This remarkable first novel from award-winning short fiction writer Ken Scholes will take readers away to a new worldan Earth so far in the distant future that our time is not even a memory; a world where magick is commonplace and great areas of the planet are impassable wastes. But human nature hasn't changed through the ages: War and faith and love still move princes and nations.
In Lamentation, the first entry in the Psalm of Isaak series, an ancient weapon has completely destroyed the city of Windwir. From many miles away, Rudolfo, Lord of the Nine Forest Houses, sees the horrifying column of smoke rising. He knows that war is coming to the Named Lands.
Nearer to the Devastation, a young apprentice is the only survivor of the cityhe sat waiting for his father outside the walls, and was transformed as he watched everyone he knew die in an instant.
Soon all the Kingdoms of the Named Lands will be at each others' throats, as alliances are challenged and hidden plots are uncovered.
The Psalms of Isaak
About the Author
Ken Scholes is the author of the Psalms of Isaak series and over fifty short stories. He is a native of the Pacific Northwest with two honorable discharges, a degree in History and a wide background that includes time logged as a street performer, revivalist, nonprofit executive, government procurement analyst and label gun repairman.
Ken makes his home in Saint Helens, OR, with his twin daughters.
Read an Excerpt
Wind swept the Prairie Sea and Rudolfo chased after it, laughing and riding low in the saddle as he raced his Gypsy Scouts. The afternoon sun glinted gold on the bending grass and the horses pounded out their song.
Rudolfo savored the wide yellow ocean of grass that separated the Ninefold Forest Houses from one another and from the rest of the Named Lands—it was his freedom in the midst of duty, much as the oceans must have been for the seagoing lords of the Elder Days. He smiled and spurred his stallion.
It had been a fine time in Glimmerglam, his first Forest House. Rudolfo had arrived before dawn. He’d taken his breakfast of goat cheese, whole grain bread and chilled pear wine beneath a purple canopy that signified justice. While he ate, he heard petitions quietly as Glimmerglam’s steward brought the month’s criminals forward. Because he felt particularly benevolent, he sent two thieves into a year’s servitude to the shop keepers they’d defiled, while sending the single murderer to his Physicians of Penitent Torture on Tormentor’s Row. He dismissed three cases of prostitution and then afterward, hired two of them onto his monthly rotation.
By lunchtime, Rudolfo had proven Aetero’s Theory of Compensatory Seduction decidedly false and he celebrated with creamed pheasant served over brown rice and wild mushrooms.
Then with his belly full, he’d ridden out with a shout, his Gypsy Scouts racing to keep up with him.
A good day indeed.
"What now," the Captain of his Gypsy Scouts asked him, shouting above the pounding hooves.
Rudolfo grinned. "What say you, Gregoric?"
Gregoric returned the smile and it made his scar all the more ruthless. His black scarf of rank trailed out behind him, ribboning on the wind. "We’ve seen to Glimmerglam, Rudoheim and Friendslip. I think Paramo is the closest."
"Then Paramo it is." That would be fitting, Rudolfo thought. It couldn’t come close to Glimmerglam’s delights, but it had held on to its quaint, logging village atmosphere for at least a thousand years and that was an accomplishment. They floated their timber down the Rajblood River just as they had in the first days, retaining what they needed to build some of the world’s most intricately crafted woodwork. The lumber for Rudolfo’s manors came from the trees of Paramo. The furniture they made rolled out by the wagonload and the very best found its way into the homes of kings and priests and nobility from all over the Named Lands.
He would dine on roast boar to night, listen to the boasting and flatulence of his best men, and sleep on the ground with a saddle beneath his head—the life of a Gypsy King. And tomorrow, he’d sip chilled wine from the navel of a log camp dancer, listen to the frogs in the river shallows mingled with her sighs, and then sleep in the softest of beds on the summer balcony of his third forest manor.
But as he rounded to the south, his smile faded. He reined in and squinted against the sunlight. The Gypsy Scouts followed his lead, whistling to their horses as they slowed, stopped and then pranced.
"Gods," Gregoric said. "What could cause such a thing?"
Southwest of them, billowing up above the horizon of forest-line that marked Rudolfo’s farthest border, a distant pillar of black smoke rose like a fist in the sky.
Rudolfo stared and his stomach lurched. The size of the smoke cloud daunted him; it was impossible. He blinked as his mind unlocked enough for him to do the math, quickly calculating the distance and direction based on the sun and the few stars strong enough to shine by day.
"Windwir," he said, not even aware that he was speaking.
Gregoric nodded. "Aye, General. But what could do such a thing?"
Rudolfo looked away from the cloud to study his captain. He’d known Gregoric since they were boys, and had made him the youngest captain of the Gypsy Scouts at fifteen when Rudolfo himself was just twelve. They’d seen a lot together, but Rudolfo had never seen him pale before now.
"We’ll know soon enough," Rudolfo said. Then he whistled his men in closer. "I want riders back to each of the houses to gather the Wandering Army. We have kin-clave with Windwir; their birds will be flying. We’ll meet on the Western Steppes in one day; we’ll be to Windwir’s aid in three."
