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Tornor Keep is the legendary tower that guards the winter end of a summer land. But when Tornor is overrun by raiders, a young prince is the tower's last hope-in an enchanting story of a time far removed from ours, and a land alive with warriors, lovers, war and honor. The Watchtower is the first in the memorable Chronicles of Tornor Trilogy by one of speculative fiction's most honored and exciting voices.

224 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published February 1, 1979

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About the author

Elizabeth A. Lynn

50 books88 followers
Elizabeth A. Lynn is a US writer most known for fantasy and to a lesser extent science fiction. She is particularly known for being one of the first writers in science fiction or fantasy to introduce gay and lesbian characters; in honor of Lynn, the LGBT bookstore "A Different Light" took its name from her novel.

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5 stars
200 (20%)
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299 (31%)
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344 (35%)
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91 (9%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 83 reviews
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,964 followers
June 8, 2020
Winner of the '80 World Fantasy Award.

As I was reading this, I was struck by something rather odd. Intense, even. I almost swore I was reading George R. R. Martin's SoIaF. It has all the feel of Snow in the Watch, the Summer lands versus the Winter, the intense focus on swordcraft and making it through tough times, tougher battles, and reveling in all the details.

Indeed, anyone missing a taste of THAT would do well to revisit Lynn.

Of course, if you'd prefer to read this novel for its place as a classic Feminist fantasy tale, please do so, but read it for its place in time. There have been TONS of similar feminist treatments since 1980. Fantasy is now rife with the strong-minded and capable warrior princesses.

Not bad at all, but read with today's eye for grim fantasy, it's not the best.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,644 reviews5,094 followers
December 30, 2015
this is high fantasy world-building without the fantasy. the novel - indeed, the trilogy - is less about constructing a thrilling narrative and more concerned with characterization and illustrating the author's central theme: change in the world must always come - the only question is in how it is accepted, how it can be made personally transformative. how will the wheels of time and change slowly exert their influence within our central character and the prince (and change-agent) that he guards, and throughout the world that is re-developing itself around them? ambiguously low-key and fascinatingly subtle. a man of war should surely be the most able to recognize the price of war, and the prize of peace.
Profile Image for Ruth.
1,410 reviews35 followers
May 8, 2012
Published originally at www.fantasyliterature.com

Watchtower, the first book in the award-winning THE CHRONICLES OF TORNOR series by Elizabeth A. Lynn, follows the tale of a young prince — why is he called a prince when his father is a lord? I have no idea. This bothered me through the whole book — who has to fight against a usurper to regain his lands.

Watchtower is frequently included on lists of feminist and gay SFF. It does deal with an underlying homoerotic tension between the prince and his soldier, and the other two main characters are of ambiguous gender — saying more would spoil the unfolding of that plot. Compared to books today I doubt either of these issues would raise an eyebrow. After reading it, I surely didn’t consider this to be a shining example of feminist literature. We’ve come a long way, baby, right?

I had a problem with Elizabeth Lynn's writing style. Frequently I had to flip back a page to follow the construction of a particularly unruly sentence. At other times, paragraphs consisted of a string of short, choppy sentences that felt like speed bumps to the flow of the story. And then, you have weird word choices, where a farmer would be described as looking at the characters silently. While speaking. Or "I’m Errel," said Errel.

Errel’s the prince/lordling, by the way. He’s supposed to be all mystical and enigmatic because he can read a Tarot deck — which of course is given a fancy name in the book. All I have to say is, “There’s an app for that.” I found most of the characters flat and uninteresting. Stock motivations serve as real character building. There are hints that things would get better in this regard in the next book, but if you can’t make me care about a character in 225 pages, I’m not going to give you another book to try. (Someone needs to market a Care Bear Stare machine for authors that magically makes readers care about characters. It would make so. much. money.)

According to the cover, this book won a World Fantasy Award… I just checked the internets. It won according to them, too. This is an award that people like Ursula K. LeGuin, Guy Gavriel Kay, and China Miéville have won, so I guess I was just expecting something more earth-shattering than what I got, which is a fairly standard “prince loses his kingdom and has to go get it back” quest in a quasi-medieval setting. Watchtower was more innovative at the time of its writing, but honestly, I have no idea how this book beat Harpist in the Wind, the final book in THE RIDDLE-MASTER OF HED series by Patricia A. McKillip, which I consider to be far superior. There are other, more exciting medieval adventure novels that have since been published, so I don’t recommend Watchtower unless you're interested in the history of fantasy as a genre or of feminism in fantasy novels.
Profile Image for DivaDiane.
948 reviews89 followers
December 10, 2020
I read this because it was on the recommended reading list of the Feminist Fantasy, Science Fiction and Utopian literature group. I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. I know why it's considered important, but the story is just ok and nothing really felt new.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews1,016 followers
March 3, 2013
The story of Ryke, a soldier of Tornor Keep, a harsh castle in a wintry land. When the fortress is taken by raiders, Ryke stays loyal to his prince (now lord, since the old lord was killed in the battle), and contrives a way for them to escape the fort with the help of two neutral messengers, Sorren and Norres, whose gender and identities are secret....
They travel to a secret valley, named after a mythical land of always-summer, where an exiled soldier, Van, is teaching small groups of followers a martial art that is somewhere between judo and capoeira, infused with a new spiritual philosophy of balance. They set out to re-take the keep - but harsh lessons are in store before each of the characters learns that their path in life may not be what had always been expected of them.

