That does pretty much sum it up, the summary. I very much liked this book of short stories of the Recluse Saga by Mr. Modesitt Jr. I did read some reviews of other books that felt that the author took a problem, gave it a man, he had some moral quandaries, and in the end he overcame them with either 'order' or 'chaos'. Sure? I don't disagree that is pretty much what happens but it isn't unexpected. I like the stories that the author writes, I don't recall not liking a character he created, and I have read a lot of the author's work and for the most part enjoyed them.\
Mr. Modesitt writes both fantasy and science fiction. I'd even say hard science fiction. There is a bit of science in his work, and by a bit, I mean a strong science background which should not be surprising as the author is in my opinion, a scientist first and author second.
In reading the first story 'Behind the Magic of Recluse' the author explains that he has a background as a naval pilot, (very cool), an industrial economist, and even a political staffer. None of this should come as any surprise if anyone has taken the time to read other books by the author besides the Recluse stories. Personally I am a HUGE fan 'Of Tangible Ghosts' and 'Johan Eschbach' but this isn't about those stories... (still highly recommend them)
Mainly? The stories in 'Recluse Tales' show background to the main books as well as giving the reader side views of what happened before, after, or during the time the major characters were doing their things. One of my favorites was 'Burning Duty' where a guardsmen has to get rid of the chairs Lerris made which burned a bad guy having been made with so much order. The guardsmen winds up keeping on, having snuck it out with the trash and finds that it has the property of healing when his daughter gets sick. I very much enjoyed the 'I wonder what happened to the furniture' part of the story.
'Worth' was another good story that told the tale of what happened to Wrynn, a minor character again that was with Lerris and what happened after she left the story and went off on her own. It is one of the few stories that has pretty much an all female cast which I found refreshing quite candidly and it wasn't a cookie cutter story where she had to find a man to be happy. Nor did I feel it had a happy ending but it had what I would say was an expected ending knowing the characters.
Mr. Modesitt has a number of settings out there; The Imager Portfolio, which to me isn't all that far from Recluse, the Tangile Ghosts books, the Soprano series, which I can see only three, the Economist series where of all things an economist is both the protagonist as well as a secret agent. Yeah tell me you find a lot of econ majors thinking of themselves as spies, HA! plus a lot of singular science fiction books, I haven't read more than the first two of the Corean Chronicles so I can't say much about them except to say I do own them, and in hard back.
I will point out the only thing, and I do mean this, the only thing is when Mr. Modesitt said that the economy set for in the 'Lord of the Rings' by Professor Tolkien wouldn't work. 'GASP!!' Wow... Harsh, I know right? Luckily I don't read the Lord of the Rings for economic theory. -chuckles-
In the first story as well Mr. Modesitt goes into some detail about his magic system works and why a lot of the other systems didn't make a lot of sense to him. For the most part? I have to fully agree with him my only defensive point would be; "It's Fantasy, it isn't science and well it might not make sense but that is why we call it Fantasy and not history."
End result? If you like the Recluse books, get this one. If you don't like the Recluse books I won't be able to sway you one way or another. I would say if you haven't discovered the Recluse books yet? I would get 'The Magic of Recluse' and 'The Towers of Sunset' first before getting this one so you can have an appreciation for the stories. A little background would not be a bad thing.
Finally? Thank you Mr. Modesitt Jr very much. I like your stories and I waited quite patiently for this one to come out. I will mention I did get this at my local library to read, but I am also going to purchase it to add to my library. I very much enjoyed the 'Behind the Magic of Recluse' story/history and it has made me think on MY magic system. It is never a bad thing to think.