4 out of 5
Second in the Saga of Recluse series, this book takes the reader back to the beginning of Recluse as a home for the black wizards. The theme of balance is seen through the eyes of Creslin, son of the Marshal of Westwind. This theme is divided into two parts, the balance of power between men and women and the balance between order and chaos. Creslin, as man, has no place in Westwind where women rule. He is consorted to the sister of the Tyrant of Sarronnyn, another country that follows the Legend and has only women in power. A strong if untaught black mage he rebels at the thought of becoming just a sex object and chooses to run away. The idea of which sex makes the better rulers is a common one for Modesitt and in this novel we see the best and worst of both. The question becomes unimportant for Recluce as the abilities of both men and women are needed in order for the island nation to survive. The balance of order and chaos is seen in Creslin’s attempts to use order for destruction, attempts that have a profound affect on him. Once again we are given a protagonist placed in extremely difficult situations who using their innate talents manages to survive the un-survivable. We also find out why crafting is so important to Recluce but this novel doesn’t go into as much detail about specific crafts. Once again Modesitt has managed to take his formula in a new direction.