This third volume in Modesitt's The Corean Chronicles proved to live up to the promise generated by the first two books of the trilogy. Scepters is indeed a very neat finale.
Once again, what may appear to be not too complicated at first turns out to be a multilayered tale. And the author certainly takes his sweet time, gradually revealing those intriguing details to the readers.
As was the case with its predecessors, the first half of the book suffers from a somewhat slow pace. For fans of Modesitt's works, this is no big deal. Indeed, they are aware that the best is yet to come. But, as I stated in my previous book reviews, new readers may find the rhythm to be sluggish at times. The first part of Scepters follows Alucius, now promoted to a higher rank and given command of a combined force of Northern and Southern Guards. Hence, for quite a while this novel is more martial fantasy, with military battles, strategy, etc.
The worldbuilding reaches another level in this book. We learn a lot more about the ifrits and their insidious influence, as well as the Ancient Ones who toppled the Duarchy. All is not as it seems on the world of Corus, and an unseen threat menaces all its inhabitants and the world itself. Even Alucius doesn't quite know how to react to those disturbing discoveries.
The characters remain three-dimensional. Our reluctant hero continues to attempt to survive, so he can return home to the stead. Wendra, now pregnant with his child, plays a larger role in this one.
All the storylines converge toward a climax that is quite interesting. Unfortunately, the author sets up the ending in a way that will make it almost impossible for sequels.
Nicely written, with great dialogues -- as always. And with L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s patented sound effects to boot!
As are most of Modesitt's works, this trilogy is for thoughtful readers. This is not the equivalent of a big budget production, to be appreciated by every dumb ass out there. In one of its reviews, Starlog wrote, "Legacies is for people who enjoy a leisurely reading experience, want to see their characters grow and like to fill in the blanks themselves rather than have the author do it for them. . ." I could not have said it better myself. . .:-)
So if you wish to try something different, something intelligent, not particularly fast-paced but in no way boring, then I'd recommend picking up The Corean Chronicles. This trilogy certainly makes a nice addition to any fantasy collection. So think about adding it to that Christmas present list!;-)
The final verdict: 8/10