It's a short book, but for a first novel, excellent. Still, I feel if Lynn had written this later in her career, she probably would have fleshed out both the characters and the complex details of their world to a greater extent.
Profile Image for l.
1,669 reviews
May 13, 2017
I don't have anything of interest to say about this book but i did notice that there are a lot of cat mentions. When none of these cats became significant, I felt somewhat betrayed.
Profile Image for Julio.
109 reviews1 follower
January 31, 2016
La Atalaya - Crónicas de Tornor, de Elizabeth A. Lynn.

Wow. Wow. Wow.
Una historia apasionante de princio a fin que no nos muestra un mundo vasto al estilo Tolkien o Martin dentro de los cánones de la fantasía épica. Sólo nos muestra una parte de él. La historia de Ryke de Tornor, un general norteño que tras perder la guerra se somete a la sombra de Col Istor, nuevo autoproclamado Señor del Reino. El rey ha muerto. Pero cuando Ryke busca los restos del príncipe y a la vez su protegido Errel, no encuentra nada más que espectros, una leve esperanza de que se encuentre con vida. Y por fortuna, acierta. Col Istor lo ha convertido en bufón de la corte. Desde ese momento Ryke trama un ardid con el otrora príncipe para escapar del castillo, pero los dos no estarán solos. Los dos mensajeros ghyas, venidos del clan verde, estarán de su lado.

La Atalaya es una historia de fantasía con elementos llamados LGBT (siglas que se utilizan para designar a personas lesbianas, gays, bisexuales y transexuales). Así se dice. Aunque mi opinión es que estos elementos a penas los roza. Los pincela. Y que buena pinceladas que da, porque se siente la tensión, la atracción entre hombres, entre mujeres, así como la fragancia a suavidad de las barbillas razuradas apenas. Además la prosa es envolvente. Muy superior, y sí, no me importa que los fans me maten, a escritores de género como Martin, Lynch, Sanderson, Rothfuss, y el sobrevalorpado, y sólo es mi opinión, en prosa Joe Abercrombie. Eso sí. Con Sapkowski nadie rivaliza. Sólo Eco con Baudolino. Porque Sapkowski es de otras ligas.

En personajes estuvo bien. Grandiosos algunos. Otros decentes. No profundiza en los villanos. Sólo en los protagonistas, y es porque es una novela que no es larga pese a pertencer a una trilogía cuyas otras partes no han sido traducidas y que son historias independientes como esta. Me he quedado con ganas de saber cómo son las otras partes, las cuales voy a leer pronto.

El argumento por un momento decae, más o menos en los capítulos diez, once y doce, pero es un momento de recesión. Luego vuelve a subir la tención hasta el último capítulo, numerado con quince, y el final me ha dejado muy satisfecho. Termina bien. Como una gran historia.

La Atalaya se ha ganado 8.9 cartas de las posibles y una calificación de notable tirando a sobresaliente.

Por cierto. Olvidé mencionar las cartas. El libro viene con un apéndice donde aparece la descripción de las veintiuno, las cuales también aparecen durante la historia y sirven para predecir el futuro. Otro punto que olvidé nombrar son los chearis, o danzarines, que forman parte de la mitología de este mundo, una muy importante y, por último, los tés abortivos de los cuales seguramente se inspiró Martin para crear el té de luna. Seguramente, digo, porque pueda que se haya inspirado en la naturaleza.

Buen libro. Sin sangre. Sin muchas guerras. Cero gore. Y con una ambientación medieval descrita de manera perfecta.
Profile Image for Michelle.
573 reviews36 followers
May 14, 2007
the problem with tolkein is that his writing is so dense that it feels like you're wading through setting concrete to get to the good story buried underneath. this book, the first in a trilogy, has the exact opposite problem: sentences are so short and choppy that they become distracting to the good story.

