In Imager’s Challenge, Rhenn has been assigned as a liaison to the Civic Patrol of L’Excelis. This is supposedly to keep him out of trouble after his previous flashy adventures in counter-intelligence. Instead, he finds himself having to deal with the Commander of the Civic Patrol not particularly wanting an imager liaison on the force. Rhenn is assigned a very poor district to patrol. On top of that, a High Holder noble has given him a formal declaration that he intends to destroy Rhenn and his entire family. (Rhenn blinded the High Holder’s son in an act of self-defense.)
Since Rhenn is unable to get any help with the Collegium for political reasons that involve there not being enough imagers in comparison to any other group such as the nobility or the merchants and guilds. (In other words, Rhenn has to act on his own, without anyone being aware of what he is doing because the last time imagers were public about their opinions, there were riots and pogroms.) His only allies are the family of the woman he is courting, and two taudischefs. (Taudischefs are mostly crime boss and partly community leader. Given the way Rhenn ends up interacting with these two characters, I was somewhat reminded of the Star Trek episode where everyone was gangsters.) Not only does he have to dodge assassination attempts from the High Holder, but also avert a riot instigated by a bad combination of religion, politics, and military conscription teams.
There are some great moments in this novel, as Rhenn struggles to defend himself from assassination attempts and justify his actions to his superiors. (At one point, frustrated with not being believed about a rogue imager, he endeavors to capture the imager and brings him to the Collegium along with witnesses and lots of evidence. Then he tells off his superior, pointing out that while he does make mistakes, he does occasionally know what he is talking about.) I really enjoyed the political intrigue mixed with police procedural of this book. I also enjoyed the romantic aspects of the plot as Rhenn and Seliora become more of a team. (I also liked Seliora’s interactions with Rhenn’s family and Rhenn’s interactions with Seliora’s family.)