I think I read somewhere that "The Chosen" is Ricardo Pinto's first novel. I also know that Pinto is not a native of an English-speaking country. You wouldn't notice either. "The Chosen" is a powerfully written and well-imagined fantasy story poured onto the pages in a flawless and at times near-breathtaking English.

We follow protagonist Carnelian, one of the Masters, a race of superior beings that rule their lands like they were gods. Carnelian is at start not aware of all this, but is drawn back (with his father) from exile to enter a different country where political intrigue, treachery and violence are everywhere. "The Chosen" kicks off very well, with Carnelian and his father's voyage to Osrakum, centre of the Guarded Land. Things take place that shock the reader (for example dozens of people being destroyed because they saw Carnelian when he'd forgotten to put on his mask) and forge a clear picture of the culture of The Three Lands, with their original religion and culture. Indeed, "The Chosen" is a tour de force of the imagination, and I cannot recall having been so impressed with an author's sheer power of imagination since reading Stephen Donaldson's "Thomas Covenant" chronicles.

However, before the book concludes with a cliffhanger the likes of which will have you rushing to the shop to get the second part (unfortunately, damn Pinto's hide, not yet available!), it tends very much to lose focus and ramble on. There's too much subtlety, too many descriptions of travels, and not much action or excitement going on. I realise this is nothing more than idiosyncracy, but for me it caused about half of the book to more or less drag on. Beautifully written and rich in imagination, but still dragging on. The ending made up for a lot, though, so I shall definitely have to give part two a go...

An extremely promising book, this first part of the "The Stone Dance of the Chameleon" trilogy, and I am much looking forward to the sequels.

Released 1999, ISBN 0-553-50581-5



Written June 2000


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