I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
In Fall of Angels, Modesitt moves deep into Recluce's past to chronicle the founding of the Empire of the Legend, the almost mythological domain ruled by women warriors on the highland plateau of the continent of Candar. He tells the story from the point of view of Nylan, the engineer and builder whose job it is to raise a great tower on the plateau known as the Roof of the World. Here the exiled women warriors will live and survive to fulfill their destiny. Here a revolutionary new society will be born...if Nylan can get the tower built and defenses in place before the rulers of the lowland nations come with their armies to obliterate them all. And if Nylan can learn to control the magical powers that are growing within him.
In this book, we get the beginnings of Westwind, the kingdom which gave us Creslin in The Towers of the Sunset, which is my favourite of this series so far. We also find out that both the Order and Chaos populations on this fantasy world are originally from elsewhere, marooned on this planet and seemingly doomed to conflict over it.
This “stranded on another planet” plot line is a familiar one. Think of the Coldfire Trilogy by C.S. Friedman, the Foreigner series by C.J. Cherryh, and the Saga of Pliocene Exile by Julian May. The struggles that the small Angel force face when they are stranded were well realized. It would definitely be a challenge, especially coming from a high tech society where so many things are manufactured for you.
It is told from the point of view of Nylan, one of the few men in the Angel population. He is pretty consistent with a Modesitt main character: he’s an engineer, learning about his black mage potential; he is taciturn; he really wants people to acknowledge how much work he has done, but he’s not willing to let people know this; he works himself half to death in search of this approval. Once again, the story is a bit heavy on the description of all of his engineering projects for my taste and a bit light on the interpersonal relationships. But this just seems to be a hallmark of Modesitt’s writing.
Not my favourite series, but not bad either.
Book number 348 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.