Book Cover

Imager
by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
New York : TOR, 2009
http://www.lemodesittjr.com/the-books/imager-portfolio/imager/

A Review by
Colleen R. Cahill
May, 2009

There are novels that are definitely set in a historic era, as the entire genre of medieval fantasy demonstrates. L. E. Modesitt latest work has things borrowed from history, but he does not limit himself to one era.  Imager from TOR books, the first book in the Imager Portfolio series, is a fantasy work that combines painting and magic, as an journeyman artist discovers he has the power of an imager, one who can make their visions reality.  This totally changes the path of Rhenn’s life, taking him out of the realm of art and into the deeper realms of magic, politics and power.

The book begins with a snapshot of Rhenn at twelve; our hero has chosen a career as a painter over joining the family business, much to his father’s disgust.  At age 24, Rhenn is well on his way to becoming a master artist, with a flair for portrait painting.  Even with his growing success, Rhenn is troubled by strange events, such an area of a painting suddenly becoming perfect, even though he did not paint a stroke.   These oddities climax in an explosion that kills Rhenn’s Master and son, and Rhenn may have accidentally been the cause.  Now all around him are in danger, so Rhenn is forced to go the Collegium Imago and become one of the mysterious and powerful imagers. Rhenn, older than many of the beginning students, quickly rises through the training levels, gaining a great deal of knowledge and a few enemies on the way. After an attack leads to the blinding of the son of a High Holder, Rhenn is placed in service to the Council and now becomes exposed to the political intrigues that swirl around that governing body.  Rhenn also has to deal with a romance, attempt to assassinate him, pressure from his family to find a wife and painting portraits of leading imagers.  But he is never busier than when he finds there is a conspiracy that involves the artist community, making him the best person to seek out the truth.

I enjoy Modesitt’s world building, of which he is a master.  The descriptions of painting first gave me a feel of the Renaissance, but the existence of railroads soon changed my view.  This is a complex society, with various social and ethnic groups.  The country is not totally at ease with it’s neighbors, which is one reason the Collegium exists; to support Solidar and its Council.  The Imagers are themselves a mysterious group and many people tell Rhenn he is the first they have ever met, even through the center for Imagers is in their town.

This is a good start for a new series and I applaud Modesitt’s creative mining of various periods of history.  The mix of Medieval, Renaissance, and 19th century is interesting and makes this a world that is both familiar and new.  For a fun new fantasy series, you will want to try

There are novels that are definitely set in a historic era, as the entire genre of medieval fantasy demonstrates. L. E. Modesitt latest work has things borrowed from history, but he does not limit himself to one era.  Imager from TOR books, the first book in the Imager Portfolio series, is a fantasy work that combines painting and magic, as an journeyman artist discovers he has the power of an imager, one who can make their visions reality.  This totally changes the path of Rhenn’s life, taking him out of the realm of art and into the deeper realms of magic, politics and power.

The book begins with a snapshot of Rhenn at twelve; our hero has chosen a career as a painter over joining the family business, much to his father’s disgust.  At age 24, Rhenn is well on his way to becoming a master artist, with a flair for portrait painting.  Even with his growing success, Rhenn is troubled by strange events, such an area of a painting suddenly becoming perfect, even though he did not paint a stroke.   These oddities climax in an explosion that kills Rhenn’s Master and son, and Rhenn may have accidentally been the cause.  Now all around him are in danger, so Rhenn is forced to go the Collegium Imago and become one of the mysterious and powerful imagers. Rhenn, older than many of the beginning students, quickly rises through the training levels, gaining a great deal of knowledge and a few enemies on the way. After an attack leads to the blinding of the son of a High Holder, Rhenn is placed in service to the Council and now becomes exposed to the political intrigues that swirl around that governing body.  Rhenn also has to deal with a romance, attempt to assassinate him, pressure from his family to find a wife and painting portraits of leading imagers.  But he is never busier than when he finds there is a conspiracy that involves the artist community, making him the best person to seek out the truth.

I enjoy Modesitt’s world building, of which he is a master.  The descriptions of painting first gave me a feel of the Renaissance, but the existence of railroads soon changed my view.  This is a complex society, with various social and ethnic groups.  The country is not totally at ease with it’s neighbors, which is one reason the Collegium exists; to support Solidar and its Council.  The Imagers are themselves a mysterious group and many people tell Rhenn he is the first they have ever met, even through the center for Imagers is in their town.

This is a good start for a new series and I applaud Modesitt’s creative mining of various periods of history.  The mix of Medieval, Renaissance, and 19th century is interesting and makes this a world that is both familiar and new.  For a fun new fantasy series, you will want to try Imager.

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