Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Imager (Imager Portfolio, #1)” as Want to Read:
Imager (Imager Portfolio, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Imager Portfolio #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  8,871 ratings  ·  513 reviews
Imager is the beginning of a whole new fantasy in a whole new magical world from the bestselling creator of Recluce. Although Rhennthyl is the son of a leading wool merchant in L’Excelsis, the capital of Solidar, the most powerful nation on Terahnar, he has spent years becoming a journeyman artist and is skilled and diligent enough to be considered for the status of master ...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by Tor Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Imager, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Barbara Thoroughly enjoyed them all, liked them best of all the series by this author I have read. I re-read them every now an again, particularly the first c…moreThoroughly enjoyed them all, liked them best of all the series by this author I have read. I re-read them every now an again, particularly the first couple or three, cause I like the world and setting.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,871 ratings  ·  513 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Imager (Imager Portfolio, #1)
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
First things first: I need to mention I won this book in Goodreads Giveaways.

Rhennthyl (Rhenn) was a son of a prosperous wool merchant. Had he had any desire to go into his father's trade there would not be any story to tell, so as a well-known fantasy cliche goes he really hated everything related to both wool and being a merchant. He had a talent for drawing, so his father's money bought him an apprenticeship with a master portraitist.

It would be a good time to discuss the magic of the world.
Sep 22, 2009 rated it did not like it
Modesitt's writing is like clockwork: predictable, dependable, unexciting. He creates boring, detailed fantasy worlds and peoples them with walking shadows. The “characters” aren’t even caricatures—that would require Modesitt to give them some sort of personality. The main character, Rhen, exists in this book only to lecture and be lectured about government, and to eat very detailed meals. I do not need to know what fictional wine each and every character has each and every meal, and yet Modesit ...more
Oct 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
March 7, 2017: Reading again as a buddy read with A Land of Fantasy Addicts group. Unfortunately, this isn't working well for them. Why? Is this book more of a guy-thing? Maybe, although several women GR friends of mine like it a lot, but I think they're a bit older. Perhaps some maturity helps with the harsh realities that Rhenn faces?

I admire Rhenn. Life deals & he plays his cards as best he can without any whining even though he's surrounded by selfish bastards. He's always walking a fine lin
Mike (the Paladin)
Aug 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Okay, I've proved before I don't mind swimming upstream. I see a lot of 3 and and even 2 star ratings here among the 4s and a few 5s.

This is not the kind of book I would say I usually like...relatively slow to take off, heavy on character with a plot that sneaks into the book gradually.

But for some reason I loved this book. I went so far as to sign up for Audible.com today so I wouldn't have to wait for an order to come in or the library book to come to me before I could get book 2.

This book in
Jan 01, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2022-shelf, fantasy
I admit I like to read L.E. Modesitt Jr. more for how he always makes me feel while reading his works than the core of the stories he writes. It's a matter of taste, perhaps, and maybe it's because he always seems to comfort me.

In this new (to me) fantasy series, Imager is simple on the front. If you image something in your head, strong enough, you can make it appear with some interesting, rather scientific consequences. Chemicals you might use get sucked out of what they were in, nearby, making
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was written around 1990, so it’s sort of between the Terry Brooks-style of fantasy and the newer Sanderson-style of fantasy. In some ways it’s very traditional, with the slow buildup and magic. But it is closer to 1700s technology than the Middle Ages.

Rhen is an apprentice portrait artist in a family of businessmen and -women. Eventually he ends up with the imagers, those who can create something out of nothing. The implications of this ability are frightening and dangerous and serious. By
Gary Sundell
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantasy in an era where guns exist along with steam ships and trains. No elves or dwarves or dragons.
I really enjoyed this book.
 Danielle The Book Huntress
Jun 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy readers who like a unique magic system
I picked this up as an audiobook from my trusty library because I enjoyed The Magic of Recluce by this author. Although I think I liked The Magic of Recluce a little more, this was a very good book.

