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The Towers of the Sunset (Recluce series, Book 2) Mass Market Paperback – August 15, 1993

85 customer reviews

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The Towers of the Sunset (Recluce series, Book 2) + The Magic of Recluce (Recluce series, Book 1) + The Magic Engineer (Saga of Recluce)
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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

A ``prequel'' to The Magic of Recluse (1991), this sometimes engaging, more often frustrating novel details the founding of the island-kingdom of Recluce. Young Creslin, kept ignorant of his powers in both magic and swordcraft, grows unsatisfied with his lot as a male in matriarchal Westwind. Unwillingly betrothed to the ``sub-Tyrant'' of a neighboring nation, Creslin flees eastward, where he is captured by the White (Chaos) magicians, aided by the Black (Order) wizards, and finally forced by circumstance to wed his less-than-thrilled betrothed Megaera, who has been manipulated by magic into the marriage herself. Together (though constantly bickering), they undertake the regency of the desolate isle of Recluce, hoping to turn it into a prosperous haven free of the White wizards. But the wizards have other plans--and Creslin must master his own powers, make the desert Recluce bloom, and defeat the Chaos magicians if he hopes to survive. Unsatisfying--despite some interesting inversions of typical fantasy elements. The first half moves very slowly, as Creslin wanders purposelessly toward Fairhaven, the lair of the White wizards, and the second section is plagued by Megaera's shrewish and cruel treatment of Creslin. But the worst flaw is Modesitt's choice of the present tense throughout the book--very distracting and deadly to any building sense of drama. Disappointing. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


A complex world based on a plausible system of magic. (Publishers Weekly)

I could not put it down. This is an outstanding fantasy tale. (Andre Norton)

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Product Details

  • Series: Saga of Recluce (Book 2)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Fantasy (August 15, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812519671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812519679
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #461,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

After spending years writing poetry, political speeches and analyses, as well as economic and technical reports on extraordinarily detailed and often boring subjects, I finally got around to writing my first short story, which was published in 1973. I kept submitting and occasionally having published stories until an editor indicated he'd refuse to buy any more until I wrote a novel. So I did, and it was published in 1982, and I've been writing novels -- along with a few short stories -- ever since.

If you want to know more, you can visit my website at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 17, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I consider this to be the best of Modesitt's works. It is not easy to get into--I suggest skipping the first three or so chapters the first time you read it--but once you delve in, you should be trapped by the travails of the protagonist, Creslin.
Perhaps the most distracting part of this book is that it's written in present tense. Some people simply cannot handle it, but I managed to disregard it after a couple of pages. It's well worth the effort, I promise.
The world here is not your typical fantasy setting. Creslin is a male in a female-dominated society, and in an ironic twist of the willful-princess-tale, flees an arranged marriage and manages to get into trouble on his own. He is wry and earnest, in some ways too young to handle the world--but it's watching him overcome those hurdles that makes this story so remarkable.
Modesitt thoroughly explores his characters. They have flaws, like all humans: Creslin can be insensitive; Megaera has a temper. Yet we can understand what they're going through and even though I didn't expect the dramatic acts a perfect hero would give us, what they do manage to accomplish is much more meaningful. Some may believe that a great deal of the story is meaningless wandering, but I was too fascinated by the process rather than the actual resolution. This is not a book you rush: it is a thoughtful piece of work.
His system of magic is based on order and chaos, and is eminently logical. These are not simple substitute-in synonyms for "good" and "evil", simplistic alignments which I've always had trouble swallowing. Much of what Creslin learns is the relationship between the two and the need for balance between them.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Granville on February 22, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In The Towers of the Sunset by L.E. Modesitt, Jr., there was one thing that really leapt out at me from the absolute beginning: the book was written in the present tense. Obviously, my first reaction was one of confusion. It was strange seeing a book written so after I had been so long reading traditional novels in the past tense. It kept throwing me off to be reading it like that for the first twenty-five pages or so. But soon I developed a keen liking for it. I thought that using the present tense made the book much more exciting, putting you in the action instead of making the reader a bored spectator to the book. I truly admire Modesitt for going out on a limb like this. I think that it takes a lot of guts for an author to do something like this, especially in today's overly confined and narrow-minded society. Also, it did a great job of making this book stand out above all others. I read this book a while ago, but it's still vivid in my memory due to its radical and noteworthy style of writing. Chances are that I will remember this book for years to come, both as the absolutely excellent narrative that it was and the exquisite and daring foray into the present tense. Overall, this was a truly excellent book that I would recommend without any hesitation.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Matthew A Callahan on August 4, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While The Magic Engineer is the best book of the series, objectively speaking, The Towers of the Sunset is still my personal favorite. Modesitt doesn't write Creslin in a manner that makes you love him or despise him, but simply respect him for what he can do. Yes the book can be excessively confusing, and it's true that the reader simply knows that Creslin can't be beaten. Nevertheless, Creslin's growth from naive pawn to master of his world is superbly entertaining and real. As usual, Modesitt makes the reader question what is right and what is wrong. The difference is that Creslin, unlike most of Modesitt's other Order Mages, rarely questions his decisions and motivations. He's arrogant and authoritative, and does what he needs to do to suceed. There is also an interesting look at the the sacrifices that must be made, in this case by both Creslin and Fairhaven, for a life safe and secure.
With the possible exception of Fall of Angels this is the best book to read stand alone from the series. If you enjoy harsh and real portrayals of powerful figures, then this is the book for you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lord Jeffrey of Starbucky on April 25, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Reviewers who have derided this book for its 2nd-person point of view should avoid anything else they find written in the 2nd-person. I will continue to love this style because it puts you right in the driver's seat. It gives you a sense of immediacy that, when used properly, contributes to the sense that the book you are reading is a "page turner". Towers Of Sunset is a page turner, in my opinion.

Good points:

1) As with all of Modesitt's main characters, he is smart, dangerous, and a good person. And best of all - he doesn't know it. He's a hero, plain and simple. His biggest weaknesses are ignorance and uncertainty. I kind of like this because we the reader discover things with him, and overcome obstacles with him (or that's how it feels at any rate).

2) I'm a sucker for romance in a novel, and he has it in this one. It wasn't perfectly executed, but I don't mind filling in the blanks.

3) This should have been the first point, and if I'd written a review for the first book it would have, but here goes: the whole order/chaos thing is PERFECT. I'm sick of good vs. evil. Its an amazing and amazingly executed concept. I might write a review of the first book and go more into this.

4) I'm sort of a sucker for a story-writing-trick that Modesitt uses (in all his books), which is: he likes to have his main characters overhearing other people going "oooh!" and "ahh!" about him when they think he can't hear. This is how we learn how amazing the character is. That and/or they say to him, "What manner of wizard are you...?" Sure, its a little transparant, but its cool. Creslin CAN throw storms around, after all, so its not entirely unbelievable.
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