Book Review 2008 #35: Legacies

Legacies is the first book in L.E. Modesitt’s Corean Chronicles series.


Stop me if you have heard this story before.
Moderately capable young man from humble beginnings in an agrarian society slowly grows into strange and unusual abilities. Circumstances force him away from his pastoral home, forcing him to grow up. His benevolent land is under threat from lands both greedy and outright evil, and our hero is instrumental in dealing with these large threats to his small society.
Yeah, it sounds like, for those who have read it, a lot like Modesitt’s Recluce novels. The magic system here is different, and this is a post-apocalypse world, where there are few people who can wield “Talent” for good or evil, and the technology is higher, but its very similar to Recluce. The writing is better than the early novels in that series, but the basic ur-text of the story is the same.
That said, we get some strange creatures, decently interesting politics, and hints of what this world lost when its fell. The battle scenes are all right, there is a fair amount in this novel devoted to battle tactics, since the hero is first conscripted, and then turned into a janissary.
Relationships…well, Modesitt still doesn’t write romance. I guess he is better living a happy marriage and relationship than actually writing one. So Alucius, our hero, has a girl promising to wait for him, but the relationship’s development really doesn’t happen with any complexity.
Still, if you have read him before, and are tempted to read him again, you know what you are reading for, virtue wise. Complex worlds, competent heroes who might have doubt–but don’t spend half the book doing nothing or moping about it. They get on, they progress, they are catalysts and protagonists.
I am of the opinion that his SF is much better than his fantasy, even if, especially given our economic times, he writes much more fantasy. So while I am not especially interested in continuing to read this series, it didn’t offend me and I don’t regret the time I took to do so. I mostly read it on my trip to and from The Black Road, and to kill time in an airport and an airplane, it served its purpose very well. I don’t especially recommend it.
Still, if you wanted to try his fantasy for the first time, this is probably a good example of a book to do it, so you can get a feel for his writing style, his proclivities and peculiarities (Modesitt loves to write about food, for example…).