Assassin's Price (Imager Portfolio)
by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Cover Artist: Donato Giancola
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765390479
Date: 25 July 2017 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Alastar is still head of the Collegium, but the focus switches to a new character for the next novel in the Imager Portfolio. Charyn has lived a sheltered life. One question though sets him on a new path, one filled with responsibility and complications. His father, Rex Lorien, does not always accommodate Charyn's new interest in ruling.
A turning point is coming to Solidar, and as is normally the case, imagers will play an important role. Once again, there is strife. This time the Jariolans are preying upon the Solidarian merchant ships. The factors demand protection and the High Holders don't want to do anything which will increase tariffs. Both sides agree that something should be done, but they want the other side to pay for it. On top of the demands come threats to the Rex and his family.
Even within the family, not all is simple. Charyn's sister is going through a crisis as she nears the age where she will marry. His brother wants to continue to hunt and rollick with his friends. They all chaff under restrictions after the first attempt on Rex's family.
Charyn recognizes that things must change. But he isn't exactly sure what he can do. He opens up several avenues to learn and perhaps break the cycle which has taken hold. He sees a major opportunity which will move Solidar onto a different track, one which has the potential to help many people.
Major Spoiler in next paragraph.
This is the eleventh book in the Imager Portfolio. It starts a new duology focusing on Charyn. It is the first novel to not have an Imager as the point of view character. The switch was a surprise, but it did provide the insight needed to follow the action as the threat is more global and Alastar is in decline. The next generation of powerful imagers isn't quite ready to step onto the field. I really enjoyed the switch in perspective. It was nice to follow a character who isn't individually super powerful. Charyn needs to find solutions where he isnít always in control.As this is part of an ongoing series, it isn't the best entry point for new readers. But the series as a whole is exceptional. In fact, I am not sure whether I will nominate The Imager Portfolio or The Saga of Recluce for the Hugo's new Best Series award. Both series have moved fantasy forward. In the case of The Imager Portfolio, it has mixed magic, technology, and economics. Each has a role. It is nice to see a kingdom which has to struggle to maintain troop levels and balance the needs of the economy with those of safety and protection.