L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Tor, Mar 2009, $25.95
In the capital of Solidar, L'Excelsis, frustrated with his master Caliostrus and his teacher's nasty son, apprentice portrait artist Rhennthyl wishes the man would die. Immediately afterward an explosion followed by a fire occurs leaving his mentor and his toad of an offspring dead. Stunned with what he did though he had hints of magic skills, he had no idea he was an Imager. Since he knows no one will take him on as Imagers are feared and isolated, he wonders how he can make use of his ability to create objects from seemingly nothing and kill with a quick look, but knows his first stop must be the Collegium of Imagisle.
Master Dichartyn accepts Rhenn as an apprentice imager. The son of a merchant soon learns the limits of an imager as he must sleep in specially padded with lead rooms to insure he causes no harm while dreaming. Rhenn quickly performs like a seasoned veteran even as he finds himself attracted to second sight Seliora after watching her gracefully handle bullies. As assassins try to kill Rhenn though he has no idea why, Dichartyn assigns him a dangerous undercover task.
The opening act of the Imager Portfolio starts extremely slow as L.E. Modesitt Jr. establishes his new world order that as always is particularly complex especially between nations on the Terahnar and the personality quirks of his prime players especially the hero. The action is nonexistent for the most part until late into the fantasy as readers wonder along with Rhenn what the hidden agenda Master Dichartyn has for his newest operative. Still filled with surprisingly twists, IMAGER is a solid world builder that bodes for fans excellent novels to follow.