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Thursday, May 23, 2013

"Antiagon Fire and Imager's Battalion" by L.E. Modesitt (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu)

Since I was away from Fantasy Book Critic when Imager's Battalion was published in January, I will talk about it below too, but I will start with the current Antiagon Fire to be published on May 28th. 

For the series background I refer to our reviews of Scholar and Princeps linked above, but the essential structure is the classical sfnal: powerful and competent but not invincible/all mighty hero needs to solve issue after issue; some need his magic, some need his relations with the powerful of the day, some need his wife's or his friends skills, some need just common sense...

Antiagon Fire is the 4th Quaeryt Imager book with Rex Regis next January ending his saga and it was as superb as the previous three. The novel has the same structure and similar topics being a direct continuation of Imager's Battalion as it starts with Quaeryt's awakening after the dramatic events at Variana. There is a lot of action, intrigue while all our favorite characters are back.

Vaelora has a more directly important role in Antiagon Fire as she becomes co-envoy with Quaeryt and starts manifesting some of the power hinted in earlier volumes, though most of the book still follows Quaeryt solving problem after problem and after a while, finally taking overt action on his own to bring about the desired outcome.

New characters are introduced who may be of interest later and there is much more background on Khel and the Bovarian conquest. There are new High Holders who may see or not the wisdom of submission to Bhayar, while the strange land of Antiagon behind its literal - the border with Bovaria is walled - and metaphorical walls - Antiagon Fire and Imager power - is quite different than any place in Lydar we've seen so far. 

As the title kind of makes it clear, Quaeryt and his staff finally meet opposing imagers in battle, though now as they have a lot of campaigning under their belt, the combination of war experience and imager training under fire, makes them hard to stop.
The ending happens at a good to be continued point, while the last 150 pages or so are even more intense than in any of the previous books. Antiagon Fire together with Imager's Battalion form an impressive 3-4 series installments dealing with the wars of unification proper and they are my top sff of the year

As it has a high reread value - I've already read each Quaeryt volumes at least 3 times and the original Rhenn ones probably 4-5 times - the Imager series has become one of my huge favorites and I will be sad when the last volume is published early in 2014, though the author has not precluded returning to Terahnar at another point in its history.


Imager's Battalion by LE Modesitt is the 3rd Quaeryt book and 6th Imager overall and it was another addictive read that I finished very soon after receiving an advanced review copy sometime last year.

Excellent stuff with the same structure as books 1/2 (Scholar/Princeps) though this one is mostly war: Imagers - magic, powerful but few of them - against musketeers, canon, guns, arrows, ambushes,
lots of expendable soldiers and even the powerful super-weapon of the day, Antiagon fire, as now sub-commander Quaeryt leads 5th Battalion, the vanguard of the Southern Army of Telaryn led by commander Skarpa, his friend from Tilbor, into Bovaria proper against the forces of cruel Rex Kharst.

After Quaeryt and Skarpa defeated the Bovarian invasion so decisively at Ferrravyl in the previous book, the Bovarians are on the defensive and unprepared as they lost all their invading army, but they still can muster 40+ regiments if given time, while Telaryn can manage 20-30 at most in addition of having all the logistical problems of an invading army in enemy territory, though luckily Rex Kharst is not that popular, only extremely feared.

Also the hopes of the Pharsi nation, subjugated and persecuted by Kharst, rest on Quaeryt's shoulders too as his command is mostly Pharsi refugee soldiers and officers in addition of course to the few mostly untrained Imagers whom he has to shape into officers too.

And not to make matters easier, Quaeryt's wife and Lord Bhayar's youngest sister, Vaelora, now pregnant, has her own job at court to co-rule with her sister-in-law Aelina, as Telaryn's ruler is with the main Army of the North since he has staked everything on the invasion too..

Moreover the Telaryn Commander in Chief, Marshal Deucalon doesn't like Quaeryt or Skarpa in the least so they get the minimum amount of soldiers and the maximum amount of hardship possible without triggering Bhayar's ire, while Sub-Marshal Myskil, former close confidant of governor Rescalyn and presumably involved in his plot to take over Telaryn and depose Bhayar, still remembers Quaeryt's so elegantly breaking the plot, while leaving a dead Rescalyn as a big war hero of Telaryn...

Tense, with lots of memorable moments and a great ending.


Sean said...

I've also become a big fan of this series, although I haven't read the earlier volumes. For some reason, after I became a fan, I decided to leave those until after the conclusion of the current arc (at least I guess it makes sense chronologically).

I'm glad that you liked the latest addition and cannot wait for it to come out. Thanks for the review.


Liviu said...

Thank you for the kind words; while there are references to the unification in the original series, they are quite cryptic and veiled, so outside of knowing the outcome (which after all by now is not that hard to guess again in very general terms as I am sure the author has some surprises still) at least in very general lines, there are no real spoilers

The original series is much more modern essentially taking place in a state that has both magic and (the start at least of) large scale industry


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