L.E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Colors of Chaos continues his bestselling fantasy series the Saga of Recluce, which is one of the most popular in contemporary epic fantasy.
Now a full mage in the White Order, Cerryl must prove himself indispensable to Jeslek, the High Wizard.
Whether through assassination, effective governance of occupied territory or the fearless and clever direction of troops in battle, Cerryl faces many harrowing obstaclesassassination, political entanglements, battlefield prowessand Anya, the plotting seductress who's the real power behind the white wizards.
With his wits, his integrity, and the support of his love, the Black healer Leyladin, he must survive long enough to claim his rightful spot within the ruling hierarchy of the White Order.
“An intriguing fantasy in a fascinating world.”Robert Jordan, New York Times bestselling author of The Wheel of Time® series
Saga of Recluce
#1 The Magic of Recluce / #2 The Towers of Sunset / #3 The Magic Engineer / #4 The Order War / #5 The Death of Chaos / #6 Fall of Angels / #7 The Chaos Balance / #8 The White Order / #9 Colors of Chaos / #10 Magi’i of Cyador / #11 Scion of Cyador / #12 Wellspring of Chaos / #13 Ordermaster / #14 Natural Order Mage / #15 Mage-Guard of Hamor / #16 Arms-Commander / #17 Cyador’s Heirs / #18 Heritage of Cyador /#19 The Mongrel Mage / #20 Outcasts of Order / #21 The Mage-Fire War (forthcoming)
Story Collection: Recluce Tales
Other Series by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
The Imager Portfolio
The Corean Chronicles
The Spellsong Cycle
The Ghost Books
The Ecolitan Matter
About the Author
L. E. MODESITT, JR. is the bestselling author of more than seventy novels encompassing two science fiction series, the Ghost Books and the Ecolitan Matter, and four fantasy series, the Imager Portfolio, the Saga of Recluce, the Spellsong Cycle and the Corean Chronicles. He lives in Cedar City, Utah.
Read an Excerpt
Cerryl shifted his weight He stood in the west corner of the small second-level rampart of the guardhouse before the north gates to the White City of Fairhaven. That was the only corner where the sun touched. His white leather jacket was fastened all the way up to his neck, and even with the heavy shirt and white wool tunic of a full mage underneath, he was cold.
He glanced out at the white granite highway that stretched north and, just beyond where he could see, curved eastward toward Lydiar. As the day had passed, it had warmed enough that his breath no longer formed a white cloud, but the north wind still cut through his white woolen trousers. His eyes went down to the armsmen in red-trimmed white tunics who stamped their boots and walked back and forth in front of the gates, waiting for travelers.
The rumbling of another set of wheelsiron oneson the stone alerted Cerryl, and he looked up and out along the highway to study the approaching vehicle, a high-sided wagon painted cyan and cream, escorted by a full score of lancers in cyan livery, ten preceding and ten following the wagon. Cyan was the color of the Duke of Lydiar.
Cerryl couldn't help but wonder what was being conveyed to Fairhaven with so many lancers: Chests of golds owed for road taxes? Trade goods from the port at Lydiar as some sort of repayment? The ponderous approach of the wagon and the four horses indicated the load was heavy.
Slowly, slowly, die teamster in cyan eased the wagon up to the gates and the White armsmen. The Lydian lancers reined up on each side of the wagon and behind.
Tariffs and goods for Fairhaven. Bound for the Wizards' Square," announced the captain of the Lydians, a squarish black-haired and bearded figure. He extended a scroll to the man in charge Of the inspection and guard detail.
Cerryl took a deep breath and let his order/chaos senses study the wagon. Metalcoins in chests, as he had suspected, although there were but three chests. Under the dark gray canvas were also a dozen small barrels, more like quarter-barrels. Salt perhaps. Most salt came from Lydiar, the closest port, for all that it was two long days or three short ones.
The head gate guard glanced up at Cerryl, his eyes questioning the mage. Two of the lancers behind the Lydian officer followed his eyes. One swallowed as his eyes took in Cenyl's whites.
"That's what the scroll says, ser!" the detail leader called up to Cerryl.
"It's as they say, Diborl," Cerryl answered.
"You may pass," the head guard announced.
The wagon rolled past the guardhouse, and Cerryl listened. Listening was the most interesting part of the duty, at least usually.
"…always have a mage here?"
"Always…Sometimes you see someone get turned to ashes…"
"No…not something to jest at."
Cerryl hadn't had to use chaos fire on any person yet in Ms gate-guard duties, but he'd turned two wagons carrying contrabandone had iron blades hidden under the wagon bedinto ashes and sent fee teamster and his assistant to the road crew, where they'd spend the rest of their lives helping push the Great White Highway through the Westhorns.
