Imager begins the journey of Rhennthyl on the path first of an artist and later as a Imager, a practitioner of mental magic, in the first of a trilogy as well as a whole series of books by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. The flowing narrative slowly built up the city of L’Excelsis, the culture of the country of Solidar, the Solidar view of the world, religious system, and the practice of mental magic from Rhennthyl’s personal experience giving the reader an enjoyable read throughout the book.
Rhennthyl, or Rhenn for short, is the eldest son of a wool merchant who decidedly does not like business and instead becomes an artist’s apprentice, but while still a journeyman his art career ends with the death of his master when his talent for mental magic sends him to the Imagers on Imagisle. The path of Rhenn’s discovery of how to use his magical talent and the sudden danger he soon finds himself is written through his own experience thus allowing the reader to learn along with Rhenn not only the magical system but the mystery of why assassins are after him. Throughout the book Rhenn most not only focus on his magical training and the dangerous situations he finds himself in, but also his family and personal relationships that many times conflict.
There are many enjoyable things about this book, as mentioned before the reader learns along with Rhenn about the magical system and it’s uses as well as the greater world. The interesting small details are very well written to add to the depth of the world, but this detailing also hurts it as well. While Modesitt gives details in fashion and food, he neglects to give meaning to particular names that everyone in Solidar knows but readers do not like for instant who are Pharsi, tuadins, and the like that seem to be ethnicities or regional titles of individuals. While it could be said that the seemingly formulaic aspect of the book is a negative, if well written it doesn’t matter. The amount of assassination attempts on Rhenn and the suddenly plot resolution, or seeming resolution, does hurt the overall story but not enough to make me want to see more.
Overall, I enjoyed this my first reading of a L.E. Modesitt book. Even with the gripes I had, it doesn’t mean I’m not interested in seeing what twists and turns Rhenn’s life and career take in the next two books of the trilogy following his life as an Imager.