32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 1999
The Magic of Recluce is the start of a classic epic and an epic The Saga of Recluce is. This being my 3rd book (I've read Fall of Angels and The Chaos Balance) I cannot wait to pickup Towers of the Sunset (book 2). This book is not fast paced and does not take you on an emotional roller coaster. That is not what these books are about (at least the 3 I've read anyway). These books are still special. They are told from the perspective of the main character, in this case Lerris, who we come to know very well. We travel with him, we eat with him, we fight with him, we feel with him, we fear with him, we learn with him and we grow up with him. This allows for the slow pacing in some places as the author allows us to mature with Lerris, to introspect, to experience things on a day to day basis in the world of Recluce. We learn about Recluce, we meet the people who inhabit it, we smell the air, we sleep in it's inns. Lerris's adventure becomes our adventure, became my adventure and I did not want to put the book down. Thats why these books are special, because you become the character, you live the adventure. The adventure is alot more than hacking and slashing. It is a sojourn of sorts. The character has choices to make. Simply put those choices are between good and evil, order and chaos. In the best tradition of Luke Skywalker / Darth Vader, our hero must decide, we must decide.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2000
This is good stuff. This is not a great epic journey with twenty characters to follow (not that there's anything wrong with that), or killer dragons, or shadow spawn. Lerris, the main character is unhappy with his life in the, as he puts it, mundane dull world of Recluce. At the urgings of his parents, he becomes an apprentice for his uncle, a woodworker. He turns out to be an adequate craftsman, but has no interest in his work. Recluce is a society based on order, any discontentment is a foot Chaos puts through their door. Recluce relies solely on Order, which is kept by the Order (black) wizards. Because of their shunning of Chaos, Recluce is a peaceful place. People like Lerris are given the choice to leave Recluce at an early age. They are offered banishment, or the position of Dangergeld, which gives a chance to return to Recluce at the completion of a quest. Lerris chooses Dangergeld, and enters training with 6 other people. After his training, Lerris and his fellow Dangergelds are taken by ship to Freetown on the continent of Candar. When Lerris parts company with the other dangergelds, he blunders around the Southern half of the continent for a few months. He meets a Neutral (gray) wizard and studies with him for a while. They part ways too soon, and Lerris is left wondering if he has the potential to be a wizard. From there he crosses a mountain rage, pays too much for an Inn, and basically freezes himself half to death. Soon after he comes to a city, and takes on the position of journeyman at a lowly woodworking shop, and turns the shop into a profitable business. After leaving woodworking for good, he gets into some big trouble with a very powerful White (chaos) wizard. He goes on to save the day and get his girl. A unique, touching fantasy, destined to become a classic. Though nowhere near as hard on the brain as the Wheel of Time, it is still a very enjoyable, well-crafted fantasy. Highly Recommended.
76 of 98 people found the following review helpful
The Recluse series seems to be one of those fantasy serieses that you either loathe or love. I found the first book "Magic of Recluse" to be moderately entertaining, if overlong and full of annoying little quirks.
The hero, Lerris, is bored. In general. Living on the hyper-ordered isle of Recluse is not the best enviroment for a talented young man who wants a little more variety in his life. The dictatorial Masters insist on perfect order, as Order is the only way to defeat destructive Chaos -- and in their eyes, boredom and lack of direction are prime openings for future chaos. After a brief stint as a woodworker, Lerris is given a choice: either be exiled from Recluse, or the dangergeld, a complex jaunt in the outside world that allows him to learn more about it. He chooses the dangergeld, and trains for a while under the masters. Two of the people he meets are Krystal, a giggling swordmaster, and Tamra, a very proud man-hater.
Lerris sets out to learn more, with only his pony as his companion. Along the way, he encounters the gray wizard Justen (normally they come either as black/good, or white/bad). As he becomes enmeshed in the local politics and is hounded by whitecloaks (and does more woodworking), he learns that a white wizard named Antonin is trying to spread chaos for his own gain.
I wanted to enjoy this book, but found myself rolling my eyes too often. Modesitt has an intriguing idea concerning magic, order and chaos, but he often seems to be a little confused about how it could work. (One wonders if he had it plotted out when he began) It's also nice to finally find a book series that does not have a parade of ripoff Tolkien creations, but bothers to just add some "differentness" to human cultures, even if they are mildly generic in their inception. I also found it very amusing that Modesitt took the care to explain why Recluse and the surrounding lands are living in a medieval enviroment, rather than having more modern technology.