"Are we to magick the scouts, General?"
Rudolfo stroked his beard. "I think not." He thought for a moment. "But we should be ready," he added.
Gregoric nodded and barked out the orders.
As the nine Gypsy Scouts rode off, Rudolfo slipped from the saddle, watching the dark pillar. The column of smoke, as wide as a city, disappeared into the sky.
Rudolfo, Lord of the Ninefold Forest Houses, General of the Wandering Army, felt curiosity and fear dance a shiver along his spine.
"What if it’s not there when we arrive?" he asked himself.
And he knew—but did not want to—that it wouldn’t be, and that because of this, the world had changed.
Petronus mended the last of the net and tucked it away in the prow of his boat. Another quiet day on the water, another day of little to show for it, but he was happy with that.
Tonight, he’d dine at the inn with the others, eating and drinking too much and finally breaking down into the raunchy limericks that made him famous up and down the coast of Caldus Bay. Petronus didn’t mind being famous for that at all. Outside of his small village, most had no idea that more fame than that lay just beneath the surface.
Petronus the Fisherman had lived another life before returning to his nets and his boat. Prior to the day he chose to end that life, Petronus had lived a lie that, at times, felt more true than a child’s love. Nonetheless, it was a lie that ate away at him until he stood up to it and laid it out thirty-three years ago.
Next week, he realized with a smile. He could go months without thinking about it now. When he was younger, it wasn’t so. But each year, about a month before the anniversary of his rather sudden and creative departure, memories of Windwir, of its Great Library, of its robed Order, flooded him and he found himself tangled up in his past like a gull in a net.
The sun danced on the water, and he watched the silver waves flash against the hulls of ships both small and large. Overhead, a clear blue sky stretched as far as he could see and seabirds darted, shrieking their hunger as they dove for the small fish that dared swim near the surface.
One particular bird—a kingfisher—caught his eye and he followed it as it dipped and weaved. He turned with it, watching as it flexed its wings and glided, pushed back by a high wind that Petronus couldn’t see or feel.
I’ve been pushed by such a wind, he thought, and with that thought, the bird suddenly shuddered in the air as the wind overcame it and pushed it farther back.
Then Petronus saw the cloud piling up on the horizon to the northwest.
He needed no mathematics to calculate the distance. He needed no time at all to know exactly what it was and what it meant.
Stunned, he slid to his knees, his eyes never leaving the tower of smoke that rose westward and north of Caldus Bay. It was close enough that he could see the flecks of fire in it as it roiled and twisted its way into the sky.
" ‘Oh my children,’ " Petronus whispered, quoting the First Gospel of P’Andro Whym, " ‘what have you done to earn the wrath of heaven?’ "
Jin Li Tam
Jin Li Tam bit back her laughter and let the fat Overseer try to reason with her.
"It’s not seemly," Sethbert said, "for the consort of a king to ride sidesaddle."
She did not bother to remind him of the subtle differences between an Overseer and a king. Instead, she stayed with her point. "I do not intend to ride sidesaddle, either, my lord."
Jin Li Tam had spent most of the day cramped into the back of a carriage with the Overseer’s entourage and she’d had enough of it. There was an army of horses to be had—saddles, too—and she meant to feel the wind on her face. Besides, she could see little from the inside of a carriage and she knew her father would want a full report.
A captain interrupted, pulling Sethbert aside and whispering urgently. Jin Li Tam took it as her cue to slip away in search of just the right horse—and to get a better idea of what was afoot.
She’d seen the signs for over a week. Messenger birds coming and going, cloaked couriers galloping to and fro at all hours of the night. Long meetings between old men in uniforms, hushed voices and then loud voices, and hushed voices again. And the army had come together quickly, brigades from each of the City States united under a common flag. Now, they stretched ahead and behind on the Whymer Highway, overflowing the narrow road to trample the fields and forests in their forced march north.
Try as she might, she had no idea why. But she knew the scouts were magicked, and according to the Rites of Kin-Clave, that meant Sethbert and the Entrolusian City States were marching to war. And she also knew that very little lay north apart from Windwir—the great seat of the Androfrancine Order—and farther north and east, Rudolfo’s Ninefold Forest Houses. But both of those neighbors were Kin-Clave with the Entrolusians, and she’d not heard of any trouble they might be in that merited Entrolusian intervention.
Of course, Sethbert had not been altogether rational of late.
Though she cringed at the thought of it, she’d shared his bed enough to know that he was talking in his sleep and restless, unable to rise to the challenge of his young redheaded consort. He was also smoking more of the dried kallaberries, intermittently raging and rambling with his officers. Yet they followed him, so there had to be something. He didn’t possess the charm or charisma to move an army on his own and he was too lazy to move them by ruthlessness, while lacking in the more favorable motivational skills.
"What are you up to?" she wondered out loud.
"Milady?" A young cavalry lieutenant towered over her on a white mare. He had another horse in tow behind him.
