Modesitt returns to the world of Recluce. Kharl is the best cooper in Brysta, one of the cities of Nordla, and except for his adolescent sons, leads a life as reliable as one of his barrels. His troubles start when he rescues his neighbor's daughter from assault and then helps a young rape victim from Recluce. His consort is unhappy about the latter--premonitorily, for when the young woman is mysteriously killed in the cooperage, Kharl is arrested, tried, and flogged, but his consort is hanged for murder, which she didn't commit. The corrupt son of the local lord is to blame for that injustice, which shortly precipitates Kharl's loss of the cooperage and flight for his life, as well, accoutred with the murdered woman's black staff and her copy of The Basis of Order. Modesitt's excellent new story has thought-provoking underpinnings that will snare newcomers as well as old Recluce hands, who will slot it into Recluce chronology some 60 years after the fall of Fair(ha)ven.
Another good book by Modesitt in the Recluce series. As usual he writes a story that follows logic in how the character acts, thinks and relates to the world in which he lives. Modesitt has a back ground in Econ and Gov't service which usually is reflected in his stories. This is actually too the good. He doesn't bury under dry facts or theories, but he does put some restraints on what and how his characters act and the impact of their actions on the community around them. While this is a fantasy so his hero must be larger than life, Modesitt helps ground his character by being concerned with the ethics of their actions. They consider why they have to use force and why they have to act. They look at the result and consider if that was the only way or if their future actions could be different. Big thumbs up to virtually everything he has written.