The Third God by Ricardo Pinto
The Third God is the last book of the Stone Dance of the Chameleon, a much anticipated ending to the series. Although the wait for this third book has been long, it was worth it.
At the end of The Standing Dead, the Ochre tribe has been massacred by Osidian, who becomes the most cruel and hateful person in the world in Carnelian's eyes. But there is also the threat of the Masters coming to Earthsky, putting the lives of Carnelian's loved ones in danger, so that he is forced to protect and ally with Osidian in order to save them.
The Third God tells of the return of Osidian and Carnelian to Osrakun, the war they wage against the Chosen that stay in their way and Osidian's revenge against his brother and mother.
I thought, when I bought the book, that the title was one "Big Spoiler". It is, and it isn't. In some sense it warns to the existence of another God, but its significance is really only learnt at the end of the book. There's a revelation that the title hints at, but only at the what, and not at the how.
Beautifully crafted in terms of world building, this book requires some time to read. Not only because of its size, but because of the pace of the action, that is not as fast as most fantasy, but takes time to describe both the beauty of the places and people, and the horror of war and human nature. Since the first book that I loved the Caste System that rules the Three Lands, the Masks and Costumes, the different people that inhabit it, and the sheer complexity of the politics and laws that make the world that is found in The Stone Dance of the Chameleon (I was really happy to find that there is a lot of extra material regarding the world building on the author's website).
I admit to being lost on some parts, when I couldn't remember exactly what happened in the previous books (after all, it has been some time since I read them), and when sometimes I couldn't see much sense to the characters actions. But when all the pieces finally were set in place, and the "secret" comes out, it makes so much sense, and it's perfect. That probably was what I loved the most in The Third God – the discovery of the founding stones of that society, the whys of the rules set in place. Much like in Tolkien's Silmarillion, I wanted to delve into the History of that fantasy world, that because of its complexity and level of detail, feels frighteningly real.
My favourite character from the beginning of the series was Osidian, and it was with some sadness that I came to realize that the story was not about him. It was with some apprehension that I continued reading, dreading what usually happens to characters that are evil in any way: their death. Osidian is not "The Evil One", although he is not a very pleasant fellow either. One of the strong points of The Stone Dance of the Chameleon is that it's ripe with morally grey characters, there is no black and white. Osidian is completely brutal and monstrous, but at the same time very much like a lost child in search of approval and love.
I loved reading this series, but, like it usually happens with good things, I'm sad that it came to an end. Different from most fantasy I've read, it evokes a vivid imagery every time I think about it. Not a fast or light read, but an immensely enjoyable one. I will probably do a re-read of the entire series in a near future.