She smiled, careful to turn in such a way that he could see down her top just far enough to be rewarded, but not so far as to be improper. "Yes, Lieutenant?"
"Overseer Sethbert sends his compliments and requests that you join him forward." The young man pulled the horse around, offering her the reins.
She accepted and nodded. "I trust you will ride with me?"
He nodded. "He asked me to do so."
Climbing into the saddle, she adjusted her riding skirts and stretched up in the stirrups. Twisting, she could make out the end of the long line of soldiers behind and before her. She nudged the horse forward. "Then let’s not keep the Overseer waiting."
Sethbert waited at a place where the highway crested a rise. She saw the servants setting up his scarlet canopy at the road’s highest point and wondered why they were stopping here, in the middle of nowhere.
He waved to her as she rode up. He looked flushed, even excited. His jowls shook and sweat beaded on his forehead. "It’s nearly time," he said. "Nearly time."
Jin looked at the sky. The sun was at least four hours from setting. She looked back at him, then slid from the saddle. "Nearly time for what, my lord?"
They were setting up chairs now for them, pouring wine, preparing platters. "Oh you’ll see," Sethbert said, placing his fat behind into a chair that groaned beneath him.
Jin Li Tam sat, accepted wine and sipped.
"This," Sethbert said, "is my finest hour." He looked over to her and winked. His eyes had that glazed over, faraway look they sometimes had during their more intimate moments. A look she wished she could afford the luxury of having during those moments as well and still be her father’s spy.
"What—" But she stopped herself. Far off, beyond the forests and past the glint of the Third River as it wound its way northward, light flashed in the sky and a small crest of smoke began to lift itself on the horizon. The small crest expanded upward and outward, a column of black against the blue sky that kept growing and growing.
Sethbert chuckled and reached over to squeeze her knee. "Oh. It’s better than I thought." She forced her eyes away for long enough to see his wide smile. "Look at that."
And now, there were gasps and whispers that grew to a buzz around them. There were arms lifted, fingers pointing north. Jin Li Tam looked away again to take in the pale faces of Sethbert’s generals and captains and lieutenants, and she knew that if she could see all the way back to the line upon line of soldiers and scouts behind her, she’d see the same fear and awe upon their faces, too. Perhaps, she thought, turning her eyes back onto that awful cloud as it lifted higher and higher into the sky, that fear and awe painted every face that could see it for miles and miles around. Perhaps everyone knew what it meant.
"Behold," Sethbert said in a quiet voice, "the end of the Androfrancine tyranny. Windwir is fallen." He chuckled. "Tell that to your father."
And when his chuckle turned into a laugh, Jin Li Tam heard the madness in him for the first time.
Neb stood in the wagon and watched Windwir stretch out before him. It had taken them five hours to climb the low hills that hemmed the great city in, and now that he could see it he wanted to take it all in, to somehow imprint it on his brain. He was leaving that city for the first time and it would be months before he saw it again.
His father, Brother Hebda, stood as well, stretching in the morning sun. "And you have the bishop’s letters of introduction and credit?" Brother Hebda asked.
Neb wasn’t paying attention. Instead, the massive city filled his view—the cathedrals, the towers, the shops and houses pressed in close against the walls. The colors of kin-clave flew over her, mingled with the royal blue colors of the Androfrancine Order, and even from this vantage, he could see the robed figures bustling about.
His father spoke again and Neb started. "Brother Hebda?"
"I asked after the letters of introduction and credit. You were reading them this morning before we left and I told you to make sure you put them back in their pouch."
Neb tried to remember. He remembered seeing them on his father’s desk and asking if he could look at them. He remembered reading them, being fascinated with the font and script of them. But he couldn’t remember putting them back. "I think I did," he said.
They climbed into the back of the wagon and went through each pouch, pack and sack. When they didn’t find them, his
"I’ll have to go back for them," he said.
Neb looked away. "I’ll come with you, Brother Hebda."
His father shook his head. "No. Wait here for me."
Neb felt his face burn hot, felt a lump in his throat. The
bulky scholar reached out and squeezed Neb’s shoulder.
"Don’t fret over it. I should’ve checked it myself." He
squinted, looking for the right words. "I’m just . . . not used to
having anyone else about."
Neb nodded. "Can I do anything while you’re gone?" Brother Hebda had smiled. "Read. Meditate. Watch the cart. I’ll be back soon."
Neb drew Whymer Mazes in the dirt and tried to concentrate on his meditation. But everything called him away. First the sounds of the birds, the wind, the champing of the horse. And the smell of evergreen and dust and horse-sweat. And his sweat, too, now dried after five long hours in the shade.
He’d waited for years. Every year he’d petitioned the headmaster for a grant, and now, just one year shy of manhood and the ability to captain his own destiny without the approval of the Franci Orphanage, he’d finally been released to study with his father. The Androfrancines could not prove their vow of chastity if they had children on their arms, so the Franci Orphanage looked after them all. None knew their birth-mothers and only a few knew their fathers.
