Profile: Fantasy, Political Fiction
In practice, there are two solutions to mental stagnation. The first is to innovate; take the established scenario or problem and approach it with new ideas or a different perspective. The second is to do something else. If Modesitt successfully innovated in Imager’s Intrigue, the third book in the Imager Portfolio, he is now using the second tactic, abandoning everything but the setting from book three. Scholar upends the progression of the series by taking us back to the formation of Solidar and a new/old Imager who helped create the nation that Rhennthyl fights to defend.
To be fair, this isn’t a new tactic to Modesitt. He frequently abandons major protagonists, storyline events and even time periods, to inject new life into flagging series. For me as a reader, this can get a little annoying. I don’t like being kept in the dark about characters I’ve come to care about. But from the perspective of a reviewer, this methodology is kind of a blessing. Not only can it bring a new energy to a series, but I can actually talk about the plot without having to worry about spoilers.