The hero, Lerris, is a nice piece of work. A bored teen is hardly a new idea, but Modesitt manages to make him sympathetic by emphasizing the stifling nature of Recluse's culture, not being too ham-handed as he does so. And while Lerris is somewhat short-sighted and self-pitying at the beginning, he is no longer at the end of the book. The surrounding characters, except for the crabby woodworker and Justen, are pretty 2-D. There is some mild hormone-related incidents, including a bunch of hookers beckoning to Lerris and a friend, but this book would be fine for young adults.
One annoying detail is sound effects. "Cheezy" is the best way to describe these; fans of the old Batman TV series will probably be giggling whenever Modesitt inserts one of his sound effects. He doesn't seem to believe that the readers will be able to imagine for themselves what creaking floorboards, whinnying horses, and the sound of clattering mugs sound like. The sound effects aren't even accurate. I have never heard thunder "thrum," horses "whee...ee," or a door "itttcccchhh." The repetition will also annoy some people, as horses don't "whee...ee" just once, but dozens of times.
Another annoying detail is that Modesitt doesn't bother to describe the fight scenes. He gives us a string of sound-effects, and then refers to one of the people involved dying. It's very hard to visualize, which is doubly odd because of the effort expended giving us the sound effects. One of the last pages also has the weirdest, most obliquely-written love scene I have ever read. I literally did not know what was happening until I had read it several times. (What am I supposed to think when I read about "her hands didn't stop at my fingertips"?)
Was a nice light read, but could have been much better if someone had attacked it with editing shears.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2001
I love this book.
I was walking through a bookstore years ago, just browsing for an author or series I'd never read about before; I was searching for something new. The title "The Magic Engineer" caught my eye, since I'm an engineer, and I picked it up. Of course, it was part three in a series, so I grabbed the first book, The Magic of Recluce, and headed home.
That was the start of my love affair with this series and Mr. Modesitt's writing in general. You, the reader, can tell from the other reviews here that Mr. Modesitt's writing tends to polarize reviewers into loveit-hateit camps, and it largely depends on where your focus is in reading. If you're looking for page after page of fighting and 'tension', move on to the Shannara series. If you look for depth and development, read on!
This book is not the best of the series, and several items he introduces in this book he 'backtracks' on in later books as the magic system develops and becomes more realistic. For example, in this book the great White mage performs magic on an old ewe, and "The two trays weere heaped with succulent sliced and and steaming mutton, with joints at the edges, and with sweetbreads piled at each end. A sheepskin rug lay on the floor beside Antonin..." In later books, we become aware that White magic can only destroy, and largely manifests itself as fireballs. A fireball that would burn the ewe to a crisp, but would not slice it, season it, and prepare bread too! This is the most extreme example of what is started in the first book and later modified.
The writing is a bit 'thick' as you try to absorb all there is to know, but the payoffs are a world, magic system, ethical systems, nations,politics, and individual personalities that are *rich* and believable.
Mr. Modesitt's strength lies in bringing the reader to understand that in his world, the great and the powerful are just ordinary people like you and me who have been faces with extraordinary challenges due to their birth in history, most times facing circumstances well beyond their control. The characters, largely speaking, just want to be left alone to lead their lives and help others, and they continually get put in circumstances where they *must* deal with strength.
Yet, Mr. Modesitt does not spend a lot of time with battles. His books grow the characters, their circumstances, and the people the know and love. Most fights are something to be finished as quickly as possible so that the characters can get back to their lives, and this is how they are written.
This is an exceptional review from one of my absolute favorite authors, and highly recommended to anyone looking for Fresh SciFi. May you love it as I do.
24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2000
I've seen so many books by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. I thought I would pick up one. If he's written so many books, then he must be good, right? Boy, was I wrong. Maybe it was just me, but I thought the main character, Lerris, seemed rather slow and dimwitted at times, but then out of the blue he'd realize "Oh, Tamra's in trouble" or "I'm a order master." A lot of things happened without explanation. For example, it's revealed that Lerris is a black-staffer. When did this happen? What does it involve? Why can they not seem to lie? At one point in the story he realizes out of the blue that a certain character in the book is his uncle. How did he know that? He'd never met the guy before in his life. Lerris also seemed to focus on minor difficulties rather than problems that would have been more interesting for the reader. Such as, Lerris is told his father is an order master, but he never knew. But that knowledge just passed with hardly more than a "Oh, I didn't know that, how interesting." Also, Lerris is bored. Extremely bored. And he never fails letting the reader know about it. All the references to boredom were just that... boring!
