L.E. Modesitt, Jr. is a name I see often–both online and in real life. So I’m thinking I need to check this guy out. He’s written over 70 books (wow!) and is still going strong. His Saga of Recluce is one of his most popular and well known series, and it’s a staggering 20 book series! A few of you might know my policy on reading series out of order, which is, Sure, why not? So I had no problem beginning with a much later entry in the series, Cyador’s Heirs, when the lovely folks at Tor asked if we’d like to participate in this blog tour.
Decades after the fall of Cyador, its survivors have reestablished themselves in Cigoerne. Young Lerial, living in the shadow of his older brother and heir Lephi, has a preordained future: He will one day command his brother’s forces in defense of Cigoerne, serving at his older sibling’s pleasure, and no more.
But when Lerial is sent abroad to learn the skills and wisdom he will need to fulfill his future duties, he discovers he is one of those rare beings who can harness both Order and Chaos. And as war finally engulfs the fringes of Cigoerne, Lerial’s growing mastery of Order and Chaos is tested to its limits, and his own.
I flew through this book. I would describe it as a coming of age story, more focused around our main protagonist Lerial than the actual plot itself. We follow Lerial as he goes from essentially a young boy jealous of his brother to a young man who must face difficult decisions and hardships. We see the true consequences of Lerial’s actions. Not every decision is a good one. However, it shows that Lerial is still growing and learning. I loved that and thought the theme of actions/consequences was presented excellently. The growth he experiences is great, but he still has more to learn by the end of the novel. However, showing that he still has more room to grow was an incredibly realistic ending in my opinion.
The biggest highlight for me, aside from the excellent character development, are the character interactions–from family, to friends, to friends that became like family. In the quiet moments is where we really see this shine. While digging ditches or walking in the garden. These moments add a nice contrast to the more tense battle scenes. Not only that, they show evidence of how much Lerial has grown. The way he acts and behaves in the beginning of the book is much more naïve and childish than later.
Another highlight is that the plot unfolds naturally. This is one of those novels where everything builds on top of each other. But by the end of it, you really see how all of the pieces fit together. Again, the growth Lerial goes through is amazing to witness, but it is a slow process. There are no shortcuts or easy ways out. And I want to quickly add here that while Lerial certainly is standout, there were no characters I thought were bad. Even characters we meet for a few pages at most felt real and well-rounded.
If you didn’t tell me this wasn’t the first book in the series, I never would’ve known. Like the others in the Recluce series, Cyador’s Heirs works wonderfully as a standalone while adding to the richness of the whole series. We learn about the world, the struggles, the magic…everything in one book. That it is all wrapped up inside a coming of age story is all the more impressive. So not only do we get great world-building, we also get excellent character-focused scenes. The magic itself is even tied to the characters. The magic of Order and Chaos is found everywhere inside the book, helping to add to the atmosphere.
I would recommend starting with Cyador’s Heirs if you want a coming of age tale that is more character-driven while still maintaining excellent action scenes and world-building. It’s not historical fantasy, but to me it felt like a mix between classic fantasy and historical fantasy.
(Thank you to Tor for providing a digital copy of Cyador’s Heirs–as well as the opportunity to participate in this lovely Recluce Blog Tour.
P.S., That amazing banner up top? The first three books are being reprinted, and that’s the art for them! Check out more about it here.)