'watchtower' has taken a familiar story - the kingdom is overthrown by an interloper and the young prince must rally help to reclaim his birthright - and throws enough new twists to make it interesting. those short, choppy sentences work well for the action sequences. there's a good dash of old-school feminism (it was originally published in '79), including an open but not explicit lesbian couple. the characters here feel real: nobody is either epically heroic or epically evil. unfortunately, it never *quite* comes together, and it's slow in some places. the story is good enough to entice me into reading the next one in the trilogy, though.
Profile Image for Ken-ichi.
597 reviews555 followers
November 18, 2019
I guess this was notable when it was published for some mild gender-bending and queer relationships, but it's mostly just medieval-ish swords and castles and made-up names. The writing is fine. The plot is fine. The characters are fine. If that's what you're looking for, you'll be fine. Highly recommended if you're having trouble sleeping.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
302 reviews54 followers
June 23, 2017
This is a really hard review to write, because while reading it, I was enjoying it. It didn't blow my mind, but it was fine. And then the ending happened. I seriously thought about substrating a whole star just for that to be honest, but didn't in the end.

It was not a disaster when it came to the plot, but it was very unsatisfying regarding the most important relationship in this story.
Imagine a book dropping little hints here and there all the way through and you start to suspect things and get the meaning of some of the things said earlier.
And then, two pages before the end, it turns out you were right but now it's too late!?
In my headcanon If there is fanfiction out there, someone please link me!

The author is not a friend of long descriptions or embellishing. Everything is short and to the point, which is why the emotions get shortchanged in moments that should have high tensions. I think there was only one moment where Ryke was allowed to actually feel something really deep, but it was weirdly in reaction to something pretty minor - understanding why he was reacting that way in that particular moment, doesn't negate that there should have been quite a few almost-break-down moments for several characters what with all the death and destruction surrounding them.

Nonetheless, I thought it mostly worked and actually almost felt a bit refreshing in a way.

I think my favorite thing about this book was the character of Errel, the prince our POV character Ryker swore to protect. He was capable and smart, but he had no taste for bloodshed, even when he knew it was inevitable. I kept nodding along with him every time he opened his mouth (while I sometimes disagreed hard with Ryker). The conlusion to his story made a lot of sense and I'm happy about it in a way. If only we could tweak it a bit.
I also enjoyed Sorren and Norres quite a lot, but saying anything more about them would be a spoiler. I was mostly happy with the ending they got.
Lastly, our POV character Ryker was... not likeable per se, but a pretty good character in general. He was pretty much the soldier-who-doesn't-know-how-to-be-anything-else trope, but with a twist. He also was in the middle of that intrigueing hinting-at-something-game the story played with us. Sadly, I was pretty dissatisfied with his ending exactly because of it. Once again, it kind of made sense for the character, but I will just make up my own sequel in my head to fix the part I hated.

Since the next books in this series has nothing to do with these characters and only shares the location, I will probably not read them. Neither the world nor the writing were that exciting and I already said that the ending annoyed me quite a lot. Not going to risk it.
623 reviews8 followers
February 13, 2022
“Watchtower” is a powerfully intimate examination of personality, desire, tragedy and renewal set in a fictional world that rivals LeGuinn’s Earthsea books.

It’s taken 41 years for me to finally read “Watchtower,” the novel that won Elizabeth A. Lynn a World Fantasy Award. Sometime in late 1979, I came across the second book in the Chronicles of Tornor trilogy, “The Dancers of Arun.” I don’t know how many times I re-read sections of “Dancers,” a book that went a long way in convincing me, an isolated farm boy, that there might be a place for me in this world. It was about a fantasy world that had real world resonance for me.

Reading “Watchtower” all these years later is a revelation. My younger self would have missed Lynn’s artistry, the remarkable depth and breadth of her imagination, and her impressive psychological insight. It also shows that her work stands the test of time, confirming her legacy as a visionary literary pioneer who pushed past the limits society places on gender and sexuality.

“Watchtower” is told from the perspective of Ryke, a 26 year old commander serving the Lord of Tornor Keep. The book opens with the burning of Tornor, it’s Lord killed by a renegade army, with Ryke forced to serve the renegade leader in order to save the life of his prince, Errel. As events unfold, Ryke is forced to leave and confront ideas, beliefs and people radically different from what he knows.

Lynn eschews easy answers to Ryke’s inner journey. Rather than a clear cut portrait of transformation, in Ryke she offers an in-depth look at the ways we paper-over ambiguities in our lives, how we latch on to external commitments and old learning so that we don’t have to look too deeply into who we really are. Along the way, Lynn offers startlingly original and memorable characters that bring out different emotions and conflicts in Ryke. With each new character, Lynn’s world becomes ever more nuanced, rich, and compelling. She lets the ambiguities resonate and grow, until her fictional world feels just as complex and real as everyday life.

