Saturday, May 15, 2010

Girl on Book Action: The Towers of the Sunset by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

The Towers of the Sunset by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
ISBN: 0-812-51967-1


Towers of the Sunset returns to Recluce to tell the tale of the founding of the island kingdom, and of the heroic life of its founder, the powerful weather-magician Creslin. Son of the powerful military matriarch of Westwind in the northern mountains, he chooses exile rather than an arranged marriage and sets out on a search for his true identity as a man, developing his magical talents through constant conflict with the enigmatic white wizards of Candar. Creslin, unknowing, stands in the way of their subtle plot to subjugate the world. [I am borrowing this blurb from the official fan website since there was no back-cover blurb.]


My Thoughts:

This is the 2nd book in the Recluce Saga (you can find my review of the first one here) and rather than following up on Lerris’ story, this novel goes back in time to the founding of the island nation of Recluce. For me, this led to some issues in reading the book. Remember how for the first book I said that Lerris’ ignorance was kind of endearing and discovering things as he discovered them was okay, that I didn’t need to know everything? Well, we make a similar journey in this book, which means it was repetitive. Doing the coming-of-age story once in a series is okay – I suppose doing it twice in a really long one, but spaced apart, is also okay, but I felt as though I was reading a slightly altered version of The Magic of Recluce.

I enjoyed the mythology added in this novel – especially with regard to the matriarchal societies and the fall of the angels. And learning how Recluce was founded was engaging as well. Once the story got to that point I was actually interested, although even that started to feel repetitive with how much time was spent on building up the fact that the people on the island were struggling to make ends meet. It felt unnecessarily drawn-out to me.

I’m also a little disappointed in the portrayal of female characters. While they are present and have a certain amount of power, they are never set up as true equals to the male protagonist. Megaera starts out as a force to be reckoned with, but by the end she is so tightly connected to Creslin that she really doesn’t come across as strong – she might argue with him and win some arguments, but there is a definite sense that he is the “master” in their relationship. The reversal of roles at the beginning of the novel, in which Creslin is a consort, objectified and lusted after by women, was a promising beginning that never really panned out. His role as a bargaining chip for his mother to entice another nation into an alliance was short-lived and that was disappointing, because I sense that it could have been something really interesting if it had been built upon. It was a good premise that eventually disappeared into Creslin becoming more and more powerful.

The conflict between order and chaos was still interesting, much as in the first book. And the portrayal of the consequences of even well-intentioned actions was well-done again as well.

Ultimately, I will read the next part in the series, but if I have to read another “male protagonist finds out he has the best magic in the world, learns how to use it, and becomes all-powerful” storyline I think I might end up giving up on these books. While entertaining (for the most part) I want a little more from my fantasy novels than what this particular book delivered.

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