Outcasts of Order

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

This is not a stand-alone book. Personally, I enjoyed reading it because I am very familiar with Modesitt's Recluce series, but it is not for a reader who is not familiar with it.
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Outcasts of Order is the middle volume of Modesitt's Recluce trilogy focusing on Beltur, a black mage who can't seem to find a safe and stable home, despite just wanting to keep his head down and live a quiet life. After functionally being a war hero fighting the White Mages of Gallos, Beltur is back trying to earn a living assisting the local blacksmith in forging some super rare material that hasn't been seen in hundreds of years. The forging goes well, the living a quiet life part does not. Beltur is targeted time and again by the powers of Elparta until he is forced to flee.

At this point, it is impossible to discuss a Recluce novel without talking about how it has become comfort reading. It is. I suspect that I'm a bit more generous with these later Recluce novels and with Outcasts of Order in particular - but I think the deliberateness of this novel is a bit more tedious than I find it in most Recluse novels. I am looking forward to that deliberateness in The Mage-Fire War because of how that novel is set up, but despite the comfort part of the reading it's definitely waiting for plot movement (though every time Beltur is forced into action, it's incredibly effective)

As a side point, in the last novel, I thought Modesitt leaned to heavily on the idea of Beltur being a "mongrel", not a true black mage according to the leading mages of Spidlar. With Outcasts of Order the overused concept is weather related. It seems like everyone here is talking about a storm being (or not) a "northeaster". Maybe a little less of that, if possible. I'll still read every Recluce novel Modesitt puts out, though.
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3 stars, Metaphorosis Reviews

Summary:

Having fled one country already, the black-mage-trained-as-white Beltur is trying to make a place in Elparta for himself and his intended Jessyla. The local Council has other plans, and soon Beltur, Jessyla, and their friends are on the run once again.

Review:

"You're a black mage."
"Yes, but I was trained as white. I saw a lot of death and never knew enough about healing."
"A mage and healer. That's ... rare."
"There are a few. I'm just learning."
"Your healer wife is also a mage? That's ... rare."
"Yes."
"The Council ... doesn't like you."
"The Council doesn't like paying for things."
"You're a ... very powerful mage."
"I just move bits of free order around and always add some to wounds."
"You like to always do the right thing ... don't you?"
"I try to."
Sigh. "Hold this and try not to screw it up."
"I can do that."

I'm sorry to say that the above invented dialogue conveys about 75% of the story of Outcasts of Order. Beltur essentially has the same conversation over and over and over again with different characters. And then he tells his wife about having had the conversation, in detail. And then he tells his friends about telling his wife about having had the conversation. In detail. He and virtually everyone else explain things at the drop of a hat - but it's almost always the same things: how he got where he is, how he was trained as a white mage, how he's worried about not earning enough, and how, yes, he's a healer mage, and yes, they're very rare. The repetition is leavened only by contemplation of some fairly broad social lessons along the "Do unto others..." line.

Modesitt's Recluce novels have always essentially been the same story, about the same character type, a collection of verbal tics, and some valuable life lessons. It's worked because it's an appealing character type, the life lessons are positive, and there's an intriguing backstory. Unfortunately, this time (or at this point), Modesitt is carrying the formula too far, and no one has bothered to edit him. There's a decent story here, but it could and should have been told in 200 pages, instead of well over 600 of excruciating minutiae. Modesitt seems to search out mundane things to tell us. At one point, Beltur and Jessyla are entering a new city with a pack mule of goods. He tells the guard he has “Personal goods, inspector. Blankets, clothing, a few cooking pieces, some bedding . . .” The guard replies “That seems . . . strange.” No, it doesn't. It's absolutely normal material for a traveler to carry..

By the midpoint of the book, we've heard the same conversations and explanations dozens of times; there's nothing new to learn from them, and the verbal tics are just getting annoying. (No one ever answers a request with "Yes"; it's always "I can do that.") There are also some basic continuity errors - for example, he sets a dislocated shoulder, but 200 pages later, has never seen one.

Beltur's rectitude - required of him by his black-mage nature - is also strikingly flexible. He's all about doing the right thing, but is somehow able to kill annoying, unthreatening people without a qualm. He bends over backward when challenged by 'good' people, but is pretty easily riled by 'bad' people. There's also more than one would hope of a Robert Jordan-y 'women are wise and wonderful' feel, and a tendency to segregate men's and women's work. There's nominally a lot of forging going on, but all it seems to take is a bellows, some melted copper, and a heated form. It goes remarkably quickly.

I still enjoy the world of Recluce, but this latest book, at least, was stretched far beyond it's breaking point. Perhaps the silver lining is that a reader could dip in just once every ten pages or so, and miss very, very little, because it's all being repeated all the time anyway.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I’ve been a fan of L.E. Modesitt Jr’s books ever since I stumbled across his Saga of Recluce series over 15 years ago, so I was pretty excited when I received my copy of the newest book in the mail a few weeks ago. Outcasts of Order by L.E. Modesitt Jr was a fun and fast-paced story full of enough action, adventure, and political intrigue to keep you on the edge of your seat and constantly guessing what’s going to happen next. I don’t know why I always insist on starting a new book when I get home from work in the evenings when I know if I like it I won’t have the willpower to stop reading it until I’m too exhausted to focus on the words. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I was up reading this book until around 4 am in the morning.

