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Lamentation (The Psalms of Isaak) Hardcover – February 17, 2009
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Praise for Lamentation
“This is the golden age of fantasy, with a dozen masters doing their best work. Then along comes Ken Scholes, with his amazing clarity, power, and invention, and shows us all how it's done. No more ponderous plotting - Scholes barely gives us time to breathe. Yet he creates vivid characters, a world thick with detail, and wonders we've never seen before. I wish my first novel had been this good. I wish all five volumes of this series were already published so I could read them now.”-- Orson Scott Card
“Ken Scholes is a hot new voice to watch for on the interesting frontier between science fiction and fantasy. He has a keen eye for action and a keen ear for the sounds of the human heart. Grab on now, because he's going places.”--Harry Turtledove
"As intricate as a Whymer maze, Ken Scholes' Lamentation will keep the reader up until the wee hours, winding through this splendid labyrinth. Bravo!"--Dennis L. McKiernan, bestselling author of the Mithgar series
"Ken Scholes's Lamentation is an iconic SF story cloaked in fantasy, drawing raw material from classics such as A Canticle for Liebowitz and Earth Abides, but forging something new, with colorful characters, compelling scenes, and unfolding miracles."--Kevin J. Anderson, bestselling co-author of Sandworms of Dune
"Ken Scholes' Lamentation is a whale of a first novel, set in a world where technological magic has come and gone, and come again, where organized religion has attempted to recover and restore lost knowledge, if with a certain amount of censorship, where no one is quite what they seem, and where parental ambitions for offspring are filled with deep love and sacrifices, along with double double-crosses, conflicting motives, and tragedy."--L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
“The tone of [Lamentation] is precise and just about exactly right: I was engaged from the opening page, stayed up late looking to finish it, and then begged Scholes to let me see the next book as soon as possible…. I’d describe it as intelligent epic fantasy done right and written with all of the flab removed. It’s nothing like George Martin’s first Song of Ice and Fire novel, except that like that book, it has the chance of standing as an important book in the evolution of the epic fantasy form, is a delight, and is a book that readers are very likely to take to heart. It’s one of the best first fantasies I’ve read in some time.”--Jonathan Strahan
- Publisher : Tor Books; 1st edition (February 17, 2009)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0765321270
- ISBN-13 : 978-0765321275
- Item Weight : 1.4 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.46 x 1.33 x 9.56 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,804,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The novel follows quite a large cast of characters who, while interesting, are pretty standard for fantasy. You have your cunning, rouge hero; beautiful formidable heroine; wise and powerful, yet conflicted older guide; insanely evil villain; shadowy puppet master; and orphan hero. Not much there that I didn't see coming.
The novel is largely character drive, so if that kind of writing bores you, I doubt you will be able to finish this novel. The action takes a while to get going, and even once it does, you aren't always inherently aware of the action.
In fact, a whole war that devastates a land is fought, yet because of the focus on characters, I was left feeling like the war was more of a couple of skirmishes. Think WWII described as though it was the first Gulf War.
Another aspect that could use some help would be the world building by Mr. Scholes. While massive in scale on climates (the setting ranges from prairies, to mountains, to tropical shores) characters are able, on horseback, to traverse from one side of the map to the other in a matter of days. It doesn't add up.
The characters, despite being somewhat archetypal, are one of this novel's high points. I really enjoyed following them especially the characters of Neb, Pertonus, and Vlad. Rudolfo and Jin are really a little bit too archetypal for me to feel any connection with, and while I was intrigued with Jin at the beginning of the novel, I felt her growth stall and she became a creature of her husband(Rudolfo) rather than her father (Vlad) instead of becoming her own creature.
The saving grace here, for me, was the premise. I was fascinated by the steampunk, magical fantasy, set in a far-future Earth, revolving around a conflict featuring an unknown doomsday weapon and the schism of a controlling church and religion. In fact, the only reason I plan on continuing reading this series to follow this story through the premise.
That and the hints at the world before the cataclysmic events that made the world unrecognizable. Guns even make an appearance as mystical cylindrical devices that shoot fire (aka hand cannons).
