Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)'s Reviews > The Magic of Recluce

The Magic of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
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Jul 27, 10

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, part-of-a-series, heroic-fantasy, hero-i-loved, unlikely-hero-or-heroine, warrior-woman, mage, animal-character-steals-the-show, older-woman-younger-man, coming-of-age, favorites
Recommended to Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) by: Jim
Recommended for: heroic fantasy readers
Read from July 20 to 27, 2010 , read count: 1

This was a book where patience proves to be a virtue. It started very slowly, with an almost tedious amount of detail. As I continued to read, it started to make sense.

This is a book about the battle between two opposing forces: chaos and order. The tedious amount of detail really ties into this story, for it defined the foundation of Recluce. Recluce is a city of almost pure order. Everything is so perfect and ordered that it is perceived as being boring to our hero, Lerris. Any persons who compromise that order are exiled. Our hero is such a person. But, like any good heroic fantasy, this reluctant, unlikely hero does save the day.

Lerris was a bit annoying at first, like one of those eternally bored youngsters that made my life miserable when I taught. I don't think I've ever seen the word 'boring' so much in my life. When I was a kid, I was not allowed to be 'bored', so I don't have much patience for people who go through life bored with everything. Fortunately, I came to see how this plays a role in the story. Lerris is looking for answers. He's like the kid who always asks 'why' about everything, wanted to be told instead of finding out the answers for himself. His exile from Recluce turns out to be the making of him. He finds a strength and a purpose over the course of this novel that can only be gained the hard way, through action and practice.

At first, I didn't think Mr. Modesitt's style of writing was going to work for me, but then I began to appreciate it. His attention to detail is very important to the narrative. I especially liked his descriptions of woodworking. I am not very good with my hands, despite being a decent artist and gardener. I do respect those who can build functional things with their hands. Lerris's approach to woodworking--initially one of boredom and disinterest, which changed to one of intense focus and commitment to perfection--was a metaphor for his maturation from boy to man. He has a hard, often lonely road ahead of him in this novel. Seeing that slow, often painful growth made me come to love him as a hero. He showed that his heart was in the right place, although he seemed so disinterested and self-absorbed initially.

The magic system was very interesting. It turned a a big thing on its head as far as conventions: the black wizards are the good wizards, and the white wizards are the evil wizards. That was an unique twist that I liked. I was surprised that I figured out some of how the chaos versus order dynamic worked. I was putting the pieces together along with Lerris. I liked how the order in persons and things were manipulated by Lerris and his eventual mentor, gray (mostly black but a little white) wizard, Justen. That was their power as order-masters. And it wasn't just a matter of creating things to solve problems. If done wrongly or for the wrong motives, this could become an act of chaos. Lerris had to continually weigh his actions to make sure he wasn't doing that. As I read, I wondered what could and couldn't be done and stay on the side of order.

Although this story is focused on Lerris, there are some interesting secondary characters, and quite a lot of strong, well-developed women characters. I liked that the women were in powerful roles, often serving in the military and as soldiers. Krystal turned out to be a good character, showing her own evolution in character for the best. And I loved Lerris trusty mountain pony, Gairloch. He's quite the boon companion.

I am the risk of being long-winded, so I'll bring this review to a close. This was a very good book. I'm glad I hung in there and kept reading past the slow beginning, and that I paid attention. Mr. Modesitt lays a powerful foundation for this story, and everything ties in together. I appreciate being recommended this story by a fellow Goodreads friend. I will definitely continue reading this series. Recommended to readers who like an intricate fantasy story.
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07/26 page 205
02/13 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-37 of 37) (37 new)

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Mike (the Paladin) I'll watch for your thoughts on this/these..I got hooked on them some years ago and read several back to back. LOL

message 2: by Lauren (new)

Lauren How is this book? It sounds really good :) Feel free to come to our Author Q&A with Deborah J Ledford on August 20th to the 22nd.

- Lauren from Nothing but Reading Challenges

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) Hi Lauren. It's pretty good. Kind of a slow starter.

message 4: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Mmmh... I know the feeling. It kind of stinks that a book is like that because usually it's a really good story! :)

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Great review, Danielle!

When I was a kid, I was not allowed to be 'bored', so I don't have much patience for people who go through life bored with everything.

Me either. If I was bored, I got put to work! LOL

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish At the time, I hated it, but looking back, I totally get it.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) Me too. I'm glad I got used to keeping myself occupied at such a young age.

message 9: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Same here. In retrospect, I could do without the tone of judgment my dad would employ ("If you're bored, that means you're borING!"), but I'm glad I can pretty much always occupy myself, especially if there's a book at hand. I know lots of people without that skill and they get so much crankier about delays and such...

