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 citA 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. ...more
When I discovered Ken Scholes' "Lamentation," it was on a TOR add inside the front cover of an issue of The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy last fall. Being a man of faith, the title immediately caught my eye. But it was when I saw Orson Scott Card's recommendation that I knew I had to read it. Card called 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." That was enough for me. I love Card's books, loved Scholes' title, so I ordered the book.
What a delight awaited me. I devoured "Lamentation" in just over a week, reading it as fast as my eyes and mind could handle. Scholes' books are rich, full of emotion, detail, mystery, and questions which often await answers even when the book is done. It's a lot to process, so sometimes it may take the reader's mind a while to wrap around it and move along. Sometimes this can make the pace feel slow or the page count seem slight, but as you perservere, you'll find yourself more and more compelled, reading faster and faster until a lightning burst at the end.
After "Lamentation," I quickly ordered "Canticle" and read it almost as quickly. The second in a series of five books which comprise "The Psalms Of Isaak," "Canticle" expanded on both the characters and themes of "Lamentation," taking the plot and suspense to new heights.
The gist of the story is that of survivors of a holocaust, the destruction of a city. Their society already survived a cataclysm in what is now the Charred Wastes on the edge of their current home, the Named Lands, but now they face yet another in their midst.
With the destruction of the city, a library containing the treasure of all their known knowledge was destroyed. So now, having discovered metal men who helped store the libraries knowledge and carry it in their memories, the king of a northern territory known as the Ninefold Forests is assembling a new library as the data in the metal men's memories is transcribed bit by bit into new books.
In the meanwhile, the ancient political machinations of others have set in motion new conflicts--conflicts between the surviving territories and their leaders, conflicts in philosophy, and conflicts in how to solve the issues they all now face.
"Antiphon," which releases from TOR on September 14th, continues the saga of those people. Unlike many authors, Scholes doesn't overwhelm us with details of his world. He gives us just enough to paint a picture, then lets the rest unfold naturally through dialogue and the characters' thoughts. Full of action, multiple storylines which intersect and separate again, and full of surprising new twists and turns with every chapter, each of these books builds on the others, taking us deeper and deeper into understanding, while at the same time leading us deeper and deeper toward a sense of impending doom and major confrontation.
This is epic fantasy at its finest and truly a must read for every fantasy fan. From the drama of relationships and romances to the clash of religious views and philosophies, Scholes has built a complex, diverse world populated with real people who have something to teach as well as learn.
If you haven't read these books, you're missing out, and I highly recommend adding them to your reading list. With each release, I wait with more and more anticipation for the next book. Why can't Ken Scholes just write faster? I ask myself, and you will too once you've discovered the amazing story and world that is The Palms of Isaak. ...more
If you haven't met Nicodemus Weal, you should. He's the kind of character that will touch your heart and change your perspective.
A brilliant debut byIf you haven't met Nicodemus Weal, you should. He's the kind of character that will touch your heart and change your perspective.
A brilliant debut by a talented writer, Spellwright's story is all the more intriguing because it parallels the author's own struggles with dyslexia. The story of Nicodemus Weal, a dyslexic apprentice wizard who becomes hunted by several factions when it's thought he could be the long awaited Halcyon, who will bring unity and power to defeat the dark forces threatening their world. Others fear he could instead be the storm Petrel who will bring destruction. So Nicodemus finds himself on the run, wondering who he is and who to trust.
Spellwright takes place in a well crafted and interesting world where words are not just communication but a force to be reckoned with. They can be harvested as weapons or shields by those with the gift of magic who learn to control them. The journey of Nico and his mentor, Magister Shannon, grabs hold of you and never lets go, taking you on a fascinating and compelling ride.
The background of author Blake Charlton (http://www.blakecharlton.com/) is as unique and interesting as that of his main character. On his own website he writes:
As a child, severe dyslexia placed me in special education for most of elementary school. Only with the support of my saintly parents did I improve enough to be mainstreamed into a normal fourth-grade classroom. I was still pulled out for remediation in half of the classes. Each year, I just barely advanced to the next grade. At twelve years old, I still couldn’t read a book by myself.
