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on 2 January 2011
Modesitt's latest novel begins around 10 years after Nylan and Arylyn left Recluce (events covered in Fall of Angels and The Chaos Balance) back in Westwind and is the story of Saryn the Arms Commander of Westwind and one of the original Angels who landed on the Roof of the World when their spaceship was fatally damaged in a battle. Saryn, like most of the Angels, has developed order and/or chaos abilities, for those who have read more of the Recluce novels she would be termed a Gray Mage as she can blend order and chaos together and does not suffer the debilitating pain when killing like the Black Mages (Nylan, Arlyn, Siret, Istril) do. In this novel she develops these powers more and more as the story progresses (like Nylan and Arlyn did when they left Westwind) and they save the lives of herself and her guards on many occasions. She will be called in the Legend (in later years) as Saryn of the Black Blades, she is second only to Ryba herself (Marshall of Westwind) in arms skills besides being an excellent tactician. Ryba's foresight is at play again in this novel and, after Westwind has been attacked yet again by a large force, she agrees to Saryn fulfilling a promise of personal aid to the female Regent of Lornth and allows her to take 2 squads of guards with her. Saryn has a huge task ahead of her, to bring peace and order to a misogynist culture that has been suffering from internal and external conflict for generations, it becomes obvious as the story progresses that Ryba has foreseen what the eventual outcome will be, it takes far longer for reality to dawn for Saryn. This is one of the rare Recluce novels that have a female lead character and my only small niggle with the book is that Modesitt makes the same mistake as the majority of male writers in that he makes strong females too much like men with a few incidental physical differences. Regular readers will know how things develop in later years in Westwind, Suthya and Sarronyn (the legend holder countries) with a complete reversal of male and female roles, for an example of how this could be done better I would recommend the Black Jewels novels by Anne Bishop. I did really enjoy this novel as I have enjoyed all of the Recluce Saga and I am hoping for a sequel as Modesitt often writes his Recluce novels in pairs. Fans of the series will definitely enjoy this but I would not recommend this novel as a first read for newcomers, Fall of Angels would be a good start to this section of the story ;o)
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on 4 July 2014
I have to admit that the Recluce books by L E Modesitt Jr. are a bit of a weakness of mine. I have read other novels by the very prolific author and found them to be simply okay, but the Recluce series have always been entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable.

It is also one of those series that I was waiting for the bubble to pop. After all it began with a run of five books, that were cleverly written, released in an unusual but working order - chronologically the first book is actually fourth... But they work perfectly as they are, introducing you to the world of Recluce, then filling in some of the history then delivering the big finish.

When more books followed it felt as though Modesitt might have been trying to make stretch the idea, but instead he produced book after book that deepened the world he had created, and each one ultimately won me over.

Arms Commander is the 16th book in series, and for the first time I felt as though the format was being stretched, not quite the bubble popping, but certainly deflating a little. There seems to be a pattern to the novels forming, in which a single character is thrust into a situation of the his/her depth. There they are forced to make use of what power (Recluce has a superb and fascinating magical system based around Chaos and Order) they have, only to discover that they are a lot more powerful than they thought, and resolving the almost insurmountable problems they face along the way.

This is true of Arms Commander. Set further back in the history of the world, Saryn is Arms Commander of Westwind, a small matriarchal society, survivors of a space mission that led them stranded on a world that is not only hotter than they would like, but one where women are seen to be inferior and there is a strange magic like power at work.

In an aggressive patriarchal society a group of independent, strong women are seen as a target, and life is little more than a struggle to survive against the environment and the men who are determined to prove that women are inferior and should not have power.

Some of the story was told in two previous novels (Fall of Angels & The Chaos Balance), but here Westwind is starting to feel threatened by the male world below. And so Saryn must learn that she has a stronger connection with order and chaos than she might have realised and move out into the world, leaving the life she has know behind and effectively change the world around her.

It is a well told tale, with quite a bit of satisfaction as a lot of the chauvinistic men are forced to come to terms with a woman that is powerful, more powerful that they can deal with. But it is a pattern that has appeared in previous books in the same way, Saryn is forced to learn how to use powers in a new ways; she is weakened by using them, but continues to do so.

The anti-female society is a good idea, especially as it is seen as inherently wrong, and here we are shown the effect an outside force can play in changing a world rooted in its ways. But it is a point that felt belaboured, almost as though Modesitt was trying to emphasise how bad it was.

The book ends well, but it is not the best Recluce novel by far, in fact at this stage I’d say it is the worst. It does not make it bad, just not up to the normal standard that the author has set.

