The three books of the Chronicles of Tornor all revolve around characters with a connection to Tornor Keep in the north of the land of Arun, but only the first, Watchtower, uses the keep itself as a significant part of the plot. Elizabeth Lynn uses the 232-year time span of the trilogy to show the evolution of a culture as women acquire equality and war becomes less important. In this change, Tornor Keep moves from being a stronghold and seat of war to being almost deserted and obsolete ruins.
Watchtower begins with the conquest of Tornor Keep by Col Istor, a Southerner. Col captures Errel, the prince of Tornor, and requires him to serve as his cheari, or jester. Ryke, a captured soldier, swears service to Col in order to keep Errel alive. When Col is visited by the messengers Sorren and Norres, Errel and Ryke escape with them to the legendary Van’s Valley. There Errel learns to be a true cheari, a dancer and practitioner of martial arts similar to aikido. Ryke’s struggle is to accept Sorren and Norres’ lesbian love for each other, the idea of fighting without killing, and the idea that women can be as independent and as capable as men.
The novel concludes with the reconquest of Tornor Keep through an alliance with an army from one of the other keeps and the work of the chearas (a group of chearis). Errel then gives up his lordship to Sorren, his sister, who becomes the first Lady of Tornor, and returns to the Valley. Ryke remains in the North.
The Dancers of Arun also begins in Tornor Keep, 120 years later. Since the time of Watchtower, women have assumed much more leadership in society, the chearis have become the red clan, and both magic and homosexuality have become accepted....
(The entire section is 741 words.)