Fourth installment of the prequel fantasy series (Imager’s Battalion, 2013, etc.).
Having nearly single-handedly annihilated the vast armies of Bovaria, and nearly dying in the process, scholar, imager and now soldier Quaeryt receives a promotion from Lord Bhayar of Telaryn—and a new mission. Bovaria is subdued, if not entirely pacified, and Bhayar next intends to bring Khel under his dominion. Quaeryt is content to serve Bhayar, since a peaceful, united continent would nurture his own dream of establishing a collegium where imagers and scholars, shielded from the hostility and skepticism of the general population, can develop their skills and knowledge in safety. But to win Khel over, Quaeryt must persuade the Pharsi High Council to become a client state. Since women occupy most positions of power among the Pharsi, Quaeryt’s co-ambassador will be his pregnant wife, Vaelora, who is also Bhayar's sister. But to persuade the Pharsi to even consider Bhayar’s proposals, Quaeryt must pass a rigorous test of magic arranged by a mysterious and powerful order of wizards—one of whom Quaeryt, with his dark skin, white hair and remarkable imaging abilities, might be himself. And even if he passes the test, the Pharsi councilors make it clear they will not submit to Bhayar unless he first quells Khel’s belligerent southern neighbor, Antiago, with its powerful navy, strong imagers and fearsome chemical weapons. Modesitt offers a subtle blend of politics, strategy, machination, action and rivalries, where the protagonist stands forth as the very model of an upright man: honest, loyal, capable and duty-bound to serve no matter what the personal cost.
Series fans will snap it up.