Neb’s father had actually come to see him at least twice a year and had sent him gifts and books from far off places while he dug in Churning Wastes, studying times before the Age of Laughing Madness. And one time, years ago, he’d even told Neb that someday he’d bring the boy along so that he could see what the love of P’Andro Whym was truly about, a love so strong that it would cause a man to sacrifice his only begotten son.
Finally, Neb received his grant.
And here at the beginning of his trip to the Wastes, he’d already disappointed the man he most wanted to make proud.
Five hours had passed, and even though there was no way to pick him out from such a distance, Neb stood every so often and looked down toward the city, watching the gate near the river docks.
He’d just sat down from checking yet again when the hair on his arms stood up and the world went completely silent but for a solitary, tinny voice far away. He leaped to his feet. Then, a heavy buzzing grew in his ears and his skin tingled from a sudden wind that seemed to bend the sky. The buzzing grew to a shriek and his eyes went wide as they filled with both light and darkness, and he stood transfixed, arms stretched wide, standing at his full height, mouth hanging open.
The ground shook and he watched the city wobble as the shrieking grew. Birds scattered out from the city, specks of brown and white and black that he could barely see in the ash and debris that the sudden, hot wind stirred.
Spires tumbled and rooftops collapsed. The walls trembled and gave up, breaking apart as they fell inward. Fires sprang up—a rainbow kaleidoscope of colors—licking at first and then devouring. Neb watched the tiny robed forms of bustling life burst into flame. He watched lumbering dark shadows move through the roiling ash, laying waste to anything that dared to stand. He watched flaming sailors leap from burning bows as the ships cast off and begged the current save them. But ships and sailors alike kept burning, green and white, as they sank beneath the waters. There was the sound of cracking stone and boiling water, the smell of heated rock and charred meat. And the pain of the Desolation of Windwir racked his own body. Neb shrieked when he felt this heart burst or that body bloat and explode.
Excerpted from Lamentation by Ken Scholes.
Copyright 2009 by Kenneth G. Scholes.
Published in February 2009 by Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Initially, I picked up the author's second book first in a dollar store book rack. That was Canticle. After reading just couple of pages, I knew Id found a readers Holy Grail book, the one that stands above the books that pale in comparison and are used as filler until a great book comes along, hail Lamentation! I am a prolific reader and newbie to the electronic readers like Nook, etc. Even though I was gifted one I had not purchased any reading material UNTIL I read those few pages of Lamentation and knew I wanted to get the first book and start properly. I did, and was rewarded with an excellent novel that introduced everything I loved; swords and magic and characters with depth. Combined with superior writing ability by the author Ken Scholes, an object made of paper and ink, was transformed into a portal to the Named Lands and all within. I got hooked on Fantasy with the Thomas Convenant/Illearth book, and Canticle is its equal. Kudos Ken!
I didn't really get into this novel until about 4 or 5 chapters in, but it takes off from there. Very well written(great descriptions),Schole really paints a picture when describing things. Scholes style reminds me a lot of Raymond Feist. I can't wait to get my hands on the next one.
Way into the distrant future in the Named Lands, the city of Windwir is recognized by most as the center of world. Much of that proclamation comes from the city being home to the Androfrancines, who are the keepers of the Old World knowledge in their Great Library; a place where science and magic mingle. This is a normal day until a metal bird flies above the city. Soon afterward darkness engulfs Windwir. When the dust settles and the sun shines through, the city is gone; left behind is a scorched plain.
Nothing will be the same inside the Named Lands from that moment when the Old World metallic weapon quoting Xhum Y'zir's Seven Cacophonic Deaths destroyed the city. Stunned warrior Lord Rudolfo of the Ninefold Forest Houses saw from a distance the smoke that is all that is left of Windwir. He heads there immediately and finds a shocked survivor apprentice Isaak sitting where the city was moments earlier sputtering references from the Seven Cacophonic Deaths; he had been just outside when the devastation occurred. The kingdoms blame each other and maneuver to take advantage of the dramatic change in relationships. Increasingly evidence points to the Entrolusian City States Overseer Sethbert as the culprit. He apparently has brought back the ancient weapons of mass destruction as war threatens to send the Named Lands back to the Stone Age.
The first Psalms of Isaak is an excellent epic fantasy that in many ways is a post apocalyptic science fiction thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the incredibly opening sequence and filled with intriguing twists that never quite allows the reader to gently peruse the plot. The world seems plausible and solid enough while the key players Isaak and Rodolfo are well developed so readers get to know them.. Fans will relish Ken Sholes¿ strong opening act as war engulfs the Named Lands while mindful of nineteenth century novelist Alphonse Karr¿s commentary ¿The more things change, the more they are the same¿.
