The Saga of Recluce: Repetitive but appreciated theme

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review L.E. Modesiit JrTHE SAGA OF RECLUCE by L.E. Modesitt

The underlying repetitive theme of the Modesitt works is personal accountability and the triumph of an enlightened, empowered individual over the self-serving machinations of the opposition. That may be simplifying things to a great degree, but that is what I get out of it. My personal experience with Modesitt began with The Magic of Recluce many years ago. At the time I was just beginning to refine my taste for fantasy and Modesitt was something different.

In the Saga of Recluce, the basic pattern of each installment is that the story follows a main character who is out of place in his/her society and who is gifted to a greater or lesser degree to manipulate the energies of the world he/she lives in. What the hero can do with those energies also rests in large part with their personal outlook on things — thus someone who reveres life will suffer severe repercussions when using these talents as a weapon. (Modesitt is a philosopher. While I do not agree with everything he writes, the tools and storytelling prose that he uses make sitting through his lectures worth the effort.)

The Magic of Recluce, the first book in the series, actually happens chronologically toward the very end of the saga. I became interested in the series because the main character of the first book, Lerris, is depicted with amazing accuracy as he progresses through the changes of adolescence and young adulthood. His adventures, maturation, and eventual acceptance of who he is and the responsibility that comes with the power he wields are to this day one of my favorite philosophical lessons taught from a fantasy perspective (see my review above).

The rest of The Saga of Recluce novels, for better or worse, mostly fill in the history of the planet back into antiquity from the perspectives of both the good “order” and bad “chaos” sides of the epic conflict. Not all of these Saga of Recluce books are great reading — the quality varies. But several of them are so interesting that I have re-read them many times simply because I found a character who I could truly appreciate and enjoyed spending time with.

By the way, L.E. Modesitt Jr.’s best work, without question, is in the science fiction genre. His ability to discuss the impacts of modern practices on future ecology and to transpose cultures that are present today into nations of the future is truly fun to work through. Even when he is poking fun at my own demographic, I find his ideas to be worth listening to because the story is so entertaining.

If you are interested in sampling Modesitt’s Sci-Fi, then start with Adiamante because it is short, fairly action-packed, and is without a doubt my favorite Sci-Fi novel that he has written, although Gravity Dreams is a close second. For those of you who also enjoy alternate history, Modesitt wrote the GHOST BOOK TRILOGY. These are a wonderful discussion of what the world might be like if certain key events never happened. He remains philosophical again and is teaching lessons about forks in history that might have lead to a better ecological place, but the story telling is worth the lecture.


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JOHN HULET (on FanLit's staff July 2007 -- March 2015) is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of. John retired from FanLit in March 2015 after being with us for nearly 8 years. We still hear from him every once in a while.

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