Treachery’s Tools by L.E. Modesitt Jr. science fiction book reviewsTreachery’s Tools by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

It’s always a surprise when a fantasy novel can carry real meaning in depicting modern issues. Things like pride, avarice and jealousy that can be pervasive in certain segments of the social structure of a modern world can be so powerfully demonstrated when people use swords and magic to actually kill each. L.E. Modesitt Jr.’s Treachery’s Tools was able to provoke those comparisons for me.

When last we left Alastar he had successfully stood off a revolt by High Holders against the Rex of Solidar and the attempted obliteration of the Imager’s Collegium. While many of the participants in this violent confrontation paid with their lives, some managed to avoid paying the ultimate price and slunk into exile. One might have hoped that Alastar and his beloved Alyna would have been able to live out the rest of their life in relative peace.

Fast forward a few years and Alastar is older, a father to a precocious daughter and happily married to Alyna. While coping with the burgeoning imaging skills of their daughter may try their patience and creativity, these are challenges that both embrace. As is to be expected there is trouble afoot and Alastar and his fellow Imagers are once again targeted as a force to be eliminated.

The Rex of Solidar has not grown into the kind of decisive, insightful ruler that one might have hoped. For Alastar this mean sifting through some almost temper tantrums when problems arise in order to figure out what is really going on. When information is withheld and Alastar is assigned the task of reconciling the High Holders, who are being stirred up to seek a return of historical prerogatives, and the Factors Guild, who long for the status of being a High Holder as their financial/economic status begins to outstrips the same. The motivations behind the High Holders designs seem so blatantly ridiculous at a first glance, but may deserve greater investigation as one considers cultural mores that fall outside those of the western Judeo-Christian foundation that I live in. Are there not cultures in the world today where legacy power structures would fight, kill and destroy in order to see their heritage maintained? Have wars not been fought between a ruling aristocracy and a rising middle class? In a sense, this is not that foreign a concept, nor is the motivation of the wealthy rising middle class to have greater control and equal treatment as the nobility?The Imager Portfolio by L.E. Modesitt Jr

Alastar, as a good many of Modesitt’s characters are, is very slow in anticipating just how powerful the motivation of greed and jealousy can be for others. Simply put, because he doesn’t share those motivations, he is slow to recognize them and at times underestimates the impact. It’s important to see Alastar as a powerful, but flawed individual and those flaws can be frustrating as lives are lost and events spiral out of control.

In the end, Treachery’s Tools is a solid addition to the IMAGER PORTFOLIO and offers another link between different segments of the history of the Imagers of Solidar. The plot and characters are often very similar to things we have seen over and over again, but with the added depth of the impact of those nasty traits of jealous and lust for power it was entirely satisfying for a fan of the series.

Publication date: October 11, 2016. Treachery’s Tools is L. E. Modesitt’s tenth novel in the New York Times bestselling Imager Portfolio fantasy series and begins thirteen years after the events of Madness in Solidar, Alastar has settled into his role as the Maitre of the Collegium. Now married with a daughter, he would like nothing better than to focus his efforts on improving Imager Isle and making it more self-sufficient. However, the rise in fortune of the merchant classes in Solidar over the years does not sit well with the High Holders, who see the erosion of their long-enjoyed privileges. Bad harvests and worse weather spark acts of violence and murder. In the midst of the crisis, some High Holders call for repeals of the Codis Legis, taking authority away from the Rex. Once again, Alastar must maintain a careful political balance, but he cannot avoid the involvement of the Collegium when someone begins killing students. Trying to protect his imagers and hold Solidar together for the good of all, Alastar stumbles on to a plot by the High Holders involving illegal weapons, insurrection, and conspiracy.


  • John Hulet

    JOHN HULET 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.