From Publishers Weekly
Thick as it is, the 15th Recluce novel is actually just the second half of the story that began with Natural Ordermage
(2007), in which young Rahl was exiled from Recluce because he couldn't control his passions or considerable magical talents. Now on the much larger island of Hamor, where magicians work for the government, he resentfully receives the protection and training he needs from older mage-guard Taryl, who never seems satisfied even with Rahl's best efforts. More serious tests follow when the emperor's brother leads a revolt and Rahl is sent off with the troops. As he endures a long military campaign—with readers feeling they've slogged along with him through detailed descriptions of crops, architecture and weather—Rahl realizes that order isn't quite the same thing as good, and chaos isn't necessarily evil. Watching him learn to work within this complicated system and decide what's important makes the dolorous trek worthwhile. (July)
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The eagerly awaited sequel to Natural Ordermage (2007) continues the adventures of Rahl, the young exile from Recluce, now an aide to mage-guard Taryl of Hamor, who recognized his talent and gave him the training no one in Recluce was willing or able to provide. He has come a long way from the self-centered young man who demanded that the world always be fair to him, but he still feels overwhelmed by the work and thinking that Taryl demands. How, he wonders as the two leave to help subdue a rebellion, can he think ahead and plan for events about which he knows nothing? Yet Taryl expects that. Through Rahl’s eyes, Modesitt gives a lucid picture of responsibility, of what it means to have others’ lives in your hands, and of learning to know your limits, even when you have power. Tempered by war, heartened by love and friendship, Rahl emerges a strong, honest man and mage, a credit to Hamor (and a loss to Recluce). Mage-Guard measures well up to Modesitt at his best. --Frieda Murray