Book Review: Lamentation, by Ken Scholes

For the record, I’m a fairly busy guy. So when I tell all of you that I finished Lamentation in three days, it must mean I really liked it. I stayed up for a few extra hours each night until I finished. And then I was happy I bought the next two books in the Psalms of Isaak series the same time I bought Lamentation. I had a hunch this was going to be a good series. Boy am I glad I listen to my gut.

LamentationBut first, a word from the publisher, Tor:

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 city – he 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.

This remarkable first novel from an award-winning short fiction writer will take readers away to a new world – an 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.

Mr. Scholes debut book is so good I wouldn’t have guessed this was his first. If this was my first book, I would have retired afterward. I don’t see much room for improvement. Seriously, if you like characters who feel like they can leap out of the page, pacing that grabs your eyeballs and compels you to keep reading, and a plot more airtight than a fish’s backside, YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK.

This is the first time in a very long time where I’m going to read the first three books in this series consecutively. I normally like to switch genres between books. Not this time. I HAVE to know what happens next. I’ve found my new drug and it comes in the form of The Psalms of Isaak Series, by Ken Scholes.

Don’t think this is just a Fantasy book either. It has elements of so much more. Do you like Sci/Fi, political intrigue, action, suspense, and/or thrillers? This book has all of that and more. But more importantly, I feel Lamentation transcends genre labeling. To put it plainly, this is simply a fantastic story that any reader can pick up and enjoy. I really can’t recommend it any more than that.

What I liked:

  • The characters. All of the characters have interesting stories to tell and when they come together great things always seem to happen. Great, and fully realized characters made this an easy read for me.
  • The approachable world building. Mr. Scholes world isn’t too expansive making it easy for readers to dive right in and understand every little thing about it. Much of the world building is subtle and we don’t even know we’re being educated. So well done. Really.
  • The intersecting plot lines. This has to be the best example I can think of for intersecting plot lines. Not only that, but the political intrigue is so masterfully done that I was left wondering who was behind the fall of Windweir, even after I was done reading. Leaving readers with healthy questions about plot lines, to me, is the sign of a master storyteller.
  • The pacing. Mr. Scholes hits readers with what I’m calling machine gun pacing–a few pages from each POV character making up his chapters. He does this so well that the story moves along at an easy, albeit fast pace. Again, so well done.
  • The emotional aspect. Ken really tugs at readers’ heart strings with what he does with his characters. When they ache, readers also ache. When they triumph, readers also triumph. When they stumble, readers also stumble. The connection Ken creates between his characters and his readers shines through page after page. I couldn’t get enough.

What I didn’t like:

  • It never truly felt like a world at war. I never got a sense of these characters being in imminent danger as wars broke out. I would have liked a stronger war element, especially having recently read Brian Ruckley’s Godless World Trilogy.

Overview: I’m giving Lamentation, by Ken Scholes, as many stars as I can. Since my scale stops at five stars, I guess that’ll have to do. Honestly, five doesn’t seem like enough. This was the easiest review I’ve ever had. Top notch characters, pacing, and world building make Lamentation one of my new favorite books. I can sit here and rave some more about this book, or you can just go out and get your own. Seriously, this is the best book I’ve read in a long, long time.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to Canticle, the sequel to Lamentation.

You can find Ken Scholes’ official website by following this link.

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