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The Lost Art

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  248 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
A MILLENNIUM AFTER the formidable war machines of the User cultures devoured entire civilizations and rewrote planetary geography, Earth is in the grip of a perpetual Dark Age. Scientific endeavor is strongly discouraged, while remnant technology is locked away—hidden by a Church determined to prevent a new Armageddon.
This is the world to which Benzamir Michael Mahmood mus
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published June 10th 2008 by David Fickling Books (first published July 5th 2007)
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I was intrigued by the world-building, the theme of lost technology, the mysterious baddies and the forbidden books they stole. However, the writing itself was pedestrian and none of the characters were interesting (although they should have been: murderous mercenary turned monk with insane ex, African engineer in medievalesque Scotland, dude possibly from space or something?). At 140 pages not much has happened and none of the characters have as yet intersected; I don't feel like investing more ...more
Jeff Raymond
Feb 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There aren't a ton of books that get me thinking "yeah, it's 8:30, but if I really pick up the pace, I could finish this tonight..." This book did that to me.

The book is a lot of things, and that's what makes it great. It's a treasure hunt. It's an action fantasy. It's somewhat an espionage caper. It's suddenly science fiction. Usually, when a book does that, it's a sign of lost focus or sloppy storytelling, but The Lost Art is neither - it's instead a perfectly crafted novel that balances all t
Emma Woodcock
Dec 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a really odd, enjoyable but frustrating book. There are things I really liked about it, and other things that annoyed me.

I loved the basic premise, the set up, the history, the world building - all that. It was inventive, fresh, innovative. It felt like something I hadn't read before, and that's rare enough. I liked how it began as a sort of cod-historical fantasy world, but gradually morphed into sci-fi. I liked the protagonist, Benzamir. But the bulk of my issues with the book are with
Clay Kallam
May 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
I'm not a big fan of horror or vampire books – which is why I wasn’t sure about “The Lost Art” (David Fickling Books, $16.99, 5232 pages). The cover font suggested horror, and the back cover reads, in part, “The past awakens.”

So “The Lost Art” lingered on my “possibles” shelf for a long time before I finally gave it a shot – and I’m glad I did. Even though Simon Morden’s book comes out under an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, this is a complex work that satisfies on many levels. There’
Apr 22, 2015 rated it liked it
You know something? This one was something of a surprise gem for me. While in the middle of moving house, I had to obviously pack away all my books. To my horror, I realised too late that in doing so I had left myself woefully short of reading material, since I was just about finished reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Luckily The Lost Art had fallen out one of the boxes, and while probably not what I would have gone for given the choice, it served me well during the move.

I wasn't exp
Sep 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: SciFi fans, teens or adults
This was a surprising gem. Though over 400 pages long, I got through it in just 2 days. It read quickly but without feeling like I was racing through or just skimming the surface of the story. The author managed to create a fully realized future earth with multi-layered characters and enough action to keep it moving combined with enough story to keep me interested. It's published for teens, but the story contains primarily adult characters, and should appeal to both groups equally.

The story:

Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Okay, so imagine a world thrown back into the Dark Ages, a world where science and all forms of advancement are banned. Imagine a world where the Church hides strange secrets while ruling everything. Imagine a world where a man named Benzamir Michael Mahmood emerges from the sea with heretical ideas and devices at his disposal. Now put that all together, and read this book. Do be aware, however, that it starts a bit slow. You follow a man named Va at first and don't meet Benzamir until a bit lat ...more
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very unique, but still very enjoyable. The premise is what really snagged me: a technologically advanced alien (for lack of a better word) searches for fugitives in medieval Northern Africa. Or, at least that's what it's supposed to be.
The worst mistake this book makes is not focussing on its main character, a fascinating and complex alien trying to make sense of a strange and savage world. Unfortunately, the author wastes our time by choosing to follow Va and Elenya, a Russian monk and his cra
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A millennium after the formidable war machines of the User cultures devoured entire civilisations and rewrote planetary geography, Earth is in the grip of a perpetual Dark Age. Scientific endeavour is strongly discouraged, while remnant technology is locked away - hidden by a Church determined to prevent a new Armageddon.

