55. Ordermaster (Saga of Recluse) by L.E. Modesitt. 494 p. Published January 2005.

In the direct sequel to Wellspring of Chaos, we find Kharl functioning as the wizard of Austra. Hardly settled into his newly granted lands, Kharl sparks a civil war after executing a traitor in the presence of the court. The resulting war, with the rebels funded and armed by Hamor, spreads quickly. Kharl, with what minimal training he can muster, must set out to defeat the Hamorian chaos wizards before they destroy the countryside. The resulting battle changes Kharl and marks him as one of the strongest Order users in generations.

Yet Austra’s new peace bodes ill for Kharl’s home of Brysta, to which Hamor has already shifted its gaze. And so Kharl, newly trained in law and etiquette, is sent as Austra’s envoy. What he finds is not the city of his birth, but one of a subdued people, penned into their homes by fear. The youngest son of Lord West, the same which forced Kharl’s exile, has begun to amass a secret army. As Hamorian troops in the guise of Brystan guard roam the streets, Kharl sets to finding the loved ones he was forced to leave behind and finds only tragedy. When the rebellion finally makes its move, Kharl is forced into combat, and this time he faces a far more resourceful foe.

While I enjoyed Ordermaster, I honestly felt that it was a little dry. The wit and ingenuity of Modessitt’s previous novels is overtaken by pages of battles and strategy, losing much of the character that imbues this world. I will not go so far as to express disappointment, but I can’t help but feel that this read was not as enjoyable as its predecessors.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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