Author: L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Series: The Saga of Recluce (#1)
How Received: review copy
Young Lerris is dissatisfied with his life and trade, and yearns to find a place in the world better suited to his skills and temperament. But in Recluce a change in circumstances means taking one of two options: permanent exile from Recluce or the dangergeld, a complex, rule-laden wanderjahr in the lands beyond Recluce, with the aim of learning how the world works and what his place in it might be. Many do not survive. Lerris chooses dangergeld.
When Lerris is sent into intensive training for his quest, it soon becomes clear that he has a natural talent for magic. And he will need magic in the lands beyond, where the power of the Chaos Wizards reigns unchecked. Though it goes against all of his instincts, Lerris must learn to use his powers in an orderly way before his wanderjahr, or fall prey to Chaos.
There's a handful of publishers that, if I see their seal on something, I'll read it, even if I don't end up liking it, because it normally falls down the path of things I do like.
Tor is one of them.
So when I spontaneously got the 20th anniversary edition of The Magic of Recluce in the mail from them, I knew I had to eventually sit down and take a peek. I had no idea what it was about, other than that it was high fantasy; I hadn't heard about it from other people, didn't look into it, didn't even look at the star rating on Goodreads.
I just sat down and read it.
The problem with The Magic of Recluce is that it takes a while to get into. The world itself makes the story interesting enough to keep going -- I wanted to learn more about chaos and Recluse and blackmagic and order -- but Lerris starts the story as unrelatable and unlikable, and none of the side characters stand out enough to really become attached.
However, pushing through that section pays off -- Lerris' character grows, his mountain pony is the best part of the story, and the world becomes even more interesting. I like the setup and the way magic works and the surprisingly feminist ideologies at some points for a book published over twenty years ago. (A fantasy with women leading an army? Hell yeah!)
For high fantasy fans who enjoy a good world, I'd say to pick it up; for anybody else, though, it would take a while to get into with little payoff at the end. Though the setup for the rest of the series is interesting, it functions just as well as a standalone, so I have no need to pick up the rest of the books.
Overall Rating & Final Comments: 7/10. Great world, interesting magic, and Lerris finally becomes likeable -- but it takes over 200 pages to do so.
Have you read The Magic of Recluce? Did you like it?