My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Creslin’s mother, the matriarch of the powerful military country known as the Roof of the World, has arranged his coming marriage to Mageara, sister to the ruler of a neighboring country. Mageara’s sister has forced Mageara to accept a blood bond to Creslin, a magical bonding that makes Mageara aware of Creslin’s thoughts and feelings. Creslin is unwilling to accept the marriage, and escapes. He is tracked down by Mageara, and together they accept what is essentially banishment to a desert island. But Creslin is a powerful wind mage, and Mageara has magic ability of her own. Together with a small band of followers, they attempt to bring Recluse into the larger political world, while Creslin struggles to find his way as a mage able to wield the two distinct types of magic present in his world.
I haven’t read a high fantasy in a while, and I have never read any Modesitt, so I added this to my collection when the publisher offered it as a free ebook, intended, I am sure, to entice readers to continue with the series. The Recluse saga is something like 13 books, and this is the second. It is a standalone story of the founding of Recluse and is set back in time from the first book. I haven’t read the first, but I didn’t feel I missed anything reading this one.
It was a decent story, very much a typical high fantasy with a prophecy of sorts, magic systems at odds with each other, and political maneuvering. The magic here is an interesting take on the usual ideas. There are two major forms of magic- Chaos and Order. Each controls things that would fall under their respective descriptions. Chaos or Black mages (like Creslin) can control the winds, which are fickle and chaotic. Order or White wizards can control things like the growth of plants, which follow a particular pattern. Creslin is a Grey Mage- he has gifts in both Order and Chaos, although using them causes him more physical strain and toll than most. The worldbuilding is fairly good, if centered mostly on Recluse, but that is where the majority of the story takes place. The plot is fairly straightforward, and moves for the most part at a good pace.
The characters- the story centers almost completely on Creslin and Mageara and their rather uneasy relationship. Both have resigned to the betrothal, but neither really wanted it. Creslin is dumber than a rock sometimes, but then again, at his age (late teens-early 20s maybe?), many boys are, especially when it comes to women, and particularly a woman they are attracted to. I can forgive him some of his nonsense surrounding Mageara, partly because he doesn’t ever act on his thoughts and desires. But he is stupid to the point of being unbelievable at times. However, it is Mageara that really annoyed me. Yes, she’s being forced to marry someone she doesn’t even know. Yes, she’s also been forced into a one-sided blood bond that lets her hear his every thought and feel every emotion, even the lustful ones. But she’s so combative about it. She (figuratively) rolls her eyes, throws up her hands, stomps off (those last two in reality). She throws insults at him, tells him “You’re such a man!” and “You don’t understand!” endlessly. She keeps reminding him that he doesn’t know what it’s like to be her. Well, yeah, he doesn’t. But he also can’t really help it that he’s attracted to her- remember he’s young and she’s pretty. And he never even so much as tries to hold her hand, despite his desires. He doesn’t understand? No, he doesn’t, honey, and you don’t even make an attempt to help him to. She got on my nerves- a lot.
The rest of the cast is secondary, but rounded enough to be real, especially the other two mages on the island. Action scenes are fast and nicely done. Info dumps are kept to a minimum. The book, while long, doesn’t feel drawn out or excessive.
I did enjoy it, even if Magera made me want to shake some sense into her once in a while. If you are looking for a good fantasy that doesn’t necessarily require you to read the entire series to get to a satisfying end, this might be a good choice.
On presale now and coming in December 2018: Two’s Company, a sci-fi novel in the space opera tradition.
Medusa “Deuce” Grainger is smart, confident, and as good a pilot as she is a poker player. A freelance shuttle jockey working for an independent terraforming company, she’s left her former life, and her father, behind. Mostly.
Now, her AI has downloaded another Personality off a wrecked ship, and he’s acting oddly ever since. Someone wants to sabotage her friend’s company out of business, evidence of tampering is being corrupted, and people have died. With an investigation looming that could shut down the company and cut off her main source of income, it’s up to Deuce to figure out what’s going on, and how all the pieces fit the puzzle. Along the way, she reconnects with an old friend and discovers someone is stalking her. Deuce will need to connect all the dots fast, because more lives are at stake than anyone suspects.
Learn more here, where you will find links to the presale.
Two’s Company is listed on Goodreads. If you like what you see above, I’d appreciate you adding it to your Want To Read list. Thanks!
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