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Book review: 'Madness in Solidar' moves Imager Portfolio series ahead significantly

"MADNESS IN SOLIDAR: The Imager Portfolio, Vol. 9," by L.E. Modesitt Jr., Tor Books, $27.99, 464 pages (f)

"Madness in Solidar" is the ninth installment of the Imager Portfolio by Cedar City resident L.E. Modesitt Jr. and moves the story of the Imagers in Solidar forward 400 years.

This book follows Alastar, the new leader of the Collegium of Imagers, as he strives to rebuild the standing and respect of his group in the eyes of all those in Solidar. He realizes that the Imagers have rested on their laurels for too long and that in order for people throughout the land to recognize the vital role they play, they have to live up to their promise and their abilities. It's an idea that's been missing for too long in the history of the Collegium, an organization of Imagers that combines university, military and intelligence service.

Drawing on the experiences of the legendary Quaeryt, the main protagonist of the previous five books, Alastar navigates the intrigues of a Rex who seems ill-suited for his role, and an army whose loyalties are suspect, all the while battling to convince those within the Collegium of his vision.

For readers of the previous books in this series, "Madness in Solidar" moves the story on significantly and perhaps warns of the danger of apathy and comfort. For those who are new to the series, this is an ideal joining point as any information that is needed about Quaeryt to contextualize the progress of the story is provided in the story.

Modesitt succeeds in developing the fantasy world of Solidar in an engaging and believable way. His characters resonate and the hopes, joys, successes and fears of them all elicit emotion as the tale is told. This is a book that is an enjoyable read and provides political intrigue, betrayal, relationship problems and friendship to reflect on and immerse in.

There is no swearing or sexual content; however, with political and military intrigue as a main theme, some described violence is to be expected.

James Holt is a senior lecturer in religious education at the University of Chester, U.K. He can be contacted through jamesdholt.com