Heritage Of Cyador (The Recluse Saga book 18) by L.E. Modesitt Jr. (book review).

Heritage Of Cyador’ is the latest volume in L.E. Modesitt, Jr.‘s best selling ‘The Saga Of Recluce’. This now runs to eighteen volumes but they are generally separate stories covering different regions or time periods of the world imagined and most can be read individually or as pairs. It would be wise to read ‘Cyador’s Heirs’ before this one as it introduces our hero, Lerial, second son of Duke Kiedron of Cigoerne.


In that book, he became a soldier and is proficient enough to slaughter an entire battalion of opposition by himself, using his mastery of Order and Chaos. The energy Chaos is kept in line by Order and Lerial can separate the two, virtually on the sub-atomic level, it seems. Substantial damage ensues. That happens in the prologue, so I’m not giving much away. A while later, he is dispatched with a small force to help the neighbouring land of Afrit fight off an attack by the other neighbouring land of Heldya. As the battalion Lerial killed was from Afrit, he is not sure of a warm welcome there, even though he’s come to help. It is in Cigoerne’s interests to stop Heldya conquering Afrit for the same reason it was in France’s interest to stop Germany conquering Poland. They would be next.

Duke Atroyan rules Afrit, not well, but fortunately his competent brother, Rhamuel, is in charge of the armed forces and that is the man with whom Lerial must deal with, at first. Following a small battle, there is a lull in the fighting and the story turns to more courtly proceedings, balls and dinners and the like. In the hands of another writer, this might have become dull but Modesitt manages to make the personalities intriguing and the conversations interesting. Then the Heldyans attack again and there are several other developments before this long book draws near its conclusion.

As I’ve mentioned before, Modesitt shows great respect for soldiers and responsible leaders and also speaks highly of decent artisans and farmers but he has a very un-American attitude to business people or Merchanters as they are called in this one. For some reason, possibly based in real life today, the author seems to think that ‘Merchanters’ are only interested in gold and care little about anything or anyone else. He makes them seem almost selfish; even greedy. Our hero Lerial gets quite incensed about the fact that Afrit, more wealthy than Cigoerne and with a greater population, has been allowed to fall into a highly fragile and vulnerable state because its weak ruler, Duke Atroyan, listens only to one vested interest: Merchanters! The concentration of wealth into the hands of a few who thereby seek to control the government and make it serve their interests is perhaps relevant to the real world today. I couldn’t possibly comment.

Uncle Geoff did a review on SFcrowsnest last month of ‘The Politics Of Big Fantasy’, an interesting idea for a book but it focused on ‘Star Wars’ (fair enough: republic versus empire is a political issue), ‘The Matrix’ and, rather weirdly, ‘The Avengers’ of Marvel Comics fame. The politics of the Avengers? It sounds like the subject of a dissertation by a particularly desperate sociology student. However, a sensible and interesting work could be made out of analysing the politics of Modesitt’s fantasy for politics, in the broader sense of how a society works, is often a rich theme in his work.

In conclusion, I would like to say that this is the best volume I’ve read so far by Modesitt and I’ve read quite a few. His prose is always lucid and he has the knack of creating likeable heroes and dastardly villains while still being perfectly realistic. He never really hooks you on the first page but, after about a hundred pages, you are beset by a strong urge to keep reading. I have some criticisms of his moral position at times with regard to ruthlessness and ends justifying means, but I’m not at all sure he’s wrong in a hard, cruel world, especially lately. You really do have to read ‘Cyador’s Heirs’ before tackling this sequel but it’s good and this one is terrific. Recommended.

Eamonn Murphy

December 2015

(pub: TOR/Forge, 2014. 525 page hardback. Price: $27.99 (US), $32.50 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-7613-8)

check out websites: www.tor-forge.com and www.lemodesittjr.com

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