From my website: Within pages Scholes creates a full bodied universe with adversaries and heroes, though by the end you still might not know who is which. To set the scene, Scholes opens his debut novel with the event that will follow the characters around and set into motion the underlying shockwaves that carry forward the story for the next four hundred pages. Within the first 50 pages, Windwir is destroyed by some mystical force that destroys the entire city and the thousands of people within its borders. As the center of the Named Lands, Windwir acted as the seat of power for the Androfrancines, an order that collected knowledge from the ¿Old World¿ and maintained within the confines of the large library that made up most of the city. The Androfrancines act much like a religious order of our own world, except instead of peddling gods and religions, they seek to find and protect knowledge, leaking it out to the general public in slips and pieces as they think the general populace can handle it. In the destruction of Windwir, the world loses most of the knowledge of the old as well as the group that maintained peace within the world. As everyone attempts to figure out who could have caused such destruction, sides build towards inevitable war.Even though the story bounced between view points with three or four characters telling the story through their eyes in each chapter, the novel flows effortlessly. Moving from one character to the next doesn¿t jerk you out of the action or takes much adjustment because all of the characters are so well-developed. Even the characters that have awkward ¿fantasy¿ names that are not common in the real world have distinctive traits that soon turn them into individuals after being introduced. The story is centered around four distinctive voices with others leading detail as needed:Rudolpfo ¿ the gypsy king of the Nine Folds Forrest, an honorable man who prefers sticking to matters of his own territory, but seeks to honor his ¿kinclave¿ with the Androfrancine orderJin Li Tam ¿ a daughter of the house of Li Tam, a familial network that subtly attempts to affect change within the Named Lands, acts as a spy for her fatherNeb ¿ a teenage orphan of the Androfrancine order who was leaving Windwir with his father to enter the old world for researchPetronus ¿ an old fisherman who is much more than he pretends to be with an emotional stake in the destruction of WindwirThrough their eyes, the story unfolds ¿ war begins, mysteries unravel, loyalties change and somehow the mythology becomes more and more complicated as the entire world gets involved in the aftermath of the destruction of this one city.Lamentation defeats the boundaries of genre classification. Yes, I compare it to epic fantasy, but at the same time there are mechoservitors ¿ metal men used by the Androfrancine order for maintaining their library ¿ and steam powered technology, magic seeping in through the cracks, and human drama reflected in the tribulations of a post-apocalyptic world as it falls apart. Though it begins in a slow steady pace that builds up a world almost as real as our own, Scholes has no hesitation in running at full speed, developing the world as the action powers the story along.This is the first of a five novel series with the third book, Antiphon, coming out in September. There is no way any words of my own can justify how fantastic this book is. I highly recommend it and its sequel Canticle to anyone who enjoys getting lost in well constructed, beautifully written worlds full of action, mystery and intrigue. This isn¿t Lost. Questions get answered as often as they get asked, though theorizing and putting pieces of the puzzle together along with the main characters is part of the fun.
Title: LamentationAuthor: Ken ScholesPublisher: Tor BooksDate: Febrary 17, 2009Pages: 368A blast of extraordinary sci-fi fantastical adventure that starts with a big boom.The storyline follows the twisted thread that connects a city to a number of different peoples, cultures, and the created cyborgs after an entire city has been decimated. The mystery of how the explosion happens pervades the storyline with each different facet being explored. Who destroyed the city, who pulled the strings, it's all politics and intrigue that are only somewhat answered at the very end of the book.I enjoyed reading this book, its one that I could see myself re-reading because you never really catch every minute detail in the first read. Each time you re-read this book, I bet you could find some other thing that you've overlooked, some shard that puts another piece of the puzzle together. I was able to get the gist of each culture, and was amazed at the level of political intrigue that continued to spiral backwards and forward in time. I would enjoy seeing a more thorough explanation of the cultures, perhaps through detailed childhood memories. This book definitely keeps itself open to a sequel, which I look forward to reading.
It's a complicated and involved story that starts with a city being destroyed and continues into the why's more than the who. It took me a fair while to get truly into the story but once I was into it I was hooked. Nebios is one of the pivotal characters, he's an innocent abroad and his life is never going to be the same. Lady Jin Li Tam is also interesing, her relationships are pivotal to the story.I enjoyed the read, and look forward to more. It is pretty complete on it's own and while there are unresolved issues there is a completed arc within this book.
I really enjoyed this book, despite the plot. Yes, despite the plot. The plot is basically taken right out of medieval history - sack Rome, kill the Pope, then two Popes spring up, one of them 'bought' by the side that did the destroying. Not very original. The other annoying part was the names and roles that were too parallel to our world. 'Androfrancines'? Just call them Franciscans or Jesuits and you'll see what I mean. I also found the too short chapters that dealt with each character, even while they were all in the same location made it a bit choppy. However, I enjoyed the characters and the political intrigue, it was quite interesting. I'm looking forward to the next one.
This didn't amaze me but it was pretty good, probably more like 3.5 stars. Some adult content but it wasn't really gritty or dark. The plot was rather unique - no arrogant elves or comedic dwarves, no dragons, no dark lord in his dark tower and very little magic. The writing was nice and the steampunky mecho-servitors were cool.I guess my biggest problem with it was that there wasn't a lot of suspense. Usually the good guys do okay then things start going bad until you think "oh my how are they ever going to survive this?" Then something clever happens and everything is okay. This was more like something bad happens then the good guys kick the bad guy's ass.