Lynn’s style is one of acute observation and accretion of details. Each sentence is specific and pointed, and they build on each other until the rich texture of her world is vivid and clear.

And now I know the origin of the cheari, the famous dancers of the second book. It’s only now, after all these years, that I am finally seeing the sweep and beauty of the Tornor world.

We encounter many possible and fantastic worlds in the books we read and the movies and TV shows we see. But how many of them would we really, deep down and honestly, want to visit? How many resonate clearly enough, sincerely enough, to wholly enchant us?

Lynn’s Tornor is one such world. If someone opened a magic door, would I go? In a heartbeat.
Profile Image for Marta.
301 reviews
September 29, 2020
A very interestin fantasy novel. Really liked the writing and the characters (Ryke, the main one was very good fleshed out, as well as secondary ones), the world was a little bit confusing for me, but that's just my brain.
Profile Image for Jorge Fernández.
399 reviews28 followers
March 12, 2021
Una historia fantástica (más) sin elementos fantásticos que basa sus fortalezas en los personajes y no en su trama, ya que todas las decisiones que se toman están bastante cogidas con pinzas. Hace 40 años ya se escribían personajes no-normativos y no pasaba nada. Hasta ganaban premios. Disfrutable.
Profile Image for Juushika.
1,551 reviews163 followers
March 11, 2020
Reread 2020: Dropping this from 4 stars down to 3 stars, but I actually like it more the second time through. My opinion of it had faded in time; I remembered it as the depressing Tornor book, the one where fulfillment in non-normative relationships/societies is dangled before the protagonist (and reader)—but denied. And all of that is there on reread, but knowing to expect disappointment turns it into a subdued study of why we can't always get what we want—of what needs and limitations lie in the way of fulfillment, even while undergoing personal growth; it makes that growth more real.

It was less than a month and a half. Yet in that time they had gone from winter to summer to winter again, juggling between north and south--and now it was spring in Tornor.

This is still the least enjoyable of the series, but I'm curious how it will compare to my reread of The Northern Girl, because I suspect I may actually like this more.

First read 2013: When Tornor Keep is captured by southern raiders, Ryke must become one of the new Lord's guardsmen in order to protect the life of the Keep's overthrown Prince--until both can find an avenue of escape. Watchtower has a terse, staccato, repetitive style that gives it deceptive speed and simplicity, but at its heart it's a deeply personal tale. This is fantasy without magic: a familiar but foreign setting, intricately realized and intensely problematic; the conflict between worldviews that arises within it is predictable but the depth of those experiencing it give it new life and bring with them subtle, fraught, affecting interpersonal relationships (and fairly diverse ones, especially for the book's release date). Ryke is a standout character whose repressed inner monologue exposes a difficult and conflicted man; his core companions are also strong, although characters grow increasingly archetypal the further they are from the heart of the story. All in all, a good book but not a great one, but it hits just enough of my favorite notes to keep me engaged. This book stands alone, and I moderately recommend it; I will probably try out the next in the series.

(The Ace trade edition I read is chockablock full of typos.)
Profile Image for Lance Schonberg.
Author 35 books25 followers
June 9, 2017
So, secondary world fantasy without any actual fantastic elements. Secondary world fiction then, maybe. But really, there is no speculative element to the story beyond that, a complete lack of magic, strange creatures, gods, or any of your other standard fantasy tropes.

And yet it’s a good story.

Oh, on the surface, it’s a fairly standard story. Small kingdom (closer to a city state, really) is invaded and most of the soldiers and its lord are killed. One of the guard captains accidentally survives, as does the lord’s son. They escape and go recruit some help to take the town back. Simple, straightforward, easy to follow.

But the characters have to work at things a little harder than that. Ryke, the guard captain, has to make a lot of compromises and moral adjustments to keep his prince alive, save him, and get the help they need. The prince has to change who he is. They both need to come to the realization that women are people too and may have their own thoughts and feelings.

And there’s world building here, though so much of it is in the background that it’s just naturally a part of the story. An otherworldly capoeira, a martial art disguised as dance slips in somewhere in the hidden valley, promising that there’s a whole other culture yet to explore. The south is very different from the north.

It also seems to be a small world, taking days on horse to get to what are considered far away places. Or maybe the horses are just very, very fast. Populations are equally small. I have the feeling this will get stretched out a bit in future books of the series, but just now, it seems small. So small that, in the journeying chapters, I’m often mentally subbing in ‘weeks’ for ‘days’ because it seems far more reasonable to me.

Overall rating: 3.5 stars. I enjoy almost all the characters. The bad guy isn’t really bad, exactly, just looking to forge a new home and set himself up as the lord. The hero has moral struggles. The prince he’s supporting makes major life changes.