Mr. Modesitt's style is fairly distinctive. He writes what I would call 'grounded fantasy'. He is detail-oriented, and spends a lot of time building his world and setting the scenes. He is clearly a 'foodie', because he describes food in great detail, and it sounds very scrumptious to me. I obtained a
Apr 18, 2009 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

I enjoyed the evolution of Modesitt's writing style in this new series. Yes, the story is quite similar to what he used in the past with the Recluce saga. The lack of onomatopoeia helped limit disruptions to the narrative.

The imaging magic system failed to impress me and seemed more a psi power like telekinesis. The government institutions, religions and philosophies debated and discussed both in a teacher-student setting or as the protagonist's internal dialogue provoked thought and p
Brett C
May 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: high-fantasy
I thought this was a decent fantasy. The concept of the 'imager' and all that comes along with this special power was very creative. The story was very transparent and didn't require to much thinking. I enjoyed the story overall and thought it was OK. At this point I know there are 12 books in the 'Imager Portfolio' series but I probably won't read anymore. Thanks. ...more
Mar 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, library-loan
"Imager" is the first book in a new fantasy series by the insanely prolific L. E. Modesitt Jr., whose works I usually enjoy very much --- and this one was no exception, despite the fact that it's so recognizably his work that it verges on the predictable. Actually, I'm sure that some Modesitt fans could have predicted the early part of this novel's plot just by looking at the map: hmmm... looks like a city with a bunch of artist studio's, and in the center there's something called "Imager's Isle ...more
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This was my first Modesitt novel and I found it absolutely awesome. A great, fun read in a truly unique fantasy setting. I found Modesitt's writing style to be very fluid and his descriptive phrases at once thorough and precise. The world is built beautifully with lots of attention to detail. There's even a map of the city included with the book, although I don't believe I ever had to reference it. ...more
Leon Aldrich
I am a long time fan of Modesitt. So it is difficult to put up less than five stars. But after diving into book two and comparing these two against other novelist(s), the story quality just isn't there to make this a stand out novel. It pains me to say that.

Part of that may stem from the first person perspective. We never get to see what makes the antagonist tick. We get to meet the villain in the final chapter as our hero defeats him in fairly quick order. Until then, we get hints of shadowy su
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book subtly gripped me from the beginning. It wasn't a boat ride and it wasn't a lightning bolt; I simply was continually pleased to continue reading and continue reading, until the hook was set.

The setting of the story has some technology--steam engines, pistols--but it doesn't feel that way. That is, it still feels more like a fantasy story, despite the era being somewhere between Renaissance and Enlightenment.

Some heroes in fiction get the orphan-to-demigod treatment of "He can do THAT??
Apr 19, 2014 rated it did not like it
Edit: it was really bad. Every time I remember this book I feel lowkey angry for wasting a few hours of my life reading it. I've rarely been more baffled trying to understand how anyone likes a book as I am with this book.

Well, it wasn't *really* bad, but it wasn't good either.

The pros: the good prose, the impeccable attention to detail, and the fact that it was decent enough for me to finish all 432 pages. That's pretty much it, actually.

The cons:
-There was virtually no plot to speak of. At fir
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
L.E. Modesitt Jr's books are not for the casual reader of fantasy. It took a loft of effort to not say "the faint of heart" (but did I just say it anyway? Who knows). However, the first statement is far truer because these books are deceptively hard to put down once you acclimate to Modesitt's style. This, like many other household names in Sci-Fi/Fantasy, takes some getting used to, but it is also what defines Modesitt's plethora of books as "good reads." His style requires thoughtfulness and a ...more
William Bentrim
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Imager by L.E. Modesitt, jr

This is the first book in the Imager series. In the spirit of the terrific Recluse series, the Imager series debuts a new world of similar interest. Imagers, much like mages in the Recluse series seem both powerful and powerless. This book deals with a budding artist journeyman who tragically discovers he is an Imager. His discovery leads to a career change, romance, intrigue and danger.

