Review of IMAGER'S INTRIGUE by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (see his website)
IMAGER PORTFOLIO #3
Tor Books, July 2010
Imager Rhenn has served as City Patrol Captain for several years now, but suddenly he's seeing different kinds of crime. First, there's a rash of drug deaths caused by a highly potent and fresh variety of the elveweed--something that has only been available in dried form before. And second, there's a near-war between the High Holders (nobility) and Factors (up and coming middle class) over water rights, manufacturing, and taxes...a near-war that includes sabotage, murder and an unfortunate stalemate in government. The stalemate is unfortuante because Solidar's enemies haven't been waiting. They've re-armed, and have cut into Solidar's traditional advantage in naval power as well as developed new land cruisers (tanks) which better handle winter conditions. As Solidar is the only nation that doesn't actively persecute imagers, the imagers have a vested interest in preserving the nation...despite its attempts at self-destruction.
Author L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of SF/F by Modesitt) continues his Imager series Rhenn becoming more mature as he's suddenly thrust into a leadership position in the Imager Collegium. Increasingly, he believes that Solidar's problems aren't coincidence or natural evolution but a broad scheme put in place by its enemies. And it may already be too late for anyone to defeat them.
In his higher position, Rhenn is no longer able to take a lead in many ventures. Instead, he must send young imagers into danger, and face the certainty that the best possible outcome is that he'll lose many of his young protoges. From a story perspective, this means that the most important action takes place off the page and we learn of it, as Rhenn does, only after the fact.
IMAGER'S INTRIGUE is readable, with enough action to keep the story going, an interesting protagonist, and some fun secondary characters. As far as Modesitt's writing goes, the whole series is a bit light-weight, but certainly worth the read.
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