5 out of 5
The Magical Engineer is the third book in the Saga of Recluse. It has been 300 years since Creslin founded Recluse and things are still not easy for the black mages. One problem is many of their offspring have difficulty following a pure black way of life. A program has been set up that trains these young people in survival skills and sends them to other parts of the world for at least a year. Dorrin’s father is a member of the ruling council and extremely set in his ways. He cannot understand his son’s obsession with machinery. Many on Recluse consider all but the most basic machinery to be chaos driven but Dorrin believes differently. So he is trained and sent with two others to Candor with the direction to not return until he understands the Balance. Once again Modesitt has given us a character who is driven and doesn’t fully understand just how powerful he is. Throughout the novel Dorrin keeps telling people that he just wants to make his engine and doesn’t understand why this brings him to the attention of the Chaos masters. His basic honesty and hard work gain him friends and supporters but to him such things are the way everyone should behave so he doesn’t see how this makes him different. The crafts that take the spotlight in this novel are smithing and healing. This is one of my favorite Recluse novels because Dorrin is almost oblivious to the attention the Whites are giving him. They are working hard to get rid of a man who doesn’t even know they are after him until much later in the story. It is not until near the end that Dorrin actually has to confront them. Plus the machines he builds to fight them are not aimed at anyone personally, they are just attempts at helping his friends win the war. Dorrin is a more complex character than those that come before him and the combination of smithing and healing leads to a fuller story line.