Carnelian is of the Masters, cruel beings who rule their kingdom from an earthly paradise hidden in a crater that is the navel of the world. Soon after he is born, Carnelian�s father takes him across the sea to an island in the colourless north. Far from the Crater�s rituals and pomp, their household is allowed to become a family to the boy and the world of the Masters fades to alluring fairy tale.In deepest winter, years later, a ship comes riding before the gales, three Masters her only cargo. As these giants remove their masks of gold, Carnelian is awed by the light that seems to radiate from their skin. In formal conclave they ask Carnelian�s father to end his exile and return with them to oversee the election of a new God Emporer. His father�s agreement feeds Carnelian�s longing for the world beyond the sea, but as the days pass Carnelian watches with growing horror as the ship�s needs devour his home.
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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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February 01, 2001
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