As a longtime fan of L.E. Modesitt, Jr., I was excited to discover that he had begun another series based in the Imager Portfolio universe. However, after reading Scholar and Princeps, I was left waiting for months for the newest book of the series to come out: Imager's Battalion. While I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books of the series, I was somewhat let down with Imager's Battalion. To be fair, there was no glaring flaws in the book, but there were some inconsistencies throughout the book which just gave me kind of a bland impression of the entire book. These will be outlined in greater detail below and may include some spoilers, so be warned. Overall, Imager's Battalion is an acceptable, but not outstanding, addition to the Imager's Portfolio, and were it not for the fact that they were not concluding the series in an additional book Antiagon Fire (Imager Portfolio), I'd probably drop the rating down to 2 stars instead of 3.
Okay, so down to the nitty gritty about what bothered me with this particular book of the Imager's series:
1. If you've ever read Mage-Guard of Hamor (Saga of Recluce) of the Recluse saga, you'll find that these two books are rather remarkably similar; both books involve a character on a long war campaign leading troops and using their powers to destroy the evil forces of the other side. Similarities include: both characters use shields to great extent in battle, troops in the opposing army are generally incompetent in some way, and both campaigns seemed heavily laden with traps which the character magically is able to sense and disarm. Now while I kind of understand it from the Recluse perspective (the traps could be considered chaotic due to their destructive nature), I don't really get the whole angle on how Quaeryt would begin to be able to sense them.
2. The characters of the series seemed to have turned complacent in Imager's Battalion. Bhayar, who is described throughout the series to be a reasonably perceptive ruler, is somehow unaware of fact that 10 out of 11 regiments that were sent to reinforce the his army for the final battle were diverted to the northern army, leaving the Southern army and Quaeryt only a total of 3. Civilians of the book were all pretty much well mannered and displayed none of the outright hostility one would expect for invaders or imagers/Pharsis. All the Pharsi characters, imagers and the Khel troops, were all more or less outright worshipful of Quaeryt; one would expect some kind of faction that is at least dubious of him. Overall, these instances gave me an impression that the author was just not trying very hard to give a realistic outlook of characters in that world; the lack of dissonant characters made it all seem very one-dimensional.
3. One of the biggest things that bothered me about Imager's Battalion was the ending. Generally when Modesitt writes a book, he tends to have a general, if short, conclusion. It generally includes a summary of what has happened to all the major characters involved in the book, and a small hint of what's to come. However, to say the ending for Imager's Battalion is abrupt would be an understatement. At the conclusion of the book, you are basically told that Quaeryt survives and the enemy is destroyed. No mention on the state of the army, the other imagers, or what's to come. However, given that the next book of the series is titled "Antiagon Fire", one can probably conclude that Quaeryt is likely to end up fighting Antiagons.