LEGACIES: The First Book of the Corean Chronicles
Although "judicious matriarchy vs. brutish patriarchy" may have been done to death, Modesitt has boldly taken on the task of breathing new life into this venerable feminist cliché, and done a more than credible job. Alucius, a young shepherd-turned-soldier from the proud but impoverished Iron Valley, is wounded and captured by the invading Matrite army. He manages to disguise his magical Talent well enough to pass the inspection of the Matrial, the seemingly immortal ruler whose magic reaches to every corner of her kingdom, and is assigned to fight in a company of Matrite cavalry. As he gains valuable knowledge of patience, warfare and honor, Alucius also comes to realize that despite his hatred of the slavery and prejudice that are so integral to the Matrite society, he can't help admiring the order and prosperity that accompany them. Resolving this internal dilemma is only one of his struggles: he must also work to regain his freedom, practice and improve his Talent and figure out why magical creatures appear at odd moments and aid or attack him seemingly at random. The historical background is somewhat sketchy and difficult to follow, and Modesitt still has trouble reconciling science and magic; but the warfare and dialogue are clear and authentic, and he's learned a lot about pacing in the 11 years since the first Recluce books were published. Thoughtful readers will be appreciative, and the author's fans will be impressed. (Nov. 1)
FYI:Earlier this year Modesitt published a well-received SF novel, Archform: Beauty (Forecasts, June 10).