Imager: The First Book of the Imager Portfolio
by L. E. Modesitt Jr.
Edited by David G. Hartwell
Cover Artist: Donato Giancola
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765320346
Date: 17 March 2009 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
L.E. Modesitt jr. introduces the world of Terahnar in his newest novel Imager. In this world, the magic is controlled by a relatively small group of magic users called imagers. In this system of magic, imagers are able to picture what they want in their mind and have it created. The magic can be very powerful. But it is that very power that is dangerous to its users as well as making them suspected and feared.
Rhenn has worked to stay out of the family trade. He is able to avoid wool factoring and follow his dream of becoming an artist. Life isn't simple as an artist under a stern master, but he is developing and has the potential to become one of L'Excelsis' portraitists. Tragedy intervenes and Rhenn must pursue a new course. This new course will take him to Imagisle. There he must learn to control his imaging abilities or die. Even as he learns to control his powers, other forces are working to create havoc in Solidar. After surviving an assassination attempt, Rhenn must track his assassin and find out who hired him.
There are strong female characters as is the norm for Modesitt's novels. The women he develops don't need to be masculine to be strong. The romances that he develops are a nice touch although sometimes a little too contrived.
Imager is told in the first person. L.E. Modesitt Jr. is a master of the first person form of narration. He has used it effectively in a few of his Recluce novels. He is very good at developing characters in any novel, but is really able to show their turmoil in the first person. Readers can truly empathize with the struggles that his characters face. Rhenn doesn't have the sense of entitlement that Lerris and Rhal, two of his other characters developed in the first person. This adds to the story as it is easier to relate to Rhenn.
In addition to strong characters, the descriptions of the process of artistry and imaging are very detailed which adds that Modesitt touch. His detailed descriptions help to bring the world alive. The flavors of his books have a familiar taste, even as they create something new and delightful.
This is the first book in a new series. There are no other books that need to be read to appreciate this work. There is room for several future volumes as Terahnar is developed and we follow the adventures of Rhenn.
I recommend this to fans of magical fantasy. Mr. Modesitt's fans will not be disappointed. Fans of David Farland should find this work enjoyable as well. It is odd to call something realistic fantasy, but in this case it works. There are definite laws that are followed and a realistic economic system. The government that is developed is a reaction to the world built upon the actions of others in the past. There is a little bit of a mystery to be solved in this story as well.
I look forward to the next volume and I am sure many of you will too.