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Imager's Challenge: The Second Book of the Imager Portfolio by L. E. Modesitt Jr.
Cover Artist: Donato Giancola
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765321268
Date: 13 October 2009 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

L.E. Modesitt jr. returns to the world of Terahnar in his latest installment of the Imagerís Profile. Rhenn is assigned to the city patrol. He is a visible and powerful force. This creates opportunities for him to visibly confront the enemies of the realm. A new hidden enemy is killing imagers and creating chaos on the poor sections of town. Rhenn needs to get to the bottom of this before he is hit with more than he can handle. He also has a patrol chief that is hiding something and doesn't hide how little he wants Rhenn around.

His relationship with Seliora is progressing, but their relationship could bring hardship to her family's business. His enemies have moved to make things difficult for his family. His brother's less than skillful trading is used to put his father's business at risk of failure. His sister is more skilled at trading, but being female, is not respected in the same way as a male heir.

Although still learning more about his skills, this volume is more about Rhenn's growth as a person. He must learn to see the consequences of his actions and plan ahead. He must also earn the trust of his fellow patrollers and the people of his assigned area. By the end of this volume he has grown in both power and as a person. His future holds greater challenges and risks.

This world is an interesting mix of early industrial technology and magic. There is a strong European flavor to the cities and nations of this world. The strength of imagers is nothing short of amazing, but they are susceptible in ways that most fantasy characters are not. They are not immune to bullets and can be killed by well planned attacks. Rhenn's enemies are not afraid to attack his family. This total warfare is not one of the standard template fantasy tropes.

I am enjoying this series more than I thought I would. I generally prefer a little less technologically advanced magic. But it works in this series because technology is an equalizer to make the imagers have a more difficult time in surviving. This world would also be interesting to see as technology advances. How would imagers protect themselves when they could face a machine gun or a landmine?

Modessitt writes some of the most interesting characters in Fantasy. He is a master of developing young heroes. Fans of the author's Recluce and Corus series will enjoy this series as well. Another series that has an interesting mix of technology and magic is the Multiverse series by David Weber and Linda Evans.

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