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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Review/Blog Tour: Wellspring of Chaos (Saga of Recluce Book 12) by L.E. Modesitt Jr. (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

OVERVIEW: ​Kharl's life has been always been as ordered and dependable as the barrels he makes. His trouble begins when he saves saves a rape victim he finds unconscious in an alley, a blackstaffer—a young expatriate mage—from Recluce.

When the blackstaffer is mysteriously murdered in Kharl's cooperage, Kharl is jailed, tried, and flogged, and in a shocking turnaround released—and his wife executed for the murder, which she did not commit. Kharl ends up on the run, taking the slain woman's black staff and her book, The Basis of Order, which explains the principles of its power.

The diligent cooper is about to learn a new, very different skill.

 ANALYSIS: The Saga of Recluce was one of those series that I always promised myself I'd give it a try and read every single book, but after reading books one and two I looked and saw it spanned a good 16 or so more books and my interest waivered. It wasn't until it was brought to my attention and I was given the opportunity to take part in the blog tour leading up to the release of the newest Recluce book that I decided to jump back into the series by reading Wellspring of Chaos which is the 12 (in publishing order) book of the series.

One of the things that jumped out to me almost immediately upon starting Wellspring of Chaos is that it wasn't anything like Modesitt's earlier Recluce books. Sure, it is set up in the same general world and uses the same magical system, but it differs in that it takes place in a different part of the overall timeline, a new section of the world, and even has a main character that isn't your average fantasy novel main character.

Readers are introduced to Kharl – a skilled cooper who is satisfied with his life living in relative peace with his wife and two children. He isn't rich by any stretch of the imagination, but he isn't begging in the streets. On the surface this sounds like it would be a pretty dull character to follow. I admit if someone had told me I would be reading a book about a man in his 40s who spends his days making barrels and has a relatively normal family, I'd probably have laughed, but things didn't turn out that way at all.

Kharl is unexpectedly, and very early on in the book, met with a series of unfortunate events. He is forced to choose between doing what is right or ignoring the problem. Kharl decides to do what he feels is right and that leads to a series of events that quickly spiral out of control and lead to unexpected changes in his life. With all of the changes going on, Kharl is forced to go on one of those 'coming of age' quests that the teens always seem to go on in fantasy novels.

This shift of pace of having an older, more mature voice for the series really captured my attention. I found myself drawn to Kharl and his life. I wanted to know more about him. I wanted to follow him on his quests and see what he would do or how he would work things out. I didn't care if Kharl was fighting battles or just sitting and putting together wood to create a barrel that would hold apples for the upcoming harvest. I just wanted to be around Kharl and really just follow his story.

The further along I got in Wellspring of Chaos the more I noticed huge changes from previous novels. First, there was an emphasis more on mystery building, action and adventure. There was still the detailed world-building and development of characters and a focus on what some might view as boring, but there was a lot more action and not so much a focus on weighing good vs. evil or dealing with the really, really boring aspects of the characters' day-to-day lives.

Another thing that stuck out to me was Modesitt's lack of using sounds in the book. Anyone who has read any of the earlier Recluce novels knows exactly what I am talking about. While telling a part of the story, Modesitt would randomly put in something like "splat...... splunk.... splat......plop" instead of describing something that would happen or an action that occurred. This didn't happen once or twice, this happened multiple times and it really was just a personal dislike that I had with the books. I am happy to say this book didn't have that in it.

After completing Wellspring of Chaos I feel I can comfortably evaluate it from two standpoints – people who have never read any of the Recluce books and those that have read some. For those that have read Modesitt and didn't particularly care for the series, you may find Wellspring of Chaos to your liking. It has a different pace, focus, and is honestly better written than the previous books.

For those who have had no experience with Modesitt, this is a great place to start. The amazing thing is almost all the books can be read as a standalone. Sure, it is fun to read them in publishing order or chronological order, but you don't have to do that. If you haven't read any of his books, give this a try especially if you love a well-written story with relatable characters that you find yourself really caring about.

As for my personal opinion, I loved Wellspring of Chaos. I feel if I had read this book first I probably would have been encouraged to continue swiftly reading the series. I find myself drawn to the other books in the Recluce series and look forward to seeing what the future – or past as some of the books go into – holds.


Anonymous said...

These are good books, but I get too attached to characters to read it. Every new arc has new characters.

Cindy said...

That is the only one downside to the series. I completely agree. Some of the arcs only have like 2 books. I wish there were more.

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