With two more books due (one just released and one to come at the end of the year) it will be interesting to see whether Modesitt has taken his world as far as he should, or if it can return to the heights of the 15 previous novels.
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on 5 July 2011
the recluce saga is as fresh in this as in the first volume. The development of Westwind is coherent and believable and the characters, as always, are well rounded. this explains Southwind. Hopefully more of Southwind will be forethcoming so we can understand Creslin's dislike and his resistance to the arranged marriage which led to Recluce.
I could have been even happier if more depth of mythology for the anglorats and Ryba's crew had been explored. Maybe next time.
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on 31 May 2013
I always feel a great sense of disappointment as I approach the end of the latest L.E. Modesitt novel! This is because it feels like I'm saying 'goodbye' to a close friend when I finish!! Arms-Commander did not disappoint and is another great addition to The Saga of Recluce, helping to fill in the history of the surrounding lands and the roots of Sarronnyn. Would definitely recommend.
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As most of you know, I've been a fan of L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s Recluce saga since the early 90s. Though I've enjoyed every installment, my favorites remain Fall of Angels and The Chaos Balance. Both deal with the mythology of Recluce, and the blend of fantasy and science fiction found in these two novels always scratched my itch. If you have never read anything by Modesitt, you might want to begin with these two Recluce books. They might be a bit easier to get into than the others.

Anyway, I was quite excited when I learned that the author would write another installment set in the far past of Recluce. Unfortunately, my reading schedule did not permit me to reread Fall of Angels and The Chaos Balance. Yet that did not take anything away from the overall reading experience, other than perhaps missing a few details and nuances.

Here's the blurb:

Arms-Commander takes place ten years after the end of The Chaos Balance and tells the story of the legendary Saryn. The keep of Westwind, in the cold mountainous heights called the Roof of the World, is facing attack by the adjoining land of Gallos. Arthanos, son and heir to the ailing Prefect of Gallos, wishes to destroy Westwind because the idea of a land where women rule is total anathema to him.

Saryn, Arms-Commander of Westwind, is dispatched to a neighboring land, Lornth, to seek support against the Gallosians. In the background, the trading council of Suthya is secretly and informally allied with Gallos against Westwind and begins to bribe lord-holders in Lornth to foment rebellion and civil war. They hope to create such turmoil in Lornth that the weakened land will fall to Suthya. But Zeldyan, regent of Lornth, has problems in her family. To secure Zeldyan's aid, Saryn must pledge her personal support--and any Westwind guard forces she can raise--to the defense of Zeldyan and her son. The fate of four lands, including Westwind, rests on Saryn's actions.

The worldbuilding is an interesting aspect, for it allows readers to discover how Saryn's involvement in protecting the regency culminated in drastic changes throughout Lornth, shaping that country into what it will become in later years. And just as Nylan changed the face of Candar when he faced the might of Cyador, Saryn's coming down from Tower Black and the Roof of the World will echo down the centuries.

The characterization would probably have benefited from more POV characters. Saryn, regardless of the fact that she is a three-dimensional character, is a bit too aloof to carry the weight of this story. Not that she isn't an interesting character in her own right, and Saryn does stay true to herself, but witnessing the events unfold through the eyes of other characters might have given Arms-Commander more emotional impact.

The pace was also an issue at times. I feel that too much "air time" was given to the various confrontations with the recalcitrant lord-holders. A number of those clashes could have taken place behind the scenes, which would have sped up the rhythm of the novel.

Feminism and the emancipation of women continue to be two very important themes, and you find them underlying every facet of the narrative. The dedication on the first page reads:

«For all the women cursed as tyrants in getting the job done when their male
counterparts are only considered tough.»

Still, the pace is a minor issue that didn't diminish my reading pleasure. All in all, Arms-Commander is another solid effort by Modesitt, one that should please long-time fans. Here's to hoping that we'll have the opportunity to read more about the Angels and how their coming changed the world forever.
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on 4 May 2013
This book is the final book in Recluse story, it tells the story of Westwind & the Angels after Nylan left. This is an enjoyable book for fans of Recluse, its nice to get back to the proper feel of Recluse story after the terrible "Mage Guard of Hamor" book
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on 31 January 2013
The book is not bad but I prefer some of his other work to this. If you want to read all of his books, read this as well. But if you want to start reading this author, choose another one of his.
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on 26 April 2013
I have read and enjoyed all of the "The Saga of Recluse"and enjoyed all of them,I can't wait for more.
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on 5 April 2010
I have read this book twice in the last 6 weeks. It takes us back to the earlier times 10 years after the Angels have landed. The characters are more developed and it continues the theme of the gender battle. It is set after the time of Nylan and the Tower Black and starts at Westwind on The Roof Of The World. Very exciting
For readers who enjoy the Recluce Saga it is a must to read. I can't say more without giving away the plot and dynamics of the book.
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on 30 April 2016
Another great read from this author
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