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L.E. Modesitt, Jr

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Though he'd written a number of books previously, Modesitt first became well known for his book The Magic of Recluce, which managed to ring new and interesting changes on the hoary old fantasy theme of Order vs. Chaos. Lerris is a teenager, born and raised on the island of Recluce, in a society dedicated to Order. Like many teens, he's bored and rebellious, and doesn't understand why Recluce is (and must be) the way it is. After an unsuccessful apprenticeship with his uncle, a woodworker, he is forced to leave Recluce on his "dangergeld" -- a combination exile/rite of passage in which he must travel the wide world, forbidden to return to Recluce until he is willing to obey the rules. And that's where the fun begins, because Lerris is potentially one of the greatest Order-masters Recluce has ever seen, and it's dangerous for him to stay at home as he develops his gifts.

There are a number of other books in the series, each of which describes Recluce (or its predecessor, Westwind) at some vital stage in its existence. The books were not written in chronological order; nevertheless, they probably read best in the order they were written, which was as follows. The Towers of Sunset tells of Creslin, the co-founder of Recluce, son of the last Marshall of Westwind; The Magic Engineer tells of Dorrin, the first Order-master to successfully build steam-engines and other machinery (fire, after all, is of Chaos), in the defense of Recluce; The Order War tells of Justin, the first gray wizard (Order-masters are black, chaos-masters are white; you figure it out), and how he defeats the Chaos-masters of Fairhaven; The Death of Chaos describes how chaos is defeated for good (or, at least, for thousands of years); Fall of Angels tells of the first Order-master, and the foundation of the fortress of Westwind.

I enjoyed all these quite a lot; Modesitt is a good story-teller. Be warned, though, that the same themes are used over and over again. The typical Modesitt hero is a nice, decent guy, though dangerous to cross, skilled in some craft, who during the course of the book develops power beyond his wildest dreams. Generally, he uses his power to do awful things in defense of those he loves, even though doing these things has a high personal cost (Order-masters are made physically unwell by killing others, sometimes resulting in permanent injury).

Modesitt has written a number of other books, including Timediver's Dawn, The Timegod, both of which I liked, and Of Tangible Ghosts, which I thought was so-so... but was at least an interesting departure from his usual work, being a murder mystery of sorts.

The Saga of Recluce

The Magic of Recluce
Reviews: 1 January 2000, 1 January 2005
The Towers of Sunset
Reviews: 1 January 2000, 1 January 2005
The Magic Engineer
Reviews: 1 January 2000, 1 February 2000, 1 January 2005
The Order War
Reviews: 1 February 2000
The Death of Chaos
Reviews: 1 February 2000
Fall of Angels
Reviews: 1 July 1997, 1 February 2000
The Chaos Balance
Reviews: 1 July 1998, 1 February 2000
The White Order
Reviews: 1 May 1999, 1 February 2000
The Colors of Chaos
Reviews: 1 February 2000
Magi'i of Cyador
Reviews: 1 June 2001
Scion of Cyador
Reviews: 1 February 2002

Tangible Ghosts

Of Tangible Ghosts
Reviews: 1 January 1997, 1 August 1999
The Ghost of the Revelator
Reviews: 1 August 1999
Ghost of the White Nights


The two books listed below have recently been republished in an omnibus edition.

Timediver's Dawn
Reviews: 1 July 1997, 1 May 1999, 1 September 2002
The Timegod
Reviews: 1 July 1997, 1 May 1999, 1 September 2002

The Ecolitan Matter

The Ecolitan Operation
Reviews: 1 August 2001
The Ecologic Secession
Reviews: 1 August 2001
The Ecolitan Enigma
Reviews: 1 September 1998
The Ecologic Envoy
Reviews: 1 March 1999

The Spellsong War

There are more books in this series, but as I really didn't like the first one I haven't been paying attention.

The Soprano Sorceress
Reviews: 1 January 1998

The Corean Chronicles

I'm still not quite sure what to make of this one, but it's typical Modesitt.

Reviews: 1 August 2003, 1 July 2004
Reviews: 1 July 2004

Other Books

The Parafaith War
Reviews: 1 May 1997
Reviews: 1 May 1998
The Forever Hero
Reviews: 1 July 1999
Gravity Dreams
Reviews: 1 September 2000
The Octagonal Raven
Reviews: 1 September 2002
Archform: Beauty
Reviews: 1 July 2003

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