Treachery's Tools (Imager Portfolio, #10)
by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Cover Artist: Donato Giancola
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765385406
Date: 11 October 2016 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Money and power are the source of the problems facing Solidar. Alastar is still the head of the Collegium as the tensions between High Holders and merchants grow. Whenever there has been an Imager of great power, a great challenge awaits. Alastar is the unfortunate soul who must deal with the current crisis.
Having arranged for Rex Dafou to be gone, Alastar is a sword of Damocles hanging over the throne of Solidar. When a series of bad harvests exacerbate the problems, the Rex does not want to act. He prefers to take the easy path. The High Holders see that their time in power may be coming to an end. Old enemies plot the end of the Collegium's power and the return of the traditional powers of the High Holders. This is not tolerable to the rising power of the merchant class.
On top of the problems in the city, Alastar has a daughter who will be a very powerful Imager. At her age she recognizes some of the problems she may cause, but wants to be recognized for what she can do. The plot against the Collegium puts students at risk. That is the one thing that always gets Alastar to act. He also has to choose a replacement for the Maitre at Westisle.
As usual, I needed to read this Modesitt novel twice and then let my wife read it so we could discuss the story and all of the references hidden in the story. At one point I had to pull out a copy of Imager to see if I remembered who did what. The result was an example of the phenomena that Alastar discusses where good Imagers and their actions are forgotten. Alastar lives during a time when the events and actions of the first Maitre are still remembered, but they are not general knowledge. In some respects I am surprised Alastar does not do more to at least make sure the Collegium remembers those who came before.
I really enjoy this series and universe. It is expanding and could over time rival the size and scope of the Recluce series. Modesitt takes time to develop the economy of his magical world. This makes events and actions tie together and follow logical paths. There is always a new aspect of training being explored as well as the development of the internal economy of the Collegium which allows the Imagers more independence. Lack of continuity can be a problem in some fantasy worlds. The magic is just cool but it doesn't always fit into the society which has developed. The best fantasy authors of today, make sure that magic is integrated into their worlds.
This is a later novel in an established fantasy universe and as such is not the best entry point for new readers. At a minimum, new readers should start with Madness in Solidar as it is the first adventure of Alastar. The series is well worth the read.