Bewildering Stories

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Book Review:
L.E. Modesitt, Scepters

by Jerry Wright

Author: L.E. Modesitt
Publisher: Tor
Hardcover: 656 pages
ISBN: 0-765-30704-9
Price: $27.95
L.E. Modesitt grew from a mid-list writer to an A-List writer with his "Recluce" series. He has also created several Science Fiction series as well as some unusual fantasy worlds. In his "Corean Chronicles" he created a world called Corus, inhabited by people like us, as well as various, well call them "supernatural" creatures such as sanders, pteridons, soarers and Ifrits. Only these ifrits are not the creatures of Arabian mythology, but instead invaders from a dying planet (dying because the ifrits have literally sucked the life out of the planet in their need to create culture, joy, and beauty). So now they need to suck the life out of Corus (but only for a few thousand years until Corus is dead) to maintain their life of beauty.

Our hero, Alucius, reminds me of the Roman general Cincinattus, in that he only wants to be left alone to raise a family and herd nightsheep. But of course, he is needed to overcome what would be otherwise overwhelming attacks by enemies surrounding the Protectorate of which he is now a part.

The first two books Legacies and Darknesses have set the stage for this, the "thrilling conclusion to the first epic trilogy of L.E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Corean Chronicles". And it is a real conclusion, and ties up most of the plot threads in a very neat bow. My only problem echos that of a number of reviewers. Alucius is too perfect, too powerful, and just really an all-around nice guy, who because of his "powers and abilities far beyond that of mortal man" kicks the crap out of his enemies.

Modesitt's creation of "talent", an unusual look at what might otherwise be called "magic" is very well done, and fascinating. There are no spells here, no deals with the under or over world. There is simply an ability to see powers, threads, strands and auras underlying the natural world and manipulate them, or utilize them.

One other point. Modesitt is fascinated with the philosophical underpinnings of ethics, and as in the Ethos Effect seems to have come to the conclusion that sometimes one's only recourse is to kill all the enemy, because there is no way to change them. In Scepters the reader can see that Modesitt is bothered by this, but at present can see no way out.

I read this book along with Ordermaster, his new Recluce book, and although I enjoyed them both, I think its time for Mr. Modesitt to write a romance or a mystery, something to get him of this "total elimination" kick. Sadly though, when I look at the "suicide bombers" that have proliferated recently, I see where he is coming from.

Copyright © 2005 Jerry Wright and Bewildering Stories

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