Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Princeps, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Princeps, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

The sequel to Scholar, Princeps picks up a few months later with Quaeryt and Vaelora recently (and happily) married. This book felt like Modesitt had ideas for two other books that he couldn't quite flesh out enough, so he combined them into a single volume. Quaeryt becomes governor of a land decimated by a natural disaster and has to lead it through recovery, and then abruptly is fired and sent to the front lines of a war and expected to create an elite unit of imagers from scratch. The shortness of the two story lines doesn't make them any less interesting though, but I think I would have preferred reading a longer version of Quaeryt's adventures as governor.

Modesitt often dives into political and philosophical issues, and this is no exception. While rebuilding a city partially destroyed by a volcano we examine the balance between rich and poor. Here the rich are largely portrayed as greedy, wanting to use price-gouging to increase their own wealth at the expense of the poor. The poor, though, are also shown as extremely greedy wanting to be given food and shelter without any effort on their part. I found it interesting that both ends of the spectrum are shown as shallow rather than the more typical good versus evil (a la Rand or Moore). The moral here is to walk the middle ground: charity is required at times of hardship, but people shouldn't be given all of everything or they'll come to expect it forever. I find it hard to argue with that, but the threshold of "hardship" is hard define.

I've read a lot of Modesitt novels and enjoyed virtually all of them. Princeps is no exception.

First Sentence:
Quaeryt peered out from underneath the thick—and warm—comforter toward the nearest bedchamber window, its inner shutters fastened tightly.

1 comment:

Klobetime said...

Two other quotes I liked from the book:

"The problem is when you start thinking [telling the truth hurts more than saying nothing], it becomes easy, first to say nothing, and then to lie, and then lie more, and finally to justify all the lies you've told."

"Good officers always push their officers and men beyond what seems possible, but they never stop worrying about the costs to those they lead."

Modesitt always gives you a lot to think about.

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