The young mage shrugged. He doubted that either man had been the one who had planned the smugglingor would have benefited muchbut he'd seen Fenard and Jellico and grown up in Hrisbarg in the shadow of the played-out mines. He'd been a mill boy, a scrivener's apprentice, and a student mage under the overmage Jeslek. All those experiences had made one thing clear. Strict as the rules of the Guild were, harsh as the punishments could be, and sometimes as unfair as they had been, from what he'd seen the alternatives were worse.
After stamping his white boots again, Cerryl walked across the short porch, four steps, and turned back, hoping that keeping moving would keep him warmer. Sometimes, it did. Most times, if didn't.
He wanted to yawn. He'd thought sewer duty had been tiring, but it hadn't been half so tiring as being a gate guard. At least, in cleaning sewers he'd been able to perfect his control of chaos fire. As a gate mage, mostly he just watched from the tiny rampart on top of the guardhouse just out from die north gate. Also, the sewers were warmer in winter and cooler in summer. The sewers did stink, he reminded himself, sometimes a great deal.
Cerryl glanced down.
Diborl looked up at the young mage. "We've got two here need medallionsa cart and a hauler's wagon."
"I'm coming down." Cerryl walked to the back of the porch area, where he descended the tiny and narrow circular stone staircase. He came out at die back of the guardroom. From there he entered the medallion room, where a wiry fanner with thinning brown hair stood. Behind him was a hauler in faded gray trousers and shirt.
The farmer had just handed his five coppers across the battered wooden counter to the medallion guard. Behind him, die hauler held a leather pouch, a pouch mat could have held anywhere from several silvers to several golds, depending on the trade and the size of the wagon. That didn't include actual tariffs, either.
"Ser," said the guard to the farmer, "Vykay, there"he pointed to another guard who held a drill, a hammer, and a pouch that Cerryl knew contained soft copper rivets"he and the mage will attach the medallion."
"Just so as I can get going."
"It won't take but a moment," Cerryl assured the man, who looked to be close to the age of Tellis, the scrivener with whom Cerryl had apprenticed before the Guild had found him and made him a student mage.
The cart stood at the back of the guardhouse, a brown mule between the traces. The mule looked at Cerryl, and Cerryl looked back, then at the baskets of potatoes in the rear.
"Medallion should go on the sideboard around here," Vykay positioned the brass plate a handspan below the bottom of the driver's seat. "That be all right?"
"Might catch on stuff in the stable. A mite bit higher'd be better." The farmer nodded. "New wagon. Old one not much better than a stone boat no more."
The guard raised the medallion and glanced at Cerryl.
With quick motions, the guard used a grease stick to mark the wood, then took out the hand drill and began to drill the holes for the rivets.
"Can remember when it was only three coppers," the farmer said to Cerryl. "Before your time, young mage." He offered a wintry smile. "Not be complaining, though. Do no good, and 'sides, I'd rather be using the White highways than those muddy cow paths they call roads."
Cerryl nodded, his eyes straying to the medallion Vykay had laid on the wagon seat-simple enough, just a rectangular plate with the outline of the White Tower stamped on it and the numeral 1, for winter, and the year.
"Just about ready, ser," Vykay announced, straightening, placing the medallion on the sideboard, and slipping the rivets/pins through the holes in the medallion and in the cart sideboard. Then came the offset clamps and two quick blows with the hammer. The guard glanced at Cerryl.
The White mage nodded and concentrated, raising a touch of chaos and infusing the medallion and rivets. He could feel the heat in his forehead, not enough to raise a sweat, but noticeable to him. "There." Cerryl turned to the farmer. "Your cart is allowed on all White highways for another year, ser. I must warn you that if anyone tampers with the medallion, you will need another. And…they could get hurt."
"I'd be knowing that, but I thank you." The farmer offered a brusque nod and took the leads to the mule, flicking them and leading the cart away, walking beside the mule, rather than riding.
Cerryl glanced at the second vehicle-a long and high gray wagon with bronze trim. The painted emblem on the side read: "Kyrest and Fyult, Grain Factors."
The hauler stood by die wagon. "If you could just replace…"
Vykay nodded and looked at Cerryl.
Cerryl extended his senses and bled away the remaining chaos, although there was so little left that no one would have been hurt, even if Vykay had removed the old medallion.
Vykay produced a chisel and, with two quick snaps, removed the old medallion and then replaced it with the new.
Cerryl added the chaos lock, then looked at the guard. "Is that all for now?"
