Madness in Solidar: Bleak

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Madness in Solidar by L.E. Modesitt Jr epic fantasy book reviewsMadness in Solidar by L.E. Modesitt Jr

THE IMAGER PORTFOLIO has hopped all around the chronological history Solidar, from the very beginning when Imagers were feared and forced to hide or else be killed or enslaved, to the very end when they are a powerful arm of the government. Madness in Solidar falls in the middle and is one of the bleaker installments in Modesitt’s series. You need to have read the previous eight books before picking up Madness in Solidar. Understanding the plot of this book depends on knowing a lot of previous history in the series.

Alastar has recently taken over the Collegium as the Maitre d’Image. He grew up outside the capital, but, after the death of the last Maitre, he succeeded to the leadership of all the Imagers. It’s a difficult job at the best of times, but for Alastar it’s even more challenging because he is a relative stranger both to the Collegium as well as the politics of Solidar. He is caught between the competing interests of the Rex, the Council of High holders, the Council of Factors, and the needs of the Imagers that he is responsible for.

Madness in Solidar is bleak because Alastar has very hard decisions to make. Starting with revamping the rigor and focus of the training of the young imagers, he is forced to rewrite the culture within the Collegium. Rex Ryen, a mentally unstable ruler, demands that the Imagers conform to his expectations of lose his support. This leaves them open to aggression from the Army and other quarters who see the Imagers as an impediment to their own power. Alastar tries to create compromise, but has to use more and more forceful means to try to create a balance between all the different factions.The Imager Portfolio by L.E. Modesitt Jr

In the end, it comes down to deciding whether to allow the Imagers and the Collegium to be destroyed, or choosing to fight. When attacked, Alastar uses every means at this disposal to protect his stewardship. In a downward spiral that includes outright assassination, Alsastar hopes for a return to balance between the High Holders, the Rex, the factors and the Imagers.

Madness in Solidar is about the struggle for power and provides an interesting study in necessity over morality. Still, though, this feels like more of the same from Modesitt. There is little variance from the kinds of plots and characters that we’ve seen from him before and parts of it really drag. Fans who continue to enjoy Modesitt’s plots and style may be pleased with this installment, but honestly, I have grown tired of THE IMAGER PORTFOLIO. It’s possible that a new character and an altered setting will change my interest level, but Madness in Solidar was difficult for me to get through.

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JOHN HULET (on FanLit's staff July 2007 -- March 2015) is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of. John retired from FanLit in March 2015 after being with us for nearly 8 years. We still hear from him every once in a while.

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