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Wellspring of Chaos (Saga of Recluce) Mass Market Paperback – March 24, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews
Book 12 of 18 in the saga of recluce Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The prolific Modesitt's 12th Recluce fantasy, his first since 2001's Scion of Cyador, delights from start to finish. In the city of Brysta on the island of Nordla, Kharl, a cooper, has a prosperous business and a loving, if not perfect, family. He's also a man who can't help doing right, no matter the cost to himself. He soon pays a heavy price for twice offending the local lord's dastardly son by his good deeds: first, he rescues a neighbor's daughter from two upper-class louts trying to rape her; second, he saves the life of Jenevra, a Recluce blackstaffer (or mage), after she's attacked and left in the street to die. When someone later cuts Jenevra's throat, Kharl is arrested for the crime, but at the trial he can only watch as the local lord arranges to have the cooper's wife hanged for a murder neither of them committed. Hounded from the only home he's known, Kharl ends up on the run with only a few coins to his name—and Jenevra's staff and book. Kharl's slow transformation from family man to lonely wanderer, from solid citizen to wanted outlaw, from simple right-thinking craftsman to fledgling order-master and wizard, makes for a relentless and absorbing story. In a genre saturated with callow youngsters who grow into heroes, Modesitt effortlessly builds an epic adventure around an ordinary, middle-aged man. This marks a welcome new chapter in the Recluce saga, with the ending all but promising a sequel.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

From Booklist

Modesitt returns to the world of Recluce. Kharl is the best cooper in Brysta, one of the cities of Nordla, and except for his adolescent sons, leads a life as reliable as one of his barrels. His troubles start when he rescues his neighbor's daughter from assault and then helps a young rape victim from Recluce. His consort is unhappy about the latter--premonitorily, for when the young woman is mysteriously killed in the cooperage, Kharl is arrested, tried, and flogged, but his consort is hanged for murder, which she didn't commit. The corrupt son of the local lord is to blame for that injustice, which shortly precipitates Kharl's loss of the cooperage and flight for his life, as well, accoutred with the murdered woman's black staff and her copy of The Basis of Order. Modesitt's excellent new story has thought-provoking underpinnings that will snare newcomers as well as old Recluce hands, who will slot it into Recluce chronology some 60 years after the fall of Fair(ha)ven. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Saga of Recluce (Book 12)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Mass Market Edition edition (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076534808X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765348081
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.3 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Indy Reviewer VINE VOICE on April 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Wellspring of Chaos is probably the best Recluce novel Modesitt has penned since the Chaos Balance, a solid if not spectacular addition to a series that had badly run out of gas the last few books. What makes it better? The good books in the series share the common thread of exploring the intriguing cultures and magic of Recluce; the bad ones use it as a backdrop for what has become a bit of a repeating boy-overcomes-obstacles-to-be-world-changing-mage/Emperor/etc. The good news is this has a lot more in common with the former.
The story is one we've heard before and unfortunately elements remain formulaic enough to knock it down a star. Without ruining plot, Kharl the Cooper is a good-deeds type who does a good deed for the wrong person, gets forced from his home, sails around the globe (literally), finds himself in exile, and helps out the land and people of his exile. Substitute sail for wander and Recluce has seen this tale told before - Magic of Recluce, Towers of the Sunset, Magic Engineer, Order War, Fall of Angels, among others. It's familiar territory, for better or for worse.
Now the good news. First, Kharl is Modesitt's first middle-aged Recluce protagonist since Nylan in the Chaos Balance, meaning Modesitt ratchets Kharl's observation level of life's travails up a few notches from his typical kid. This doesn't mean Kharl is any quicker off the bat than some others - his awakening as an Order Mage resembles that of Lerris - but we don't have to watch him do truly dumb things. Second, the wanderjahr is better done than any book since Chaos Balance. Kharl visits almost every major city on the planet in his sailing, and its the exploration of the different cultures in this well articulated world that make this worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover
Set some sixty years after the events of "The Order War", "Wellspring of Chaos" is the new entry in the world of Recluse. Rather than setting the events on Candar or Recluse, we are brought to a new location: the island of Nordla. Kharl is a cooper (he makes barrels) in the city of Brysta. Kharl is a man of honor and he is compelled to do the right thing. He does not consider the cost of doing the right thing; he just acts because it is the right thing to do. Kharl first stops the assault of his neighbor's daughter. He next rescues a young blackstaffer (an exile from Recluse, they are generally unpopular) and takes her into his home to give her time to rest and heal. This is over the objections of his wife. She insists that this will bring them to ruin. She is right. These two good deeds set in motion that which will change Kharl's life.
When the blackstaffer is found murdered, Kharl is blamed by the authorities. They know quite well that he had nothing to do with it, but Kharl's earlier good deeds puts him at odds with them. He is falsely imprisoned and he loses his wife and his children (how he loses his wife and children I will up to the reader to discover). Kharl must escape Brysta before he loses his life. He ends up taking a berth on a ship owned by one of his former customers and works as a carpenter for a time. Kharl also begins learning about his inclination towards Order (which will make sense if you have read other Recluse novels), and who he may really be.
"Wellspring of Chaos" was a good Recluse novel. For one of the few times (or maybe first) in the series, the main character is a middle aged man rather than a kid going out on his quest. This changes how Kharl reacts to things and how he thinks, though he still is a bit naïve at times.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm not going to provide an in-depth story review here, as others have done a much better job than I ever could.

However, of all the Recluce novels, I find Kharl to be one of the most likeable characters. He's not a teen tormented with angst and confusion about everything, he's a solid, practical and honorable man with considerable integrity, thrust will he nil he into many difficulties. He seems like a normal every day working class guy, just trying to do the right thing! While the Story follows a general Modesitt template, and (despite it's considerable length) many things are a bit oversimplified as one goes along, it's quite readable, and enjoyable, and truly one of the better of the Recluce series. Personally, I hope Mr. Modesitt writes further about Kharl, although I expect he won't.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Modesitt Jr's `Wellspring of Chaos' takes us to Nordla, thence to the town of Brysta to the home of a middle aged cooper named Kharl whose aptitude for woodcraft is quietly pushed along in his cooperage. He suffers from all the usual problems of a well settled man, teenage sons with issues, a wife pushing him along to improve the business, the daily struggle of providing for his family. As a periodical so aptly indicates on the jacket, there are no youthful "callow youngsters who grow into heroes" just a hard-working man who suffers the cruelest of fates when he decides to help a young female Recluce blackstaffer who is beaten and left for dead on his workstep.

The social consequences of his individual kindness means his charge is murdered under cover of an arson, his sons leave him, his wife is arbitrarily executed by the actions of a prideful and callous young nobleman, his cooperage is attacked and then he is taxed out of his home and his place in society is irrevocably destroyed. Force to flee and hide in the town's gutters, he befriends another runaway, Jeka, and his patient, logical approach begins to reveal a hidden talent for order. With Jelendra's staff (the dead mage from Recluce) and her `The Basis for Order' book he kills a white mage who is preying on the youth of Brysta to gain new life and finds himself fleeing to the sea and taking a position as second carpenter on the Seastag under captain Hagen. After proving himself a capable fighter and using the tentative beginnings of his order power to assist the ship he finds himself involved in a political and real battle to save Lord Ghrant's lands. His single handed destruction of a powerful mage and the opposing lord elevates his status far beyond that of a cooper and hands him a minor landholding.
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