Most of the story is in first person, past tense, from the viewpoint of Lerris. In some places information was needed that couldn't be given from Lerris' viewpoint, so the author switched to third person. That was fine, since it wouldn't make since for Lerris to be talking about something that he wasn't there for. The thing that bothered me was that the author switched to present tense. So part of the book is in past tense, and part of it is in present. Another thing that bothered me in those sections of the book was that instead of referring to the people in those sections by their names, the author referred to them as "the black-haired woman" or "the blond woman"... even after they call each other by name. Another thing that bothered me was this. When a conversation was being overheard, instead of hearing the whole conversation, apparently only the middle part of sentences were heard. ...looked a lot like this... ...a little annoying...
And finally the thing that bothered me more than anything was the authors pervasive use of sound effects throughout the *entire* novel. I have an imagination and I think leaving such things to the imagination is better than filling it in for the reader. Here is a short list of some of the most frequently used sounds effects and their interpretations:
Wheeee.... eeeeee.... eeuuhhhhh.... - horse
Thrummmmmm... thrummmmmm.... - thunder
Thunk! Thunk! Thunk! - waitress putting down glasses on a table
Snaaaaaaaath.... snathhhhh... - snoring
Rrrrrrrr... rrrrruuuuurghhhhh... - stomach growling
Thunk. - a falling body, presumably dead
Bheeeaaaa... - sheep
Yee-ah! Yee-ah! - a cawing crow
...accuffff... acuffffff... acuuu... - coughing
pppeeeepppp.... - chirping insects or frogs
Here is a quick example of a typical fight between Lerris, who uses a staff, and another person, most likely using a sword or magic fireballs, with translations in parentheses:
Whhhhsttttt... (a fireball)
Whhhhssssstttt... (another fireball)
Thumpedy... thump... (a galloping horse)
Whhhhsttttttt! (another fireball)
Whhhhssssttttt! (yet another fireball)
EEEiiiiiii! (someone screaming in agony)
WHHHHHHHSSSSSSSSSTTTTTTTTT! (a really really big fireball)
"Aeeeeeeeiiiiii...." (more agony)
"Ouuuuuffffff....." (someone hitting the ground)
Thud. (a falling body)
Now, after this review, you may be wondering why I gave it two stars instead of one. It's true that nothing much happened through the first half of the book, but if you can make it through to the second half of the book, it *does* get better. All the above mentioned things are still prevalent, but the story itself was a little more interesting. I do have to admit, this is the first book I've read in a long time that I've had to force myself to finish.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2010
This review is specifically for the Kindle edition.
Recluse is a decent fantasy novel, but the Kindle edition is so chock-full of spelling errors that it's hard for me to recommend. I'd say 20% of the time, "Recluse" is spelled as "Reduce", which is an easy mistake to make, but also an easy one to fix. Other spelling and grammar issues plague this edition (time becomes lime, etc.), which I assume are just copy errors. It's not enough to ruin the book, just enough to annoy a grammar freak like me.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2000
This book was alright, although not the wonderful journey that some of these reviews make it out to be. I thought that Modesitt's new, more scientific approach to magic was interesting, as were the small mysteries about the Dangergeld and what it meant, and why people went there. I only give it three stars because, first of all, I found that there were some inconsistancies throughout the book. The plot kind of jumped around in places. Like when Lerris realizes that Justern is his uncle. Where did that come from? And how Tamra(and everyone else) seemed to know that Lerris's father was a master, and yet he didnt have any clue about anything having to do with tht Masters at all. How did the rest know so much, even to the point of names and identities, when the masters were supposed to be so mysterious and secretive. I also didnt like the fact that characters whom i though would be a major part of the story, such as Tamra, disappeared after 5 chapters or so, and actually had no real effect on the story. When did Lerris figure out what happened to her? Did I miss that part? I did however, like the way Lerris was portrayed. He was an honest character, in the sense that he seemd real, and was easy to realate to. His thoughts and feelings, whether about himself or others, seemed genuine, not just one demensional superman macho type heroes frequently portrayed in fantasy books. All in all, this is a good book, and I would recommend it to someone who likes fantasy, and is looking for a new start, but if you're used to reading series like Goodkind, Jordan, Tolkien or other high-powered, bestselling saga's be prepared for a let down. This would be good for an in-between book,(while we all suffer and wait for the next WoT and Sword of Truth enstallments)but not if you're expecting a completely enthralling, all encompassing, think about it 24/7 type of series.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2010
I quite like the book itself. I have a well-worn copy of the mass-market paperback on my bookshelf. So, this isn't really a review of THE MAGIC OF RECLUCE as much as it's a review of the Kindle e-book version. Basically, I expect e-books to be flawless (or at least as flawless as the print version and with no obvious OCR, encoding, or formatting errors). This e-book didn't live up to my expectations. To whit:
1) Several instances of the word "Recluce" appeared as "Reduce." It's a simple mistake to make and a hard one to catch, but given that it's a unique word that appears in the book's (and series') title? Extremely disappointing. There were a few other errors along those lines, but "Reduce" was the one that really stuck out.