With a smile, Cerryl slipped away and back up to his perch on the second level of the guardhouse. He glanced back northward over the highway, momentarily empty near the gates, though he thought he saw another wagon in the distance making its way through the gray-leaved hills, toward Fairhaven. Because of the alignment of the city, he found it strange that the north gate actually controlled the travelers from Hrisbarg and Lydiar and the far east of Candar. It was also strange, as he reflected upon it, how much straighter the Great White Highway was in Gallos and western Certis than near Fairhaven itselfyet Fairhaven was the home of the Guild and the mages who had labored centuries to build the great highways of eastern Candar.
Stamping his feet again, he walked back and form on the walkway behind the rampart several more times, but his feet remained cold, almost numb.
The bell rang, its clear sound echoing on the rampart, but Cerryl had already stepped forward with the sound of wheels on stone once more.
A farm wagon stood before the guards. Three men in rough browns stood by the wagon. Three and a driver?
"What have you in the wagon?"
"Just our packs. We're headed to Junuy's to pick up some grain for the mill in Lavah."
Cerryl frowned. Lavah was on die north side of the Great North Bay, a long ways to go for grain. His senses went down and out to the wagon, and he nodded to himself, marshaling chaos for what would come, knowing it would happen, and wishing vainly that it would not. "There's something in the space beneath the seat. Oils, I'd guess."
The driver grabbed as iron blade from beneath the wagon seat, and the gate guards brought up their shortswords automatically but stepped back.
Cerryl focused chaos on the driver, holding back for a moment, hoping the driver would drop the blade, but the man started to swing it forward.
Whhhsttt! The firebolt spewed over the figure so quickly he did not even scream. The blade clunked dully on the white granite paving stones beside the wagon. White ashes drifted across the charred wagon seat. The other three men did not move as the guards shackled them and led them into the barred holding room to wait for the Patrol wagon. The patrol would hold them until they were sent out on road duty.
Cerryl was glad they hadn't raised weapons. Killing the driver had been bad enough, and he wished the man had not raised the blade, but raising weapons against gate guards or mages was strictly forbidden, and rules were ruleseven for mages.
Two other guards began to inspect the wagon, then pulled open a door.
"Good screeing, ser. Almost a score of scented oilsHamorian, I'd say!" Diborl called up to the young mage.
Cerryl managed a nod. His head ached, throbbed. Myral had warned him about the backlash of using chaos against cold iron, but he'd not had that much choice if he wanted to ensure none of the guards were hurt. Absently, he had to wonder about his ability to sense the oils. No smuggler expected to get caught, and the hidden wagon compartment had been prepared well in advance, perhaps even used before. Did that mean other gate guards were less able, or lazy? Or looked the other way?
He pursed his lips, disliking all of the possibilities and understanding that he knew too little to determine which, if any, might be the most likely answer.
Below, the guards carried the jars of oil, probably glazed with a lead pigment, into the storage room. The confiscated goods were auctioned every eight-day, with the high bidder required to pay the taxes and tariffson top of the final bid. The golds raised went into road building and maintenance, or so Kinowin had told Cerryl.
Even if some smuggling succeeded, Cerryl still didn't understand why people tried to smuggle things past the gatesat least things made of metal. Cerryl knew his senses couldn't always distinguish spices from a wagon's wood or cloth. Leyladin, the blonde gray/Black mage who was the Hall's healer, might have been able to do that, but most White mages couldn't. But even the least talented White mage could sense metal through a cubit of solid wood.
He shook his head, fearing he knew the answer. The Guild kept its secrets, kept them Well, Cerryl still recalled the fugitive who'd been turned to ashes by a Guild mage when Cerryl had been a mill boy for Dylert, watching through a slit in a closed lumber barn door.
As Diborl supervised, another guard brought out the two prisoners on cleanup detail to sweep away the ashes that remained of the wagon. Every morning one of the duty patrols brought out prisoners for cleanup detail, usually men who'd broken the peace somehow, but not enough to warrant road duty.
Cerryl rubbed his forehead, then turned and glanced at the western horizon. The sun was well above the low hills, well above, and the gates didn't close until full dark. Luckily, it was winter, and sunset came earlier. He couldn't imagine how long the duty day must be in the summer, and he wasn't looking forward to it.
The overmage Kinowin had told him that he would do gate duty, on and off, for season or two every year for the first several years he was a full mage, perhaps longerunless the Guild had another need for him. But what other need might the Guild have? Or what other skills could he develop? He definitely had no skills with arms or with the depths of the earth, as did Kinowin and Eliasar and Jeslek. And he wasn't a chaos heater, like Broka. The Guild didn't need mage scriveners, his only real skill.
So he could look forward to two or three years of watching wagons, to see who was trying to avoid paying road duties? Or trying to smuggle iron weapons or fine cloth or spices into the city?
He turned and paced back across the walkway, then returned, hoping the sun would set sooner than was likely. His eyes flickered toward the empty and cold highway, a highway mat would have seemed warmer, much warmer, had Leyladin been anywhere nearer.
