L.E. Modesitt’s Recluce fantasy series is something that has become so predictable that you read it as much because you know what to expect as for any actual update in the story. If you like it, that’s not a bad thing as long as you understand what you are getting into.
Natural Ordermage represents yet another branch in the story that tells other sides of things that have happened in the past. In this case we get a glimpse into the Empire of Hamor and, as with the other branches, this opens our eyes to the possibility of them being something better than we might have thought before. It’s good filler material.
The real problem with the Recluce series at this point is that it’s pretty much novel-by-number. The Main Character will be some sort of powerful mage who is not part of the establishment and is driven out or who has to find a way to succeed in spite of other societal challenges. He will learn a trade, be good at it, get into trouble with others who feel threatened by him, and will suffer through various adventures/challenges as a result. It’s a nice pattern if you enjoy it, but it’s very predictable. If you are a fan, then it’s still worth reading.
Natural Ordermage is pretty much par for the course. Modesitt is very good at writing this series and this book is similar to Fall of Angels and The White Order in that it gives us a chance to look at new sides of the story. Natural Ordermage is best bought in paperback because it isn’t groundbreaking enough to merit the cost of a hardback.