Medesitt’s protagonists have a modest, self depreciating nature. They are seldom t
Jeffrey Jelmeland
May 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, library-copy
As others have noted, this book followed a relatively predictable pattern. To be perfectly honest, for the first third of the book I felt like I was reading one of the early Recluce books. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially as this is a pattern and formula that has worked so well for Modesitt for so long.

I am not one who likes spoilers in reviews, so I prefer to leave them out of my own reviews. That said, this time around we find ourselves with a new hero, and while the story follo
Nathan Lowell
Feb 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Modesitt is one of the authors I read. Always. He's one of the people whose work I admire to the point that I'll read *anything* he puts out.

Imager starts a new saga every bit as interesting and intriguing as his Spellsong or Recluse universes and creates a new magic system balancing art and politics on the tip of a knife. If you're familiar with Recluse, then you'll see shades of this earlier work in Imager. If you liked that universe as much as I did, you'll enjoy this new work.

My only compla
Still in the mood for secondary world fantasy I tried a bunch of books and this series attracted my attention; I absolutely loved both books published so far with Rhenn a great character and the novel a true immersive experience
Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it
“So you’re saying, Master, that if I want to be impartial, I should not be a protraiturist, but an imager?”

In the obvious comparison with J. K. Rowling’s wizard, Modesitt has better world building, more believable magic and a more human protagonist. He slows the story with too many sermons. Most readers care less about his philosophy than his characters and story. He should have, too.

“One can never prepare for everything, but when one prepares for what one can, it’s much easier to deal with the
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, fantasy
I just finished reading this book...for the fourth time.

This book – really, this whole series – has elicited more than its fair share of negative commentary. There seem to be plenty of people who don't care for the Imager series. I was surprised at that at first; obviously I'm a fan of the book if I'm reading it multiple times, right? But then I started reading the reviews. (Well, the thoughtful and well-reasoned ones anyway.)

And I'll tell you what: the big complaints – namely, that the book is
Sep 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to Kathryn by: Hilary
I think this might be a book you have to read at the right time. Here's why. Plot-wise it was slow. So slow, that you could almost miss that it was there at all. In some ways, it felt like the book was setting up for the main plot, to follow in the rest of the series (?). So, if you need a heavily plot-driven book, that can make reading it difficult. However, don't take that to mean the writing was weak, because it wasn't.

This book was almost more a discussion of different points of ethics, thi
Mar 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
3/21/2021 Notes:

Yay for libraries!

I own books #1-3 of the series but only read the first two. My library has the whole series on audio. =)

The re-read was fun, and I'm curious to see how the series will unfold.
Jan 11, 2022 rated it really liked it
This is a social science fantasy magic school spy thriller. That isn't entirely accurate, though it's close enough to get a general idea. Modesitt has a contentious writing style and there are many valid criticisms about what he does with his books and series, but I don't have any interest in arguing the matter. This is the sort of book, as his are in general, where you read it for how it makes you feel. If that doesn't work for you, then I advise against reading his works. There isn't really mu ...more
Oct 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
Very long winded and pointlessly detailed. Spends way too much time detailing about Rhenn daily school life, the minutiae of imaging and national politics. Skimmed most of it because it had very little to do with Rhenn and his imaging skills.

I liked that Rhenn has a strong sense of self. He knows what he wants and is willing to sacrifice to fulfill those goals even if he has to suffer. He is a bit jaded and looks down on his father's commercialism.

Not interested in continuing series or ever rea
Aug 29, 2021 rated it liked it
Recommended to Cillian by: Jim
This one's for you, Jim.
Here I am almost 5 years after that buddy read that turned out to be a complete flop because Gergana and I couldn't get into this. It was also a bad time; our previous read was a disaster too (not us, the book).

Ready for round 2, old friend?

