15 January, 2010

Review: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

As part of my November 2009 Reading Challenge I read Lamentation (2009) [US][UK], by Ken Scholes. There has been some hype around this debut novel which is at the same time the first of the five-book series Psalms of Isaak. In February and March 2009 I read the reviews by Robert, Ken and Graeme which convinced me to buy and read the book. But I wanted to read it with a distance of time. Since October Canticle (2009) [US][UK], the second book of the series is available. Antiphon, Requiem and Hymn will follow 2010/2011. I connect words like lamentation,canticle, antiphon, requiem, hymn, psalms and Isaak with religion. And you will see that there is a relation but Lamentation is far beyond to be a christian fantasy novel. I want to emphasize this after reading several blog entries about religion and fantasy. And now let us enter

The Setup

The Named Lands.....the great city of Windfir... home of the religious Androfrancine order.... homestead of the Great Library..... destroyed in seconds by an ancient weapon.

Now draw circles with different distances around Windfir and have a look whom we discover.
Nearest to the city we find Neb, a young apprentice, waiting for his father. He is an eyewitness of the destruction.
Within sight camps Overseer Sethbert accompanied by shrewd and beautiful Lady Jin Li Tam.
And beyond sight Rudolfo, Lord of the Nine Forest Houses, is on his way.
Soon you will meet some other characters including my favorite one: Mechoservitor Isaak.
I still remember his first words:
"Lla meht dellik ev'I" [p. 26]
This is the prelude to a story full of betrayal conspiracies, human drama and political machinations which unshirkable lead to war in The Named Lands...

My Take in Brief

The story is told through the eyes of eight characters. The point of view changes quickly - every three to five pages - which paces the story. And sometimes months pass from one section to the other.
Beside this a lot of reviewers found the start of the book very slow. But for me it was just the right pace.
There are novels which need a start like this.

I mentioned my favorite character - Isaak the mechoservitor - before. The metal man who lies and shows human emotions is stunning. Beside him I liked Petronus, an ostensible old fisherman, a lot. Some of the other characters like the dauntless hero Rudolfo, Lord of the Ninefold house or the the young orphan Neb or the shrewd and bonny Jin Li Tam show a bit stereotypical characteristics but they are still entertaining.

Lamentation takes place in a possible future on Earth. More than two thousand years after the so called end of the Old World. It was the Androfrancine order who saved the remaining knowledge by building the Great Library in the city of Windwir. Iron ships and mechoservitors are the technical result of the old knowledge. There is also magic in form of invisibility powder and prophetic dreams. But the magic is not explained in every detail. And don't expect detailed landscape depictions.

The story includes religious quarrels, politics in a Machiavellian style, betrayal, revenge, conspiracies and war.
And I promise you a lot of twists and turns.

I have been intrigued from the beginning and I really look forward for the next book.
When you look for well plotted, plot and character driven story, intense atmosphere, well depicted characters and the inimitable Isaak then I highly recommend to read Lamentation.

Bona Fide's Book Oracle

What is Bona Fide's Book Oracle? To keep it short. It is a palaver about the reviewed book held by ediFanoB and his alter ego Bona Fide. And I am the keeper of the minutes. Now read my minutes.

Bona: "I'm still angry with the keeper of the minutes who brought us back from Ave!" Edi: "Don't worry! we will return sooner or later. But I'm so thankful to the keeper!" Bona: "Why? Are you drunk?" Edi: " No, No, No! But without him we wouldn't have met Isaak." Bona: "How could I forget Isaak. Never met such a human steam driven robot. He is unbelievable." Edi: "He is our hero! But what do you think about Vlad Li Tam?" Bona: "What shall I think about about a man who use his 37 sons and 53 daughters for his plans!!" Edi: "That is clever and contemptuous at the same time! What an intelligent bastard!" Bona: "It is so sad the the Androfancine's Great Library has been destroyed. Thousands of years wisdom destroyed in seconds. All the secrets gone. Only mechoservitors and iron ships left." Edi: "Let's hope Isaak can do something...." Bona: "I really appreciate that you don't lament today." Edi: "Why shall I lament when we talk about Lamentation." Bona: "What do you think about this book: Do you think it is highly readable because of well plotted story, intense atmosphere, well depicted characters and the inimitable Isaak." Edi: "Nearly. I would add that it the prose is quaffable." Bona: "Agreed!" Edi: "Then our work is done!" Bona: "There is no way out: I want , I must read the whole series!!"Edi [imitating Isaak]: "Dednemmocer ylhgih." Bona: "Dednemmocer ylhgih. eerga ylluf I." Edi: "Do you see this baffled face of the keeper of the minutes. I'm sure he didn't understand us [giggle]"
I'm the keeper of the minutes and ............ dda gnihton evah I

More Ken Scholes

For more information about the author you can use following links: KenScholes website, Ken Scholes LiveJournal.

More Lamentation

Read Prelude and Chapter 1 online or listen to an audio excerpt.
Read or listen to A Weeping Czar Beholds the Fallen Moon by Ken Scholes. This is a short story set in the same world.

Origin of the copy

The copy of Lamentation which I read and used for this review has been purchased by me.


Krista said...

This book is one of my all time favorites and it just gets better with the 2nd book! Loved your review!

ediFanoB said...

Hey Krista,
thanks for comment and compliment.
I look forward to read CANTICLE. I wait for the release of the paperback. So far I couldn't find a publishing date for the paperback. In case you know please let me know.