Fairhaven Rising: Boring

Fairhaven Rising by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsFairhaven Rising by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.Fairhaven Rising by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

I’ve read every book that L.E. Modesitt, Jr. has written in the SAGA OF RECLUCE. I have thrilled to watch different characters go through the refiner’s fire of youth and grow into interesting adults. There have been sorrows and joys along the way, and I often felt like I was reading the same book over and over with different character names, different trades they were pursuing, but mostly the same pattern and the same themes. Men are naturally power-hungry and bad. Women are better rulers and good. Applying super future ideology to a pre-Industrial revolution society creates revolution …  All interesting themes, and some of them very cleverly discussed.

Fairhaven Rising (2021) is boring. It takes more than half the book to reach any real advancement of the story. The main character, a young woman, is written like a 50-year-old man. I have daughters and have   known them both as teenagers and in their early twenties, and Taelya is a joke as a female character. She’s cardboard. She’s emotionless. For someone who has lived through trauma and death since she was 7 years old, it’s ridiculous and boring. If Modesitt had written Taelya as having PTSD, I would have gotten it. Instead, I felt like I was reading the same cookie-cutter character who just happens to be female, super pretty but totally unaware of it … and also a tactical genius, super powerful in magic, and all the other standard features that have been present in previous main characters in this series. Give me a break!!

L.E. Modesitt Jr The Saga of RecluceReading about boring patrols and mundane household chores shouldn’t take up 30% of a novel if it’s not shaping the story. I felt like I was being slow-rolled along to fill pages because the story itself wasn’t compelling enough to fill it all in. Even when things finally get going, it felt like I was reading the same combat sequences that he wrote about in the last book. Are the fans of this series really that gullible?

If this is what the fans of the series have to look forward to, then stop. Let us have fond memories of Lerris, Cerryl, and Nylan. Don’t insult us by filling in epochs in the storyline with characters who we don’t care about and books loaded down with filler and very little substance. I’ve been reading this series too long and enjoyed it too much not to feel bitter and exploited after such a horrible installment.

Published in February 2021. Modesitt continues his bestselling Saga of Recluce with his twenty-second book in the long-running series. Fairhaven Rising follows The Mage-Fire War. Sixteen years have passed since the mage Beltur helped to found the town of Fairhaven, and Taelya, Beltur’s adopted niece, is now a white mage undercaptain in the Road Guards of Fairhaven. Fairhaven’s success under the Council has become an impediment to the ambition of several rulers, and the mages protecting the town are seen as a threat. Taelya, a young and untried mage, will find herself at the heart of a conspiracy to destroy her home and the people she loves, and she may not be powerful enough to stop it in time.

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JOHN HULET (on FanLit's staff July 2007 -- March 2015) is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of. John retired from FanLit in March 2015 after being with us for nearly 8 years. We still hear from him every once in a while.

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  1. I enjoyed the first Recluce book, but after reading several more and a number of other Modesitt Jr books, I stopped reading his books as I found that his heroes were often cold blooded killers who killed, not out of necessity, but simply out of convenience. Unpleasant characters to spend time with.

  2. Stuart Wark /

    Sad to read this review, but somewhat unsurprising.

    I found the Recluse series of novels totally by accident many years ago, and loved them. They were very different in style to most other fantasy, and I enjoyed the slower pace and character introspection. But the recent releases have unfortunately become very stale, repetitive and lacking in the ‘magic’ of (the earlier) recluse novels.

  3. I couldn’t agree more. There was a sort of feeling of discovery in the earlier books as the uses of Order and Chaos were developed. When you throw in Modesitt’s passion for gender discussion it often was even thought provoking. The last several books have very definitely grown less and less interesting until Fairhaven Rising was truly just boring.

  4. Page 103 is where it died. A group dinner at the tinker’s house with the extended families of Fairhaven reads like a faculty meeting at UC Berkeley. I had read one or two Modesitt books and enjoyed them. However this work is simply terrible. The dialogue is pedantic and there is no description whatsoever to draw me into the world. Even the map included from 1995 doesn’t even help me place the town.

    I experienced the slow decline of quality in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, but never has a book stopped me cold.

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