I don’t think I’ve disliked a single Recluce book so far so I know going in that I was going to enjoy Outcasts of Order, but I’m honestly a bit surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it and how quickly it has become one of my favorite books in the series. As good as the Recluce books are they can be a bit repetitive at times I thought this book really stood apart from most of the others. One of the things I liked the most about this book is the fact that it takes place a decent amount of time before the founding of Recluce so I feel like we get to see order and chaos through the eyes of people who don’t see everything as black and white as the people of Recluce seem to.

I always enjoy when we see that order mages can be as petty and power hungry as anyone else or how not all chaos mages are evil down to their bones like we do in this book. I also liked the fact that much of Outcasts of Order takes place on the road as Beltur and his companions flee from town to town and country to country in search of a safe and stable place to call home. May of the Recluce books take place in a very localized area, even when the protagonist is riding off to war or exile, so it’s nice that this one feels like a bit more of a traveling adventure story. Though it’s always a little bit odd when we get a book in the Saga of Recluce that doesn’t focus on crafting as heavily as most of the earlier books do.

Now normally this is where I would probably list and complain about the little things in Outcasts of Order that bother me, which tend to be the same things that bother me in every Recluce book, but they didn’t really happen much here. It’s both nice and a little bit weird that we didn’t get a ridiculous amount of detail on what Beltur or his friends were eating or drinking or how many times they chewed before swallowing. I noticed this same lack of detail the Mongrel Mage as well, but I thought the lack was definitely more noticeable here. I feel like a bit of a hypocrite because I kind of miss it and almost want to complain about the lack of such details when normally they would be the thing that bothers me the most.

I think I can honestly say I would rate Outcasts of Order up there as one of my favorite books in the Saga of Recluce and I would gladly recommend it to anyone looking for something new to read. Though I would suggest reading The Mongrel Mage first so that you get Beltur’s story from the very beginning. I expected this to be a duology like most of the Recluce books seem to be but its clearly a trilogy and I can’t wait to see what happens to Beltur and his friends next.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Outcasts of Order is likely to be the middle book of a trilogy, based upon Modesitt's past practice. Beltur managed to survive the invasion of Elparta, but can he survive the peace? Especially with Traders and mages attacking his source of income. Following a confrontation, Beltur and Jessyla follow Jorhan to Axalt. Despite a warm welcome from Jorhan's relatives, their fit in the city is tentative especially when another black mage and his daughter arrive. So their travels continue to Montgren where they hope to settle. That tale will occur in the next book.

Thanks Netgalley for the opportunity to enjoy this volume
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This book does more or less pick up where the previous book left off, and we find Beltur recovering from the effects of his previous adventure and mourning the loss of one of his friends. He is a refugee in a new city, struggling to establish himself and earn as much as he can, as he wishes to settle down with a special someone. However, there are obstacles to his ambition…

If you are in the mood for a foot-to-the-floor adventure, where it is all kicking off at a breathless rate, then this one isn’t for you. Modesitt doesn’t write like that – he slowly builds the world by taking you through his protagonist’s daily routine in every little detail. We learn what Beltur thinks about the worsening weather conditions; how he feels about working at the forge and the Healing House; what he wears; what he likes to eat and drink; who he trusts; what he thinks about having to get up early in the mornings… I’ll be honest, while I enjoy the accretion of all these daily details, there were times when in this book I felt that the pacing had become just a bit a too stuck in the daily rhythm. There are also places where Modesitt’s normally smooth prose is a little rough around the edges. While I’m aware this is an arc and there are liable to be changes, I do hope some of the missing words and repetitions are sorted out before the publication date. That said, it wasn’t sufficient to blunt my engagement with the story and most of the time, I relished once more being immersed in this richly depicted world.

What all that detail means is that when it does kick off – there is a real sense of shock at the violence and the consequences that occur in its wake. I like Beltur and the people around him, although there are times when I’d like to see him a little more grumpy and not so unfailingly good. As a result, the person who I really bonded with, is the healer and emerging mage, Jessyla. I do like the fact she can be quite snarky, at times.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this one – though I recommend that you start with The Mongrel Mage and I’m delighted there is to be a third book in this series. Recommended for fans of epic fantasy. While I obtained an arc of Outcasts of Order from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
8/10
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Modesitt's "Recluse" continues to dazzle!

