In Arms-Commander Modesitt finally returns to the Legend. I have been greatly anticipating that he would return to The Roof of the World and the Angels to tell the rest of their story. Arms-Commander doesn't do that. While it starts off in Westwind and Ryba, leader of the Angels, does figure prominently in the beginning portion of the story, Arms-Commander instead tells the story of the founding of Sarronnynn, born from the ashes of Lornth.
When Suthyan traders visit Westwind they first try to warn Ryba off from trading with Lornth. When that fails to impress, they turn instead to treachery. We briefly turn then to an attempted invasion by Gallosian forces before Saryn finds herself, at the behest of the Zeldyan, mother of the child Overlord of Lornth, fighting a civil-war for another country. Through all these events, Saryn finds her skillsets and her attitude towards Ryba and Westwind in flux, while bringing changes to Lornth that will echo throughout history.
While Arms-Commander wasn't the story I was expecting, I was quite pleased with the turn it did take. Modesitt has never taken us inside Sarronnyn before, which was something I had always felt was lacking. Learning it's history really helped to answer questions that had lingered from previous installments in The Saga of Recluce.
I was, however, disappointed that we missed out on much of what has earned The Saga of Recluce the distinction of being called "the thinking man's fantasy." Modesitt's books are normally filled with knowledge of crafts and skills and philosophy on the nature of good vs evil, order vs chaos. This was sadly lacking in Arms-Commander. While it was still a very fun read, it was just that, a fun read, a typical "sword and sorcery" type fantasy. I have come to expect much more from Modesitt, so I hope future inclusions in The Saga of Recluce, return to form.
That said, I would still recommend it to anyone who enjoys a fun romp in a fantasy world. It is not necessary to have read any of the previous books as this is a stand-alone within the larger series.