Wellspring of Chaos

Over the course of eleven previous volumes, Recluce has become one of the most beloved, and lovingly detailed, of all imaginary worlds. More than three years have passed since L. E. Modesitt, Jr., last took us there, and those eager to return will not be disappointed. Wellspring of Chaos is Modesitt at the top of his form, with all the qualities that have made the Recluce Saga a favorite with so many. Yet, set roughly sixty years after the close of The Order War, it does not require previous knowledge of Recluce to be enjoyed. Its publication is sure to be one of the fantasy milestones of the year.

Kharl is the best cooper in Brysta, one of the major cities in Nordla, and his life has been as snug and regular as his barrels. But in the course of just a few days, it's all staved in. The trouble begins when he saves a neighbor's daughter from the violent advances of two upper-class men. The he rescues an actual rape victim he finds unconscious in an alley. She's a blackstaffer — a young expatriate mage — from Recluce, and that makes his wife very uneasy. The culprit in both cases turns out to have been the local ruler's cruel and corrupt son, Egen, who has no qualms about exploiting his position as Captain of the Watch.

When the blackstaffer is mysteriously murdered in the cooperage, Kharl is summarily jailed, and then, in a shocking turnaround at the trial, his consort is blamed for the killing and quickly executed. Egen again. Slowly recovering from the brutal flogging he was subjected to before being released, Kharl can only mourn his wife and watch as his business dries up and his sons leave. He ends up destitute and on the run, but he does take the slain woman's black staff, and the book, The Basis of Order, which explains the principles of its power.

Kharl discovers that he can use the black staff to combat magic, and that he needs to, because a white wizard allied with Egen is stalking and murdering young women, and is seeking Kharl. Fleeing Nordla, Kharl becomes a sailor. Each port he visits opens new views of life -- and of the magical talents he wants to deny, until he is forced to face the responsibilities they entail. Eventually, in the middle of a civil war in Austra, he must stake his life on a single decision that will affect the outcome of the greatest battle fought in generations.