9 December 2013

The Chaos Balance - L. E. Modesitt Jr

The Chaos Balance (The Saga of Recluce, #7)
Image from Goodreads

L. E. Modesitt Jr is still one of my favourite authors. I'm not really sure what it it about his books but I can't get enough of them. This is the seventh book in his Saga of Recluce, a series which is currently comprised of 16 books with a further 3 in the works. It is the immediate sequel to Fall of Angels ad continues to follow Nylan.
In Fall of Angels Ryba abused Nylan causing him to father three children, one with his knowledge, and two without. I've struggled with how this might have been achieved, but since they come from a 'more civilised' world I can think of a few possibilities. 

They built Westwind, a city, or really a tower as a safe haven for the women of the world. The thing that irks me about The Chaos Balance is that Westwind was build primarily using Nylan's skill, knowledge and innovation, and yet he is basically forced from it. Ryba doesn't trust him because she cannot control him. As such The Chaos Balance is primarily a story about Nylan venturing into the world beyond Westwind. 

As always magic plays a huge part in the story, L. E. Modesitt's magic system is more complicated than is found in most of the fantasy genre. It has both rigorous rules and  biting ramifications. A great deal of the time those people in his world able to use magic are divided neatly into two types; the white sorcerers and the black magicians. 

Modesitt's protagonists are almost always black magicians, a fact which played with my head for a long time, I suspect since white symbolises purity and black symbolises a level of taintedness. The thing that makes this book different is that the arrival of the 'angels' in the previous book has thrown the Chaos Balance completely out of skew. 

Nylan comes to the aid of a country, who are fighting a battle against a nation of whites who are themselves waging war on a great forest. The forest is a huge factor in the Recluce books since it teaches balance. It has appeared in previous books as the home of the druids and the place where grey wizards go to learn their craft.

I struggle to remember huge parts of the plot from the earliest books in this series, however I do remember the little twist of magic that the forest teaches. That wrapping of order around chaos. 

All in all it was an interesting development in the history of the Recluce universe. I'm glad Nylan left Ryba. I didn't much like her. But I digress.

I would sat pick this series up if you can. It's awesome. 


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