It was many years ago that I first discovered the wonderful works of L.E. Modesitt, Jr. and learned how much of a machine he is at publishing novels year after year. What I didn’t expect to find when I picked up Imager was a completely immersive experience of history, guilds, politics, love, and magic. If you are looking for a nonstop action story you will be disappointed because the real action comes through the journey of discovery and wonders to come.
This story is told in the first person and we follow the journey of Rhennthyl. Rhenn 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. Diligently working on his craft as an artist when he discovers small changes are being made while working on his paintings. Certain scenes that he imagines seem to appear on the canvas and this can only be the magic of an Imager. Upon being discovered, Rhenn is forced to leave his family for 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. At the Collegium, Rhenn will discover how to use his abilities, get a glimpse of the larger world and what part the Collegium has to play, and even meet a girl.
Although Imager is a slow-burn type of novel and requires a good deal of investment to see the payoff, I hold this series very close to my heart. Many nights I ended up being lost in the world Modesitt has created while feeling sorry for Rhenn and the life he has to live. With seemingly nowhere to turn, Rhenn finds his new place in the world but will come across enemies around every turn. This is a story where the quieter moments will be the shining beacon in your reading experience. Although I am not a romance reader, the love interest Rhenn gets involved with will be enjoyed by everyone with a sentimental side. The writing style detailed but not overly descriptive with a hint of poetic stances. The real joy is the history and world building Modesitt divulges in this novel and something truly wonderful to behold.
Although the first novel in the series, it should be read as book one of a trilogy as the first three books follow the story of Rhenn before moving to another figure. Imager will not give you the huge emotional swings of other novels but it will keep giving you small moments one after the other until filling you with joy. This was my first book written by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. I have had the privilege of reader and it most certainly won’t be my last. The author only asks you to imagine what your life would be if you had to make a drastic change. Read this and find out.