L.E. Modesitt, Jr
life among the superpowerful
Though he'd written a number of books previously, Modesitt first became well known for his book The Magic of Recluce, which managed to ring new and interesting changes on the hoary old fantasy theme of Order vs. Chaos. Lerris is a teenager, born and raised on the island of Recluce, in a society dedicated to Order. Like many teens, he's bored and rebellious, and doesn't understand why Recluce is (and must be) the way it is. After an unsuccessful apprenticeship with his uncle, a woodworker, he is forced to leave Recluce on his "dangergeld" -- a combination exile/rite of passage in which he must travel the wide world, forbidden to return to Recluce until he is willing to obey the rules. And that's where the fun begins, because Lerris is potentially one of the greatest Order-masters Recluce has ever seen, and it's dangerous for him to stay at home as he develops his gifts.
There are a number of other books in the series, each of which describes Recluce (or its predecessor, Westwind) at some vital stage in its existence. The books were not written in chronological order; nevertheless, they probably read best in the order they were written, which was as follows. The Towers of Sunset tells of Creslin, the co-founder of Recluce, son of the last Marshall of Westwind; The Magic Engineer tells of Dorrin, the first Order-master to successfully build steam-engines and other machinery (fire, after all, is of Chaos), in the defense of Recluce; The Order War tells of Justin, the first gray wizard (Order-masters are black, chaos-masters are white; you figure it out), and how he defeats the Chaos-masters of Fairhaven; The Death of Chaos describes how chaos is defeated for good (or, at least, for thousands of years); Fall of Angels tells of the first Order-master, and the foundation of the fortress of Westwind.
I enjoyed all these quite a lot; Modesitt is a good story-teller. Be warned, though, that the same themes are used over and over again. The typical Modesitt hero is a nice, decent guy, though dangerous to cross, skilled in some craft, who during the course of the book develops power beyond his wildest dreams. Generally, he uses his power to do awful things in defense of those he loves, even though doing these things has a high personal cost (Order-masters are made physically unwell by killing others, sometimes resulting in permanent injury).
Modesitt has written a number of other books, including Timediver's Dawn, The Timegod, both of which I liked, and Of Tangible Ghosts, which I thought was so-so... but was at least an interesting departure from his usual work, being a murder mystery of sorts.
The Saga of Recluce
The two books listed below have recently been republished in an omnibus edition.
The Ecolitan Matter
The Spellsong War
There are more books in this series, but as I really didn't like the first one I haven't been paying attention.
The Corean Chronicles
I'm still not quite sure what to make of this one, but it's typical Modesitt.