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish And kids today have to be constantly entertained with video games, movies, tv... I didn't have that available to me growing up and I feel like I'm a much more well rounded person because I had to use my imagination, be physically active... I spent a lot of time in my room pretending or reading or studying... or getting into my dads oil paints, taking a new canvas and painting - must to his dismay! LOL

message 11: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Plus I know plenty of adults who can't entertain themselves without other people around. I know some of that is introvert/extrovert, but some of it is that people just never discovered the art of thinking up stuff to do.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) I know some people who don't know how to keep themselves busy. I have a friend who is a teacher, and she was complaining about having to figure out how to fill her time for three months. I wish I had three months off to fill.

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish You know, maybe we should "help" them out the way our parents "helped" us. Next time they complain about being bored, invite them over then entertain them by having them pull your weeds, wash windows and fold laundry! It was good enough for us...

Mike (the Paladin) I grew up on a farm...I often went to my room and spent time reading the encyclopedia if nothing else. It was usually easier than what could be found to do with hoes, shovels, plows etc. That stuff still had to be done, but you just didn't want to complain so that "someone" would find "extra stuff" to do.

Of course there was also the creek that ran across the back side of our land, and I covered many miles of dirt and black-top roads on my bicycle... There were the woods and fields to explore. Boredom wasn't a huge problem as I recall.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) When you're a kid, there is so much of interest in the world. Even as an adult, I rarely feel boredom come on, unless I'm stuck indoors (not at home) with nothing to read. If I can go outside, just being in nature fascinates me.

I agree, Dhestiny. I believe that idle hands makes the Devil's work. When I was teaching, I didn't believe in making things too easy for my students. I tried to get them to delve deep for understanding. Trying to figure out things is good exercise for the brain.

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Well said, Danielle!

message 17: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Jul 28, 2010 11:04AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike (the Paladin) I read these years ago and I remember being very disappointed at first, that the following books didn't continue on with the same character. But they continue to hold my interest once I gave them a chance. Some are better than others but it's a good series.

I sympathize with you on the "bored hero motif" (as Bertie Wooster might say). I'm about a quarter of the way through "Warbreaker" by Brandon Sanderson (only the second work I've tried by him) and one of the protagonists (the younger princess) starts out with a sort of "rebellion for the sake of rebelliousness attitude". I hate that. If you have something to rebel against, a reason that's one thing, but rebelling..... from boredom, because "father" wants you to be decorous and you would rather "not", well, you get the idea.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) Mike, I don't like characters or people who rebel for silly reasons. I hope that this character you are referring to grows up soon. I can understand it as a manifestation of immaturity, but it gets tedious after a while.

I added the next three books in the Recluce series to my tbr shelf here. I'd like to see where this series goes.

Mike (the Paladin) She's found herself in a "position" where he needs to consider it... I'm sure it largely depends on the writer. Hope you enjoy Recluse. Have read anything else by Modesitt?

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) This is my first book by him. Can you recommend any of his others?

message 21: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Jul 28, 2010 12:00PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike (the Paladin) I liked his "Spellsong Cycle, though some didn't like it as well as Recluse. the first one is "The Soprano Sorceress". I have on my shelves the first 5 (out of 7) of his Corean Chronicles. I just haven't started them yet, so many books waiting to be read that I haven't gotten around to them. LOL

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) Thanks, Mike. I'll look at the Spellsong books next.

Suzanne (Under the Covers Book blog) Great review Danielle, I always see Modesitt on the fantasy shelves but have never picked up one of his books before, will definately have to pick it up when I find it.

message 24: by Rita (new)

Rita Webb I like this line in your review: "Lerris's approach to woodworking--initially one of boredom and disinterest, which changed to one of intense focus and commitment to perfection--was a metaphor for his maturation from boy to man."

I recently read a book that made me uncomfortable at first. The main character, a high school girl, was out for revenge against her ex-best-friend. But the character grew, and that made the book worthwhile.

Your comment about the character growing resounded with me. It's nice to watch a flawed character learn an important lesson.

message 25: by Rita (new)

Rita Webb Mike wrote: "...one of the protagonists (the younger princess) starts out with a sort of "rebellion for the sake of rebelliousness attitude". I hate that. If you have something to rebel against, a reason that's one thing, but rebelling..... from boredom, because "father" wants you to be decorous and you would rather "not", well, you get the idea."

I haven't read the book, but you've sparked some interesting thoughts. What really causes rebellion? In my opinion (having once been a very rebellious teenager), it doesn't take much to push someone into a rebellious anger. I mean, most people who are abused don't become rebellious. Usually, the abused defend their abusers and hide the abuse, keeping their secrets to their dying breaths.

It seems to me that it takes something else, and I think that something is being controlled and having your own wishes/feelings/desires/plans/personality dismissed in favor of the wishes/feelings/desires/plans/personality of the controller.

I think you are right that just becase Father wants her to be decorous is not enough of a reason. It all depends on how the Father tries to push the decorousness (sorry, making up words, here) on his daughter.

Suzanne (Under the Covers Book blog) I dunno, I think just being viewed as an object, an accesory to make someone else look good, without any regard for your feelings or what you would want would be enough to spark me into a bit of rebellion!

