I read this the first time about 15 to 20 years ago (when it first came out as a paperback), which was probably an ideal time as it was in the middle of my teen years. It really is a coming of age story about a boys inability/reluctance to see the world the why his parents choose to view it and his (unrealized) need to explore the world to learn more about himself and thus understand his world better.
Now a few words on why I liked this book in particular and also why L.E. Modesitt Jr.
is such an interesting author, at least in my book (no pun intended).
As I said I first read this some years back and what I didn’t get then, but really struck me this time was Modesitts use of subtle references. One example is when Lerris has his serious talking with uncle Sardit and he says; “Because you’re like your dad … or your aunt. In the blood…” and later when he meets the girl Shrezsan, who’s driving a wagon of melons, on the road to Nylar and her response to the staff he carries.
Through these little hints the reader is very early introduced to the implicit knowledge that there is something special about Lerris, but like Lerris the reader doesn’t get anything explained to him either. As a reader I’m gently lured into seeing the world through Lerris’s eyes as we know no more than he does and is equally frustrated by the answers he gets to his questions.
The part of the story that takes place in Nylar is somewhat tedious, without being overly so, but once again that helps the reader to bond with Lerris and his lack of appreciation of a good education. :-)
A thing that has made me return to the world of Recluce and other fantasy worlds of Modesitt’s design is his ability to visualize that there’s always at least two sides to a story. This is especially true in the world of Recluce where the viewpoint of the main character can change from one book to the next. In the beginning of the series the Black side of Order are described as the good guys and the White of Chaos is the evil side, from the perspective of the main character, like Lerris in The Magic of Recluce
, but about halfway through the series of Recluce this is turned on its head as the main character Cerryl of The White Order
enters training as a White Wizard to fight the evil Black Masters.
This is perhaps a bit premature to talk about in the review for the first book, but already in this book there are hints that the Black Brotherhood isn’t all good. That their use of order to fight, what they perceive as evil rulers is hurting the weak and poor.
Overall it’s a very good book, which I thoroughly enjoyed and that I would recommend to all that likes fantasy of the Sword and Sorcery persuasion especially if you enjoy what is likely to make you think one step further..