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Natural Ordermage (Saga of Recluce) by L.E. Modesitt
Edited by David G. Hartwell
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765318138
Date: 18 September 2007 List Price $27.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The empire of Hamor is a relatively unknown land in the Saga of Recluce. Hamorian traders and military have been drawn into many of the major conflicts facing Candor, all the way back to the time of Cyador. In the duology centered around Kharl, there was a brief scene in a Hamorian port. Now for the first time Hamor is explored in depth.

Rahl grew up near Land's End as an apprentice scrivener. He is more talented than he knows. Things seem to be fine; he has a future, opportunities, and even a few potential consorts. When he stumbles across a smuggler's plot, a series of events are started that will push him from his home and comfortable life. He will travel to Nylan to see if he can fit in there and eventually to far off Hamor where he is once again placed at risk but offered new opportunities to grow and learn to use his talents.

Set 150 years prior to the events of The Order War, this tale initially shows how the island nation of Recluce changes, and fights changes that come with the advent of technology and the presence of Nylan, the city of engineers. A nation based on order is not always a just or good nation. Good people and bad people live in all places, but those with power are always suspected.

Cerryl the Great was a scrivener at one time, how great will Rahl be? The Cerryl duology are one of my favorite Recluce tales. That means that the current book and its eventual sequel have a high bar to reach. Many readers will note that Rahl's adventures seem similar to the experiences of many of the prior main characters in the Recluce series. This isn't a bad thing. The difference in how he handles the situations leads to a greater understanding of the depths of this character.

As noted earlier this is a part of a popular series. Unlike many other series, this book can be enjoyed as a stand alone novel. Readers new to Recluce as well as fans of the series will both enjoy this tale. Mr. Modesitt recommends reading the series in the order he published the books. I originally read them in that order, but I now enjoy reading them in chronological order. I recommend each fan find their own balance.

My favorite thing about L.E. Modesitt's books is that they don't go stale. I enjoy rereading them as much as I enjoy them the first time. On occasion, I enjoy them even more. He does a good job of connecting the events in one book series to another without being heavy handed. An off the cuff remark in one book can lead to a whole new book that explores the situation. The great thing about this book is that I know there is another one coming next year; the worst thing is that he has a new series coming that means he is likely to take a break from Recluce. The break is acceptable because I hope it will keep the stories fresh and interesting to both him and his readers. Reading this book has made me want to go back and reread the whole series. I won't say how many times this will make.

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