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Book review: 'Rex Regis' thrills and entertains

"REX REGIS: The Eighth Book of the Imager Portfolio," by L.E. Modesitt Jr., Tor Books, $27.99, 448 page (f)

"Rex Regis," the enthralling new novel from Cedar City resident L.E. Modesitt Jr., is the eighth installment of the Imager Portfolio, and the fifth that follows the life, successes and trials of Quaeryt.

The book, due out Jan. 7, begins shortly after the conclusion of "Antiagon Fire" with Quaeryt and the Lady Vaelora returning to Variana and the court of Lord Bhayar, ruler of the various realms of the soon-to-be-named Solidar.

With the previous two books of the series focusing on the unification of the various lands through wars and intrigues, "Rex Regis" focuses on the problems of unifying and governing a populace that was on opposing sides of the conflict.

While maintaining the engaging writing of the previous novels, Modesitt is able to draw out some further developments in the characterization of the protagonists. Quaeryt and Vaelora struggle with the establishment of a new country, and as such are drawn into a closer relationship as they work together. Indeed, this is a theme that runs throughout the book. In a patriarchal society, much is to be gained through the recognition and development of the voice and role of women.

"Rex Regis" is not just about nation building, however. There are intrigues and machinations of senior military officers to contend with that require all of Quaeryt's abilities. Through these events, the reader is able to learn more of the importance and identity of Quaeryt.

For devoted readers of the Imager Portfolio series, "Rex Regis" begins the construction of the Collegium for Imagers on Imagisle, and the beginnings of the world first encountered in "Imager." For those new to Modesitt, "Rex Regis" will whet the appetite to learn more about the world of Solidar.

Modesitt writes with skill in creating a world that is believable, and the characters are so nuanced that readers will become immersed in their lives and relationships. Modesitt has a way with words that grips, enthralls and entertains. For those who enjoy a diversion into the world of fantasy Modesitt's writing will fulfill all expectations.

"Rex Regis" is accessible to teen readers and beyond, and there is nothing to be found in its pages that will shock or offend.

James Holt is a senior lecturer in religious education at the University of Chester, in the United Kingdom, and his email is james.holt@chester.ac.uk.