Imager’s Intrigue: The Third Book of the Imager Portfolio
Imager’s Intrigue: The Third Book of the Imager Portfolio, by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (TOR 2010).
Five years have past since Rhennthly found himself promoted to Third District Captain of the Civil Patrol in Imager’s Challenge. Rhennthyl and Seliora have since married and have a three year-old daughter. If none of this makes much sense, you are invited to read the reviews of Imager and Imager’s Challenge.
Over the five years, Rhennthyl is still a Maitre D’Structure (a middle-level imager) and has proven to be an effective Captain of what is in effect the police force of L’Excelsis. This has earned him respect among his patrolers and the residents of his district, and the envy and resentment of his superiors, the Commander and Sub-commander of the L’Excelsis Civil Patrol. To make matters sticker, The Sub-commander is angling to advance himself by way of innuendo and skulduggery. Part of that would seem to involve supporters of the Commander meeting with unfortunate accidents or untimely ends.
Rhennthyl is spared a fair deal of this only because the Sub-commander’s schemes are but a very small part of a very large—indeed international—conspiracy. As such, we have the standard fare of various factions (High Holders, Free Holders, Factors, Guilds) plotting against one another, old scores being settled, spies, saboteurs, treason, mayhem, death, war, valor, and chalk drawing. Rhennthyl doesn’t have a chance to paint a single portrait, but does some street art in the line of duty. It is all well crafted.
It is Rhennthyl who is starting to be more than a bit disturbing. Over the course of Imager’s Intrigue, Rhennthyl moves from being a Maitre D’Structure to Maitre D’Espirit. No other imager is of a higher ability—in this tale no one has obtained to Maitre D’Image—and no one of Rhennthyl’s relative youth and even more relative experience (Rhennthyl came to his abilities later than most imagers). Rhennthyl is ruthless in his efforts to save his city and country of Solidar against the rapacious Ferrans. He is now powerful enough to commit truly terrible acts in order to secure what his right, the the sole justification that he sees no other choice before him. It is that aspect of Pharsi justice that we saw in Imager’s Challenge writ in bold strokes.
That Rhennthyl, The Collegium, and L’Excelsis itself have faced the terror of bombings gives the reader some sympathy for Rhennthyl’s plight, but it is matched against his desperate plan that would remind one of the allies firebombing Dresden in the Second World War. Rhennthyl’s saving grace is that he just might have been right in this case, perhaps. Yet the conviction that one is right, that one has no other choice in taking terrible actions is not the mark that one is right. Rhennthyl is powerful enough that there will be none who can stand up and correct him, save perhaps one, Seliora. We do not see enough of Seliora in this installment. Should there be another, let us hope we see more of her. On the other hand, the series is going to fast. At this rate, Rhennthyl will obtain Maitre D’Image before he has the wisdom to be a true master.