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Lamentation (Psalms of Isaak #1)

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  2,671 Ratings  ·  277 Reviews
An ancient weapon has destroyed the Androfrancine city of Windwir. From many miles away, Rudolfo, Lord of the Ninefold Forest Houses, sees the horrifying column of smoke rising. Nearer to the Desolation, a young apprentice is the only survivor of the city — Nebios sat waiting for his father outside the walls and was transformed as he watched everyone he knew die in an inst ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 405 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Tor Fantasy (first published February 17th 2009)
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Dec 05, 2014 Algernon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
A pleasant discovery for me. I delayed reading this series until the third book was out, and it seems the initial buzz has quieted down and the Psalms of Isaak is flying under the radar compared to Sanderson or Brent Weeks or Peter W Brett, who I think share a similar style and whose series I would rate a little below Scholes.

I apreciated the narrative flow and the clarity of the exposition. Good pacing and likable characters compensate for a certain lack of originality. Being mostly fantasy wit
Mar 27, 2009 Stefan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Well, the good news is that this novel actually got a bit better than I thought at first, but it's still not the earth-shattering genre-defining debut that the nice publicity folks at Tor make it out to be.

In terms of world-building, it reminded me a bit of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. Fantasy-world that once had advanced technology but now has reverted to standard medievaloid status, aside from some remnants of those high-tech times still being around and/or being re-discovered. (I always tho
Jul 15, 2011 Terence rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Insomniacs?
Shelves: sf-fantasy
A deeply heartfelt "meh."

I started reading this Easter Day (2011) because I had finished The Mammoth Cheese - two thumbs up! waaaay up! - and wanted to mentally vegetate for a bit.

There's nothing particularly memorable about Ken Scholes' debut novel nor anything particularly awful about it. It's just another title among the myriad that crowd the SF/Fantasy shelves at any bookstore.

As with any book, there's almost certainly an audience out there to whom Lamentation speaks or for whom a character
Dirk Grobbelaar
Oct 28, 2010 Dirk Grobbelaar rated it it was amazing
I'm surprised at some of the negative commentary listed below, as far as this book is concerned. Despite being hardly fair, a lot of it is downright inaccurate.

I really enjoyed this novel. I think that the last time I got so excited about a series was when I read A Game of Thrones. Something that other reviewers likely didn't appreciate was the fact that this is a story that tells itself, while the author just nudges it along. Yes, it is a very ambitious tale and yes, we only get to see little p
Jul 27, 2010 Monica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matt Brady
Many thousands of years into the future, on an Earth scarred and fractured by multiple apocalypses, stands Windwir, greatest city of the Named Lands. Home to a powerful order of scholar-priests, Windwir gathers knowledge of the old world destroyed two millennia ago according the precepts of their mythological founder. But when Windwir itself is destroyed in a matter of minutes, the light of knowledge threatens to gutter, and all of the Named Lands, a civilisation built from the ruins of near-ext ...more
Interesting setup and clear writing talent as well as a good ending with the hook set for the next volume which I intend to read, though not as an asap. However there were 3 major things that just did not work for me.

1. The "main" - secret - plot, based on long term conspiracies, arranged chains of events and such. This kind of plot is always a minus for me since I just have a hard time believing that chance ain't going to screw up even the best long term plans

2. The writing style - it would hav
Melissa Hayden
Feb 24, 2010 Melissa Hayden rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
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 ...more
Feb 22, 2010 Ethan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 19, 2010 Lightreads rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
Query: how can this book be “fresh” and “groundbreaking” when for decades people have been writing fantasy novels full of dueling penises and about 10% as many vaginas, all for sale?

If you’d asked me about this book anywhere in the first two thirds, I probably would have given it a grudging two stars for occasional world building interest. This is the start of an epic fantasy series about – well, I’m not honestly sure where it’s going, but this book is about the destruction of a library-city wit
Ranting Dragon
Oct 18, 2012 Ranting Dragon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stephan

Every now and then, I encounter a book that haunts me, but I just don’t have the time to read. Lamentation is such a book. The very moment I encountered a review for it, I ran to the store and bought it. An epic series filled with political intrigue, religion, action, and manipulation—that must be good! Added to that is the premise of a great and powerful city destroyed by an ancient artifact long thought to be nothing but a myth. It felt like a modern ver
Apr 12, 2011 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised by this book. It seemed to lay out all the pieces slowly and then take off after the first few chapters. I thought the heroes were going to be the heroes and the madman was going to be the madman, but as you progress and get used to the world Ken Scholes has created, you realize that there are more pieces to be placed. He does it very well. I look forward to the rest of the series. I hope that Jin Li Tam stays a formidable feminine character.