Ken Scholes's debut novel is a stunning work of epic fantasy. The action begins from the very first page as the mighty city of Windwir, home of the greatest library in the world, is utterly destroyed. The high pillar of smoke draws key characters to the point of destruction - some to celebrate, others to grieve, others to prepare for war. The pace of the book is quick and ruthless. Scholes' background is in short story writing, and it shows. The world-building is effective and doesn't drown in detail. Each chapter switches between several major viewpoints, each with a distinct voice and viewpoint that shows Windwir and the ensuing political and military warfare in a different light.I loved this book, and I can see why it generated so much buzz. It really does have a different feel than most epic fantasies, and I think that would make it more accessible to those who don't usually read the genre. Some of the characters were very moving. I loved Isaak the mechanoservitor and Jin Li Tam. This is the first in a series of five, and I'll definitely pick up the rest as they come out.
This story to me is like the Whymer Mazes used as a meditation device by the Androfrancines. The maze circle that seems to never end and always turns back on to itself. I loved this story, there's always a mystery to figure out. Who and why did they destroy the city of Windwir, the home to the Androfrancines who protected the rest of the people in the world from the technology and dark pieces that could be used to destroy the world and only trickling out the small pieces of information they feel the people of the world can handle.There is talk of an ancient Wizard whom created the Seven Cacophonic Deaths, which no one is to know what the words are inorder to protect everyone and anyone from causing distruction.However, the book starts right off with the distruction of Windwir and only one metal man from the city, being fully functional, seems to have somewhere in his memory some idea yet no idea as to what happened on that tragic day. Isaak is the name given to this metal man.There are many creative secrets in this book, such as the letters with secret messages intertwined within, the tapping out of messages while talking to another person on their skin, and the wonderous magic of running so fast and not being seen either running or standing still. Then you have Isaak the metal man, who is powered by a constant steam source.I loved the writing style of a view from each characters point of view. When I first say this was the writing style I was nervous that information would be lost in the translation. After I read through this book so far, I did start taking notes so I didn't forget all the wonderous details to help with the mystery, but found that I really liked the way the author wrote this with the point of views. I actually got more details from seeing and knowing what each character did.Did the right man pay the price for the distruction of the city? Could he have weaved the web that you see in this book? The further you go in the book the more intricate the web becomes. The more I thought on the book after reading and trying to piece together information from through out the whole book I have a very my idea of what is going on. I am curious to read what really happens. I had a wonderful time piecing the pieces together and making the story go the way I think it may.
Ken Scholes' post-post-apocalyptic world is richly depicted by his clever prose, that interweaves and re-enlivens the stock phrases and tropes of our world. The layers of intrigue in [Lamentation] make for a disconcerting read, that is ultimately more satisfying than any any and easy solution could be. Scholes' characters are delightfully human in their imperfections and inadequacies, and equally strong in their resolve. He successfully maneuvers past simplistic depictions of good and evil, to raise questions about the freedom of the human will, and just what exactly the mark of a "good" man is. Highly recommended for people looking for thoughtful and well-written speculative fiction.
Extremely well written, this book is a little bit of everything skillfully rolled into one fantastic piece of work. It's multi-genre with a bit of post apocolyptic lit in there, some fantasy and sci-fi. Somehow Scholes manages to make it all work, and nothing seems out of place. He moves seamlessly from character to character. Often times one event is being shown from several perspectives, but in no way is it repetative or boring, it actually adds depth and life to the book. I found it impressive that there was no loss of momentum or drop off when switching between characters as sometimes happens with GRRM in his ASoIF series. There is no filler to be found in this book, and no dead sections. I also appreciated the fact that Scholes gives glimpses of the background or back story of characters and places but manages to avoid bogging the reader down with details. The author manages to make other well known, successful fantasy look almost amateurish when stacked up against the skill put forth in this book. I would say this is a must read and look forward to starting Canticle immediately.