But his parents were persistent and began reading fantasy to him: Robert Jordan, Terry Brooks, Tad Williams... As his interest grew, they began to read to Blake less and less, faking sore throats or other ailments, but always leaving the books behind. Blake writes:
I became obsessed with fantasy. I snuck Robert Jordan and Robin Hobb paperbacks into special ed study hall and read them under my desk when I was supposed to be completing spelling drills. My grades improved only marginally, but my height increased exponentially. The football coach at a local high-powered private academy noticed this and helped me get into his school. About that time I started reading science fiction (Frank Herbert, Orson Scott Card, etc.) and discovered more classical fantasy: Grandpa Tolkien, John Gardner, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Mary Stewart. Suddenly school wasn’t so bad: I discovered that Shakespeare and Spenser weren’t so different from Tolkien, chemistry not far off from alchemy, physics the closest thing to magic. Though I still loved football, I began to live to put my nose in books.
But this dyslexic child went on to graduate from Yale Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with distinction in the major and Trumbull College awarded him the John Spangler Nicholas Scholarship. His fascination with reading fantasy and science fiction, soon fed his creativity and he began writing. A college dean encouraged him to take time out upon seeing an early draft of Spellwright. And in 2006 Tor, seeing promise in Spellwright, offered Blake a three-book deal. Stanford Medical School, seeing the value of a career in writing and medicine, offered him admission.
Since then, Blake's completed the preclinical years of medical school and taken the US Medical Licensing Examination. During that time, he twice rewrote Spellwright, while Stanford provided financial support in the form of a Medical Scholars Research Fellowship to write fiction.
But overcoming his own disability still wasn't enough. In addition to his desire to help people through medicine, Blake has been an English teacher, a learning disability tutor and a football coach. His passion for learning disabled kids is part of his inspiration for Nicodemus Weal and Spellwright's story of the power to overcome any struggle and succeed.
Blake is preparing his draft of the followup Spellbound to turn into the publisher shortly and it should be out by the end of year. Maybe he'll give me an early review copy, if not, I know I'll be waiting outside the story.
A great read, a unique world, a fun adventure. Spellwright is highly recommended. ...more
I loved this book. A fast read, it's filled with action and focuses on three well drawn lead characters. Jay Lake went to considerable effort to makeI loved this book. A fast read, it's filled with action and focuses on three well drawn lead characters. Jay Lake went to considerable effort to make them realistic, even consulting priests to make sure his portrayal of Father Menard was as accurate as he could make it.
The story of an investigation into the disappearance of a major battleship, the last of a type decommissioned years before in a quest for peace, a ship so powerful it could blow away half the current fleet by itself, Menard, a ship's mechanic, and Navy assassins find themselves on colliding trajectories which take them not only toward each other, but the ship and the long suspected aliens who caused it to crash. Menard's Xenic Bureau of the church has long been seeking proof of their existence, and Menard finds their infiltration is far deeper than he'd ever suspected.
Fast-paced, tightly written, a page turner. I almost couldn't put it down. I read 92 pages the first day and split the other pages only due to busyness in my schedule.
Highly recommended to anyone who likes scifi and especially solid space opera....more
I enjoyed this thoroughly. Full of tension and suspense like its' predecessor, Lynx finds Frank Compton chasing another mystery involving the Modhri gI enjoyed this thoroughly. Full of tension and suspense like its' predecessor, Lynx finds Frank Compton chasing another mystery involving the Modhri group mind, the Spiders and the Chahwyn. In the midst of it, he falls in love with the woman he's struggling to protect, comes into conflict with a federal agent, and finds his life once again on the line.
These books are Timothy Zahn at his best: fast-paced action, political intrigue, well drawn characters, and interesting science. Here he's created a fascinating world full of interesting humans and interesting aliens.
I'd recommend this to anyone who likes good space opera. The uniqueness is no laser gun fights and no space battles. These are replaced by battles of the mind, different dangerous weapons, and a constant running to and from danger. It's a thoroughly enjoyable ride....more
Timothy Zahn is one of my favorite writers and has been very influential in my own writing. Like me, Zahn writes a lot of space opera, and he's most fTimothy Zahn is one of my favorite writers and has been very influential in my own writing. Like me, Zahn writes a lot of space opera, and he's most famous for his Thrawn series of Star Wars novels. But he's been writing a long time and has some great other stuff as well. His Quadrail series (Night Train to Rigel, Odd Girl Out, etc), in particular, is a great read.
