Methodical World-Building with L.E. Modesitt in Imager

Want a good example of a thoroughly and meticulously built fantasy world? I believe L.E. Modesitt, Jr. may be one of the best.

First published in March 2009, it’s taken me a while to get to Imager, Book One of the Imager Portfolio. In fact, this is only the second of his books that I’ve read (the other being The Lord Protector’s Daughter) and yet I see a number of similarities in the way the two books are crafted. And “methodical” is definitely a key word in describing both books.

The story opens with Rhennthyl, the son of a leading wool merchant in Solidar, who avoids entering his family business in favor of becoming a journeyman painter and portraiture artist. He becomes so successful that his skill is equivalent to that of a master, and yet his master patron seems reluctant to allow Rhennthyl to achieve that rank.

However, when an explosion kills his mentor, he finds his life turned upside down. Rhenn discovers he is an imager, one of a small handful of people who can visualize things into reality. As such, he must leave his family to join the ranks of the other imagers at the Collegium of Imagisle. And so his new life begins, one fraught with danger and intrigue.

I found that although the plot in Imager moves slowly, I couldn’t stop reading it. The action is subtle, but this actually matches Rhenn’s new life. You see an imager must be subtle — more so than even an assassin and even more discreet than a spy if possible. This is because as a whole, imagers are feared by society, which is why they must live apart from others, and why they must be very careful and their actions surreptitious.

In Imager, Modesitt also explores many angles of philosophy, which, again, remind me of The Lord Protector’s Daughter. Based on my limited experience with this prolific author, it seems this is part of his personal writing style. As such, the book would likely appeal to readers who prefer a philosophical approach to society, culture, and the intrigues of government. A corollary skill of this approach is Modesitt’s careful construction of said societies and relationships, of which this author is a master.

Imager is not a book that I will likely read again, but I am hooked on the life and struggles of poor Rhennthyl. I’ve already started Book Two and will likely read Book Three. As such, I give Imager 3.75 out of 5 stars.

If you’d like more info, here are my Barnes & Noble and Amazon affiliate links.

In addition, you can find the author at:

How about you? Have you read any of The Imager Portfolio trilogy? Or do you have a favorite author that excels at world-building? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from  you!

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