Let me start by saying that L.E. Modesitt Jr. is one of my favorite authors. He has a way of putting large scale things like politics and economics into his books with out the unnecessary info dump or boring the reader. This is the first book of his I ever read and I have devoured every other book in this series which is up to nine I think.
Imager takes place in an almost Victorian world where Culture is highly sought. The main character, named Rhennthyl, is an artist striving to make his name well-known while sticking to his artistic integrity. As he faces this struggle, he discovers that he can use the magic of the world, but in a seemingly small way, to fix parts of his paintings. This magic is Imaging. Basically concentrating and changing reality, from small things like paintings, to creating book ends out of seemingly nothing to even killing someone by putting poison into them.
The rest of the book deals with him coming to terms with his abilities, and becoming one of the Imagers for Solidar, his country. This process gives the reader more and more of an inside look at the magic system while also introducing the plots and problems that will follow Rhennthyl for the next two books.
I highly recommend this series. It is a blend of political novel, thriller, and urban fantasy that is masterfully pulled off. It introduces you to the world of the Imager Portfolio, as the whole series is called. So far there have been three time periods with four main characters. First is Rhennthyl’s Trilogy. Then comes the five books of the foundation of Solidar, taking place a thousand years before Rhennthyl. Then comes a middling time period that is analogous to our Industrial Revolution with characters from both the King and the School of Imagers.
L.E. Modesitt Jr. is a brilliant author, well worth the read, and this book shows his powers. Read it.