Saturday, March 6, 2010

Girl on Book Action: The Magic of Recluce by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

The Magic of Recluce by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
ISBN: 0-812-50518-2


For centuries, the Masters of Recluce have guarded the borders of their Order-wrought land and destroyed every threat sent against them. But the power that defends the people of Recluce comes at a cost: absolute obedience to both the Masters and the rule of Order. And those who cannot abide the price of paradise are swiftly dealt with ...So when a young man, Lerris, becomes bored with the simple, orderly life of Recluce, he is sent into exile. For Lerris it is a chance for adventure, for the Masters it is a way to make him see the error of his ways. But there are other powers in the world than Order. And when the great Chaos-Master Antonin learns of Lerris' exile he sees in it a way to break the Master's rule and bring about the destruction of Recluce ...


My Thoughts:

I think at this point we all know that I really like fantasy novels, a lot. Let me now add that I like fantasy novels that are part of long series – the Katharine Kerr books I like are part of a 16-part series; I’ve made some forays into the Wheel of Time books; Robin Hobb writes mostly in trilogies, but the first three connect together to make a nine book story-arc. Bearing all that in mind, Wren lent me this novel, the first part of a 14-book series.

As an opener, it’s pretty good and the important thing is that it made me want to read more about this world and these characters. I mean, there were a couple of small problems. The focus on writing out sounds, especially the rain and the wind and the pony sounds got old fast. I really don’t care about the pony neighing or whickering or whatever it is ponies do. If it was done from time to time to add atmosphere or just an extra sensory element, it would have been alright, but it was done so frequently that it started to annoy me.

For a younger protagonist I have to say that Lerris wasn’t annoying. Sometimes teenage protagonists start to get on my nerves, because they are young, naive and whiny, but I had none of these issues with this book. The emotions he feels make sense and I was frustrated when he was frustrated, annoyed when he was annoyed, confused when he was confused and so on. The secondary characters were well developed, too, or well enough.

The magic system makes sense and its application is interesting. I also liked that “black” was the “good” colour and “white” the “bad” colour. The intuitive nature of it was well represented in the different wizards, too.

So, now for a spoiler, stop reading if you don’t want to know. Stop reading now, why are you still reading?

Something that bothered me was that about two-thirds of the way through the book one of the chaos-mages possesses one of the side-characters, Tamra. Lerris all of a sudden knows about this possession, when earlier he just had some vague dreams about Tamra and got a strange feeling when he saw the chaos-mage. The jump between him having suspicions about what is going on and him knowing what is happening isn’t really clearly established, which read like an oversight to me and seemed uncharacteristic of the detail of the rest of the novel.

End Spoilers

Overall, I’ll say this was worth reading and I’ll be reading more books in the series. While not being the strongest showing in the fantasy genre, it was enjoyable and intriguing, set in a decently well-developed world with plausible magic systems and politics.


  1. I tried to read this series years ago but just couldn't get into it. Robert Jordan's blurp on the cover made me check it out, but I stopped at about 100 pages...

  2. Hmm, I only got 4 books into the Wheel of Time series...anyway, this book did take a while to get used to, but I found it worked well since the protagonist didn't really know more than the reader.