"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett...
The saga of the Imager Quaeryt, Commander in the forces of Lord Bhayar, reaches a new climax as the great struggle to unify the continent of Lydar enters its final phase. Only the land of Khel remains uncommitted to Bhayar’s rule. Their decision could mean a lasting peace, or more conflict across an already war-ravaged realm.
While the conqueror of Bovaria awaits emissaries to arrive with news of Khel’s decision, other weighty matters occupy Bhayar, his sister Velora, and her husband Quaeryt—not the least of which is the fulfillment of Quaeryt’s dream to create the world’s first Imager academy, where the magical abilities of these powerful casters may be honed, managed, and put to the service of the common good.
But before that dream may be realized, or Khel’s fateful choice made known, the spectre of high treason threatens to unravel all that Quaeryt has achieved, catapulting him toward a fateful confrontation with Bhayar’s most powerful military leaders.
This volume in the second part of the Imager Portfolio, which started with Scholar, has been about the consolidation of Bhayar’s rule over Tilbor and conquest of the rest of the continent in order to create the continental empire that becomes the Solidar we know in the first volume Imager. It’s been a long ride, or read.
Rex Regis is Bhayar’s title, or it will be if Quaeryt gets the job done, because Quaeryt has been the mover and shaker (sometimes literally) behind many events. Quaeryt’s goal is to create a College where imagers like himself can be trained and protected. In returned, those imagers will back the crown against the High Holders (Lords) and Factors (Merchant Princes).
In case it’s not obvious, imagers are mages. If they manage to live long enough, in a world that reviles them, they can become very powerful mages.
Quaeryt Ryterson is the most powerful imager his country has ever seen. More importantly, he seems to be the most intelligent. His story, told in the books Scholar, Princeps, Imager’s Battalion, Antiagon Fire and now Rex Regis, have made the journey of someone who goes through life intending to be the power behind the throne, fascinating beyond description. Quaeryt has always known that his safety, his prosperity, the best legacy he can leave behind him, lie in making imagers as a group useful to the best ruler he can find, or make, and that the ruler in question can never ever be himself with his imaging “sorcery”. His resistance to temptation is steadfast.
Bhayar thinks early in Quaeryt’s career that he can make him more compliant by arranging for a marriage between Quaeryt and Bhayar’s youngest sister, Vaelora. Instead, it becomes a love match that gives both of those strong-willed people a partner they can rely on no matter what fate brings them.
Rex Regis seems to be the story of the final consolidation of the empire. All of the conquered territories have been brought into line, except, now that the war is over, the jockeying for position among the conquerors has begun. Some of the senior military commanders feel that Bhayar is too young to truly be the firm leader that the new world demands. And he listens to Quaeryt much too much, when he should be listening to them!
But are there really traitors within their midst, or is Quaeryt seeing shadows in men’s hearts at the end of a long and dangerous campaign? Or have fugitive imagers from the defeated rulers suborned loyal men?
Some campaigns never end. Some victories are hard won. And some warriors who deserve to see the peace they have fought for are not fortunate enough to live to see it arrive.
Escape Rating A: Quaeryt’s journey has been a never-ending pleasure to read. I say this having been up until 2 am the first night reading Rex Regis because I didn’t want to stop. But each book has been just that way. Even though Quaeryt has usually been in the position of either bureaucrat or soldier on campaign, he’s always been a self-aware observer of his situation, and his observations are interesting. His mind is never idle, and he’s always trying to make things better.
Modesitt has managed to make both bureaucracy and the hurry-up-and-wait of a long military campaign into compelling reading.
There’s also a bit of the “head, heart, synthesis” trio, or classic Freudian Power Trio among Quaeryt, Bhayar and Vaelora. (Think Kirk, Spock and McCoy from the original Star Trek series.) Quaeryt represents cold logical analysis, Vaelora is the emotional heart, and Bhayar as the ruler has to make the final decisions.
Quaeryt has earned the loyalty of the men who serve with him. He could have used that loyalty to become ruler himself. He could even have become a tyrant. Listening to the logic of why he doesn’t, it’s refreshing. It’s not often that the hero is also in effect a beta character; someone who sets out to create a power structure behind the throne.
I’m not 100% positive whether Quaeryt’s entire saga is done, or not. Rex Regis ends at a point where we can see the “empire that will be”, the place that it is at the start of Imager. Quaeryt’s entire story has been a prequel for the first trilogy. But, there are also loose ends that could still be tied up. I would love to visit this world again.