My favorite sentence in the book is wh
Mar 18, 2009 C.S. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This was a great book. Very fast paced with some very interesting characters and story lines. It did suffer from a few first novel issues but they were small and didn't bother me that much.

I liked that the book ended with the completion of a story line and the hint of the future mystery. I have always felt that series books should do that. I hate feeling like I go to the end of the book with no resolution what so ever.

I also thought Scholes did a very nice job of laying out his world. Giving us
Blodeuedd Finland
Oct 24, 2013 Blodeuedd Finland rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The book was strangely compelling, still I did not know whether to give it a 3 or a 4. Yes it was good, but was it great? I think that I will go for the later as it was the world and the plot that made it so. What a plot!

There was once a world, yes might just be Earth but it was destroyed. Some escaped the Wastelands to the New World and built a life there. Now they have magic, but there are remnants of the old world technology. A couple of robots and ships of iron. Also you should not dig too d
John Carter McKnight
I don't like epic fantasy, I really don't. So 5-star review and a sleepless night is a big deal. This is a terrific book. It's more SF in the Canticle For Leibowitz vein than it is Tolkien, by far: the setting is a world marked by serial collapses of an advanced technological civilization, an era ruled by collectors and hoarders of the past who maintain their power by carefully doling out information and technology.

At an abstract level, it's a wonderful investigation of psychohistory and technol
Oct 20, 2012 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, audio-books, 2012
I started this one on audio and finished it in regular book form. The four readers were good, but I think I would rather have had just one. There were more than four characters for them to cover, and they presented some of the characters differently, especially Isaak.

The chapters are set up as point-of-view chapters like George RR Martin's books, but they're much shorter. We get the viewpoints of most of the major players, whether good, bad or in between. There are some great protagonists here-
Mike (the Paladin)
I picked this up (got it from the library) based on the synopsis...and found I'd tried to read it before some time ago. I'd found it dry and rather convoluted and finally laid it aside.

Well, I don't disagree with myself. The book is still rather convoluted and dry. Oh there are many scenes of action buried in the book and if you're looking for discussions of philosophy draped in fantasy fiction you may not find it as dry as I did.

I wouldn't call this a "fantasy" per se. The synopsis calls it an
Jan 24, 2010 Geoffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because Amazon's recommendation tool recommended it's sequel, Canticle. I was expecting a fun but un-original fantasy novel. I was very wrong.

This novel was fresh and fast-paced and full of interesting concepts. The total destruction of a city by magic paralleling a nuclear explosion as the starting point of the novel had me immediately drawn in. The mix of high tech, low tech and magic kept me drawn in - I spent a lot of my time wondering about the previous holocaust that destr
Jodi Davis
2% in and I've got prostitutes who have been pardoned by a gracious gypsy king who then has put some of them in his *rotation*, a *consort* who has just rewarded someone with a glimpse of her breasts - but not too much of them - and no other women... BLERGH!!!!!!
Dec 29, 2009 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Orson Scott Card is perhaps a bit of a cheap date in the blurb department. This isn't better than the work of today's best fantasy writers as he implies, but it's good, and Scholes is a writer I will follow.

This is a multiple-narrator fantasy set in a post-apocalyptic world. An order of monks who have guarded the knowledge of the past are obliterated by a spell as the book opens, one of the nastier bits of that past knowledge (although the magic in this book may be science, it's not entirely cl
Fantasies are a lot of work.

First there all those strange names. Then you have to memorize the geography and the names of all the Kingdoms and their various Kings and Queens. Then there are the myths, legends, prophecies, histories, scrolls, sacred books and sayings to internalize. Then you have to deal with the religions, the good one as well as the bad ones, in order to understand why everybody does all the inexplicable stuff they do. Then you have to figure out how the elves, faeries, orcs, g
Writing: 4.5
Story/Plot: 4.5
Depth/Detail: 4.5
Enjoyment: 5

You ever get that time where you find something new, the thing that other people seem to know about but you never did, and when you finally experience it, you have that "how the hell did I live without ever knowing about this?!" moment? For me, my biggest moments were finding Le Bistro Montage in Portland, and finding this book by St. Helens, Oregon author Ken Scholes.

