Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Forest Girl, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

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(High Fantasy) Alyiakal wants to join the Magi'i, but if he can't internalize the rules for Chaos and Order, he'll be stuck fighting with the Mirror Lancers, like his father. And his obsession the beautiful girl he sees slipping into the forest isn't helping. (6,769 words; Time: 22m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

Although Tor dubs this a reprint, the book it is "reprinted" from won't be published until 2017. Tor also has a beginner's guide to Recluce. See related articles on Tor.com.

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Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: This is a coming-of-age story. At the start, Kyal still punishes him for mistakes by beating him, and he accepts that. By the end, one senses that's no longer possible, but Kyal doesn't try. When he asks where Alyiakal has been and, hearing silence, furnishes his own answer, we know that Kyal has ceased to see him as someone he can mold.

Another plot thread is his pursuit of Adayal. Although they do make love once, that seems to have been more her idea than his. Even his brave trip into the forest to say farewell seems motivated more by affection than lust. The biggest thing he learns from Adayal seems to be compassion, not sex.

The third thread is his efforts to become a Magi'i, and those come to nothing. He loses those dreams and his girl at the same time, and yet he manages to walk away from both without complaint.

Con: Very little actually happens, and Alyiakal is too passive. It's never clear what she sees in him, and the scene where she invites him in for sex feels a little forced. For a teenage boy, he's remarkably uninterested in sex.

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