This is the world to which Benzamir Michael Mahmood must return. A descendant of the tibes who fled the planet during those ages-old wars, he comes in pursuit of enemies from th
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
unexpectedly good book. don't let the cover fool you, it makes it look a lot more goth-y than the story really is. i would place it firmly in science fiction, AND, even better, not white people science fiction! not saying that is makes any major cultural statements, but it's nice to see sci-fi with names that derive from eastern languages. and i'm not exactly sure why, but i got a distinctly doctor who feel from it....

it's YA, but for upper levels. not because of anything naughty, but conceptual
Jan 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: far-future, reviewed
The first pages you get the impression that you are reading the second book in a series, and that some information is missing. Later you realize you have all of it, just at a strange pace.

It is an interesting take on the apocalyptic genre, with a great setting but with quite unreal characters, and not only due to the setting. The plot is attractive and some ideas about the future are interesting. But it all seems only party connected.

Not a bad read, but It is good that there were no other books
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It takes a good story teller to make me willingly go out of my comfort zone and read something different. It takes a brilliant story teller to make me enjoy it so much I finish it. This is a sci fi story, but not at first glance. I wish I knew the secret to Simon Morden being able to tell the tale of a wretched monk who saved a literally upside down world in such an engaging and spell binding way.
Jul 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, teen, teen-2009
Interesting look at the far future, where Man has left earth, and the people left behind have slid back into a medieval level of technology, fearing technology will destroy them as it did the User civilization. Benzamir has returned to Earth in persuit of traitors from his culture that left our planet 700 years ago who threaten to destroy the Earth. He must enlist local help who believe him a magician, but even his advanced technology may not win the day.
Sep 03, 2008 rated it did not like it
This book originally caught my attention when I read the review on the Amazon blog. I kept reading hoping it would get better. I finally gave up.

I didn't care about the characters, didn't care what happened to them, and even the sci fi angle failed to capture my attention. I never finished the book.
Jan 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An exceptional young adult novel set in a future Earth which we may find hard to recognise. Well thought out world with solid scientific reasoning behind the happenings. The characters do not lack either - my full review is here: .
Jul 30, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
Recommended to Kerry by: pulled from selection shelf at work
Shelves: science-fiction, teen
Ugh! I couldn't even finish this book! I managed to get half way through, but there was absolutely no character development and it was rather disjointed. I really didn't feel like there was anything enticing to keep the story moving forward and so I just gave up and picked up Paper Towns instead (much better!)
Dec 02, 2008 rated it liked it
postapocalyptic story set on Earth 700+ years into the future; not necessarily a homily against technology, but certainly a commentary against 'users'.
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, ebooks
Very entertaining, and an amusing switch of narrative - almost of genre - halfway through.
Dec 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Good one on a theoretical level, but once you get to the resolution a bit disappointing. It just sort of tappers off with each page.
Mar 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Pretty good read, well written and engrossing
Apr 09, 2016 rated it did not like it
great story, awful writing
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Took awhile to get into the story. Very unique.
May 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
It's not so much that this book wasn't enjoyable, it's that it could have been so much more. Decent filler while I waited for the library to get my next book.
Mar 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, I will review it soon.
rated it it was amazing
May 16, 2014
rated it really liked it
Nov 26, 2017
May 10, 2018 added it
Shelves: unfinished
I liked the premise, but it turns out this is a YA book, and it reads like one. Very black and white, very 'harrowing experiences contribute to the growth of a central character' rather than 'harrowing experiences are harrowing'. A kind of wry cheekiness infuses the writing, but it isn't enough to make this a book for grownups.
Jamie Mitchell
rated it it was amazing
Nov 06, 2014
deborah wedick
rated it it was amazing
Sep 17, 2016
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Aka S.J. Morden
Dr. Simon Morden, B.Sc. (Hons., Sheffield) Ph.D (Newcastle) is a bona fide rocket scientist, having degrees in geology and planetary geophysics. Unfortunately, that sort of thing doesn’t exactly prepare a person for the big wide world of work: he’s been a school caretaker, admin assistant, and PA to a financial advisor. He’s now employed as a part-time teaching assistant at a Gatesh
More about Simon Morden

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“Don’t reject something just because it seems strange. It’s comfort that will kill you in the end.” 9 likes
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