Novel: Imager's Battalion by L.E. Modesitt. Book 3 of 5 in the Second Imager series.
The plot isn't terribly surprising. It's mostly linear and somewhat retreads territory the author covered in his Mage-Guard books. But I read Modessit mostly for his insights on the political machinations of human societies, and to see how a powerful character deals with the situations he faces. Queryt is one of the author's more balanced and generally likeable characters. Yeah, he's trying to accomplish something great, and since he has intangible power (imaging) he sometimes does truly awful things, but he never does it without realizing the costs, and his goals are truly admirable.
I occasionally find myself thinking about these books in the same way that Rhenn and his sister refer to the books of Madame D'Shendael in the first imager series, sort of as guidebooks to political life. Or more accurately maybe, how to deal with the world once you start to understand the political undertones that are everywhere. Anyway, Modesitt often serves the same function for me, especially in these Imager books. Queryt is a three dimensional character who deals with very deep intrigues and high risk gambits in a time and place where the slightest mis-step could bring death. I think in this second Imager series, the author lets the characters breathe a bit more.
There's a better sense of some of their emotional turmoil, but perhaps that's just because Queryt is less cut-throat than was Rhenn in the first 3 books. (Perhaps they're both cut-throat, but Rhenn seemed to be more clinical about it.) Overall, I really like this book and eagerly await the remaining two books in the story. Yeah, it's a middle book in a series, and the battles can become a bit of a slog, but if you like to spend time with a Modesitt hero, there's a great deal here to enjoy.