Chris 's Reviews > The Magic of Recluce

The Magic of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
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's review
Nov 03, 10

really liked it
bookshelves: scifi-fan-group
Read from July 26 to August 01, 2010

An engaging read that starts out as a coming-of-age fantasy and advances into something...else. It reminds me in places of Robert Jordan, Michael Moorcock, and Steven Erikson, yet has its own voice.

Modesitt gets a high score for his world building. The world of Recluce is wonderful and the surface is only scratched at here. I'm intrigued enough by this to read more in the series at some point. Since all but one of the 15 or so other books out there happen before this one, there's plenty of backstory to add to the world here.

I also enjoyed Modesitt's pace and style. He uses the first person narrative style as the story is revealed by the main character, Lerris. He's a young man learning his powers and his way in the world. He seems to start out as a typical Rand/Frodo/Richard Cypher/Luke Skywalker type but eventually matures into an interesting character in his own right. And he does this mostly by learning things for himself, rather than having a Gandalf figure to tell him what to do.

The magic system of Recluce is excellent. Basically, all of the magic is centered around the forces of order and chaos, and the manipulation or of keeping them up. This is where the Moorcock reminders are. I enjoyed seeing Lerris learn about the system and seeing it in practice from him and others utilizing it. The chaos-masters and order-masters, commanding the white of chaos and black of order fascinated me. I love the switch from typical by having white reprsent evil and black for good, though they're not quite as black and white (forgive the play on words) as that. Chaos leads to evil but isn't evil in and of itself. Same thing with order. The relationships and manipulations of chaos and order are what end up defining good and evil here.

There are some small breaks in the course of the novel where the author switches to a present tense third person and gives us hints as to other happenings away from Lerris. I had mixed feelings about those. While they were interesting and helped set up some of the big picture drama, they were too few and far between to really help the story that much. They were also pretty vague and honestly took away from some of the surprise later. It was a jolt in the narrative whenever one of these came up, both to switch into the third person and then back to Lerris's view. In my opinion, they should have been left out. Or, where there was something useful there, maybe it could have been told to Lerris by someone on the road. As far as giving the reader something that Lerris didn't know, that doesn't make sense in a first person story. There was a LOT going on that he didn't pick up all the details on, and that was fine. It added to the mystery of the world and story.

The other annoying thing wasn't as minor. In fact, it bugged the piss out of me and might have helped keep this book from a 5-star rating. The f**king sound effects! That was a narrative flaw that could very well get a book tossed into the burn pile. If this story wasn't as engaging as it was, that would have had me heading right back to the library to drop this thing in the overnight return.

Here's an example:

"Tharoom...thud...tharoom... Walking the white fir was walking across a massive drum. Antonin's coach must have vied with the real thunder when it rumbled across his bridge...Tharummmm...
The heavy wooden gate, set on massive bronze hinges, eased open even more widely as I watched."

That's annoying. I felt like I was watching one of those old cheesy Batman television episodes. There are ways to describe sound without treating the reader like an idiot or make them feel like they're reading a comic book without pictures. Luckily he didn't really get rolling with this technique too early in the book, and by the time he did I was already hooked by the story. Otherwise it would have been "holy cheesy effects, Batman" and I would have moved on to something else. I was able to live with them eventually, my eyes blurring over and past to the real narrative beyond.

Overall, I give this book high points for the world building, the magic system, the characters, and the writing voice used by Modesitt over the course of most of the novel. I'm definitely interested in reading more books in the Recluce series, I'm just hoping he cuts back on the special effects.
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07/25/2010 page 1
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Brad And he does this mostly by learning things for himself, rather than having a Gandalf figure to tell him what to do. Love this, Chris. And I have to say that I was with you to a lesser extent on the sound effects and the interjections of third person plot points. Both were disruptive and not terribly well used, but I was able to ignore the former, after a while, and the latter seemed more clunky than annoying to me (much like you), which made it easy to take.

message 2: by Allan (new) - added it

Allan Fisher Good review.......Well written.I will put this on my Amazon wish list.

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