And there’s a lot of inclusivity here, particularly among those who live in the secret valley, including an out lesbian couple. Quite a change from the standard fare of the late 1970s.
814 reviews6 followers
July 18, 2022
Kommandant Ryke überlebt den Angriff auf Tornor Keep durch die Truppen des Südländers Col Istor. Der Lord ist tot, sein Sohn Errel wird gefangen genommen und muss sich als Hofnarr demütigen lassen. Ryke, der durch einen Schwur gebunden ist, muss sich Col unterwerfen, denn er muss Errel schützen.

Keine übliche Fantasy, eher sowas wie ein historischer Roman aus einer fiktiven Vergangenheit. Aus der POV-Perspektive des Kommandanten Ryke. Es passiert nicht viel. Es erinnert ein wenig an GRRM nur ist es minimalistisch, wo dieser episch ist. Es ist auch ein definitiver Gegensatz zu den unzähligen Tolkien-Clonen der Zeit.

Die Story ist sehr straight und einfach. Der erste Teil, als Ryke und sein Prinz unter dem Eroberer in ihrer eigenen Burg leben müssen, bringt einige Spannung. Später, als sie in Sicherheit sind, ist die Spannung raus und gepflegte Langeweile macht sich breit. Gegen Ende wird es nochmal interessanter, aber es läuft alles arg straight ab. Naja, bis auf die queer-feministischen Elemente ganz am Ende.
Der Stil ist eigenwillig, vor allem im englischen Original. Kurze Sätze. Das irritiert etwas mit der Zeit.

Magie kommt in diesem Buch kaum vor.

Es hat den World Fantasy Award 1980 erhalten, was etwas übertrieben scheint. Vielleicht hat das, was man heute als "Wokeness" bezeichnen würde, die Jury beeindruckt. Es wird als feministisch angesehen, es gibt Lesben sowie Frauen, die kämpfen. Und schwule Fantasien bei den männlichen Protagonisten
Profile Image for Katelynn.
698 reviews15 followers
March 26, 2022
Sometimes, in my quest to read more foundational queer SFF, I forget that I'm not always going to get exactly what I want on page. Much is implied, takes place entirely off page, or is so scarcely hinted at you're not really sure if you're reading into things correctly. And the rest is... sometimes in need of your forgiveness given the age of the text. (A little confused, but got the spirit, etc etc.)

I felt similarly when I read The Fire's Stone, though I actually think that book is stronger in many ways. But then again, this book is a decade older. Still, I was devastated to discover there is only one Ryke/Errel fic on AO3, so I can't even console myself with that. Tragic.

After having looked into the premise of the other books in this series, I won't be continuing on.
Profile Image for Yve.
245 reviews
February 20, 2017
I feel like I'm missing something with this one - it's so acclaimed and yet I can't think it was more than okay... the social ideas were interesting, especially the male-dominated almost family-less structure of the Keeps along with the low value on human life but I didn't feel they were quite so developed. The whole thing is written in an extremely dry style that doesn't give away much but is also difficult to read. Perhaps there was some incredible hidden subplot that I missed in my boredom, but I thought it was an average medieval-esque almost-fantasy with weird pacing to boot. Didn't hate it, but not interested in the rest of the series.
Profile Image for Megumi_rei.
33 reviews2 followers
July 19, 2019
Неплохое фэнтези, с проработанным миром, интересной сюжетной завязкой, из которой, как мне кажется, можно было выжать гораздо больше, чем это сделал автор, направляя историю в "квестовое" русло. Не понимаю, почему этой книге присваивают ЛГБТ-тег, ибо здесь им и не пахнет. Даже броманс спорно притянуть, ибо принц с верным гг-вассалом все таки друзья, хотя за ориентацию принца я не ручаюсь: судя по второй книге у танцоров там весьма свободные отношения. Ну а так средненькая, ровно написанная история, с которой приятно скоротать пару вечеров. Вторую книгу когда-нибудь тоже заценю, мужики в коментах под ней на геев ругались, с призывом не читать, что кричит мне об обратном хД
Profile Image for Nathaniel.
414 reviews50 followers
June 4, 2019
sparse and wintery and yet somehow also claustrophobic. violent and deeply troubled by that violence, as something that’s not inevitable but a product of a particular social organization (not for no reason did Joanna Russ describe this as “an adventure story for humanists and feminists”). major lesbian characters — although not the character the narative is presented through — as noted in other reviews. extremely compelling.
Profile Image for Kaśyap.
271 reviews123 followers
May 21, 2014
A good story and interesting characters and themes but some stilted dialogue and prose.
Profile Image for Gloria Gna.
241 reviews
February 16, 2021
Me leí hace bastantes años este libro y, francamente, lo recordaba mejor.

