There is something so satisfying about picking up a novel by an author who’s consistently good at his or her craft; the heft of the book, the scent of the ink, the awareness that what will happen in the pages will be truly wondrous. It is no different with Modesitt’s latest travel in the world of the Imagers; although Scholar is tied to the other books, this is a prequel that can stand alone. Quaeryt is a fascinating character, and his trials and journey are action packed and yet intellectual. The one niggle is that there are so many crises that it is difficult to invest one’s full self into any one situation (imagine how Quaeryt feels!).
Quaeryt is a scholar in service to Bhayar, the ruler of Telaryn. They are also friends, but Quaeryt doesn’t pretend that protects him from the more dangerous aspects of court life. What Quaeryt does pretend is to be something that he’s not: for he is actually an Imager, highly skilled with the special type of magic both precious and deadly to possess. To escape the court politics that threaten his discovery, Quaeryt persuades Bhayar to send him reconnoitering in neighboring Tilbor, but what may actually have happened is that Quaeryt has embroiled himself further in the deadly politics of the day. (TOR, Nov., 576 pp., $27.99)