REVIEW by Trish: Imager (Imager Portfolio #1) by L. E. Modesitt Jr. (@TorBooks)

51VVfRr5IiLImager is the beginning of a whole new fantasy in a whole new magical world from the bestselling creator of Recluce. Although Rhennthyl is the son of a leading wool merchant in L’Excelsis, the capital of Solidar, the most powerful nation on Terahnar, he has spent years becoming a journeyman artist and is skilled and diligent enough to be considered for the status of master artisan–in another two years. Then, in a single moment, his entire life is transformed when his master patron is killed in a flash fire, and Rhenn discovers he is an imager–one of the few in the entire world of Terahnar who can visualize things and make them real.

He must leave his family and join the Collegium of Imagisle. Imagers live separately from the rest of society because of their abilities (they can do accidental magic even while asleep), and because they are both feared and vulnerable. In this new life, Rhenn discovers that all too many of the “truths” he knew were nothing of the sort. Every day brings a new threat to his life. He makes a powerful enemy while righting a wrong, and begins to learn to do magic in secret. Imager is the innovative and enchanting opening of an involving new fantasy story.

by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

Imager Portfolio #1

High Fantasy
Epic Fantasy

Tor Books

Publication Date:
March 17, 2009


Imager is about a young artist who rather unexpectedly finds himself out of a job when his master is killed in an explosion. But, despite his talents, or perhaps because of them, no other master will take him on. So, he’s left with a rather daunting choice: join his father as a factor (kind of like a merchant/accountant) or cross the Bridge of Dreams and try to become an imager. It’s not a light decision, as a good number of those who try the latter end of leaving by way of the Bridge of Stones or simply disappear. But, factoring is boring, and Rhennthyl is willing to take a chance on what he guesses to be a rather pathetic aptitude for imaging. At least it will be interesting.

So, yes, this is one of those “young man discovers power and becomes awesome” books. I like that. I also like reading about new magic systems and discovering the ins and outs of such alongside the young man (or woman) who is learning the craft. This book does that rather well. Imaging takes on a rather mysterious reputation for the layperson in the story, and Rhenn finds that it remains so to a certain degree even after joining their ranks. I also dig how he’s obviously on track for something special, though Rhenn and the reader are kept in the dark about the exact nature of his future in the Collegium.

I also enjoyed the familial and social dynamics, the political and religious influences on the characters and the countries mentioned, and the romantic relationship between Rhenn and his sweetheart. The story offers a level of complexity with regard to these things that I enjoy.

Now, that being said, this isn’t the most exciting book I’ve ever read. At some points, I was just reading to experience the story, not especially driven to finish it in any record time or to discover who did what or why. It just sort of takes its time, tending to reveal much of the background and remote goings on over various meals and associated conversations. The selection of wine and the commentary on the various dishes seemed kind of pointless to me, but they never fail to be mentioned. I also get the sense that Rhenn’s a bit arrogant, though he seems to be trying to control that tendency.

Overall, I liked this story pretty well, though it’s not extremely exciting. It was a good escape and I think I’d like to read the next (probably will, too, since I’ve already bought it). I’d recommend this to folks who like a good fantasy featuring a young hero coming into his powers and making plenty of enemies along the way. This is not for folks who get bored when a book diverts into politics or intrigue, but those who like such things will probably enjoy it.

I purchased this book at a local book store upon the recommendation of someone who worked there. The writer is prolific, so if you like this, you’ll have many more books available with which to fill your shelves.

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The review copy of Imager was purchased by the reviewer.


1301649After spending years writing poetry, political speeches and analyses, as well as economic and technical reports on extraordinarily detailed and often boring subjects, I finally got around to writing my first short story, which was published in 1973. I kept submitting and occasionally having published stories until an editor indicated he’d refuse to buy any more until I wrote a novel. So I did, and it was published in 1982, and I’ve been writing novels — along with a few short stories — ever since.

If you want to know more, you can visit my website at

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