Soarer’s Choice by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
The second trilogy in L. E. Modesitt, Jr.’s COREAN CHRONICLES closes with Soarer’s Choice. While this book is better than the previous novel, Cadmian’s Choice, that’s mostly because (1) It closes out this overly-long trilogy and (2) It gives the background that helps explain the world Alucius lives in in the first three COREAN CHRONICLES books, Legacies, Darknesses, and Scepters. (The story of that first trilogy occurs generations after the events in the second trilogy, Alector’s Choice, Cadmian’s Choice and Soarer’s Choice).
Mykel and Dainyl continue to be noble and upright and, consequently, continue to be promoted up their respective chains of command (they are the typical Modesitt heroes) while their world is falling apart around them. As the time approaches for the Master Scepter to be transferred from the Alectors’ old world to a new one, it’s looking like Corus is going to lose out to its rival planet. Political refugees are arriving on Corus but, because of the immense amount of life force required to transfer from one planet to the other, the translation tables have become unstable and many of these refugees are arriving with mutations that transform them into monsters. They are shot dead by the guards who watch the tables. Those who make it through unscathed are also shot dead because Corus does not have enough life force to sustain all the refugees and the Alectors who already live there (and now won’t be able to get off). Dainyl realizes that this is a deplorable situation, but he doesn’t have time to find a solution (if there even is one) because he’s busy administering justice and uncovering plots by fellow highly-placed Alectors that will, if not counteracted, probably destroy Corus anyway.
Mykel continues to work the blue-collar side of things by commanding a local Cadmian fighting force that Alectors use to put down rebellions and keep order on Corus. He’s learning a lot about how to be a good leader and pining after a woman who acts like she hates him (I have no idea why he likes her!). Both Dainyl and Mykel are aware that an ancient unknown race also lives on the planet and that they may have opinions about what happens to their world. (Hint: They do.)
Soarer’s Choice concludes in a way that I found satisfying for the most part. I like how Modesitt used the opportunity to introduce us to the world we meet in the first trilogy. For example, now I know where the night sheep came from, where the herders get their Talent, who the Soarers are, and where the Alectors went. (As I said in my review of the previous book, the world-building is the best part of this series.) I haven’t read the third COREAN CHRONICLES trilogy yet, but I can anticipate the connections between it and this story. If I were a reader who was interested in this series and hadn’t yet started, I’d recommend starting with the second trilogy.
The weaknesses of Soarer’s Choice are the same as before. The story is far too long (24 hours on audio) with too many dull meetings. It takes a while for the action to finally kick in. Also, same as before, repetitive phrases and narrative techniques are noticeable, the romance is unbelievable and unsatisfying, and the character names — especially women’s names (e.g., Rachyla, Lystrana) — are just plain ugly, at least in audio (“Rachel-lah”, “Listrin-ah”). But, fans of the series who aren’t bothered by those things will almost certainly enjoy this conclusion to Mykel and Dainyl’s stories.
Kyle McCarley narrates the Tantor Audio’s production. I don’t like all of his voice choices, but I do like his pace, intonation, and cadence.
I think your recommendation to start with this trilogy is good; it has to make it easier to understand what is going on in the “first” trilogy that takes place centuries (or whatever) later.
Yes, but at the same time, I thought it was kind of cool to see how Modesitt connected the two trilogies that way…