I was searching for a book about imagination when I came across Imager by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. I almost forgot what a joy it is to start reading a new series, watching how the various conflicts and storylines are set into motion. There are so many little presents to unwrap in the novels to come. My dominant feeling was curiosity as I turned the pages.
Imager starts out with Rhennthyl choosing not to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a wool merchant. Instead he apprentices with a portrait artist. While Rhenn has some differences with his master and the Guild, he is a very good artist and is almost ready to earn the title of master when tragedy strikes. His master is killed in a mysterious fire. Rhenn wonders whether he unknowingly contributed to the fire because moments earlier, in a moment of frustration, he had imagined the explosion. Unable to find another master to allow him to complete his training, Rhenn explores his ability to manifest things using his imagination. --While an apprentice he had been able to move areas of paintings with his thoughts. – Satisfied that he has talent, Rhenn goes to study with the imaginers, people trained to manifest object with their minds. They are both valued and feared. He quickly advances through the levels, but not without incident. In self-defense, he kills one man and seriously disables another, the son of a powerful man. Rhenn soon is the object of assassination attempts. In addition, other young imagers are being murdered. By the end of the first novel, Rhenn has collected more than his share of enemies. The plotline contains a changing political situation that could lead to war. But, no series is complete without a good love story. Rhenn’s family pressures him to find a suitable wife. He meets Seliora while he is still an artist’s apprentice. She saves his life early on in his career as an imager. While her family embraces him and his calling, it becomes obvious that they have ulterior motives.
The world of Imager feels very real. While it is clearly fictional –it has two moons– it has elements of the Victorian era. The apprentice systems are well thought-out. The actions of the characters are consistent with their environment.
So far, I think that I have found a nice series to follow. I have had just enough ponderable moments to fulfill my intellectual needs. I like the characters. The plot is not overly demanding for quick before bedtime reading, yet it is still interesting. As we approach a potentially long winter, I always feel better having a series to set some sort of rhythm through my weeks.