|The Order War (Recluce series, Book 4)|
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Date: 15 February, 1996 — $7.99 — Book
Justen is a black (order) engineer on the island of Recluce, though he often stands in the shadow of his elder brother Gunnar. When a call goes out for volunteers to help Sarronyn, he goes to war in a disaster for the Sarronese. After the battle, he is forced to flee south, a path that will take him to the forest of Naclos, home of the druids and a place where he learns about the necessity of Balance.
Justen is one of the few characters that seems to be reasonably self-aware in the Recluce series. He goes about his tasks because they are necessary, but doesn't whine about their being his only choice, and he understands that his place in history is likely to be vilified or glossed over, and accepts it. Because of this, he's much easier to deal with than some of Modesitt's protagonists.* And if you're reading them in published order, you already know a few things about Justen that are not in this book.
*Modesitt's protagonists are all male, and most of them complain about not understanding women. I suspect the author feels he is incapable of rendering a female protagonist believably, though he does well enough in cut-away scenes.