La historia está contada desde el punto de vista de Ryke, un comandante de una fortaleza en la frontera norte de Arun, lindante con el belicoso país de Anhard, que es el enemigo de siempre de Arun. El personaje de Ryke, reservado, sobrio, sin estridencias, me gusta hoy como me gustó la primera vez que lo leí. Y el estilo de la escritora también me agrada, frases breves, contundentes, va soltando ideas que encajan entre sí para formar un tapiz muy visual. Pero el trasfondo es poco consistente.

Me explico: la acción arranca con la fortaleza de Tornor tomada por un ejército enemigo. El señor por derecho de la fortaleza ha muerto, su único hijo y heredero, Errel, ha sido tomado como rehén y a cambio de su vida, el general enemigo requiere que Ryke se ponga a su servicio.

¿Qué es lo que me parece inconsistente? Todo. Hay cuatro fortalezas en la frontera con Anhard. Pero resulta que no se ayudan ni se apoyan entre ellas y dejan que las vayan sometiendo una a una. Resulta también que el enemigo no viene del norte, de más allá de las montañas, sino del sur, es decir, del mismo Arun. ¿Una guerra civil? No se explica. Y además debe ser que las fortalezas están fabricadas de cartón piedra, porque Col Istor ya se ha apoderado de dos de las cuatro, sin largos asedios y sin perder demasiadas tropas, mientras que los defensores, que en teoría estaban en mejor posición para repeler enemigos y que eran soldados entrenados, mueren todos.

Pues eso, que se me hace inconsistente.

El caso es que llegan a Tornor un par de mensajeros que traen una propuesta de tregua de la tercera fortaleza y Errel, que los conoce, les pide ayuda para escapar.

La huída también es inverosimil. Si tan fácil era salir de la fortaleza, nada hubiese impedido que Ryke y Errel hubiesen escapado hace meses, porque eso es lo que sucede en la historia: ellos se tienen que apañar por su cuenta para salir y entonces los mensajeros se avienen a llevarlos a la grupa de sus monturas. Esa es toda la ayuda. Pero puesto que Ryke podía salir de la fortaleza para ir al pueblo vecino, pudo escapar con Errel en una de tales salidas, sin ser llevado a la grupa de nadie.

Tras escapar pasan por la fortaleza de las Nubes, la que ha firmado una tregua con Col Istor, por lo que el señor de la misma les dice que no puede alojarlos, así que siguen más al sur, hasta un valle encerrado entre montañas donde hay una sociedad idílica de personas estupendamente entrenadas para pelear pero amantes de la paz. O algo así.

Porque lo cierto es que se dejan convencer con gran facilidad para ayudar a Errel a recuperar su fortaleza. De hecho, el jefe pacifista es quien planea como hacerlo.

Para entonces Col Istor ya ha dominado también la tercera fortaleza y solo queda una, lo que me hace pensar que los muros de dichas fortalezas eran de cartón piedra, que no tenían arqueros o que se dejaban las puertas abiertas.

Resumiendo, siguiendo el plan de Van, vuelven al norte, convencen al señor de la fortaleza de Pel, la única que queda para que les ayude y reconquistan tanto la fortaleza de las Nubes como la de Tornor. Cada conquista en un solo día, sin apuros.

Y entonces Errel... Bueno, entonces pasa lo único inesperado de toda una historia que no me ha atrapado en ningún momento, pero prefiero no destripar lo que pasa entonces.
Profile Image for Andreia.
296 reviews3 followers
November 9, 2021
This first book in the Chronicles of Tornor trilogy can be read as a standalone. The other two books seem to follow different characters.

The book starts when Tornor Keep is taken by an enemy and the main character, named Ryke, starts to work for the him as a soldier. The prince, Errel, is captured and forced to be a jester. They both try to escape and find a plan to go back and put the prince in command of the keep again.

This is a character driven story with little plot and some world building. There aren’t many action scenes and the fights are over pretty quickly.

I liked the characters, but they could have been a bit more fleshed out (especially Norres). The bits of world building were interesting and I liked that there was a w|w couple and a bi main character. I wish both of the women in the relationship had the same care when it comes to characterization, but since the story is told from the perspective of Ryke I can forgive that.

I liked that the prince was interested in an art similar to Tarot and trusted the cards as a way of predicting the future too.

Ryke mentions his family here and there, but I never got a sense of who they were and it gives the impression that he doesn’t care that much for them. This character is a bit sexist at first, but the text shows that it’s out of ignorance and doesn’t make him that unlikable.

I was expecting that a romantic relationship would develop between Ryke and Errel, but that didn’t happen. There is only sharing the bed moments and unshakable loyalty from Ryke to his prince and then… the ending!

