Friday Review: Imager (Imager Portfolio #1) by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rhenn is the son of a wealthy wool merchant in the capital city of Solidar. He is a portraitist, a profession that his merchant father doesn’t quite approve of, but is held in high regard by the populace who love to have their portraits painted. Rhenn is apprenticed to a master portraitist and is doing well for himself when his master is killed in a suspicious flash fire, leaving Rhenn without a job. During his apprenticeship, Rhenn begins to discover that he is an Imager, a magic-wielder who can create objects simply by imagining them. With nowhere else to go, he approaches the sanctuary of the Imagers and is accepted into their training. But Rhenn is not an ordinary Imager- he is a particularly talented one, and is soon drawn into a world-in-a-world of political and social intrigues.

In many ways, this is a difficult book. It is detailed, very, very detailed, even for a big fantasy story. The culture, language, and naming conventions are based more on French than the usual Latin, and some have had troubles with not knowing enough French to be able to parse some of those. I had the advantage of listening to it as an audiobook, so it was all taken care of for me. It is also, in many ways, a slow book. We are treated to much discourse on Rhenn’s daily life and this is done almost day-to-day. The whole feel of the book is quiet and if not laid back, at least not moving at breakneck speed, even where there is more action happening. All of that does put some people off. Yet, I liked the book. I really didn’t find it too difficult to follow the complexities of the world, nor did I find the detailed descriptions of food, clothing, buildings, and more boring. I saw them more as the sort of thing an artist (like Rhenn) would likely notice. I am also used to reading big, expansive fantasy stories, so the deep dives into the world and lives of the characters weren’t off-putting.

There is a lot of commentary on social conventions, philosophy, and political machinations woven into the story, and it can make for some slow spots, but since the overall feel of the book is unhurried, they don’t stand out as much as might happen in a more action-driven story. This is definitely a more thoughtful story and the reader is seeing Rhenn as he goes through life with all it’s ups and downs, challenges and mundane moments.

With all of that, this probably isn’t for everyone. If you want lots of action, fast-paced development, and less introspection, you will likely not enjoy Imager. If, on the other hand, you like a slower, more internal story with lots of description and detail, this might be one to try.

View all my reviews


Want something new to add to your 2022 reading lists? Might I suggest one of my books? I have written science fiction, fantasy, and urban fantasy stories. There are novels, novellas, and shorter pieces to fit everyone’s reading time. There are even some free stories, both here on the site and in other places. You can go here to find out more about the books I have published. They are available on Amazon, Smashwords, and most ebook retailers. Thank You!