Review of MAGE-GUARD OF HAMOR by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (see his website)
SAGA OF RECLUCE
Tor, July 2008
After his exile from Recluce, Rahl had some tough times--before being enlisted into the ranks of Hamor's Mage-Guards. A combination of white and black mages, the Mage-Guards preserve the laws of Hamor with ruthless fairness. But a civil war has broken out in Hamor and the Mage-Guards, as well as others at the highest levels of government and military, are involved. Powerful Hamor's neighbors scheme for ways to take advantage of Hamor's weakness--with Fairhaven even sending white wizards to help the revolt.
Rahl's mentor, Taryl, is tasked to assist in the war against the rebels. Using Rahl like a weapon, Taryl sets out to end the rebellion--no matter what the cost. Rahl soon finds himself in a mounted infantry company sent out to scout enemy-held territory. Although the mages of Recluce believed Rahl untrainable, Taryl believes differently. What Rahl learns, however, is that real-life lessons sometimes come at a fearsome price--a price often paid not by Rahl himself, but by those around him.
Author L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Modesitt) continues his Recluce series with a solid adventure story. Rahl continues to grow as a character, transforming from the sulky young man of NATURAL ORDERMAGE (see our review) to a more mature warrior. While he's still inclined to want answers handed to him, Rahl has learned that this often won't happen. He's also learned that he must get along with others--even those he doesn't like and doesn't trust. He'd better--because sometimes supposed allies are more deadly than avowed enemies.
Modesitt's Recluce series features a dual magic form--with order and chaos represented by black and white, respectively. As a mage of order, Rahl's powers don't contain the same shock value as do those of chaos, but he's gradually able to bring the lessons he's learned to bear, turning mistakes into weapons. Hard lessons turn out to be lessons he needed to take.
Rahl's story gives us another look at what Recluce has become--narrow-minded as it's caught up in its supposed virtues--and at another side of a nation that is often at odds with Recluce. The story lacks some of the twists and turns I look for in a Modesitt novel, but it definitely caught my attention and held my interest.
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