This book has a surprisingly feminist ending and this was the first time I saw a main character that had 2 unrequieted crushes and no other love interest! I kept seeing reviews about how this book is not original by today’s standards, but this was really unique. I would like to know where people saw something executed like this before.

This short book is mostly focused on dialogue and learning. The plot isn’t that original, but some decisions of the author at the end pleasantly surprised me. I am still surprised by how much I enjoyed this book first published in 1979 and how well it holds up by today’s standards, even though it took me some chapters to get into it and there is at least an outdated word.
Profile Image for Nathan Anderson.
109 reviews24 followers
October 1, 2021
World Fantasy Award Winners— read #8:

With reading all the WFA winners, I’m starting to get less overwhelmed by the first couple of decades. I obviously still have a ways to go, but I only have a couple left in the 70s, and I have the 80s half done with now.

Watchtower was one of the books that was lower on my priority list, if only because the premise sounded as if I wouldn’t be excited by it as much as some others have. But, I found this and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld at a used bookstore for very cheap, and decided to bump it up on the basis that I actually have a physical copy of it. There’s not *a lot* to tie Watchtower to Fantasy in the sense that there’s not much of a presence of supernatural elements to the world that the characters inhabit. It has more in common with the feudalism and politics/tactical discussion that goes on in a novel like Game of Thrones than the epic plotting, creatures and magic of Lord of the Rings. The book’s main mystical element rather comes from a fighting style that is derived of eastern practices, of mixing martial arts with dancing. There’ also a minor element of Tarot influencing the narrative.

The prose is lean and efficient, but not ‘simplistic’. The characters and the world they inhabit are well developed without being too detailed. Perhaps the biggest point of notoriety and acclaim that Watchtower has received however, is that a handful of prominent characters in the book are gay, but the plot is not concerned with this, it’s simply not drawn attention to— instead, it features characters whose sexuality is something that is accepted within this world’s culture, and in essence, features a positive portrayal that neither panders nor condemns. This all said, the plotting is pretty bare, and the latter ⅔ of the novel becomes quite dull and padded, ending on a battle sequence that fails to be intense or terribly exciting.

It’s a fine enough book, but ultimately doesn’t have the lasting power that other WFA reads have possessed.

Profile Image for Mikko Saari.
Author 3 books183 followers
October 8, 2022
Valtakunnan pohjoista rajaa vartioi Tornorin linna. Valitettavasti uhka tuleekin etelästä – paha Col Ista tulee joukkoineen ja valtaa linnan, tappaen samalla linnan valtiaan. Valtiaan poika, prinssi Errel, ei ole paikalla, mutta jää pian vangiksi. Vahdinkomentaja Ryke alistuu uuden valtiaan alaisuuteen, koska voi sillä tavoin pitää Errelin hengissä.

Ryke ja Errel onnistuvat lopulta pakenemaan Tornorista, kiitos avuliaiden viestinviejien. Vaan mihin tie heidät vie ja pystyvätkö he nousemaan Col Istaa vastaa ennen kuin tämä valtaa kaikki pohjoisen linnat? Ryken näkökulmasta kerrottu tarina sisältää paljon matkustamista ja jonkin verran henkistä kasvua – Ryke on hieman yksinkertainen pohjoisen soturi, perusäijä, jolle maailma tarjoaa paljon uutta ja ihmeellistä.

Nuoren, vain 23-vuotiaan kirjailijan esikoisteos Watchtower palkittiin vuonna 1980 World Fantasy -palkinnolla. Se hämmästyttää hieman: Watchtower on miellyttävä pieni tarina, mutta ei paljon enempää – ei siis mikään unohdettu klassikko, joka kaikkien pitäisi lukea. Kirjalla on pituutta vain parisataa sivua ja Lynnin ilmaisu on muutenkin varsin tiivistä ja lyhytlauseista. Lyhyessä kirjassa ehditään taistella, elää kaikessa rauhassa, oppia elämää ja taistella taas lisää.

Lynn on kuitenkin kerännyt aikalaisiltaan kehua ja kirjaa on ylistetty muun muassa yhtenä ensimmäisistä fantasiakirjoista, joissa kuvataan homoseksuaalista parisuhdetta luontevasti ja osoittelematta. Kirjassa on myös vahvasti feministisiä tai tasa-arvoa edistäviä sävyjä.