Mike (the Paladin) I grew up in the 50s and 60s and my experience with my own generation was that most of the famous rebellion of the era, that is so fondly remembered by the participants was by fairly well off teens who had little understanding of what they were rebelling against and what they were asking for. Sometimes they weren't actually asking for anything, (except for Mommy and daddy to give them everything they wanted without any effort on their own part) they were just rebelling. I don't have the "dewy eyed" memories of Brando's Wild Ones or James Dean's Rebel Without a Cause. The title says it. I see "kids" acting rebellious who are mad because mommy and daddy didn't give them what they want or whatever and I have little patience with it. So, a character who is a kings daughter and rebels simply because she doesn't want to "be what she's expected to be" as the princess doesn't get a lot of play with me unless it's the "evil" or "abusive" king plot.

Wow...I got wordy :).

Suzanne (Under the Covers Book blog) It does depend on how the author does it, no one likes a whiney character, they evoke no sympathy, not in me anyway, I always end up routing for the "baddies" when that happens! Have you read The Belgariad? I love the spoiled princess Ce'Nedra in that, she grows on you.

I think when you are a teenager though you do rebel against, well pretty much anything, especially figures of authority, which in most peoples cases is their parents. I think it is something that most people grow out of once their hormones have calmed down a little!

Mike (the Paladin) I haven't read The Belgariad, I read one series by Eddings several years ago, I think the Guardians of the West series. Then again as I've said before, my to be read books seem to have gotten out of hand long ago. (lol).

Suzanne (Under the Covers Book blog) Guardians of the West is the second series in the Belgariad world if you know what I mean, lol looks like you read them backward : ) You should try them, I really like those books they were what introduced me to fantasy when I was a teenager.

I know that feeling, people will bring up books and I will be sure I have read it before, but sometimes I can't work out if I actually have or if it so similar in plot to something else that I can't tell the difference! I tend to just remember the good ones now.

Mike (the Paladin) I'm frankly not sure...maybe it was the Belgariad..or part of it. I know it was in the 80s so it was some time ago and all I really remember about the ones I read is that there was quite a bit of interaction with gods and goddesses...and a lot of traveling "to and fro". I didn't remember them well enough to try and review them, soooo, like I said, lots of to be read books and I'd need to "re-read" them to see...well, what I'd read. (LOL)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) Suzanne wrote: "Great review Danielle, I always see Modesitt on the fantasy shelves but have never picked up one of his books before, will definately have to pick it up when I find it."

Thanks, Suzanne. He's pretty prolific. I've been breaking into the high fantasy lately, so I've paid attention to recommendations. A friend invited me to join the group for this author, and I joined out of curiosity. This was their 1st group read.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) Rita wrote: "I like this line in your review: "Lerris's approach to woodworking--initially one of boredom and disinterest, which changed to one of intense focus and commitment to perfection--was a metaphor for ..."

Rita, that is a literary attraction for me--seeing a flawed hero grow and change. Perfect characters don't resonate with me very much.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) Outwardly, I didn't go through a rebellious phase. But inwardly, I profess that I resent anyone trying to control me. I think it makes me more bull-headed about doing things the way that makes sense to me. I believe it's very important to have the freedom to be yourself. I have an aunt who's a control freak and is very opinionated (she thinks she right about everything), and we butt heads now, even though I'm closer to 40 than 30, and I don't need her yoke of guidance anymore like I did when I was young. My mother wasn't very controlling as I grew up. She set standards that were to be followed, but she let us think for ourselves, read what we wanted, and we had some freedom to be ourselves. As a result, I didn't get into any trouble really. I was a very boring teenager. Now that I'm older, there's more of free-spirit hiding inside of me. I do think that parents should set guidelines, but give kids room to find out who they are and what they believe-within reason. Too tight control seems to backfire. I say that as a woman with no kids, so I don't presume to tell others how to raise their kids. At Mike's point, I was not spoiled. I had what I needed, and a little extra, and I was raised to value hard work. So, spoiling doesn't seem like a good parental tactic to me.

message 35: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Jul 29, 2010 02:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike (the Paladin) I don't know if I would have been what would be classically called rebellious or not. There are deeper questions there, I know that I rebelled against the prevailing spirit of my generation. I was always annoyed by the "nonconformists of the late 60s and 70s who were really the conformists" I mean anyone bucked the norm they tried to shut down completely. I know...I was never a "hippie" or even resembled one. I did however have differences with my parents and left home at 18 wrecking a significant portion of my life. Nothing is the same for everyone I suppose.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) To me, it makes sense to be a nonconformist if that's true to who you are. To do it just to rebel or so you can get attention is basically like selling out. I don't think anyone should be allowed to have control over you to that degree that they dictate your actions indirectly, causing you to behave in a way that is foreign to who you truly are. That's when I have an issue with rebelling. Because you're truly hurting yourself and no one else.

Mike (the Paladin) Be yourself. I agree. That was largely my problem with the people of my generation..dressing alike, acting alike, and demanding "we all" be like them...nonconformists. Huh? Those of us who rejected drugs etc. were the real nonconformists.

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