I read a book about a boy who was a scribe, copying textbooks. He started showing signs of either chaos mage or an order mage, but he could not touch the other without feeling pain. He went to a school to learn a new language and they did it by dumping all the students into one room. He then continued on and was able to warp light around him to become invisible. I can remember the plot decently well but I can not find the name. Any help thanks!

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F! You might be able to improve this question by checking out the suggestions to see if they help you recall any more details you can edit into your question. – DavidW Jul 4 at 2:28
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    Order vs chaos magic makes me think of L.E. Modesitt's Recluce novels. – DavidW Jul 4 at 2:32
  • sounds like the Cerryl story arc, The White Order and Colours of Chaos. It's the unaccepted answer to this question - scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/209286/…. Although the OP does say that the answer is correct in a comment. – Alith Jul 4 at 2:38
  • The bit about being a scribe made me think of Natural Ordermage but I haven't read most of the books so I just put Recluce out there as a suggestion, hoping someone with more familiarity could answer more definitively. – DavidW Jul 4 at 2:53
  • @DavidW - I think you could well be right, I forget about the Rahl story arc, because I've only read the second volume (Mage-Guard of Hamor). I've tried to find the full first book, but only have got hold of excerpts. Those excerpts do suggest that Natural Ordermage is the correct answer to the OP's question, in my opinion. – Alith Jul 8 at 15:42

To pick up on DavidW and Alith's comments this does sound like The White Order by L. E. Modesitt.

The protagonist is a boy called Cerryl. After his father is killed by a white (Chaos) mage he is sent away to be apprenticed to Tellis, the scrivener, for his own protection. It is then that he realises he has magic powers.

The light bending is quite a minor plot point. It is mentioned in passing several times in the book that some mages can bend light, and near the end of the book he manages to create a light cloak, sometimes called a light shield, to hide from some guardsmen:

Cerryl nodded, his mind more on what awaited him. Even assuming he could get into Fenard, assuming he didn’t have to evade or flee Gallosian armsmen, Jeslek had said he was to remove the prefect and to leave Fenard unseen. How? The only way he could be unseen was to cloak himself in light, as Anya had done in visiting Faltar, and Jeslek knew Cerryl hadn’t ever done anything like that.

Could he channel light around himself the way he could channel chaos? He ought to be able to—light was a form of chaos. Still, what he ought to be able to do and what he could do might be very different.

He concentrated . . . and found himself blind—enclosed in darkness. The chestnut half-whuffed, half-whimper-screamed, as the darkness surrounded them. Cerryl quickly released the light-shifting screens, or whatever what he had done was called. The gelding stepped forward and sideways for a moment.

There are references to Chaos and Order mages being unable to touch each other without experiencing pain, but I don't think this happens to Cerryl. He is able to have a relationship with a healer, Leyladin, and healers are Order mages.

Finally I don't remember the scene learning a new language, though this may simply be my dodgy memory.


Thanks to @DavidW for the link, and the initial thoughts in his comments. I think he is correct that the book the OP is looking for is actually Natural Ordermage.

Rahl is already a scribe when the book opens on Recluce, he doesn't learn the trade like Cerryl does later

Rahl can use order instinctively, and uses that control to make life easier for himself, as the quote from Goodreads gives

To make sure things go his way, he uses a small amount of order magic in opportunistic moments, but his abilities are starting to get the attention of the Council magisters. He's not like other ordermages, the same rules don't seem to apply to his magic. And he has a bad attitude too. It gets him sent to the mages' training school for testing, and then banishment to Hamor, where his learning continues under dangerous circumstances.

Rahl is caught using order inappropriately and faces testing in Nylan to make him ready for exile to Hamor.

The language class is where Rahl has to join an Hamorian only speaking group and learn the language that way.

Leyla sighed. “You don’t really believe a word I’ve said. I just hope you read the book carefully. If I can’t get through to you, maybe it will.” She stood. “Right now, there’s little point in saying more. Let’s get you over to the Hamorian class.”

She opened the door and waited for Rahl to join her in the corridor. He glanced down at the wear-polished stone floor tiles. For all the cleanliness of the building, there was also a sense of great age, from the depressions worn in the stones to the slight rounding of the corner stones.

“We use immersion language studies. You’ll step into a setting where people are doing simple tasks, and all of them will be speaking Hamorian. You are not to say anything, except in Hamorian.”

“But… I don’t know any Hamorian.”

“You’ll learn,” the magistra said. “I’ll meet you in the eating hall after the midday meal to take you to meet Sebenet. Now… this way.”

She opened the third door on the left, motioning for Rahl to enter before her. She followed, then bowed to a magister dressed in crimson. What the magistra hadn’t said was that, a number of the other students were children, some as young as eight or nine.

Rahl had no idea what she said, but when she gestured to Rahl, he bowed slightly.

The magister replied in the Hamorian Rahl didn’t know, then motioned for him to join several children seated on cushions in the corner of the chamber. One held up a book and opened it.

As he seated himself, Rahl thought she said something like, “Sciensa livra y miendas.”

Between the activities and trying just to hear the words, Rahl had a headache by the time the midday bell rang, and the class was over. He might have learned a few words.

Quote from Natural Ordermage - chapter xvi

There are multiple mentions of shields, either to deflect chaos and also "light shields" during the story so these could be what the OP remembers.

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