The story of Beltur, a black order Mage with healing powers, and the companion of his heart, the healer Jessyla continues. Their path is hazadous. As always the on going balance between chaos (white magic) and order (black magic) is reflected throughout the situations that Beltur finds himself in. (The humble yet noble hero, who will make the hard decisions when faced with them, is a recurring theme in Modesitt's works and Beltur is no exception).
Is Beltur being guided by the ways of the universe of Recluse, the natural laws surrounding chaos and order as it were, or are random happenings encouraging non random outcomes? (I am always fascinated that somewhere writings that expound on order and chaos or principles and understandings of the universe appears for the main protagonist to ponder on, which we in turn are privy to. For Beltur such a work is the book, Considerations on the Nature of Man).
Beltur has become a challenge to those in power, not by any threatening actions on his part, but just by being. Beltur works for the city as a Patrol Mage--very effectively, and always with compassion. But the fact that he and the smith Jorhan, are producing cupridium blades and everyday objects by Beltur infusing order/chaos patterns into them, might have something to do with the disquiet of those in charge. It may just be a simple matter of tariffs and economics--other people's, or possibly because another Mage further up in the city"s hierarchy has his eyes on the healer Jessyla. Or perhaps all three. To maintain his freedom it seems Beltur must leave Elparta. The decision is not easy but other's choices leave Beltur very little alternative. 
This is Modesitt's twentieth  novel in the Recluse series (and yes like others, I read them from the very beginning when "The Magic of Recluse" burst upon the Fantasy/Sci fi world stage). His writings continue to dazzle me, even as I greet them like well known and loved friends, interesting companions on my decades old fantasy reading journey, continually and satisfyingly familiar, yet injecting some new aspect and situation into my understandings of Recluse the place.
This new novel  and the formidable characters capture me. Echoes of previous Recluse novels ring faintly through the pages. I know this place! The philosophies embedded in the writing are thought provoking. I am always left satisfied yet wanting more of this fascinating world and the characters Modesitt creates.
Another absorbing read!

A NetGalley ARC
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"Outcasts of Order" eBook was published in 2018 (June) and was written by L. E. Modesitt Jr. (http://www.lemodesittjr.com). Mr. Modesitt has published nearly 80 novels. This is the twentieth novel in his "Saga of Recluse" series. 

I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence and a little Mature Language. The story is set in a world where magic is possible. This novel continues to follow the young Mage Beltur introduced in "The Mongrel Mage". 

Beltur, though raised by his uncle and trained as a While Mage, has found he is a powerful Black Mage. He used his skill to help defend Elparta from invasion. Now that the threat is over, he finds himself under new threats.

For some in Elparta he is too strong in magic and they see him as a threat to their power. His romantic interest in a young healer, Jessyla, is seen as a threat by a Black Mage that desires her. His ability to aid the coppersmith Jorhan to cast rare and beautiful cupridium pieces is seen as a threat to the traders.

He finds that he must flee Elparta in fear of his life. Jessyla insists on coming with him and becoming his consort (wife). They must face the dangers of traveling to Axalt. Not only must they travel through winter storms, but brigands threaten travelers along the road.

Once they arrive in Axalt, things are better, or at least seem so on the surface. Both Jessyla and Beltur are able to further their skills as Healers. Baltur is able to produce more cupridium pieces with Jorhan. He is an outsider though and different. Even though they have distanced themselves from Elparta, the Council there tries to make trouble for him as his friends.

Beltur must protect himself and his friends from attack from one direction after another. It becomes a question of how far will he have to go. What will he have to do to survive? Will he ever find a place that he and Jessyla can have a home and a family?

I thoroughly enjoyed the 19+ hours I spent reading this 656 page fantasy. I have enjoyed reading the last two novels in the "Saga of Recluce", and they make me want to go back and start the series from the beginning. This novel reads pretty well on its own, but certainly reading "The Mongrel Mage" first helps. I do like the characters that have been created. Beltur, while a very strong Mage, is still finding his own strengths and abilities. This novel was a little slower than the previous one, though I did still find myself drawn to reading it. This novel is more about his growth as a Mage and a Healer. I like the cover art chosen for this novel. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.  

Further book reviews I have written can be accessed at https://johnpurvis.wordpress.com/blog/. 

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).
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I was provided an eARC of this book in exchange for a fair review.
I have been reading L.E. Modesitt for close to 2 decades, and always love revisiting this world he’s built. That being said, this was not my favorite of his books. All of Modesitt’s books follow a very specific format, and I think sometimes that gets a little stale. Order versus Chaos, the struggle to accept the balance, etc etc. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I did, but when held up against some of his other works (Fall of Angels, The Magic Engineer), it fell short for me. At the end of the day, it’s still a must-read for Recluse fans, and one I will likely revisit again.
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I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, atmosphere, and characters.  I would recommend the book to friends and family for their reading pleasure.
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There is always something deeply satisfying about each book written by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. This newest addition to the "Saga of Recluce" series is no exception. With fully fleshed out characters, believable dialogue and a fresh, exciting storyline, this next installment in the "Recluce" universe will satisfy fans in every way.  "Outcasts of Order" is certain to become this year's Fantasy favorite!
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