Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Time for a book recommendation!

First a note, though... When I recommend a book I don't do so in the form of an in depth review that weighs up everything. Other folks do that. When I recommend something it just means it captured my interest and attention in a strong way, stood out a bit. It doesn't mean I think it's perfect, because I don't believe it perfection, really. It does mean that whatever those blemishes were they were as natural as features of a person's face. The imperfections are part of the whole, part of the experience, part of why the work is unique. And, of course, they're trumped by the things I liked. And in this case the book I liked was...

Lamentation (The Psalms of Isaak), by Ken Scholes. Ken's a good writer, and the world he's created here is an interesting mix of fantasy and sf, a little steampunkish as well. Here's what Booklist had to say:

In his first novel, a vividly imagined sf-fantasy hybrid set in a distant, post-apocalyptic future, Scholes, already highly praised in the speculative-fiction community for his dazzlingly inventive short fiction, turns his talent up a notch. When an ancient weapon destroys Windwir, the Named Lands' greatest city and repository of knowledge, the only surviving member of the city's Androfrancine order is the metallic android Isaak. Rudolfo, lord of the Ninefold Forest Houses, finds Isaak surprisingly intact in the Windwir's smoldering ruins and guilt-ridden over his role in the city's downfall. Yet Rudolfo quickly begins to suspect that Sethbert, overseer of the neighboring Entrolusian City States, is the real culprit and starts girding his Gypsy Scouts for battle. So begins Scholes' Psalms of Isaak, a projected five-volume saga containing all the ingredients of a first-rate epic-magic, arcane science, and a handful of compelling protagonists. By the end of the novel, the reader is caring deeply about the characters and looking forward with burning anticipation to the sequels.

Here's what the Fantasy Book Critic had to say.

Here's what Adventures in Reading thought.

And here's Tia Nevitt's verdict at Fantasy Debut.

Honestly, they make enough in-depth points that I'll just direct you to them without a whole lot of commentary. What I will say is that I really enjoyed that Ken wrote the book for grown ups. Lusty grown ups. Intrigue-hungry grownups. Grownups that like a bit of cataclysmic destruction and knife fights with invisible scouts. Stuff like that. But Scholes' writing, unlike much of what's out there in fantasy, doesn't feel YA. Oh, how I liked that about it...

Ken was kind enough to send me a copy of Canticle (The Psalms of Isaak), the second in the series. I've got a full plate at the moment, but I'm glad to have it on my shelf, knowing I'll pick it up before too long.

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Blogger Meghan said...

Interesting. Will check out.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Mary Robinette Kowal said...

I'm halfway through Canticle and I think it might be better than Lamentation.

4:13 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


Oooh, good. Glad to hear that. And glad to hear that you enjoyed the first volume enough to move on the second.

On such things... Wanna copy of The Other Lands?

6:21 PM  
Blogger Sparrow said...

This book is on my must acquire list. I'm glad to hear good things about it.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Jeff C said...

I think Lamentation is my favorite release of 2009 thus far. I can't believe some are getting to read Canticle already, though. I know the day it arrives in my mailbox, I'll probably have the book opened as I read on the walk up the driveway :)

1:58 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


Good. Go do some acquiring, then!

Jeff C,

Cool. That's book love. I'm sure Ken would be happy to hear it.


3:00 PM  
Anonymous Steven Till said...

Some fantasy, sci-fi, and steampunk. A unique combination. You've piqued my interest, David.

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I take your recommendations to heart, and this one looks very good. Thank you! I ordered it today.

6:08 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Groovy. Hope you like it. ;)

11:45 AM  

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