cover image From the Forest

From the Forest

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. Tor, $30.99 (464p) ISBN 978-1-250-87728-4

Modesitt takes his Saga of Recluse series in a new direction in its 23rd volume (after Fairhaven Rising), an atmospheric adventure tale that stands surprisingly well on its own. Alyiakal has always wanted to be a mage, but because his limited magical abilities don’t exactly fit the usual specifications, he signs on to the military to become a Mirror Lancer instead. Before leaving home, however, he meets a Adayal, a woman with a mystical connection to the Great Forest in Jakaafra. She and the trees help to bolster Alyiakal’s magic and provide him with some early, illicit tutelage, though his increased skills could disqualify him from becoming a Mirror Lancer. As he goes on to complete his combat training, he keeps his magic under wraps, even as it grows ever stronger, evolving into an ability to manipulate order and chaos. After graduating, he is assigned to the border, where he fends off invaders and carefully navigates military politics to avoid detection. As with previous books in the series, the plot moves slowly, but exciting magic battles and an endearing hero will keep readers invested. Series fans and newcomers alike will be rewarded. (Jan.)