Third part of a prequel fantasy series (Princeps, 2012, etc.) wherein wizards are known as “imagers,” since the work involves the intense, precise and accurate visualization of the magic’s objective.
Previously, scholar, imager and now soldier Quaeryt almost single-handedly defeated the invasion of Telaryn by the megalomaniac Rex Kharst of Bovaria. Recognizing that the only way to bring peace is to annihilate Rex Kharst, Lord Bhayar of Telaryn orders his armies to invade Bovaria. Though not in command, Quaeryt will be a key figure in the action; what ensues is less a plot than a series of set pieces that offer both characters and readers much to ponder. While coming to terms with his own mysterious antecedents, Quaeryt will learn how to cooperate with the professional soldiers above and below him in the chain of command, each engagement bringing fresh challenges in defeating the enemy while protecting his pitifully small and inexperienced imager corps. As long as Bhayar is satisfied with progress, Quaeryt will be able to press his own long-term agenda—the establishment of a collegium where imagers and scholars, shielded from the hostility and skepticism of the general population, can develop their skills and knowledge in safety. Somehow, too, he must thwart the conspiracies of Bhayar’s old-guard senior commanders, who view Quaeryt and his imagers as a threat to their own power and privileges. He thinks often of his beloved wife, Vaelora, Bhayar’s sister, and their unborn child. Most important of all, he must survive: Imaging takes a dreadful toll, not only on the imager’s own body but in bearing responsibility for his part in the slaughter.
Few surprises, but nevertheless a wholly absorbing entry in this highly addictive series.