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By Patrick (2005-04-21)
L. E. Modesitt, jr. is the author of three fantasy series, The Saga of Recluce, The Spellsong Cycle and The Corean Chronicles. He has also written a vast number of science fiction novels, including the series The Ecolitan Matter, The Forever Hero, Timegods' World and The Ghost Books.
For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with your work, without giving too much away, give us a taste of the RECLUCE Saga.
LEM: First off, the saga of Recluce is not a standard series. Although there are currently 13 books, there are no more than two books about any one group of main characters. The novels are set in differing time periods across roughly 1900 years in history of the world. Each book is written as a stand-alone, although it is generally better to read the first book about a given character, and I do suggest reading the very first book –- The Magic of Recluce – before the others.The magic system is based on a "rationalized" and logical application of order and chaos, but, while black mages use order magery, and white wizards favor chaos magic, order and chaos do not automatically equate to good and evil. Some of the books are written from the "black" viewpoint and others from the "white" viewpoint.
There’s also a misconception, whose origin baffles me, that I always write about young men growing up. That’s simply not accurate. Certainly, this is true of some of the characters, particularly Lerris [The Magic of Recluce], Cerryl [The White Order], and Lorn [Magi’i of Cyador], but it is far from universally true. Nylan [Fall of Angels] is in his late 30s; Justen in his late 20s; and Kharl [Wellpsring of Chaos]is married with two children when the book opens.I do have a common plot theme in all the books, in that my main characters do learn a few things as matters develop, but what’s the point of writing about protagonists who don’t?
Same as the first question, but in regards to THE SPELLSONG CYCLE.
LEM: The Spellsong Cycle is a very different fantasy series, for a number of reasons. First, all five books are written from the female point of view. Second, the main character of the first three – Anna – is a woman in her late 40s or early 50s with grown children. She’s a divorced singer and music professor who has just lost a daughter and who wishes she were anywhere else. She finds herself in a world where magic is controlled by the application of accurate song and accompaniment. It’s also a world that is incredibly chauvinistic. She is potentially one of the most powerful sorceresses that world has known – if she can survive long enough to learn how.
The last two books are about Anna’s foster daughter – Secca – some thirty years later. Secca inherits Anna’s role – and responsibilities – and enemies who have been biding their time for years. Secca is no child, either, but a woman in her mid-30s.This series tends to polarize readers more. Many of those who like it are almost fanatical, but I also have heard from readers who like it far less than my other fantasies. Despite the fact that I do not write about sex, or graphic violence, the last book in the series -- Shadowsinger – did win an award from Romantic Times Bookclub for the best epic fantasy of 2002, as well as a starred review from Booklist.
LEM: Same as the first question, but in regards to THE COREAN CHRONICLES.
The Corean Chronicles are a work earlier in progress than the other fantasy series. So far the first "trilogy" has been published, all about a young man named Alucius. He has been raised as a nightsheep herder by his mother and grandfather, in a world where, thousands of years earlier, a great magical civilization fell, yet where isolated eternal towers still stand and great highways, impervious to time, cross the continent of Corus. Nightsheep are not like any sheep we know. Their "wool" is black, and when processed, turns into the equivalent of fabric plate armor. Their horns are razor-sharp, and a ram could gut an earthly tiger without raising a sweat. They need those defenses because the predators who prey on them are even more fearsome. Unfortunately, Alucius lives in a poorly-governed state, threatened on all sides, and he ends up, as soon as he turns of age, conscripted into the militia. His training by his grandsire and the talents that enable him to be a nightsheep herder do not save him from capture by the troops of the Matrial – an eternal ruler who is recovering much of the lost magical technology of the vanished Duarchy.
The second "trilogy" begins with Alector’s Choice, scheduled for June 2005 release by Tor. This book takes place thousands of years earlier, in the days of the Duarchy, and follows the acts and careers of two individuals. One is Mykel, a captain of the Cadmian Mounted Rifles, and the other is Dainyl, one of the magically-Talented alectors who rule the world of Acorus and who are using human beings to make it more habitable for full colonization by the alectors. Dainyl is a colonel and third in command of the Myrmidons – those who fly the pteridons and enforce the will of the Duarches through their expertise and superior weapons. A rebellion breaks out, and the ancient soarers – the original inhabitants of Acorus – reappear.
In the Corean Chronicles, magic, or "Talent," is linked to the very lifeforces of the world, exemplifying a Gaiean concept of world structure.