(PS. I still think you look like James Coburn.)
Daniel Shellenbarger
I picked up this book (and the first of L.E. Modesitt's Recluce books) on a whim last week. Although I was dubious about whether I would enjoy Modesitt, I have to say that both books impressed me, particularly Imager. In Imager, Modesitt describes a country much like 19th century France (if you don't have a background in French, Modesitt uses French words for the days of the week, so it may do to peruse those before starting just to avoid confusion), ruled by a mixture of mercantile concerns (in ...more
David Fernau
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Originally reviewed on Otherwhere Gazette)

How neat would it be if all you had to do was concentrate and you could make objects? Not temporary objects or illusions, but real physical things, even gold coins or other precious metals?

That’s pretty much the entire system of magic in L. E. Modesitt Jr.’s Imager. Imagers are people with the ability to create whatever they can mentally visualize. Obviously, there are a number of possibilities that come out of that ability. For example, imagers can kil
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've really enjoyed L.E. Modesitt Jr's books and Imager starts a series which falls into a familiar pattern to some of his other works (The Corean Chronicles quickly comes to mind.) The main protagonist is gifted with abilities, quickly finds mentors who guide him, and starts rising in rank as action increases.

While the plot itself is one that seems to follows previous books, the main conflict is still engrossing as the mystery deepens throughout the novel. A good "who-done-it" storyline, mixed
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Conversion 1 7 Aug 20, 2015 09:00PM  
Sinful Readers An...: Imager Portfolio series by L.E. Modesitt Jr. (December 2014 Staff Pick) 4 12 Dec 01, 2014 05:01PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • With Grimm Resolve (Grimm's War #2)
  • Her Majesty's Warlord (Stuck In Magic #2)
  • Against All Odds (Grimm's War #1)
  • The Hedge Wizard (The Hedge Wizard #1)
  • One Decisive Victory (Grimm's War #3)
  • Cherubim's Call (Apollo's Arrows Book 1)
  • Forbidden Region (Legend of the Arch Magus #6)
  • A Cast of Stones (The Staff and the Sword, #1)
  • Oath of Swords (War God, #1)
  • Tamer: King of Dinosaurs (Tamer: King of Dinosaurs, #1)
  • Prince War Leader (Prince of Britannia Saga #3)
  • Hunted Hero Hunting (The Hunter Legacy #2)
  • A Journey of Black and Red
  • Exiled (Path of the Dragon Mage #1)
  • Ascension (The Trysmoon Saga, #1)
  • Hero at Large (The Hunter Legacy, #1)
  • In the Shadow of Lightning (Glass Immortals #1)
  • The Outstretched Shadow (Obsidian Mountain, #1)
See similar books…
See top shelves…
L. E. (Leland Exton) Modesitt, Jr. is an author of science fiction and fantasy novels. He is best known for the fantasy series The Saga of Recluce. He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts, lived in Washington, D.C. for 20 years, then moved to New Hampshire in 1989 where he met his wife. They relocated to Cedar City, Utah in 1993.

He has worked as a Navy pilot, lifeguard, delivery boy, u

Other books in the series

Imager Portfolio (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Imager's Challenge (Imager Portfolio, #2)
  • Imager's Intrigue (Imager Portfolio, #3)
  • Scholar (Imager Portfolio, #4)
  • Princeps (Imager Portfolio, #5)
  • Imager's Battalion (Imager Portfolio, #6)
  • Antiagon Fire (Imager Portfolio, #7)
  • Rex Regis (Imager Portfolio, #8)
  • Madness in Solidar (Imager Portfolio, #9)
  • Treachery's Tools (Imager Portfolio, #10)
  • Assassin’s Price (Imager Portfolio, #11)

Related Articles

Logan Ramsay has unintentionally become a better version of himself.   As an agent for the Gene Protection Agency, Logan receives an upgrade to...
9 likes · 0 comments
“The difference between an explanation and an excuse lies with the one receiving it.” 4 likes
“Behind your reaction is a feeling that whatever is 'true' must be able to be expressed logically. Men, in particular, have a tendency to confuse correct logic with an accurate assessment of a situation. Be careful of any situation that you have to reason through logically, because if you have to work to reason it out, you're probably missing something.” 4 likes
More quotes…