurs: 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 [[HorseOfADifferentColor this world's equivalent to horses]]).
* {{Doorstopper}}: The first volume clocks in at just over 700 pages. The next two are even longer.
* EncyclopediaExposita: The writings of the Wise are occasionaly quoted.
* EnslavedElves: [[spoiler:The sartlar, who are considered little more than animals and have been entirely enslaved, turn out to be none other than the legendary [[{{Precursors}} Quyans]].]]
* EverythingsBetterWithDinosaurs: Prehistoric flora and fauna abound.
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes: In spite of the lengths she might have gone to in order to keep power, Ykoriana did have genuine love for [[spoiler:her daughters, the late Flama Ykoria (who she ''didn't'' actually murder, as previously thought) and Ykorenthe]]. And she did not take [[spoiler:the death of Carnelian's mother (her beloved younger sister) in childbirth well ''at all'']].
* EvilAlbino: The Masters.
* EyeScream: Blinding people is a ''routine punishment'' in this world.
* FantasticRacism: Sort of. The pale Masters believe themselves to be more than human and oppress the other, darker skinned people.
* GodEmperor: Born mortal, believed to ascend to godhood when he is crowned emperor.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler:Carnelian is fully prepared to do this at the end of the story, but fortunately doesn't actually have to go through with it.]]
* HorseOfADifferentColor: The aquar, some sort of theropod dinosaur.
* HumanSacrifice: The Maruli's offering to the Darkness Under the Trees. Also, all brothers (and other close male relatives with pure enough blood) of a new GodEmperor must be sacrificed during his Apotheosis.
* ImAHumanitarian: [[spoiler:What do you think is in the render?]]
* IncestIsRelative: And ''extremely'' common in the House of the Masks, usually in the form of BrotherSisterIncest and ParentalIncest pairings.
* KillItWithFire: The Masters use the sartlar's fear of fire to keep them at bay.
* KissingCousins: Fern and Sil, [[spoiler:Carnelian and Osidian, although they turn out to be [[SiblingIncest even more closely related.]]]]
* LowFantasy: So low, in fact, that there is no magic at all.
* LukeIAmYourFather: [[spoiler:Carnelian is actually the son of the God Emperor Kumatuya, making him Osidian and Molochite's half-brother.]]
* MalevolentMaskedMen: An entire race of them.
* MasterRace: One of the purest examples in all fiction.
* MaternalDeathBlameTheChild: Subverted with Carnelian's father Sardian, who does not blame him in the slightest for the death of his mother in childbirth. [[spoiler:Unfortunately for Carnelian, his aunt Ykoriana certainly does.]]
* {{Mayincatec}}: The Masters have some shades of this (see the picture above), but then again there're also significant Roman and Southeast Asian influences.
* MightyWhitey: Deconstructed in the second book with [[spoiler:Osidian amongst the Ochre]].
* MixedAncestry: 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.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: The Darkness Under the Trees. Legions. More subtly, [[spoiler:''Kor'' is the Quyan word for 'death'.]]
* NoWomansLand: The Masters are rather sexist. Fertile women are generally not even allowed to leave the house.
* OffingTheOffspring: In the first book, it is widely rumoured that Ykoriana recently murdered her own daughter Flama Ykoria [[note]](as her high blood rank, corresponding to an equally high number of votes, would have made sure her favoured brother Nephron would be chosen over Molochite in the election)[[/note]]. [[spoiler:However, we learn in the third book that ''Molochite'' was in fact the one who murdered Flama Ykoria, making it a subversion of the trope.]]
** [[spoiler:Ykoriana also tries to have Osidian (and Carnelian) killed by the end of the book, but the attempt is unsuccessful.]]
* ParentalIncest: Often occurs within the imperial House of the Masks (see BrotherSisterIncest above as for why). Yes, this story has ''every'' kind of family lovin'.
* PinballProtagonist: 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.
* PteroSoarer: The briefly mentioned "sky saurians".
* QueerRomance: Carnelian's romances with [[spoiler:Osidian and later with Fern]] are a central part of the story.
* RaptorAttack: The raveners appear to be this.
* ReligionOfEvil: The Maruli's worship of "The Darkness Under the Trees". They appear to greatly fear it themselves.
* RoyalBlood
* RoyalInbreeding
* ScaryBlackMan: Applies to all the Marula oracles of the Darkness Under the Trees, but especially to Morunasa.
* SituationalSexuality: 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 [[NoWomansLand 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.
* SlaveCollar: Members of the legions are forced to wear these. As they can't take these off themselves, the Masters have no trouble identifying deserters.
* SlaveRace: The sartlar.
* SoleSurvivor: [[spoiler:Fern becomes this after Osidian's massacre of the Ochre tribe.]]
* StockDinosaurs:
** [[UsefulNotes/PrehistoricLifeCeratopsids Ceratopsids]] ("huimur")
** [[UsefulNotes/PrehistoricLifeSauropods Sauropods]] ("heaveners")
** [[UsefulNotes/PrehistoricLifeBirdlikeTheropods Raptors]] ("raveners")
** [[UsefulNotes/PrehistoricLifeLargeTheropods Medium-sized theropods]] ("aquar")
** [[UsefulNotes/PrehistoricLifeNonDinosaurianReptiles Pterosaurs]] ("sky saurians")
* StraightGay: None of the gay characters are in any way stereotypical - probably owing to the fact that the author himself is gay.
* SurpriseIncest: [[spoiler:Twice. Carnelian and Osidian are cousins. Oh no wait, they're actually brothers!]]
* TangledFamilyTree: '''[-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.
* WhamLine:
** [[spoiler:"Though in every way that matters to me you are my son, it is not my blood that runs in your veins."]]
** [[spoiler:"The sartlar ''are'' the Quyans."]]
* WorldBuilding: A fantastically detailed, almost obsessive example, [[AllThereInTheManual fleshed out even more on the author's website]].
* WrittenByTheWinners: [[spoiler: 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.]]