Looking for a book or perhaps a series. I am thinking pre-2005, as I only have vague memories of reading it in my teenage years. Of what I can remember, these are the main points.

Mage colleges/Cities, perhaps colour-themed (red, blue, etc), that focus on different types of magic. The world is split into city states/mage cities that are at war with each other.

I seem to recall the main character is a male and he has a bodyguard of some really dangerous assassin/ninja like men, possibly mute. They are all blades experts in black?

I can remember there is a battle outside one of the Mage/City states (Green state?) and there is a large fire spell used during the battle to burn the opposing army. The mages have to cast spells together to create stronger effects. The red mages I think were the aggressive nation/state.

Very medieval themed, castles and strongholds, etc. armies made up of spearmen, infantry, cavalry and then mages in support. The armies of men belong to the mage college/states.

Been looking for 10+ years for this book. Help. Please.

  • Hi, welcome to the site. If anyone correctly identifies the book you're looking for, you can mark that answer as accepted by clicking on the check mark beneath the voting buttons, as per the tour. May 26, 2022 at 20:00

4 Answers 4


Colors of Chaos (1998) by L.E. Modesitt Jr....?

It's the ninth book in the Saga of Recluce series.

From Goodreads:

Ceryl, now a full mage in The White Order, must prove himself indispensible to Jeslek, the High Wizard. Whether through assassination, effective gorvernance of occupied territory or the fearless and clever direction of troops in battle, Ceryl faces many harrowing obstacles, not the least of which is Anya, the plotting seductress who's the real power behind the scenes of the white wizards. With his wits, his integrity, and the support of his love, the Black healer Leyladin, he must survive long enough to claim his rightful spot within the ruling heirarchy of the White Order.

This excerpt from a review notes that the plot involves mages, armies, and conflict between various cities.

As Colors of Chaos opens, Cerryl is a full mage, but low in the guild's pyramid of power. As a gate mage, he's charged with inspecting wagons as they enter the city.

Traditionally, the enemies of the White Mages have been the "Blacks," the practitioners of magic based on order. But as Cerryl spends day after day on guard duty, he begins to realize that the guild faces a far more dangerous enemy: economics. Revenues on the roads maintained by the guild are falling as other cities use the highways but refuse to pay their fair share to maintain them. The guild's leadership tries to bully the other cities, raising armies and mountains in an attempt force them into line.

Searching through the Google Books preview, I've also found passages indicating that specific colours are associated with specific cities, such as "the White City of Fairhaven", "the green of Certis" and "the cyan of Lydiar."

There's also a large-scale battle toward the end of the book, with fire magic being directed at enemy troops clad in blue.

"Chaos fire—on the right!"

Cerryl obliged, trying to ignore the growing headache, the knives that cut through his skull with each new attempt at flinging chaos fire.

The White horse, now a mixture of forces from Certis, Gallos, and Hydlen, charged up the left side of the hill toward the crest. A few scattered arrows flew toward the lancers, but only a handful of riders fell.

Jeslek summoned another firecloud, searing the area of the earthworks to the northeast from where some of the remaining blue archers had loosed shafts. No more arrows rose from the blue bows.

  • First of all, thanks for having a look. I had never seen these books in my lengthy search for my long lost read until now. Its a struggle to find anything on the internet with more excerpts from the books in question. I dont know if they are the ones I am looking for due to the general plot line and characters being erased from my memory, but there are a lot of similarities. I plan on trying to get the book and read to see if it is the one. Fingers crossed.
    – Chris
    May 27, 2022 at 11:13

Your description could easily be describing The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (Published 1990 – 2013).

One detail from that series is that almost all magic is wielded by women, the Aes Sedai. However the Dragon Reborn (the hero we follow) is a man. The early conflict is often that men that get the power must be stopped before they go insane and become dangerous.

The Aes Sedai are protected by deadly, blade wielding body guards who are also tasked with protecting the hero. There are ninja like groups, though if memory serves they tend to be the bad guys (mostly, there's lots going). The Aes Sedai are also broken into groups along colour lines and can group their magic together for increased effect. They also regularly use their magic in battle scenarios.

It has recently been made into a TV Series

  • Hello. Defo not the Jordans. I will never forget the painstaking reads that they are. Goddammit Jordan, no one cares about the gawdy tassels on Rands boots. Get to the dark ones and breaking the world!
    – Chris
    May 27, 2022 at 11:10

This sounds like the Harbinger (Lightbringer) series by Brent Weeks. It includes 'The Black Prism', 'The blinding Knife', 'The Broken Eye', 'The Blood Mirror', and 'The Burning White'. The main characters are a boy named Kip and the Prism, Gavin Guile.

There are seven satrapies (countries/states) one for each colour of the spectrum. The mages each tend to specialise in one colour of magic which can produce physical objects which can be used as weapons like spears or defences like walls etc. The substance produced is called Luxin I think (lux as in light as the magic is powered by light of the appropriate colour).

There is an academy called the Chromeria which teaches all colours of magic and I think each satrapy teaches mages of their own colour.

The Chromeria has a group of soldiers called the Blackguard, who dress in black and protect the Prism (Gavin) and the White (the Chromerias leader).

There are many occasions where people are burned by luxin fireballs and there are definitely many battles where this is used by both sides. At one point Gavin creates a luxin wall around a city to make it into a fortress.

If I think of any more I'll add it in.


I had another thought about your search (given you haven't had many other responses and haven't confirmed it's already been found).

The True Game by Sheri Tepper.

There is less references to the colour of mages but there is some and there are very strong lines of magical colleges that focus on specific types of mage.

One of my key memories from that series is a section where the wizards use a large group of mages to wage war against another nation using a new fireball technique. They need lots of heat to power magic and so use a natural hot spring at their home castle to create huge fireballs, then a collection of mirrors and other mages collect the fireball and send it on to the next mirror mage station. Eventually this culminated in the last set of mages targeting the battlefield many miles away with it, to devastating effect.

The main protagonist is male and starts his magical career as a necromancer. The theme is medieval (mostly) and there are some ninja's (when aren't there!). Also there are "blues" which are chess likes pieces made from a special ice that are used in training mages and are important to the plot (at least to the first trilogy, I haven't read the other books).

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