The Mongrel Mage by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

Update March 2021:

Beltur is actually pretty interesting for Modesitt as he is not quite as determined at the start as his other protagonists. The only one that comes close is Lerris, but Beltur isn’t even disaffected, he’s happy out generally in his life and if it wasn’t for events forcing him to change he probably wouldn’t have done much. I can relate to him pretty well.

Another aspect that struck me was that here I didn’t enjoy the campaigns at the start and end as much as I usually do, my favourite parts were the day to day experiences, especially when he’s trying to get set up in Elparta in the middle sections. It’s also a quadrilogy, a first in the Recluce series.

Original: July 2018

Another good solid entry in the world of Recluce. All the ingredients that usually make up a Modesitt novel are here. A young, determined, self-depreciating, naive protagonist slowly comes into his powers while overcoming hardships, a new life, and enemies trying to make him fail.

This novel is rather early in the Recluce timeline, after the fall of Cyador/founding of Westwind but before the founding of Recluce and is set in Candor. Beltur is our guy here, working for his uncle as a white mage but not having much power and just doing what he’s told until realising that he is maybe not that white after all and has an affinity for order. Things fairly quickly (for Modesitt) deteriorate and Beltur has to learn and work and overcome the obstacles in his path.

Like I said there’s nothing really new here. The love interest is identified early on, and a long courtship occurs with a lot of politeness and silences of things left unsaid. Beltur does things nobody has done before, or for a very long time but thinks he is useless. A lot of the book is basically slice of life, trying to earn money and survive. This sounds like it is boring. It is not.

There is something about Modesitt’s book, on paper they sound boring and repetitive, if you’ve read one you know the general way the story is going to work, but I love reading them. I find them interesting and realistic. Just because you have great power doesn’t mean people are going to hand you money. You still need to eat and have somewhere to live and be able to afford clothes. The economic reasons for major political events are explored and every action has consequences, both globally and personally.

This is a start of a new duology (maybe trilogy?) and though it’s book 19 in the series you could probably start here without having read any of the earlier books.

4 stars out of 5

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