A mix of fantasy and science fiction, Lamentation tells the story of the Named Lands, home to the survivors of a great destruction. When the great city of Windwir is suddenly destroyed, and the Named Lands' library and repository of knowledge with it, the leaders of the provinces find themselves on the brink of war. Accusations fly about who caused the destruction. While some seek retribution, others seek restoration, and still others just want to make sense of what's happened. Across the miles, they initiate their plots, each seeking to protect him or herself and her people and their lands.This is epic fantasy at its finest but no sorcery or dwarves or elves. Scholes has created his own world and people, one that we've never seen before, and populated it with characters like us. They draw us in and capture our hearts, making us care deeply about what happens to them.Scholes uses a variety of points of view throughout, with short, tight scenes that keep the pace compelling. I found his voice unique and his story compelling. His prose is haunting and captures you, pulling you along with it for the ride. His world building and characterization are also top notch. In fact, it was difficult to pick a favorite: Rudolfo, leader of the famed Gypsy Scouts from the Ninefold Forests; Petronus, the former pope who faked his own death and disappeared; Jae Lin Tam, faithful daughter who's sacrificed her body and spirit in the service of her father's political goals; Neb, illegitimate son of a monk, who watched Windwir explode and his father and whole world with it. Or perhaps it would be Isak, the metal man, keeper of the last remnant of knowledge, and possessor of a dark secret about the destruction of Windwir. Each have their own arc and history, compellingly brought together in conflict and friendship by the events which unfold.The book has drawn impressive praise, too. New York Times bestselling speculative fiction author Orson Scott Card wrote: "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." Card liked it so much, he participated in a reading of the book voicing characters.Analog calls Scholes "one of the best writer's you've never heard of," and Editor/Publisher Jonathan Strahan said "it has the chance of standing as an important book in the evolution of the epic fantasy form...a delight...a book that readers are very likely to take to heart. it's one of the best fantasies I've read in some time."Two of the books are out, and I've read them both, and I can't wait until Antiphon comes out this fall. I wish they'd hurry up and get the others out. My only complaint is that Scholes needs to write faster or maybe just concentrate. I told Ken I am jealous of his first readers. But he's not talking, I have to wait like everyone else lucky enough to have discovered Scholes' saga with baited breath!If you have tired of high fantasy or other forms you've seen done time and again, no matter how well, give Ken Scholes' series a try. It's fantastic and well worth the effort. I can't recommend it enough.
I'm always a little wary when reading books that have all sorts of over-the-top quotes from other others, amazing pre-press reviews, etc. It just raises my expectations too high, and then I feel all let down. This book totally deserved it all. Not only did it pull me along so tightly that I stayed up all night to finish it, but I actually felt *satisfied* with the ending, which is all too rare with the first book in a series. Characters across the book are developed in depth, not just one or two with the rest cardboard prop-ups. The world is both familiar and intriguingly different. While the book covers many of the same themes as most post-apocalyptic fiction -- distrust of science, religious resurgence, secret cults and conspiracies, and fiefdoms with competing ideologies -- enough twists and turns and new sparks are thrown in to create a story that is wholly engaging. Oh, and did I mention the robots? :D
Summary: In a post-apocalyptic world, magic and technology exist side by side, and the great repository of information is the library of Windwir, which is mysteriously destroyed. As the characters try to uncover the plot behind the desolation of Windmir, they are also moved in a game of politics, religion, and war.Review: I wanted to like "Lamentation." I wanted to like it so much. It¿s a story about magic and technology and religion, which are three themes that I absolutely love in fantasy, especially when tied together. I mean, there are robots! Awesome! However, I found the story so abrupt and jarring that I could not get into it. Every time I settled into a particular character¿s head, I would be forced out and thrown to another character like a hot potato. The POV scenes are way too short and the overall narrative is frustratingly choppy. Normally this would be okay if the characters were worth sticking with, but the characters in "Lamentation" are so flat and one dimensional. They are stereotypes of stock fantasy characters like the dashing but roguish prince, the femme fatale, the insane fat villain, etc. I kept on waiting for one of the characters to do something that added complexity to their archetypes but they never did.I mean, the first time Rudolfo meets Jin Li Tam, he¿s all ¿I must have her!¿ It was a line straight out of a corny romance novel. I burst out laughing and not in a good way.I also don¿t like the way Scholes handles different cultures in the novel. Again, he just deals in stereotypes and/or weird interpretations. Rudolfo is the Gypsy King and as far as I can see, that just means he wears scarves on his head and comes from a line of wandering, thieving bandits. Yeah. How deep. Jin Li Tam has an Asian name and seems to come from an Asian tradition, but oh yeah, she¿s a redhead with ¿alabaster¿ skin. Romany and Asians are rolling their eyes everywhere as their very real and meaningful cultures are summed up in a few token gestures. To be fair, none of the cultures in "Lamentation" are really developed. The world is shiny and exciting (robots!), but it's ultimately pretty shallow. Conclusion: It didn¿t work for me, unfortunately. I wished it could; it had a lot of premises that I liked. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.
