53. Wellspring of Chaos (Saga of Recluse) by L.E. Modesitt. 464 p. Published April 2005.
While the 12th book in Modesitt’s Recluse Saga, Wellspring of Chaos begins a new stand-alone chapter in it’s history. Only the magic system (use of Order and Chaos as the elements composing physics and reality) and a sense of events as history carry over.
Kharl is the best cooper in Brysta, and is happy with his life. However, Kharl has a tendency to help those in need, and it proves to be his undoing. Preventing the rape of a neighbor’s daughter pits Kharl against the lord’s son and when a blackstaffer from Recluse (kind of like a traveling magician’s apprentice) is killed in his shop, it’s obvious that he’s being persecuted.
Soon enough, Kharl’s wife is hanged for the blackstaffer’s murder, his taxes are quadrupled, and his neighbor and best friend is murdered. Kharl flees his shop, spending a year hiding among the homeless. With only the blackstaffer’s book on Order control to study, Kharl begins to get in touch with his deeper strengths. Soon enough he is pitted against a chaos mage who has been preying on the homeless.
After killing the mage, Kharl flees out to sea, where he travels the world and develops an attunement towards Order. But when civil war breaks out in another country, Kharl feels that he must step in, even if he doesn’t believe he’s ready.
Wellspring of Chaos provides a refreshing return to Recluse and the battle between Chaos and Order. Where the previous books culminated in Modesitt developing his magic system to it’s ultimate form, here we return to the basics. By using a protagonist well into his adult years, with a mind unclutered with the foolishness of youth and tempered by the wisdom of experience, Modesitt brings a sense of reality to the study of power and magic.
Having read book 11 almost 7 years ago, I really appreciated this return to one of my favorite epic fantasies. That said, Wellspring of Chaos connects just enough to provide that sense of nostalgia without going through the trouble of having to reread so many books.
Rating: 3 out of 5