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Madness in Solidar (Imager Portfolio #9) by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Cover Artist: Donato Giancola
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765379856
Date: 03 March 2015 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Hundreds of years after Quaeryt helped unify Solidar and found the Collegium, the Imagers have lost something. They were feared and respected, but the Maitres have relied on reputation for too long. The Collegium was founded to support the Rex and balance the power of the High Holders, factors, and military. By not performing their role, a crisis has developed.

Into this mess steps Alastar. Born, raised, and trained far from L'Excelsis, he has no idea of the morass that he will now have to steer the Collegium through. The Rex is feeling pressed because of the lack of funds as the High Holders will do anything to block increases to the tax rates. He demands full support with no willingness to compromise. Rex Ryen is willing to use any force necessary to get what he wants including the murder of everyone who opposes his will.

If the problems outside the Collegium weren't enough, there is plenty rotten inside as well. The previous Maitre was too lax. This has allowed the student imagers to run wild. It is dangerous enough trying to navigate training without fellow students being encouraged to develop cliques. Some of the senior maitres do not believe there is a problem. Alastar has a plan to make imagers safe once again, but the path is narrow and there are many pitfalls.

Madness in Solidar is the ninth book of the Imager Portfolio. It is set in the middle of the time between Quaeryt and Rhennthyl. The action is independent from the prior eight volumes so that a new reader can take up the novel without having read the previous eight volumes. But there are many references to the action that saw the foundation of Solidar. There are also a couple of interesting Easter Eggs that explain the connections between the various main characters of this series.

One of the interesting aspects of the series is how people are remembered and forgotten over time. Quaeryt is unmentioned by name by the time of Rhennthyl. Even during the time of Alastar, many of the things that Quaeryt did are forgotten. Alastar was known and named during Rhennthyl's time. There was even a play about his actions. Those times were closer together, but it may also be that Alastar felt that it was important that his actions were remembered as a reminder of what can happen.

There is a lot of story here with references that link the various timelines together. I needed a second reading before I caught a couple of the references, as well as listening to the original Rhennthyl stories while I was on a long trip. These references similar to those in the Saga of Recluce help tie the stories together and give fans something to guess. Which seemingly insignificant mention will be developed into a future story? There are still several back stories that can be developed after Alastar's tale it done. There is likely to be at least one more story that follows Alastar.

This series continues to grow on me with each new tale. I look forward to new adventures and seeing more of the history of Solidar. This is one of the series that both my wife and I enjoy. We've had numerous discussions related to the world and what really happens as well as which period will be explored next. I look forward to the continuing adventures of the Imagers.

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