It¿s been some time since I read any epic fantasy; I stopped because it was all starting to sound the same to me. Lately, though, I¿ve been on a quest for the quirky, the original, the off-beat. I¿m tired of clichés and predictability, comfortable as they sometimes are to read.Fortunately for me, Ken Scholes seems to be of the same mind. Lamentation, the first book of The Psalms of Isaak, while partaking of the spirit of traditional epic fantasy, gives the old tropes a new spin. Perhaps it is because his book partakes as much of science fiction as of fantasy (his book could as easily be a far future version of our own Earth as it could be a totally invented world); perhaps it is simply because he has a terrific imagination and a writing style to match. In any event, Lamentation was a pleasure to read.The book begins with the destruction of Windwir: ¿The city screams and then sighs seven times, and after the seventh sigh, sunlight returns briefly to the scorched land.¿ A nuclear explosion? Something else? It is not possible to tell in this world where science seems to be indistinguishable from magic, and deliberately so, apparently the province of a religious order that seems much like a far future Catholic Church (as much as it seems like a far past Catholic Church, the Church of the Dark Ages when it preserved knowledge from total destruction). The destruction of the city leads to war between different kingdoms, each of which blames the other for the city¿s annihilation. We know from the beginning who is truly responsible, but we do not know the motive except that the destroyer seems to be mad.Scholes tells his story from the viewpoints of four characters, skipping from one to the other throughout the book. The device works well, for it gives us information we need to know what¿s going on, while preserving secrets from characters who cannot know certain facts.Rudolfo is the classic hero of the tale, a gypsy king who leads the Ninefold Forest Houses. But Scholes is not content to make him tall, handsome, brave and true. Instead, Rudolfo keeps Physicians of Penitent Torture on hand to ¿treat¿ miscreants with salted knives, and he watches them work while he dines sumptuously. At the same time, he treats women with dignity and grace; works to preserve the world¿s knowledge when Windwir¿s great library is destroyed; and is enormously skilled as a warrior and a dignitary. In addition, there are forces operating to make him what he is of which he knows nothing, making his life a tragedy and making him, to some extent, a puppet: but to what extent?Our heroine is Jin Li Tam, a woman of great resourcefulness, but who is as close to a cliché as any character is this novel comes (and that is dangerously close, I regret to say). Despite her Asian name, she has characteristically Western features, and those of a fashion model at that, including every adolescent male¿s dream of red hair and big breasts. And, of course, she is exceptionally skilled in bed, and of course she falls in love with the hero almost at first sight. At least Scholes has also chosen to make her cunning and, at least to some extent, ruthless.Neb is a survivor of the destruction of Windwir, an acolyte of the religious order that ran the city. He is in his mid-teens, the son of a member of the order (and therefore technically fatherless; the members are supposed to be celibate, apparently, but that vow also appears to be dishonored with some regularity, so boys like Neb are not unusual). He becomes attached to Petronus, lately a fisherman from a village not far from Windwir. Petronus is drawn to Windwir when he sees to tower of smoke rising from the city¿s destruction; we gradually learn why, as he assembles and manages a work crew that buries the dead of the city.The plot involves the war between Rudolfo and his allies and Sethbert and his allies for control of what remains of Windwir and the Church. As mentioned above, we know from the outset that Sethbert has caused t
According to the blurb by Orson Scott Card on the book jacket, "This is the golden age of fantasy, with a dozen masters doing their best work." That's an awfully bold statement, but one that is not entirely without some support. Epic fantasy authors such as Martin, Gilman, Brett, Lynch, Erikson, Redick, Farrell, Baker, and Novik (just to name a few) are indeed weaving exceptional multi-volume tales that are setting an awfully high bar. At the same time, revisionist writers such as Mieville, Morgan, and Abercrombie are testing and (at least in Morgan's case) exploding the accepted boundaries of the genre. It may not be a true golden age of fantasy, but there is little doubt that it is a rich and vibrant time.Having set those metrics, the question is whether Scholes lives up to the hype. I think it is difficult to say definitively after only one novel. Some authors (without naming names) came out of the starting gate exceptionally fast only to bog down in writer's block or what might be called, albeit indelicately, writer's diarrhea. That being said, there is little question that Scholes tells a compelling narrative and introduces a number of interesting characters. Some of the supporting cast come dangerously close to stereotype, but that is an inherent risk in epic fantasy. The multi-narrator structure is not my favorite, but seems almost obligatory these days. Thankfully, he does not fall into the trap of including too many narrators, which can be both annoying and distracting. The story is one that will be familiar, at least in its broad outlines, to fans of speculative fiction. In a post-apocalyptic world (yes, there is a subtle hint of science fiction lurking around the edges of the book) science and technology have been jealously and judiciously guarded by a monastic order known as the Androfrancine Order. When their golden city of Windwire is destroyed by a long-lost "spell," the survivors must struggle to find a path for rebuilding what has been lost and forging new alliances. For nearly 400 pages, we follow the paths of two possible "Popes," a Gypsy King, a young Androfrancine novice, a crafty banker/spy-master, his consort daughter, and others in their struggle. There's politics a-plenty, as well as some rather complex plotting that teeters on the edge of being just a little too cute. But it ends in satisfying enough fashion, bringing the story to a close while leaving enough open for the inevitable sequel.Bottom line: definitely worth the read and bears watching to see how it develops. One complaint: I got tired of reading "Whymer Maze" again and again and again. Yes, this is all very complicated. Yes so is a maze. Yes I get it.
The story seemed confusing for the first few chapters but once the characters were better associated to the story, the reader became engrossed into each proceeding chapter. So much so that I didn't bother to read the prologue to the next book, Canticle, I just started right into the book.
This was a very enjoyable read with a story-line that held my interest.
So many new twists, can't wait to read the next