Modesitt's sequel involving Kharl the cooper, turns ship's carpenter, turned mage, turned Lord of Austra is as equally brilliant as the opener. But that's not unexpected from Modesitt who has proven time and time again with his Saga of Recluce that, not only has he the ability to weave an astonishingly complete world picking his stories through the ages to create a vibrant history, but that his talents for spinning a simple yet utterly captivating story mean he is in the very top class of fantasy authors. Luckily he shows no sign of putting down his pen.
The sequel flows immediately from the end of the first, Kharl taking a couple of eightdays out at his new Cantyl estate to meet his steward and set an easy homestead in motion before he is called upon by Lord Ghrant to help head of an inevitable revolt by the other Austran Lords who see the chance to gain control of the island. Unfortunately, Kharl's ability to use order to discern lies and truths means the revolt kicks off far earlier and he is forced to hunt down several white mages whilst improving his order magery to reflect chaos back at those casting it at him. The results are inevitably spectacular as he moves around the countryside picking off the rebel lords and their white mages with his air hardening technique. The climax is reached as he defeats an extremely powerful white sorceress when he discovers he can turn chaos back to the sender amongst the chaos links generated and get through their shields.
Having earned Lord Ghrant a kingdom and being guided by Chancellor Hagan, Kharl returns to Cantyl for several months, taking time to build his cooperage before he is called on one more time to return to Brysta to head off Lord West and his evil son Egen who are seeking to gain control of Brysta and then threaten Austra. This gives him the chance to settle old scores from the first novel. It is tinged with sadness as he learns of the death of his youngest son. However, he is able to find Jeka in the midst of the new rebellion and develop their relationship whilst fighting off more white mages as Lord West is killed and his sons struggle for power. Eventually he puts the least terrible of the sons on the throne, destroys yet again Hamorian interests in causing trouble and returns peaceful to Cantyl with Jeka as his consort. An ending of sorts, but there is so much more scope for this unassuming cooper to become a mage as great as Creslin.
There is not much more to say. Modesitt's brilliance shines from each page as brightly as any of his other novels. There are several authors out there who have produced great fantasy series but with longevity comes mediocrity. Not so with Modesitt. He just gets better and better.
Review by travelswithacanadian
8.9/10 from 1 reviews
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