2) Dashes are consistently mis-encoded as hyphens. Again, a simple mistake to make (and a fairly common one in e-books), but they mean different things. It's hard to read a sentence that's supposed to have dashes but instead looks like it's full of oddly-hyphenated words.
3) Quotations from "The Basis of Order" are inconsistently indented. I also spotted a few instances of paragraph breaks where they obviously didn't belong.
Again, I like the content. It's a fun story, and a good point of entry into the continually expanding -- and increasingly interesting -- Saga of Recluce. I'm just disappointed in Tor, Amazon, and whoever else is responsible for converting this book into Kindle format. If you want to make Kindle e-books a viable alternative to print, they need better quality control than is evident here.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 1999
While generally mediocre, I found that this book excelled as a sleep aid. The story and characters were interesting enough to keep my attention but not so compelling as to keep me from getting to sleep.
Unlike many of the other reviewers, I found the pseudo-intellectual theory about the balance between order and chaos a bit tiresome. Modesitt mentions it early in the book, yet we are apparently sopposed to have the same trouble comprehending the ramifications as that dimwit Lerris. Modesitt doesn't go far enough in eplaining this theoretical gibberish to truely explain how things work in his fantasy world, for instance if Lerris can block the chaos that powers his enemy, why can't his enemy block the order that powers Lerris? Not that reading more of these explanations would make the book more entertaining, just better.
Aside from some questionable interaction between characters and the heaps of irritating animal speaking parts, the rest of the book is OK. However, If you are interested in reading a better book with a typical person type of hero and better character development, try Fortress in the Eye of Time by C J Cherryh. Or for a more detailed story of magic and intrigue, try Janny Wurts' Mistwraith series, which my not be techincally superior prose, but is emotionally and mentally gripping nonetheless.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2002
After reading every one of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books it's difficult to find a decent book to read. I was recommended this series. They said that it was a [copy] of Jordan, yet it was good. Though I don't see the resemblance between The Magic of Recluse and The Wheel of Time, this first book is still good. The slow start put me off a bit, but it was enjoyable enough to keep me going. It did not take too long for me to become engrossed in Lerris' "apprenticeship" with the gray wizard Justin. The rest of the story was easily read.
There are a few times where I detected L. E. Modesitt Jr. poking fun at not just the fantasy genre but also the way most authors write. For example, many writers will have their characters sit around a campfire and ridiculously explain the entire world for no good reason. L. E. Modesitt Jr. does the opposite, no one tells Lerris anything at all. Then Justin scolds him for not knowing anything. Obviously (to me) L. E. Modesitt Jr. has some opinions about what makes a book believable. But his methods aren't much better, except for the fact that he denounces the bad methods employed by many authors. Still, I appreciate the effort. I hope he gets better at finding new ways to solve the old problems, rather than giving up and just accepting the solutions created by past writers.
I cannot give it 5 stars for it's technical errors, of which there are many, but inconsequential. I did not buy the clever magic system completely. Some of it is flawed. For example, contrary to most magic systems, white is evil and black is good. I find this intriguing (again he is being different) but it's not quite right. L. E. Modesitt Jr. explains his color system by saying that light is chaos (it isn't---light is extremely ordered) so it must be evil. Yet he doesn't realize that white clothing reflects light so by his logical system, chaos masters should wear black, not white. Still, this is a minor error, for which I can forgive (with a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief). But it does, with the help of L. E. Modesitt Jr.'s ridiculous sound effects, drop off a star. (If you want well placed and subtle written sound effects, read Drowned Hopes, by Donald E. Westlake.)
So, The Magic of Recluse had a slow but enjoyable start and introduced some new intriguing ideas. Then it got more enjoyable as the protagonist gained more and more knowledge. It's common human error flaws are forgivable, but the magic system needs work. I understand he does fine tune the magic system in his later books. I'll have to judge them when I get to them. But for the meantime, The Magic of Recluse gets [four stars] from me.