World Fantasy Award ei siis sittenkään petä. Watchtower oli leppoisa lukukokemus, josta jäi hyvä mieli. Suosittelen muillekin fantasian ystäville, sen verran Watchtower poikkeaa tavanomaisimmista kuvioista. Jatkan mieluusti Chronicles of Tornor -sarjan muihin kirjoihin (The Dancers of Arun ja The Northern Girl). (3.8.2010)
Profile Image for Netti.
480 reviews12 followers
September 30, 2018
Fantasy. First published 1979

Wie schon in den "Dragon" Romanen, gefallen mir die schlichte Sprache und die Ausführlichkeit, mit der Alltägliches geschildert wird... essen, trinken, kochen, waschen, aufräumen, schlafen... es zieht mich in die Geschichte und lässt mich zum unmittelbaren Beobachter, sogar zum Teilnehmer der Gruppe werden.

Anfangs befürchtete ich, es könnte so eine militaristische Krieger-Romantik-Saga werden, wie sie - leider, leider - so typisch für Fantasy-Literatur ist. Aber im Gegenteil: viele wichtige Personen haben sogar eine pazifistische Weltanschauung, die man als eine Mischung von Buddhismus und Kommunismus beschreiben kann. So wirkt dieses Buch gedanklich wesentlich reifer als die viel später entstandenen "Dragon" Romane... möglicherweise wirken hier noch die 60er Jahre in der Autorin nach... aber sie hat "Make Love Not War" offensichtlich nicht durch Materialismus, Oberflächlichkeit, Narzissmus und Wettbewerbsdenken der 90er Jahre retten können?

Es gibt keinerlei "fantastische" Elemente in diesem Buch (Magie, Dämonen, fantastische Tierwesen...), sondern es ist eher eine Art Parallel-Universum, ein mittelalterliches Setting, in dem die Autorin mit alternativen Möglichkeiten für gesellschaftliche, politische und kulturelle Strukturen spielt.
160 reviews
February 14, 2022
Solid story of action and revenge. A soldier and his young lord are captives after their keep is captured, and come up with plans to escape and retake it. The earliest parts are strongest, when they are weakest and the intrigue is highest. The middle is weak as it starts to become more predictable, and feel like a morality tale as the soldier learns his lessons. The ending is a solid conclusion. The writing and characterization is short and efficient, but effective. It feels like there is a good amount of story here for the length, with lots of details that imply a broader world.

I wish there were more info given on the motivations of the main villain, I can't remember if a reason is ever given why he is waging war. It seems unusual and strange in the context of the setting. The ending also feels like it's over too quick, like there's a word count and it has to be wrapped up. These combined make the ending of the main plot feel kind of hollow. As the first of a series, I wonder how intentional this is - it feels like an introduction to the world moreso than a big conclusion on its own.
Profile Image for Walter Underwood.
306 reviews19 followers
July 9, 2022
If you've become used to 700 page fantasy tomes that describe every single thing whether it matters or not, this may feel a little odd. This is a complete, fufilling story, but there is nothing extra. If Ryke doesn't see or hear it, we don't know about it. Yes, there is detailed worldbuilding, but it is all in service of the story, not displayed for your admiration.

The first part is a plot that I usually don't like, where the characters don't have any agency and follow some unknown path without a destination. Usually, we see The Hand Of The Author pushing them around, but here, we see Ryke experiencing new things and fighting against them while Errel eagerly soaks them up. But we don't get to see what Errel is learning, so we're partly in the dark. It is an interesting twist that kept me engaged.

Give it a try. See if you can leave your 21st century fantasy expectations tucked away and read this for what it is.
233 reviews2 followers
June 11, 2022
This novel won the World Fantasy Award for best novel in 1980. I've had this on my shelf since the mid 80's, and I'm glad that I finally read it. This is an anti-heroic fantasy novel. The writing is often evocative, but the style is terse and clipped. Quite a contrast to Robert E. Howard or Tolkein. The heroes and heroines come across as mostly ordinary. The fallen prince seems rather uncertain that he even wants his keep back. The fantasy element of the novel is practically nil--this is an alternate medieval society with unique customs that have the flavor of fantasy. The main reason this probably one the award is that some of the characters are homosexual, but Lynn handles this is a very matter of fact manner. For the most part, the other characters accept this. However, the crux of the novel is that it may be easier to accept others rather than yourself.
Profile Image for Stephen Poltz.
684 reviews4 followers
January 14, 2023
This is the first book of a series called “The Chronicles of Tornor”. I read the third book several years ago and really liked it. The Northern Girl had excellent world building and characterization, particularly for the third book in a trilogy. However, the books are somewhat standalone, taking place in the same universe. “Watchtower” was not as enjoyable as the other book. I found the prose to be quite dense and erratic: sometimes long, confusing sentences, other times too short and choppy. I never quite cared for the main characters. Still, this book and author are considered big names in feminist and LGBTQ+ fantasy literature. It also won the 1980 World Fantasy Award.

Come visit my blog for the full review…
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