"IMAGER'S BATTALION," by L.E. Modesitt Jr, Tor Hardcover, $27.99, 512 pages (f)
Delving into "Imager's Battalion" is like jumping into a cool swimming pool on a hot day. Although it's shocking (and more than a bit overwhelming) at first, with time the storyline turns into something comfortable, if not enjoyable.
"Battalion" is the sixth book in the Imager Portfolio series. It continues the journey of hero Quaeryt as he leads a cohort of Imagers (men who can create objects using extremely concentrated mind power) into war. Throughout the story, Quaeryt must deal with hiding his own imaging powers from his fleet. This provides both a moral and physical battle for Quaeryt, who must find a balance between protecting his men and hurting them with his powerful gift.
The book also continues the love story of Quaeryt and his wife Vaelora, which tends to be a welcome break from the interesting, but long, battle scenes that fill the novel. The dynamic between the newlyweds is intriguing and shows a side of Quaeryt not seen when he's in combat — he constantly questions how to kill the enemy while sparing as many troops as possible. His fears are often portrayed in conversations with his wife, revealing he is not simply a battle grunt but is thoughtful and inquisitive.
Though the language of the the story lends itself to the fans of the fantasy genre, it only takes a few chapters for average readers to understand to the context of the story. That being said, it's not a book for a short attention span. The battle scenes, though interesting, have a tendency to be long, and occasionally, borderline tedious. Luckily, the scenes are broken up with solid dialogue and sub-plots that range in topic from theology to romance.
There is mild language and there is some general sensual conversations between the newlyweds that wouldn't be appropriate for younger readers. And there is some descriptive violence that is described in general terms.
There's no doubt L.E. Modesitt knows his craft. The Cedar City-based author has written more than 50 science fiction and fantasy novels. With an addicting plot and multi-dimensional characters, "Imager's Battalion" continues his legacy. It will be interesting to see what Modesitt creates in "Antiagon Fire," the next novel in the series, which is due this May.
Allee Evensen Wilkinson is an almost-college graduate, a writer, entrepreneur and journalist. She's a part-time copy editor at the Logan Herald Journal.