Not a whole lot of meat here in this first of the series, but it has a lot of potential and I going to continue to read the series to see where Mr. Scholes takes it.
I gave this book five stars even though there were elements of it I found under-described and the characters seemed like puppets (you get to meet the Puppet Master, or do you?) The reason for this is because the underlying themes shined through and were clearly prominent because of the manipulations the characters underwent.
Things I didn't like: 1) The magic powders seemed more like a scientific item rather than magical. No magic system was clearly explained or even partly explained. 2)Most of the characters just played their part in some grand drama another masterminded. I would have liked to see at least one of them refuse to play along. Jin Li Tam tried to, but in the end she wasn't making independent decisions but rather making her father pay for manipulating her.
This is the first book in a series. I felt it stands alone. I will probably read the other books but feel no sense of urgency. Why? Because the author did his job and told a complete story with a problem and resolution. He hinted at more problems to come but didn't end with a cliffhanger (which I despise).
One of the reviews I read on Amazon made it sound like the point of view shifted all the time. There were plenty of point of view characters but they were essential so the reader could understand the multi-faceted plan behind the story.
Each chapter contains around five or six different POV's. For me this became a real problem. Just as I would be settling into one characters voice it would change and you would start all over again with a new character. It keeps the pace fast, but for my taste I found it distracting.
Even with that issue aside I would still highly recommend Lamentation. This is very good fantasy. This novel did its job. I can't wait to start the second book.
One last note. The character of Isaak is simply a pleasure. Every time he would be in a scene would make for the best scenes in the book.
Do yourself a favor and read this book. Then by a copy for a friend. And another. And another...
For a first novel, this book is ridiculously well plotted, and I'm sure the rest of the series will offer up a broader, even richer story. Kudos to Ken Scholes. He writes well beyond his years, and I'm happy to see that he's working on Book 5. Enjoy!
Top reviews from other countries
Doch wer steckt hinter der Verschwörung, die diesen Untergang herbeigeführt hat?... Und wem dient, das gesammelte Wissen der Androfrancines zu zerstören und die Welt erneut ins Chaos zu stürzen?...
Ken Scholes entführt den Leser in eine ebenso großartige wie erschreckende postapokalyptische Welt, in der die bunt gekleideten, bevorzugt mit Messern kämpfenden 'Gipsy Scouts' des Lord Rudolfo, des eigentlichen Hauptcharakters der Geschichte, Axt-schwingende, barbarische 'Marsher', und die modern anmutende Flotte von stählernen Dampfschiffen des Vlad Li Tam ebenso Platz finden, wie dampfgetriebenen 'Roboter', oder alchimistische Pulver, die den Verwender 'unsichtbar' machen können.
Dieser Mix mag auf den ersten Blick widersprüchlich erscheinen, doch wird man als Leser rasch in den Bann der sich entspinnenden Ränke rund um den Fall Windwirs und der sich daraus ergebenden Konflikte gezogen.
Dabei ist die ganze Atmosphäre überschattet von der Andeutung düsterer, kryptischer Prophezeiungen aus grauer Vorzeit, was der Erzählung eine ganz eigene, dem vordergründigen Geschehen oftmals zuwiderlaufende Note verleiht.
Was den Ehrgeiz und die Komplexität des Weltenbaues und die Vielschichtigkeit seiner Charaktere betrifft, muss der Autor in meinen Augen auch den Vergleich mit Genre-Größen wie Steven Erikson, China Mieville oder R. Scott Bakker keinesfalls scheuen.
Allen versierten Fantasy-Lesern auf der Suche nach neuen Herausforderungen kann ich den vorliegenden Roman mit seinen zahllosen Sci-Fi-Anklängen, und den vielen überraschenden Wendungen, uneingeschränkt ans Herz legen.
Passionierten High-Fantasy-Lesern, die ihre Welt eher Tolkien-artig haben möchten, oder in einem Fantasy-Roman Vampire, Elfen, Orks und Drachen erwarten, muss ich hingegen davon abraten.