Recently, I heard about another of his books, Deadman Switch, which features spiritual themes. Since I use a lot of spiritual themes in my specfic, I wanted to check it out. It was published in 1988 and is out of print, but I tracked down a copy on Amazon and read it last week. What a fantastic read. I highly recommend it.
A bit more of a mystery than a space opera, the premise of the book is that the Patri, a coalition of planets, has found a rich source of minerals in the rings and moons around the planet Solitaire. There's only one catch, the system is surrounded by a mysterious cloud which prevents ships from entering. The only way in is using the Deadman Switch -- carrying a zombi along who is killed and then flies the ship through the cloud. Death Row inmates have become the zombis of choice, and when his boss buys a large conglomerate on Solitaire to get a license to travel there, Gilead Raca Benedar is sent with the boss' son to check out the new property and tend to details.
The problem is that Gilead belongs to a Christian order called "the Watchers," who have unique powers of perception allowing them to read minds. His integrity and values raise objections with the Deadman Switch idea, but then he discovers that one of the zombis on their ship (they carry two -- one to go in, one to get out) is a fellow Watcher, and Gilead is convinced she's innocent. When he sets out to prove it, drama ensues.
Eventually, Gilead takes drastic steps to protect her and escapes with her to the nearby planet Spall, hoping to find Smugglers raiding the system to use as zombis instead. In the process, they discover a new form of intelligent life previously undiscovered and end up launching a huge investigation and scientific inquiry which ropes in both watchers, Gilead's boss, local officials, and a local religious sect. When it is discovered that a large fleet is on its way to attack the system, Gilead and the others scramble to find a way to deal with the situation.
If I tell you more, you would know too much, so I'll leave it there, but suffice it to say the ending has plenty of surprises and the book is a great read. I read 50 pages a day until the last day when I read over 100 because I just had to know what happens. I would have read more other days too but have too much going on. It's a pageturner, in other words, and filled with Zahn's trademark solid science, interesting and complex characters and complicated, unfolding plotting. Truly a great read, and if you can track it down, I highly recommend doing so.
The spiritual themes are used similarly to the way I use them in my work: Christian influenced characters without being preachy, so I think even those scifi fans who are agnostic or not fans of religion would enjoy it.
I put a link to Zahn's site on my website. I highly recommend checking out his books. You won't regret it.
Thoroughly enjoyable entry in the action space opera series by Zahn. No one writes action and intrigue quite like Zahn, with strong world building, inThoroughly enjoyable entry in the action space opera series by Zahn. No one writes action and intrigue quite like Zahn, with strong world building, including well developed alien species, strong, complicated plotting and good character development. The main character at this point is starting to get a bit static, but Zahn keeps it interesting by showing him devising inventive ideas and conclusions which keep us on our toes. Highly recommended....more
Every ask yourself what would happen if the Modhri and Frank Compton found a threat so menacing they'd actually consider working together? Ask no moreEvery ask yourself what would happen if the Modhri and Frank Compton found a threat so menacing they'd actually consider working together? Ask no more. Zahn handles it brilliantly, particularly with his cast stuck from early on aboard a Quadrail train the entire story. Great pacing, action, thriller and mystery elements combine with the usual humor and character growth. A worthy entry in the great space opera series. And it ends with such a fantastic cliffhanger that will have you foaming at the mouth for the next book which comes out soon. Seriously, I am on the edge of my seat to see what happens next....more
3.5 stars. Certainly feels dated, but then it's a precursor to a lot of stuff that is derivative so reading it this late in the game is a bit unfair a3.5 stars. Certainly feels dated, but then it's a precursor to a lot of stuff that is derivative so reading it this late in the game is a bit unfair and hard to judge. I definitely see the LOTR influences throughout. And pacing was a bit long, especially in the first half. Didn't really feel like it got going until halfway. Still, it ended well, and had some nice action and an attractive cast of characters. I can see why people like the universe, but seeing that these characters are not the focus of follow up books makes me a bit hesitant to launch into any more at this time. I will eventually. Glad I read it, but it's definitely no LOTR. I certainly admire Terry, however, and plan to read more of his work....more