In a similar vein to Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire series, Scholes' Lame
Beth Cato
Apr 10, 2012 Beth Cato rated it it was amazing
Shelves: in, fantasy, 2009
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 d ...more
May 29, 2009 Marin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was just about perfect summer reading: fast-paced, relatively uncomplicated, entertaining, and intriguing. It's fastasy I suppose, but the characters and sub-plots were thick and rich enough for me to overcome the boredom that I often feel for fantasy novels. It does use fantasy character roles for its main characters (Pope, gypsy, herb woman, etc.), but there's a fun twist in this world where a small group of scholars act as archeologists, uncovering technologies and writings from a m ...more
Mar 26, 2011 Jason rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2011
2 Stars.

I do not have much to say that is positive about this first novel in the Psalms of Isaak series. This is very standard fantasy fare that just did not work for me. The plot is all about long time secrets and hidden motives that too me just played out so inconsequentially.

Neb is an interesting young boy that has potential to be a great hero/character.

Petronus is my favorite character in this novel. He reminded me of Father Philip from Ken Follets Pillars of Earth and that is a great thin
Aug 04, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Despite some clunky writing toward the beginning of the book, a slow start and something lacking with overall characterization, Scholes has laid the groundwork for an impressive series here. The world and conflict are both quite interesting. The book is short enough to be a quick read, but has enough depth and layers to give readers that epic feel many are looking for, without being oppressive with it. This is the start of a five book series, and though it has its problems, Lamentation
Dan Smyth
So, I went the rounds with this one. Didn't want to like it when I started it (for some reason, don't know why); really liked the beginning half or so of the book; really disliked the second half of the book. There's some good setup here, some decent world building, some decent history built into things, but everything just kind of falls apart about halfway through. The writing style changed significantly from an in-depth point-of-view into a removed explanation of characters responses and thoug ...more
Lauma Lapa
Dec 18, 2015 Lauma Lapa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Goodreads bot suggested this book as something I might like to read, I was seriously in doubt. But accidentally the book was available at a discount on the Amazon Kindle, and so I bought it, just because I could. And started reading as a counterweight to the en-of-term literature (student essays).
The book was amazing. A third person narration from a first person perspective...sort of. Juicy language. A plot that is really full of plotting, and enigmas, and enigmas wrapped in conundrums. The
May 17, 2014 Lily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: high-fantasy, magic, adult, war
Great relaxing read! I enjoyed it! I just finished reading this a couple of hours ago... And I have a feeling that I'll be dreaming about The Named Lands all night tonight!

Since the story was very slow moving, I had very slowly grown with it. Now I normally have great difficulties staying focused with long and dragged out plots, but Lamentation wasn't all that bad for me, unless my brain was having a good week or something. *took a few days to get through it.* It was hard to understand it at fir
Chris Bauer
May 22, 2014 Chris Bauer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author JA Pitts mentioned this series and I decided to take a look at the first book "Lamentation" by Ken Scholes. And I'm really glad I did.

The novel takes place in an "Other" setting which at first glance appears to be conventional epic fantasy fare. But very quickly Scholes starts messing with the reader's assumptions in frequently amusing ways. The writing is exceptionally brisk; as if he wrote a book at least four times longer, but chose to leave the "boring" parts on the editing floor.

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Ken Scholes is the award-winning, critically-acclaimed author of five novels and over fifty short stories. His work has appeared in print for over sixteen years. His series, The Psalms of Isaak, is published by Tor Books and his short fiction has been released in three volumes by Fairwood Press.

Ken's eclectic background includes time spent as a label gun repairman, a sailor who never sailed, a so
More about Ken Scholes...

Other Books in the Series

Psalms of Isaak (5 books)
  • Canticle (Psalms of Isaak, #2)
  • Antiphon (Psalms of Isaak, #3)
  • Requiem (Psalms of Isaak, #4)
  • Hymn (Psalms of Isaak, #5)

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“Part of me wants justice for this. Part of me wants to never cause harm to another.” 19 likes
“Watch for the ones who leave your mouth hanging open. Study them, find out what they love and what they fear. Dig the treasure out of their soul and hold it to the light.' He leaned in even closer now, so that Neb could smell the wine on his breath. 'Then Be like them.” 6 likes
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