Book Review

The Towers of the Sunset—L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

towers-of-sunsetGoodreads synopsis: “Tells the story of Creslin, son of a powerful military matriarch, who chooses exile rather than an arranged marriage. He sets out on a search for his true identity as a man, developing his magical talents through constant conflict with the enigmatic white wizards of Candar.”

Towers of the Sunset was another one of Tor.com‘s free e-books, and I’d heard a lot of great things about L.E. Modesitt, Jr.’s writing, so I was excited to dig in. Unfortunately, Towers of the Sunset just didn’t do it for me. Whether it’s because I’ve never read the first book in the series or because of the style—all writing is going to be a product of its time, and while the early 90s gave us some truly great fantasy, it also gave us some very problematic fantasy—I just couldn’t get into the book.

At first I appreciated the concept of Creslin as a marriage pawn simply because he’s not a female marriage pawn, and the role of women as warriors, but much more recent books have done a far better job of that kind of gender expectation flip (see NK Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms). This isn’t Modesitt Jr.’s fault, considering he published this more than 20 years ago, but it comes off as gimmicky now.

While this book is told almost completely from Creslin’s point of view, the descriptions—”the red-headed woman,” “the man with the necklace,” “the black mage”—are unnecessarily vague, especially when the POV character would know the person’s name. I get annoyed when the first half of a book is spent explaining things described in previous books, but the magic system needed a little more explanation for someone just dropped into the middle of the series (the second book in the series). By the end of the book, I still couldn’t remember why Creslin was getting sick or why the Black and White magic users were fighting.

I do want someday to read more of LE Modesitt Jr.’s writing, and maybe I’ll even give Magic of Recluse a try, but it definitely won’t be any time soon.

The Towers of the Sunset HUD

  • The Towers of the Sunset (The Saga of Recluse #2)
  • Author: L.E. Modesitt Jr.
  • First edition: 1992
  • Publisher: Tor Fantasy
  • First Reading
  • Date Started: 1/26/17
  • Date Finished: 3/31/17
  • Rating: 2.5/5
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