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The Lost Art Kindle Edition

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Length: 530 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Age Level: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–9—On a future Earth, the people's way of life and technology have been turned back in a Reversal, and the very geography of the planet has been rearranged. The Users, who one might assume are today's superpowers, caused much destruction and the Reversal centuries before, and their books hold all of their dangerous knowledge, the Lost Art. In order to prevent such a tragedy from recurring, the books have been hidden away in a remote Russian monastery. Now, they have been stolen. The monastery is destroyed, the monks slaughtered. Only Va, a former soldier and assassin and now-repentant monk, survives. He sets off on a mission to recover the volumes. Meanwhile, Benzamir Mahmood and his enemies, traitorous former friends whose ancestors had escaped the User's destruction centuries earlier, have returned to Earth. Benzamir is seeking the books and his enemies in order to prevent them from interfering with life on Earth. Ultimately, Va and Benzamir join forces. Along with their various traveling companions, they go to the African desert where a final confrontation between Benzamir and his enemies occurs. What starts off as a promising novel is, in the end, disappointing. The idea of the Reversal, the Users, and the changes to society where there are pale Ewer slaves and Middle Eastern and African countries appear to be dominant is interesting and another way to convey the dangers of modern technology and our world. Yet the overly long story tends to drag in places, and there are too many competing story lines and characters, making it difficult to connect or empathize with any of them.—Jennifer D. Montgomery, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Centuries after the User culture destroyed civilization and altered planetary geography, the world has descended into a dark age devoid of science and technology. Books holding the past’s knowledge are secretly guarded in a remote Siberian monastery. After the monks are slaughtered and the books stolen, Va, the sole survivor and a great warrior turned zealot, vows to retrieve them. Across the world, Benzamir Michael Mahmood, a traveler from the stars, also seeks the books. Each man gathers confederates as he travels, and their two journeys converge at the heart of the Kenyan Empire, where hidden secrets unfold. The intriguing premise drives these alternating and uneven story lines. Mahmood is an engaging, humorous character, but the sections featuring the driven, egotistical Va are less interesting. The characters fit neatly into type: mad monk, courageous hero, faithful retainer, and a beautiful princess—who somehow remains staggeringly gorgeous even after camping outside a monastery for six bathless years. There aren’t any teen characters, but the secret-laden plot will keep readers turning pages to a satisfying conclusion. Grades 7-10. --Lynn Rutan

Product Details

  • File Size: 897 KB
  • Print Length: 530 pages
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books (June 10, 2008)
  • Publication Date: June 12, 2008
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001AX9QQK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #805,040 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Gateshead-based Dr Simon Morden trained as a planetary geologist, realised he was never going to get into space, and decided to write about it instead. His writing career includes an eclectic mix of short stories, novellas and novels which blend science fiction, fantasy and horror, a five-year stint as an editor for the British Science Fiction Association, a judge for the Arthur C Clarke Awards, and regular speaking engagements at the Greenbelt arts festival.

Simon has written eight novels and novellas. The wonderfully tentacular Another War (2005), was shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award, and 2007 saw the publication of The Lost Art, which was shortlisted for the Catalyst Award. The first three books starring everybody's favourite sweary Russian scientist, Samuil Petrovitch (Equations of Life, Theories of Flight, Degrees of Freedom) were published in three months of each other in 2011, and collectively won the Philip K Dick Award - the fourth Petrovitch, The Curve of the Earth, was published in 2013.

In a departure to the usual high-tech mayhem, 2014 sees the arrival of Arcanum, a massive (and epic) alternate-history fantasy, which not only has flaming letters on the cover, but the story inside is "enthralling", "intelligent", "impeccably rendered" (Kirkus), and "engrossing", "satisfying" and "leaving the reader craving for more (Publishers' Weekly). Which is nice.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Harvey on September 4, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of those rare books that absolutely captured me from page one. I enjoyed Simon Morden's Metrozone books, but The Lost Art is something special. The characters are thoroughly engaging, and the separate story arcs following the different characters are so strong that you can't wait to find out what happens next in each one of them. His writing reminded me somewhat of Ian McDonald (than which I can think of no higher praise): a seemingly effortless and glowing fountain of ideas, written in riveting style.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm not a big fan of horror or vampire books - which is why I wasn't sure about "The Lost Art" (David Fickling Books, $16.99, 5232 pages). The cover font suggested horror, and the back cover reads, in part, "The past awakens."

So "The Lost Art" lingered on my "possibles" shelf for a long time before I finally gave it a shot - and I'm glad I did. Even though Simon Morden's book comes out under an imprint of Random House Children's Books, this is a complex work that satisfies on many levels. There's plenty of action, a solid backstory, mysteries that must be solved, and fundamental questions about duty, honor and love considered.

The setup is simple: "The Users" (you and me, sadly enough) overwhelmed Earth 700 years prior, causing a massive environmental disaster that culminated with a reversal of the North and South poles, a relatively common occurrence (in geologic time spans, at least) that pretty much fried everything electronic. As a result, millions, if not billions, died, and the primitive societies that have emerged have an ingrained horror of anything resembling material or technological progress.

But there are some books that contain the information that could trigger an intellectual revival, and put the world back on the path the Users trod - which would improve the quality of life of present human beings while at the same time toying with a devastating repetition of history.

Morden does a very nice job of setting up his main characters, and except for a very unlikely passion, the plot, action and denouement develop smoothly. As for worries about the children's book angle, I confess I had no idea it was not a regular science fiction publication until I started to write the review, so it wasn't too juvenile for me.
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By Amazon Customer on March 10, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really like his writing, and the story had many interesting twists and turns.
I think if you're a fan of the author, you'll like this book, and if not it still a very good read.

It isn't perfect, the sense of time is difficult to follow, 2 pages into a segment you realize it's actually 2 weeks later without warning, it's a little jarring.
Some characters lack any development so it's sometimes difficult to understand the attachment the main character feels towards them.
A few tidbits like that prevent the book from being really truly remarkable.
But overall, the premiss is great, the rhythm is very good, the storytelling is good, in fact I wish it had been longer, maybe split up over 2 books in order to allow more development.

Can't complain, I liked it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on February 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Simon Morden's THE LOST ART is set in a future world Dark Age when war machines have changed the face of the planet - a world in which technology is hidden by a Church determined to present a new Armageddon. Benzamir Mahmood, a descendant of tribes that fled the planet during the old wars, pursues enemies from space and returns to earth bringing with him wondrous - and forbidden - technology. A fine science fiction tale for older readers evolves.
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