4 out of 5
The Magic of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. is the first in his Saga of Recluce series. Recently, I read two books from later in the series for a class paper and decided to re-read the series. Modesitt sticks to a simple formula with all of his books. His hero’s are very modest, very hardworking, and have latent powers that they work on discovering throughout the story. This formula might cause a feeling of repetitiveness if not for the fact that it Modesitt is a skilled writer who creates varied individuals despite their similarities. Another note on the series as a whole, the stories are not told in chronological order. A quick Google search will bring up the chronological order for you but I recommend reading them in order of publication as there is a method to Mr. Modesitt’s madness.
On to The Magic of Recluce, which tells the story of Lerris, a young man from the island nation of Recluce. Lerris finds Recluce boring. No one will answer his questions on the theory of order. Order and Chaos are the two magical systems in this world. Order is seen as black and represents good while Chaos is seen as white and represents evil. Lerris’s adventures take him far from home and he gains the knowledge he was looking for while combating Chaos. As with all of Modesitt’s fantasy works the story focus’s on a specific craft, in this case woodworking. Modesitt doesn’t give his character or the reader easy answers to everything. His matter of fact story telling allows the climax creep up on the reader. I prefer authors who don’t feel the need to explain every little detail to the reader, leaving us to detective out the connections and Modesitt does this well. By the end of the book everything makes sense while leaving the feeling there is more of this story still to come. A personal peeve of mine is authors who continue the same story over unending novels. That is not the case with Modesitt. Novels may tell a later or earlier story but every novel is self contained and gives the reader an ending to that particular story. The magic system, while appearing simple, is complex. Good and evil, black and white are intertwined as seen in the grey mage and in Lerris dealings with both.
I definitely recommend this novel and this series. They have given me hours of reading enjoyment.