Yet even thinking of Leyladin didn't always help. She was a healer, and he was a White mage, and Black and White didn't always work out. Some Whites couldn't even touch Blacks without physical pain for both. He'd held her hands, but that was all. Would that be all?
He paced back across the porch again, almost angrily.
Copyright © 1999 by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Modesitt¿s The Magic of Recluce was one of my first forays into fantasy, and while I gave up on Modesitt¿s Spellsong series after the second book, and for me his science fiction has proven fairly uneven, I have generally enjoyed the subsequent Recluce books. There are two things I particularly like about this author. First, he creates worlds in which conflict is driven by complicated and deep-seated economic, social, and demographic causes, not simply by evil guys trying to do bad things to innocents. This feels a lot like the real world. While the first seven books of the series all followed a protagonist from the Recluce/Black/Order side of this world, they generally faced just as many challenges from selfish and misguided people on their own side as from the Fairhaven/White/Chaos enemy. And so it felt reasonably natural when Book 8 of the series, The White Order, gave us the early adventures of a sympathetic white protagonist, Cerryl (much more so than had, say, Tolkien stuck in a couple of chapters about a noble orc). Colors of Chaos gives us the rest of Cerryl¿s story, a white perspective on the same events Modesitt had described earlier in The Magic Engineer. Cerryl is a likable, if perhaps overly cautious fellow, who grows to view the geopolitical situation largely, and ultimately quite insightfully, in economic terms.The second thing I really like about Modesitt¿s books is that he also gives his protagonists hard decisions, ethical dilemmas that frequently call on them to choose between the lesser of several evils¿and then these people have to live with the consequences of their choices. There¿s very little ¿happily ever after.¿ Again, this feels much more like the real world than the challenges faced by most fantasy heroes.Having said all that, there are a couple of things about Modesitt¿s writing in general and in this book in particular that I¿m not crazy about. The pacing tends to be slow (there was no good reason for this to be the longest Recluce book to date), and there is rarely any humor whatsoever. The economic structure of the world felt overly simplistic. For me, Cerryl ended up being a harsher and less sympathetic protagonist than his predecessors. There is also something quite repetitive about Modesitt¿s novels; I always seem to feel like I¿m reading the same book over and over again. The names may change, the places may change, and the era may change, but the personality of the protagonist, the way he views the world, and the overall shape of the story feels like a constant.
I enjoyed this reading, though I never did have the chance to read any of the many books before Colors of Chaos. Since I did not know of Cerryl's earlier life (which was featured in an earlier book), some of the references were not as enjoyable but even so I liked the book. It was very slow reading it, but I would definitely recommend anyone that likes fantasy fiction dealing with medieval-age settings to read this.
I have read all of Modesitt, Jr.'s books in the Recluce series and each has captivated me to the point of neglecting my work and family until I finished. Colors of Chaos is no different. If you like fantasy where the author has created a complete society with an underlying philosophy, strong back history, complex/conflicted characters, and intrigue, this series is for you. However, I recommend beginning with book #1 and reading forward so events and references in later books make more sense (and a richer story line.) One of the most intriguing elements of the series is the evolution of the cultures of order and chaos.
L.E. Modesitt's books are difficult at best! Difficult to put down once you begin on that is. He takes you through the development of the main character in an easy reading process and introduces those who interact with him or her bringing into focus over the length of the story the relationship that develops. I like the idea that he has shown that both Chaos and Order in and of itself does not define the individual. He has moved between the different locations and cities taking you on an adventure filled with smells, tastes and vision of a myriad of settings both city and rural. While he philosophizes it is not to the degree that your or bored or bogged down with details and wading through to much that would take you away from the story but rather it augments it.
Originally started reading his books because I saw so many of them at the bookstore. The recluse series is confusing in that it jumps around from book to book with no clear connection. It isn't until you are several books into the series that the light comes on with an "Ahhh! I see it now!". It's an interesting way to write though, and I have enjoyed it. I enjoyed "Colors Of Chaos" more than I thought. It gives the other side of the coin side to the Black/White/Gray mage story. I quite liked the character of Cerryl. Only 4 stars because I felt some areas were repeating events over and over with no resolution or moving on.
i have read all the books in this series and thay all grab you from the begining and make you wish it would never end
This is my first book I have read for my English classthis year and I loved the book! L.E. Modesitt,Jr. is as good an author as Mr. Goodkind himself!!
I was just online looking if Modesett had any new Recluce books out and decided to spread the word for potential readers. Modesett is a grace to my personal library (which includes such authors as Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind, J.R.R Tolkien, Frank Herbert, and Robert Jordan to name a few). If you are considering to buy this book then DO!