With Recluce Tales, L.E. Modesitt Jr. provides a series of short-stories that further flesh out the history of the world, filling gaps between stories, expanding on the backstory of characters, and telling entirely new stories. Given the nature of the saga, this is a book that's perfect for new readers and fans alike, introducing the former to Modesitt's world, and entertaining the latter with an expanded understanding. Of the 21 stories contained herein, only 4 are reprints, with the other 17 being brand new stories to delight and amaze.
Behind the ‘Magic’ of Recluce, the introductory essay by Modesitt, is absolutely essential reading. It explains how he came up with the concept, what he wanted to do with the world, and how it differs from most epic fantasy. As he explains, it's a series that spends a lot of time exploring things like the nature of magic, the idea of Order versus Chaos, and the economic system of a fantasy realm. It sounds dry and boring, but it's actually a fascinating approach that brings a sci-fi sense of worldbuilding to an epic fantasy saga. The Vice Marshal's Trial, the first story in the collection, deliberately extends that concept, turning the clock back to expose the very sci-fi origins of the world.
I won't go into detail on each story, but I will say the variety here is just as wide and varied as you would expect. There were a few stories that I skipped over because of potential spoilers, but for the most part I didn't feel like I was missing anything for being halfway through the series. While I expected to enjoy the most traditional fantasy stories the most, and they were all consistently strong, I found myself most curious about the stories that reached far back into history. The Forest Girl and The Most Successful Merchant were early favorites, alongside Songs past, Songs for those to come and Sisters of Sarronnyn; Sisters of Westwind, while Armsman's Odds and The Price of Perfect Order were my favorite explorations of the Black Mages.
Recluce Tales are not your traditional sword-and-sorcery or high-fantasy tales, and they're all the more entertaining for being so unique. The Saga of Recluce is almost a genre on its own, and this collection beautifully captures what makes it so compelling. Definitely recommended.
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published January 3rd 2017 by Tor Books
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.