Ray Gun Reviews
SF/F reviews — and ray guns!

Imager by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

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Imager by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Tor, 2009, 499pp.

Rhennthyl is the son of a wool merchant in the city of L’Excelsis in Solidar. At first it seems like he will follow his father into the industry, but as he grows up, it becomes apparent that Rhennthyl’s desires lie elsewhere, specifically in painting. So Rhenn’s father apprentices him to a master portraitist, in whose household Rhenn lives for a number of years. While there, Rhenn shows himself to be very talented, but he’s kept back because of jealousy toward his gifts, as well as his propensity for defying conventions.

One day, though, Rhenn is angry and frustrated with his master and his master’s son and walks away thinking dark thoughts. Immediately the master’s studio explodes. It is at this point that Rhenn discovers that he is an imager, a person born with the skill of creating objects by thinking of them. And so he joins the Collegium of Imagers to learn how to control his newfound skills and abilities.

Rhenn’s life quickly becomes a routine of lessons to control his considerable abilities (an imager can be dangerous even while sleeping) as well as hard work. On top of this, though, someone is trying to kill Rhenn.

Imager is the first in Modesitt’s ‘Imager Portfolio’ series which is now at three volumes. It is very much an introductory novel that spends a lot of time establishing the rules of this fantasy world as well as establishing characters. I’ve never read Modesitt before, even though I’ve had a number of friends speak highly of him. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this was definitely a fun read. Modesitt uses a lot of expected fantasy tropes, but he gives them all a bit of a twist to give the reader something new and unexpected. On top of that, he is skilled at creating well-rounded and believable characters. If you haven’t read Modesitt before, this is as good a stepping-in point as any.

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